Karen Black: Actor for a New Hollywood

Date Film Time
10/1 Five Easy Pieces 7 pm
10/2 Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean 7 pm

Block Cinema is proud to present two films featuring Northwestern University alumnus, Karen Black, in celebration of the recent donation of her papers and memorabilia to the University Archives. Karen Black starred in films made by some of the greatest directors of the 20th century, won two Golden Globes for acting, and co-starred with an overwhelming list of legendary actors. With a filmography of a staggering 150+ acting credits over the course of fifty years, Black managed to avoid being typecast and never took on safe roles. Choosing to work with independently-minded directors who fostered her talent, she had a knack for adding depth and complexity to every character she embodied. Black brought to the screen an inimitable ability to be simultaneously chameleon-like (completely absorbed into her characters) while retaining a magnetic on-screen presence. Her nonconformity, charm, charisma, creativity and talent made her the embodiment of the spirit of the rebellious “New Hollywood.”

Five Easy Pieces

Thursday, October 1, 2015 7:00 PM
(Bob Rafelson, 1970, US, DCP, 96 min.)

Five Easy Pieces features Karen Black in her first major role, one for which she received well-deserved award attention. Black plays Rayette, the faithful, pregnant, country-music-singing, waitress girlfriend of Bobby Dupea (Jack Nicholson). Bobby, a blue-collar oil rig worker who has distanced himself from his family and privileged upbringing, is drawn back home when he learns that his father is deathly ill. The one-two punch of great performances by Black and Nicholson (both fairly green behind the ears), in addition to Bob Rafelson’s progressive direction and Carole Eastman’s killer script, add up to one of the finest examples of “New Hollywood” cinema.

A conversation on Karen Black’s life and legacy with her widower, Stephen Eckelberry, will follow the screening.

Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

Friday, October 2, 2015 7:00 PM
(Robert Altman, 1982, US, 35mm, 100 min.)

A Woolworth’s in McCarthy, Texas is the meeting place of the Disciples of James Dean. When a group of old friends gathers to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of their idol’s tragic death, old tensions bubble up and new revelations come to light. Oscillating between flashbacks and the present, Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, like so many of Robert Altman’s films, is a showcase for its actors: Karen Black’s performance as Joanne is stunning. Winner of the Best Film Award at the 1983 Chicago International Film Festival, Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean was one of Altman’s most critically acclaimed works.

A short film directed by Karen Black will precede the feature. A conversation on Karen Black’s life and legacy with her widower, Stephen Eckelberry, will follow the feature.