Tough Guys Playing (or Directing) For Laughs

posted by Michael Zoldessy on February 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm

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At The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre 54 Journal Square, Jersey City, NJ 07306 Tel. (201) 798-6055 Fax: (201) 798-4020 Web: www.loewsjersey.org

A Not-For-Profit Arts Center in a Landmark Movie Palace

Fri., February 22 8PM
“The Trouble With Harry” Starring Shirley MacLaine, Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. 1955, 105mins

Admission: $7 for Adults, $5 for Seniors (65+) and Children (12 & younger)

A comedy by Alfred Hitchcock? That may seem like a very odd idea indeed. But it works surprisingly well – think of the whimsical black humor of a Charles Adams cartoon. One trouble with Harry is that he seems to pop up everywhere at the most inopportune moments. Another, even more vexing trouble is that he’s dead. The scene is a picturesque Vermont town where, as it develops, everyone seems to think they may have had something to do with Harry’s demise, and so everyone seems to be conspiring to try to keep the late Harry hidden. Hitchcock had a fondness for eccentric, comic-relief characters – think of Thelma Ritter in “Rear Window” or Leo G. Carroll in “North by Northwest” – but here he gave them a movie of their own. And while most of the Master’s films offer some hint of his dry and barbed sense of humor, here it takes center stage. The characters are amusingly unconcerned with the fact that Harry is dead, and his body — repeatedly dug up, dragged about, and reburied — is shown a casual disrespect that is both funny and jarring. Bernard Herrmann’s playful music score perfectly complements the mood. “The Trouble With Harry” was not a hit when it premiered, but it has gained much appreciation over the years. It was also one of Hitchcock’s own favorites.

Sat., February 23 6:30PM “Beat the Devil” Starring Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre. Directed by John Huston. 1953, 89min.

Admission: $7 for Adults, $5 for Seniors (65+) and Children (12 & younger).

In this exquisitely dry comedy with a witty script by Truman Capote, Humphrey Bogart stars as one of five less than reputable adventurers who are trying to get uranium out of East Africa. Bogart’s associates include pompous fraud Robert Morley, and Peter Lorre as the German-accented “O'Hara”, whose wartime record is forever a source of speculation and suspicion. In addition to its well-plotted, always unpredictable script, the film succeeds magnificently because of uniformly excellent performances. Bogart gives his usual romantic/cynic role an enjoyably light turn and creates superb chemistry with Jennifer Jones, who portrays the female half of a seemingly proper British couple who become enmeshed in the machinations. Surprisingly, the film was a box office failure when it was new; indeed, for the rest of his life Bogart, who had invested in the production, unhappily remembered how much money he lost on it. This wasn’t Bogie’s only light role, but of course he wasn’t known for comedy. Maybe for this reason, along with the fact that the film’s wit is so perfectly dry and played with such a straight face, audiences weren’t expecting, or didn’t even know they were watching, a comedy. But no matter its cause, the initial lack of appreciation for “Beat the Devil” has been corrected by later audiences, and the film is now a cult classic.

Sat., February 23 8:20PM “One, Two, Three” Starring James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Pamela Tiffin, Arlene Francis. Directed by Billy Wilder. 1961, 110mins, B&W

Admission: $7 for Adults, $5 for Seniors (65+) and Children (12 & younger).

“Fast” really doesn’t begin to describe the pace of Billy Wilder’s comedy “One, Two, Three”. The satirical jokes, asides and out-and-out farce come so fast you’ll almost feel out of breath. James Cagney is a calculating Coca-Cola executive in West Berlin just before the construction of the Berlin Wall. The film sends up everything from soft-drink capitalism to Communist hypocrisy, Soviet disorganization, male lechery, post-war Germany and American pop culture. In a world where twenty year olds have no living memory of the Soviet Union, some of the references may seem a little dated – but the scattershot satire still offers plenty of potent barbs. And even more importantly to the enduring fun of this movie, Cagney gives a mesmerizing performance, perfectly modulating his tough-guy persona and signature delivery for rapid-fire comedy. The only unfortunate thing about the movie is that the frenetic, near manic pace Wilder imposed throughout filming convinced Cagney he was tired of making movies. This was his last starring role, and next-to-last appearance of any kind on a movie screen. But what a way to go out!

      • Combo discounts available for multiple screenings in a weekend. – – – **Film descriptions are compiled from various sources.

The Loew’s Is Easy To Get To: The Loew’s Jersey Theatre, at 54 Journal Square, Jersey City, NJ, is directly across JFK Boulevard from the JSQ PATH Center with trains to and from Lower and Midtown Manhattan and Newark’s Penn Station, and is minutes from the NJ Turnpike, Rts. 3 and 1&9 and the Holland & Lincoln Tunnels. We’re easy to reach by car or mass transit from throughout the Metro Region.

Discount off-street parking is available in Square Ramp Garage adjoining the Loew’s at the foot of Magnolia Avenue off of Tonnelle Avenue, behind the Loew’s. Patrons must validate their parking ticket before leaving the Theatre.

What’s Special About Seeing A Movie At The Loew’s? The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre is one of America’s grandest surviving Movie Palaces. We show movies the way they were meant to be seen: in a grandly ornate setting – on our BIG 50 ft wide screen! The Loew’s runs reel-to-reel — not platter — projection, which often allows us to screen an archival or studio vault print that is the best available copy of a movie title.

The Loew’s is wheelchair accessible and can provide a limited number of assistive hearing devices.

PLUS – Live organ entrance music (from the Loew’s magnificently restored pipe organ) before most screenings. The Loew’s Jersey is managed by Friends of the Loew’s, Inc. as a non-profit, multi-discipline performing arts enter.

Classic Film Weekends are presented by Friends of the Loew’s, Inc.

(Thanks to Photofest, Inc. for providing the photo.)

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