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'Freaks' celebrates 80th anniversary at Cinematheque

June 21, 2012|By Susan King
  • Tod Browning's "Freaks" celebrates its 80th anniversary.
Tod Browning's "Freaks" celebrates its 80th anniversary. (Raymond Rohauer )

The American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre celebrates the 80th anniversary of Tod Browning’s controversial “Freaks,” which is set in a tawdry carnival with a trapeze artist agreeing to marry the sideshow little person in order to get his inheritance.

Browning cast people with real deformities and disabilities including Daisy and Harry Earle as the twins Hans and Frieda, the conjoined Hilton Twins, Elvira and Jenny Lee Snow as the pinheads and Prince Randian as the human “Torso.” The film shocked the world -- it was banned in England for 30 years. “Freaks” is now considered one of Browning’s most mature, artistic works.

The second feature celebrates the 50th anniversary of Herk Harvey’s thriller “Carnival of Souls.”
On Wednesday, the Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre presents an archival 35mm print of Robert Altman’s 1977 ensemble drama “Three Women” with Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Janice Rule. John Cromwell, the blacklisted film director and father of actor James Cromwell, is featured in a small supporting role.

The first annual “Look East Korean Film Festival” plays Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Saturday and Sunday. The program includes new and vintage Korean films, Q&As and hand and footprint castings of Korean actors Lee Byung-Hun and Ahn Sung-Ki. Filmmaker Pierre Rissient will also be honored at the two-day festival.

Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre presents a Thursday edition of its “Friday Night Frights” series -- a sneak preview of the new horror satire “Juan of the Dead.” Director Alejandro Bruges will appear in person for a Q&A.

The legendary designer/filmmaker Saul Bass, who created the innovative title sequences for such films as “Vertigo” and “West Side Story," will be feted Saturday and Sunday by Cinefamily with programs featuring his commercials, excerpts from his industrial films and his sci-fi feature, “Phase IV.”

The Echo Park Film Center’s “New Works Salon” on Thursday evenings features in-progress or recently completed works on Super 8, standard 8mm and 16mm by local and visiting artists.

Stuntman-turned-director Hal Needham will be on hand Saturday evening at the New Beverly Cinema for the 30th anniversary of his action-thriller “Megaforce,” starring Barry Bostwick, which will be followed by a rare screening of his 1978 comedy “Hooper,” starring Burt Reynolds and Sally Field.

The late Donna Summer sings the Oscar-winning tune “Last Dance” in the 1978 disco musical “Thank God It’s Friday,” screening midnight Friday at the New Beverly. Jeff Goldblum and a very young Debra Winger also appear.

Two great L.A. noirs are on tap at the theater this Sunday and Monday -- Curtis Hanson’s 1997 “L.A. Confidential,” which won Oscars for Hanson and Brian Helgeland’s adaptation of James Ellroys novel and for supporting actress for Kim Basinger; and Carl Franklins 1995 “Devil in a Blue Dress,” based on Walter Mosley’s best-seller starring Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle.

UCLA Film & Television Archive concludes its celebration of Universal’s 100th anniversary Sunday evening at the Billy Wilder Theater with the new restoration of Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” his seminal 1975 thriller about deadly shark attacks on a small New England island. Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw and Roy Scheider star in this blockbuster.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Tuesday matinee at the Leo S. Bing Theater presents Douglas Sirk’s influential 1955 melodrama “All That Heaven Allows,” starring Jane Wyman as a widow who falls for a much younger man (Rock Hudson) to the chagrin of her family and friends.

The L.A. Conservancy’s “Last Remaining Seats” series continues this Wednesday at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles with Douglas Fairbanks’ lavish 1922 swashbuckler “Robin Hood,” which 80 years ago became the first film to premiere at the Egyptian Theatre. Leonard Maltin will introduce the screening; Robert Israel will provide accompaniment on the theater’s 1928 Mighty Wurlitzer.

Three-time Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker, the widow of acclaimed director Michael Powell of “The Red Shoes” fame, will introduce the screening Wednesday evening at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre of the restored print of Powell and partner Emeric Pressburger’s 1943 epic “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.” The Academy Film Archive restored this Technicolor drama that stars Roger Livesey, Deborah Kerr and Anton Wolbrook.

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