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Screening Room

The UCLA Film & Television Archive focuses on the early years of British director David Lean.

October 09, 2008|Susan King | Times Staff Writer
  • ?BLITHE SPIRIT?: Margaret Rutherford stars.
?BLITHE SPIRIT?: Margaret Rutherford stars. (United Artists )

Don't expect to see any of David Lean's lavish epics such as "The Bridge on the River Kwai," "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Doctor Zhivago" at UCLA Film & Television Archive's retrospective of the Oscar-winning British director. The festival, which marks the filmmaker's centenary, shines the spotlight on Lean's first 10 British films, which were made during the 1940s and early '50s.

Opening the tribute Friday evening at the Billy Wilder Theater is 1942's World War II epic "In Which We Serve." Lean, a noted film editor at the time, co-directed the award-winning drama with Noel Coward, who also stars in this tale of life aboard a destroyer. Ronald Neame, who celebrated his 97th birthday this year, was the cinematographer. Neame also was director of photography for the second in the Lean double bill: 1944's "This Happy Breed," about a lower-middle-class London family.

On tap for Saturday is the 1954 comedy "Hobson's Choice," starring Charles Laughton as a boot-maker with three willful daughters.

Rounding out the fun is 1945's Coward comedy "Blithe Spirit," starring Rex Harrison as a successful novelist happily married to his second wife but haunted by the ghost of his first spouse. Shot in Technicolor by Neame, the film won an Oscar for its special effects.

Sci-fi/fantasy novelist Ray Bradbury will be on hand Friday and Saturday at the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre to introduce movie adaptations of his work. Friday is the 1983 Disney chiller, "Something Wicked This Way Comes," starring Jonathan Pryce as the sinister Mr. Dark, who arrives in a small town with a bizarre carnival.

A Bradbury double-feature is set for Saturday: His 1956 adaptation of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" directed by John Huston and starring Gregory Peck, and the 1953 sci-fi classic "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms," directed by Eugene Lourie and featuring the special effects wizardry of Ray Harryhausen.

The Other Venice Film Festival begins at the Electric Lodge tonight with the trailer for Catherine Hardwicke's adaptation of "Twilight" as the opener for "Thirteen," with a Q&A with Hardwicke and "Thirteen" co-writer-costar Nikki Reed. Other films featured include "Fix," "Behind the Wheel" and "The Great Venice Robbery."

The Silent Movie Theatre's "Family Book Presents" series opens Sunday with one of the creepiest films ever produced -- Tod Browning's 1932 horror film, "Freaks," which starred real sideshow performers.


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