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The Reel Less Traveled

January 31, 2008|KEVIN CRUST

The swirls of golden hair, the piercing blue eyes, the lilting British accent . . . it was the first time I remember seeing and hearing Julie Christie. The year was 1978, the film was "Heaven Can Wait," and I was every bit as flummoxed and enchanted as Warren Beatty's Joe Pendleton. I was so smitten I even read the novelization. Little did I know that she was an Oscar winner known for her beauty and the subtlety of her acting.

The India-born actress is, of course, currently experiencing a resurgence of attention as a leading contender for another Oscar for her lovely performance as a woman slowly slipping into the haze of Alzheimer's in "Away From Her." The golden hair is now gray, and Christie is as mesmerizing and formidably charming as ever.

In one of the many awards-linked tributes around town this time of year, the American Cinematheque is looking back at Christie with a double bill of "Darling" and "Shampoo," 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Aero. "Darling" (1965) featured Christie's breakout role and won her an Oscar for her performance as an amoral climber in swinging London. And 1975's "Shampoo," the second of three fruitful collaborations with onetime paramour Beatty (the first being "McCabe and Mrs. Miller"), placed Christie in a sexual roundelay set on election eve 1968 and satirized the mores of the era.

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-- Kevin.Crust@latimes.com

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