HALF THE PICTURE filmmaker Amy Adrion will participate in Q&A’s at the Monica Film Center following the 7:10 PM screenings on Friday and Saturday, June 22 and 23. Melissa Goodman of the ACLU will join her for the Friday Q&A and filmmakers Kimberly Peirce (BOYS DON’T CRY), Nisha Ganatra and Tina Mabry (HBO’s “Insecure” and OWN’s “Queen Sugar”) will join her for the Saturday Q&A.
Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present a 50th anniversary screening of the Oscar-winning Best Picture of 1968, OLIVER!, the much-loved film version of Lionel Bart’s hit stage musical.
The movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won six, also including Best Director Carol Reed and a special award for choreographer Onna White. Reed, the acclaimed British director of such classic films as The Third Man and The Fallen Idol, had been working since the 1930s and finally received the Academy’s top honor for this late work.
Charles Dickens’ iconic 19th century novel, Oliver Twist, the heart-rending tale of an orphan who falls in with a band of thieves in London, has been filmed many times over the years; the first version was done in the silent era, and David Lean directed a brilliant rendition in 1948, with Alec Guinness as Fagin.
In 1960 Lionel Bart wrote the book, music, and lyrics for a musical theater version of the novel which scored an enormous success in London and later in New York. Ron Moody, who had played the part of Fagin in London, reprised his role for the film version, and the cast also included Shani Wallis as Nancy, Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger, Oliver Reed (the director’s nephew) as the villainous Bill Sikes, Oscar-winner Hugh Griffith as the Magistrate, and charming newcomer Mark Lester as Oliver.
The 1960s was a great decade for movie musicals, with three earlier films—West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and The Sound of Music—scoring Best Picture wins. OLIVER!, however, turned out to be the last musical film to win the Academy’s top award until Chicago took the prize 34 years later. Reed’s film earned outstanding reviews from most critics. Roger Ebert declared, “Sir Carol Reed’s Oliver! is a treasure of a movie.”
Pauline Kael also admired Reed’s achievement: “Oliver! has been made by people who know how; it’s a civilized motion picture, not only emotionally satisfying but so satisfyingly crafted that we can sit back and enjoy what is going on…there’s something restorative about a movie that is made for a mass audience and that respects that audience.”
Kael also had high praise for the performers. “As Nancy,” Kael wrote, “Shani Wallis is an unexpected pleasure—hearty (as Dickens described her), with a tough vitality that brings poignancy to the role.” Wallis got to perform some of Bart’s best songs, including the rousing “It’s A Fine Life” and the romantic ballad, “As Long As He Needs Me.” Wallis has had an extensive career performing in musical theater and in nightclubs, and she also has many credits in British and American television.
Our 50th anniversary screening OLIVER! (1968) plus Q&A with actress Shani Wallis is Sunday, July 15, at 3pm at the Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills. Click here for tickets.
The distributor has informed us that the filmmaker Q&As have been cancelled. The film will still play at the scheduled times. We will contact ticket holders by email.
BOUNDARIES writer-director Shana Feste will participate in Q&A’s at the Royal after the 5:10 show on Friday, June 22 and after the 8 PM screening on Saturday, June 23.
AFFAIRS OF STATE director Eric Bross and director of photography Horacio Marquínez will participate in Q&A’s at the Music Hall after the 7:20 show on Friday, June 15; both screenings on Sunday and Monday, June 17 and 18; and after the 7:20 show on Thursday, June 21. Screenwriter Tom Cudworth will join them for all but the Thursday screening.
In conjunction with an American Cinematheque tribute to the late Oscar-winning director Milos Forman, Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present a 50th anniversary screening of Forman’s final Czech film, THE FIREMEN’S BALL. The picture, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 1968, is part of our popular Anniversary Classics Abroad series. THE FIREMEN’S BALL co-screenwriter Ivan Passer will participate in a Q&A after the screening at the Royal. Laemmle Theatres president Greg Laemmle will moderate. Passer also worked with Forman on LOVES OF A BLONDE and is perhaps best known for directing the 1965 film INTIMATE LIGHTING and the 1981 film CUTTER’S WAY.
Forman was part the Czech New Wave, a group of talented filmmakers (also including Jan Kadar, Jiri Menzel, and Ivan Passer) who emerged during the 1960s. Forman’s 1966 film, Love of a Blonde, was also an Oscar nominee and put him on the map as a director to watch. His wry sensibility received even fuller expression in The Firemen’s Ball, a dark but raucous satire of the chaos that ensues when a group of local firemen try to mount a celebration for their retiring chief. Forman got the idea for the film when he was in a small Bohemian village working on another script, and he happened to attend a real firemen’s ball. The script was co-written by Forman, Ivan Passer, and Jaroslav Papousek. The cast consisted mainly of nonprofessional actors, including Jan Vostrcil, Josef Sebanek, Josef Valnoha, and Vaclav Stockel.
The film, which was widely interpreted as a sly critique of the Eastern European Communist system, was made during a brief period of artistic freedom that came to be known as the Prague Spring. But when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1968, The Firemen’s Ball was banned, and Forman and other leading Czech directors fled the country. As TV Guide later wrote of the film, “This ingratiating farce is perhaps the last noteworthy film of the Czech renaissance before the political crackdown forced most filmmakers into exile.” After arriving in America, Forman went on to achieve many Hollywood successes, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ragtime, and Amadeus.
Among the stellar reviews for THE FIREMEN’S BALL, Time magazine acclaimed “a delicious parody-fable of Slavic bureaucracy,” and Variety paid tribute to “a lively, brimming comedy on human conduct and small-town life.” In his four-star review, Roger Ebert added, “This is a very warm, funny movie.”
This Just In: Co-screenwriter Ivan Passer will participate in a Q&A after the June 26 screening at the Royal. Laemmle Theatres president Greg Laemmle will moderate. Passer also worked with Forman on LOVES OF A BLONDE and is perhaps best known for directing the 1965 film INTIMATE LIGHTING and the 1981 film CUTTER’S WAY.
Milos Forman’s THE FIREMEN’S BALL (1968) screens Tuesday, June 26, at 7:00pm in Encino, Pasadena, and West L.A. Click here for tickets.
THIS IS CONGO producer Geoff McLean and representatives from Friends of the Congo will participate in Q&A’s at the Music Hall following the 7:20 PM screenings on Saturday, June 30th and Thursday, July 5. Dr. Kasereka George Kasomo from Friends of the Congo will participate in the Saturday screening. The Thursday representative is TBA.
Dr. Kasomo was born in Oicha/Beni Zaire, which is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He studied in Kenya where he earned a bachelor of theology (BTH). Dr. Kasomo continued his studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, where he earned an MA in Intercultural Studies, with an emphasis on Cultural Anthropology. He completed his PhD in Cultural Studies at Claremont Graduate University. His dissertation was on the “Creation and Maintenance of Culture of Violence in Eastern Congo.” Dr. Kasomo is currently the Senior Pastor of the African Christian Community Church of Southern California.