Revivals and Rediscoveries

In this ongoing series, Block Cinema will screen rare and often hard-to-see American and international films – from revered classics to obscure curiosities – that deserve a second look. To complement the Block Museum’s Thomas Rowlandson exhibit, Pleasures and Pursuits in Georgian England, Block Cinema presents two films set during this period, including Becky Sharp (1935), a stunning early Technicolor film starring Miriam Hopkins and based on William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair; and Kitty (1945), an Oscar-nominated film starring Paulette Goddard as a cockney lass catapulted into high society when the artist Thomas Gainsborough paints her portrait.

Becky Sharp

Saturday, February 26, 2011 2:00 AM FREE
(Rouben Mamoulian, 1935, US, 35mm, 84 min)

Upon its release, Becky Sharp was at least the sixth screen adaptation of Thackeray’s classic novel Vanity Fair, but it was also the first feature-length film to exclusively use three-strip Technicolor. The film’s vibrant color is perfectly suited for this incisive comedy of manners, which tells the story of Becky (Miriam Hopkins), a cunning striver who exploits her feminine wiles to gain entry into the upper crust of early nineteenth-century English society. Becky Sharp is presented in a restored archival print courtesy of the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

Film preservation funded by The Film Foundation.


Saturday, March 12, 2011 2:00 AM
(Mitchell Leisen, 1945, US, 35mm, 104 min)

Paulette Goddard plays the title role in this loose adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. Kitty is a petty but pretty thief until the painter Thomas Gainsborough discovers her. After sitting for a Gainsborough portrait, Kitty attracts the attention of her social betters and begins climbing the ranks of Georgian England’s upper class. Though rarely seen and unavailable on video, Kitty features Oscar-nominated art direction and elaborate, historically accurate costumes. Presented in an archival print courtesy of the British Film Institute.

Afraid to Talk (aka Merry-Go-Round)

Friday, December 2, 2011 7:00 PM
(Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011, Hungary, 35mm, 146 min.)

First brought to our attention earlier this year by visiting critic Dave Kehr, Afraid to Talk is an ultra-rare pre-Code film directed by Edward L. Cahn, known for fast-paced crime capers. The story concerns a group of corrupt civic leaders who try to frame an innocent bellboy for murder in an effort to protect their gangland patrons. The film pulls no punches in its dark depiction of crooked cops and nefarious politicians and would have been difficult, if not impossible, to make a scant two years later after the enforcement of censorship codes.