THE Los Angeles County Museum of Art's eclectic "Through the Looking Glass (and Down the Rabbit Hole)" series exploring the real and the surreal continues with the baffling 1968 gothic thriller "Secret Ceremony" on Friday evening.
Directed by blacklisted American director Joseph Losey in England, the film stars Mia Farrow as a daffy heiress who convinces a streetwalker (Elizabeth Taylor) -- whose child had drowned -- into coming home with her and pretending to be her mother.
Preceding "Ceremony" is Luis Bunuel's 1962 "The Exterminating Angel," a fascinating tale of what happens when members of Mexico's upper class are trapped at a dinner party in a fabulous mansion.
On tap Saturday is Roman Polanski's first U.S. film, 1968's "Rosemary's Baby." Adapted from the bestselling novel by Ira Levin, the horror film, which was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church, stars Farrow as a woman who believes she's been impregnated by the devil. Ruth Gordon won a best supporting actress Oscar as a wisecracking neighbor who's a witch.
Jean Cocteau's 1950 reinvention of the myth "Orpheus" screens Feb. 2. Set in then modern-day France, the film stars Jean Marais as a singer-poet who travels to the underworld to rescue his wife. The evening's program concludes with "Eyes Without a Face," Georges Franju's 1960 thriller about a mad doctor who tries to fix his daughter's disfigured face by using the skin of women he's abducted.
Getting their due
The American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre's "Overlooked and Underrated" series continues Wednesday with two exemplary war dramas directed by Frank Borzage: 1938's "Three Comrades" and 1940's "The Mortal Storm."
Based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque and adapted by F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Three Comrades" stars Margaret Sullavan, in her only Oscar-nominated performance, as a frail woman who is the object of the affections of three German World War I vets (Robert Taylor, Franchot Tone and Robert Young). Sullavan also appears in "The Mortal Storm," MGM's strongest anti-Nazi film produced before America's involvement in World War II.
Scheduled for next Thursday is a Blake Edwards double bill: 1962's "Experiment in Terror" and 1957's "Mister Cory." The former is a juicy atmospheric thriller starring Lee Remick as a bank teller whose younger sister (Stefanie Powers) is kidnapped. Glenn Ford also stars as an FBI agent.
"Mister Cory" casts Tony Curtis as a poor young man who begins as a busboy at a Wisconsin resort and ends up the manager of a Chicago gambling house.
Two films penned by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo are on tap for Feb. 2. "Lonely Are the Brave," from 1962, stars a flawless Kirk Douglas as a modern-day cowboy who finds his freedom compromised after he breaks out of jail on a minor offense.
Delmer Daves directed the engaging 1958 western "Cowboy," starring Glenn Ford as a financially struggling cattle drive boss who takes on a naive hotel clerk (Jack Lemmon) as a drover and financial partner.
From the East
As part of its Akira Kurosawa retrospective, the Cinematheque's Aero Theatre will show the Japanese director's complex 1960 gangster film, "The Bad Sleep Well," on Friday. Loosely based on Shakespeare's "Hamlet," the drama stars Toshiro Mifune as a man who infiltrates the family of a corrupt Japanese businessman.
Screening on Sunday is 1954's "The Seven Samurai," one of Kurosawa's most ambitious films. The 3-hour, 27-minute action-drama, which was remade in 1960 as the western "The Magnificent Seven," revolves around seven swordsman who are hired to protect a village that has been plagued by brutal bandits. Mifune and Takashi Shimura star.
Also on tap at the Aero is the festival "The Best of James Bond, Agent 007." The three-day tribute begins Feb. 1 with a newly restored print of 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," which marks the only appearance of former male model George Lazenby as 007.
A Sean Connery double bill is set for Feb. 2. In 1965's enthralling "Thunderball," Bond must find two missing A-bombs hijacked by the evil SPECTRE organization and hidden in the waters of the Caribbean. The uneven 1967 thriller "You Only Live Twice" finds Bond fighting the nefarious clan in Japan.
The series ends Feb. 3 with newly restored prints of the first two Bond films, 1962's terrific "Dr. No," which transformed the suave Scotsman Connery into an international superstar, and 1963's dazzling "From Russia With Love," which features a blond Robert Shaw as a killer and Lotte Lenya as the stiletto-wearing villain. Before the screening, Bond historian Steven Jay Rubin will be the host of a three-hour Sean Connery/James Bond Trivia Marathon.