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Screening Room: Paris high jinks in 'Midnight'

Also 'The Bad Seed,' 'Kathy O',' 'Blonde Venus' and more.

May 20, 2010|By Susan King, Los Angeles Times

Comedies don't come more perfect than 1939's "Midnight," which the UCLA Film and Television Archive will be screening Friday at the Billy Wilder Theatre using a rare nitrate print of the classic romantic farce.

Directed by Mitchell Leisen and penned by Charles Brackett and the one and only Billy Wilder, this delightful froth stars Claudette Colbert as a washed-up showgirl in Paris, Don Ameche as a taxicab driver who loves her and a scene-stealing John Barrymore as a wealthy man who hires Colbert to lure a French playboy away from the clutches of his wife (former Barrymore flame Mary Astor). Elaine Barry, who was Barrymore's last wife, has a tiny part in the film.

Author and poster collector Ira M. Resnick ("Starstruck") and Sony Pictures consultant Michael Schlesinger will talk about the film.

The light stuff

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Science and Technology Council offers "Illuminating the Future: The Arrival of Solid-State Lighting," Saturday morning at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood.

Cinematographer and council member Daryn Okada will lead the discussion on the new solid-state light sources, which according to the academy has the potential to transform the color palette of filmmaking. The panel discussion will explore the pros and the challenges of this new technology.

Good when she's 'Bad'

Patty McCormack gave one of the great child performances on Broadway and again in the 1956 film version of Maxwell Anderson's shocking thriller "The Bad Seed." McCormack was all of 11 when she received a supporting actress Oscar nomination for her role as a cloyingly picture-perfect girl who is actually a murderer. The only flaw in the film is the upbeat ending.

McCormack, who continues to act in such series as "The Sopranos" and in 2008's " Frost/Nixon," will be on hand Saturday at the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre for a screening of "Seed," as well the 1958 comedy "Kathy O'," in which she plays an obnoxious child star.

A Dietrich classic

The Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre and the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles celebrates the birthdays Sunday of actor Herbert Marshall, born May 23, 1890, and director Josef von Sternberg (May 29, 1895) with a screening Sunday afternoon of the delicious pre-code 1932 melodrama "Blonde Venus," which contains an unforgettable musical number by Von Sternberg's muse, Marlene Dietrich. Marshall and Cary Grant also star. Before the screening, Mark A. Vieira will present an illustrated talk about the film, as well as sign copies of his new book on Dietrich.

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