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2 Classics From '50s Anchor Series

January 06, 1994|MARK CHALON SMITH | Mark Chalon Smith is a free-lancer who regularly writes about film for The Times Orange County Edition

The UC Irvine "Tragedy and Comedy" film series, which runs from Jan. 14 to March 18, spotlights two of the more memorable movies to come out of the '50s. The programs begins with Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" and offers Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless" a few weeks later.

Kurosawa's 1950 movie, one of the finest in the Japanese director's great library, is a masterpiece of cinematic style. The film uses flashback upon flashback to offer different interpretations of a man's murder and the rape of his wife.

"Breathless" arrives Feb. 11. This 1959 milestone of the French New Wave features Jean-Paul Belmondo as the young criminal on the run with Jean Seberg as his American girlfriend along for the ride.

The rest of the series features a mix of international fare. Following "Rashomon," on Jan. 21, is Wayne Wang's "Chan Is Missing." The U.S. director, probably best known for the recent "The Joy Luck Club," takes a couple of cabbies through a cockeyed adventure as they search for the guy who stole their savings in this 1982 picture.

The French are represented againwith Coline Serreau's "Mama, There's a Man in Your Bed," which screens Jan. 28. This socially responsible comedy from 1989 focuses on the love affair between a wealthy white man and the black woman who cleans his office.

William Wyler's 1949 movie, "The Heiress," will be shown Feb. 4. In this adaptation of Henry James' novel, Montgomery Clift plays a gigolo trying to win the affections (and money) of a naive woman played by Olivia de Haviland.

The stylish wit of Ernst Lubitsch is on display Feb. 18 with one of his better films, "Trouble in Paradise." The series flyer describes the 1932 picture this way: "Sparkling bubbles of decadence and a light froth of amorality are served up . . . in this sophisticated comedy about two jewel thieves who infiltrate the household of a rich Parisian and live a life of crime without punishment."

An obscure offering from China will be presented Feb. 25. Clara Law's "The Reincarnation of Golden Lotus" from 1989 tells the story of a long-dead courtesan who is reincarnated in Shanghai during the height of the Cultural Revolution.

Yoshimitsu Morita's "The Family Game" is set for March 4. The Japanese director's 1984 satire centers on a bed-hopping tutor hired to prepare a young student for academic life.

A German silent from F. W. Murnau is scheduled for March 11. "The Last Laugh," first released in 1924, follows the emotional collapse of a hotel doorman who loses his job and is forced to evaluate his life.

The program closes March 18 with Pedro Almodovar's 1990 movie, "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" The Spanish director enjoys thrusting unusual folks into bizarre situations; this time, a handsome mental patient and a lovely porn star find a weird kind of love after he kidnaps her.

* What: UC Irvine's "Tragedy and Comedy" film series.

* When: All movies will screen Fridays at 7 and 9 p.m., Jan. 14 through March 18.

* Where: The UCI Student Center's Crystal Cove Auditorium.

* Whereabouts: Take the San Diego (405) Freeway to Jamboree Road and head south to Campus Drive and take a left. Turn right on Bridge Road and take it into the campus.

* Wherewithal: $2 to $4.

* Where to call: (714) 856-6359.

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