The Best Movie in the Best Setting. How Can You Refuse?

The General

Listen, it’s simple, Buster Keaton’s The General is one of the greatest movies of all time. And the best way to see a movie — especially a comedy — is with a big crowd. And outside? On one of the best days of 2014? Forget it. There is absolutely no way that tonight’s showing of The General isn’t the greatest thing ever. Ever.

Live music by frequent Trylon collaborators Dreamland Faces. And we’re working with the excellent group Friends of the Cemetery. Show up early, get your blanket spread out, buy some food from the trucks and settle in for the best thing that ever was or will ever be.

The General (aka the greatest thing ever)
Saturday, May 24th
7pm doors, 8:30 showtime
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A Somber Tune for Alec Guinness

Tunes of Glory

Nearly every Guinness film we’ve shown in this series has been a comedy. But the films that likely turned Alec Guinness into Sir Alec Guinness were his dramas. His big dramas — KwaiZhivagoTwistArabia — are widely known by film fans. But the lesser seen Tunes of Glory is another stand out that we’re thrilled to be showing as part of this retrospective.

Guinness re-teams with director Ronald Neame (they’d made The Horse’s Mouth a couple of years earlier) for this much more down-to-earth story of loyalty, honor and competition in World War II.

Weirdly, the trailer isn’t on YouTube, but you can see it at the Criterion Collection.

Friday, May 23 – 7, 9pm
Saturday, May 24 – 7, 9pm
Sunday, May 25 – 5, 7pm
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Sublime Crime with The Ladykillers


Before our Alec Guinness series gets all serious with Tunes of Glory, we feature one of his finest comedies The Ladykillers? How fine is it? Fine enough that Greatest American Filmmakers (to some), Joel & Ethan Coen chose it for the first film they every tried to remake. Of course, their remake was awful. But that’s really neither here nor there.

The Ladykillers (the good one, not the Coen one) brings together some of the greatest forces in mid-century English comedy. Guinness stars, Alexander Mackendrick (The Man in the White SuitSweet Smell of Success) directs, Peter Sellers appears in one of his first sizable screen roles. And in the middle of this nonsense is the immovable granite of Katie Johnson.

The result is silly, frantic and — because it’s from Ealing Studios — thoroughly charming.

The Ladykillers
Monday, May 19 – 7, 9pm
Tuesday May 20 – 7, 9pm
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Hitch finds his muse with The 39 Steps

Alfred Hitchcock defined himself in 1934-1935. Although he was an established director with specialty in tense filmmaking, these years saw him go from being a director to the Alfred Hitchcock. In 1934 his original version of The Man Who Knew Too Much established one of Hitch’s main career touchstones: the innocent man swept up in a world of intrigue.

While a great film (though I prefer the remake, singing and all), The Man‘s formula got a tweak with 1935’s The 39 Steps. The tense spy drama was blended with just a bit of wry levity and a liberal dose of romantic meet-cute (where ‘cute’ means ‘handcuffed together’, I guess).

Murder! Mystery! Treachery! Romance! How many of Hitchcock’s classics would that describe? Probably not Psycho, but still quite a few of the others.

The 39 Steps
Monday, April 28th
at The Riverview Theater
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Kurosawa’s modern-day crime thriller: High & Low

Our month of Kurosawa Sans Samurai ends tonight with High and Low, his classic film of crime, kidnapping, greed and society. One of a long line of adaptations directed by Kurosawa, High and Low‘s plot comes from the police thriller King’s Ransom. But like The Bad Sleep Well or Yojimbo, Kurosawa again transforms the non-Japanese source into a thoroughly Japanese film.

A gripping thriller, a social critique, a sumptuous widescreen feast for the eyes, High and Low has everything I want in a Kurosawa film. No swordplay required.

Friday, March 28: 7, 9:45
Saturday, March 29: 7, 9:45
Sunday, March 30: 5, 8
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Jamel Shabazz: Street Photographer


The birth of hip hop is a curious thing. It’s both hotly disputed (which borough ‘created’ it, who really invented scratching, etc.) and remarkably well documented. The creation of an entirely new culture inside the cultural capitol of, well, the world, created a weird feeding frenzy of lovers and opportunists setting upon, photographing, supporting and co-opting the burgeoning b-boys, mc’s, dj’s and graffiti artists.

And one of the undoubted lovers and champions was Jamel Shabazz, a Brooklyn photographer right in the eye of the hip hop storm. In Street Photographer, director Charlie Ahearn (another giant champion of early hip hop) tells Shabazz’s story and the stories he captured, stories that so many of early hip hop documenters missed.

Jamel Shabazz:Street Photographer
Monday, March 24: 7, 8:45
Tuesday, March 25: 7, 8:45
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A doubly-rare treat: Northern Lights with director John Hanson

In 1978, Minnesota native John Hanson, along with collaborator Rob Nilsson, wrote, produced, edited this stark, humanist portrayal of  farm life and the leftist agrarian history of North Dakota. This debut film won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes.

Starring non-professional actors and shot in a winter even colder than the much-feared Polar Vortex, Hanson and Nilsson’s passion for North Dakota and early American leftist politics shine through the obvious difficulties they had in making the film.

The film, in a brand-spanking-new 35 mm print, is the obvious star of the weekend. But we’re doubly honored to have co-director John Hanson with us at the 7pm show on Friday, January 17th. Be sure to ask him about that Vortex, so that he can tell you what a real winter is like.

Normally I’d give you a trailer or clip of the film to whet your appetite, but the Internet is coming up empty. However there is a fantastic article about the film over at Film Comment. Enjoy!

Northern Lights

Friday, January 17th: 7pm (sold out), 9pm
Saturday, January 18th: 7pm (selling fast!), 9pm
Sunday, January 19th 5pm, 7pm

Lancaster/Frankenheimer Team Up!

Lancastic rolls on this weekend and Burt finds himself trapped in two very different situations. In Birdman of Alcatraz, he’s trapped by prison walls. In The Train, he’s trapped between the French resistance and a Nazi train laden with stolen art. Both are directed by John Frankenheimer, whose career was given a huge boost by Lancaster after the two worked on The Young Savages in 1961.

Frankenheimer wasn’t supposed to direct either of these films. Birdman began under Charles Chrichton (The Lavender Hill Mob, a bunch of other stuff), but Lancaster brought in Frankenheimer to take over. A perhaps over-ambitious prestige bio-pic (the first cut was over 4 hours long), it was still quite the success, earning Lancaster his 3rd of 4 best actor nominations — which he lost to Gregory Peck for To Kill A Mockingbird, no shame in losing to that performance.

The Train is more in the Frankenheimer mode, a tense, action-filled thriller. But Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde, Night Moves, other classics) was the initial director, until Lancaster fired him and brought in Frankenheimer to make the film more action-packed. Lancaster does his own stunts, real trains are crashed, real dynamite blows up real good. It’s a style of action mostly unseen since special effects took over the world.

See? Isn’t that great? Real humans did that stuff. Not a computer.

Birdman of Alcatraz
Friday, November 22nd: 7pm
Saturday, November 23rd: 9:30pm
Sunday, November 24th: 7:30pm
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The Train
Friday, November 22nd: 9:30pm
Saturday, November 23rd: 7pm
Sunday, November 24th: 5pm
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So much great Lancaster to come

Huty1586437It was early in my days with the Trylon when I feel in love with Lancaster when we showed The Sweet Smell of Success, a movie so dark, so mean, so grim that it’s hard to believe it was ever made. Shortly thereafter I went on a noir bender and saw Lancaster in both The Killers and Criss Cross, which only cemented my love of Lancaster.

So imagine my excitement when we announced a whole month of Lancaster! 11 films, 9 of which were new to me. Now that we’re half-way through the month, I thought I’d offer a brief summary of what we’ve shown so far and what we have coming up. If you’ve missed the films so far, there’s still plenty of great movies coming up.

Tonight and tomorrow we’ll be showing Ulzana’s Raid, which Trylon regular John Bloomfield has already introduced quite well. But I’m interested in seeing it as a companion piece to The Professionals. That earlier film straddled the line between straightforward western and the darker, introspective westerns that began to appear in the 60s. For all its attempts at grimy characters with questionable morals, The Professionals remained a bit too glossy and clean. But by the time Ulzana was made, all that sheen had been stripped from the western, and I’m very excited to see how Lancaster approaches a truly dark Western.

This weekend is double dose of Lancaster/Frankenheimer. The Train is what I expect from the pairing, a stunt-heavy action film, with the physically amazing Lancaster doing all his own stunts. The Train falls nicely in line with films like The Swimmer and Trapeze as a film that highlights Lancaster’s intense physicality, and I’m very excited to see how Frankenheimer puts Lancaster to use.

On the utter opposite end of the spectrum is Birdman of Alcatraz a biopic set almost entirely in a prison cell, a weird work in both of Lancaster and Frankenheimer’s careers. The subject of Robert Stroud seems so far from Lancaster’s usual wheelhouse of energetic, charming characters. But as he showed in The Killers, he had the ability to play quiet, internal men as well. So, while much of Birdman looks like a prototypical “Prestige Picture”, I’m interested in seeing it for a restrained (in more than ways than one) Lancaster.

On the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving we show Run Silent, Run Deep, another film that constrains the effervescent Lancaster, this time by both the walls of a submarine and the laws of his captain, Clark Gable. Made right after Sweet Smell of Success, the film looks to be a more traditional studio product after that paradigm-smashing masterpiece. The pairing of Lancaster and Gable is the big draw for me, as this is the only film we’re showing in this series where Lancaster share’s the screen with a ‘classic’ star, someone just as able of dominating the screen as he was.

Our final Lancaster film is one of his best known, From Here to Eternity. Known as a soapy romance, the film also focuses on darker, repressed fears. While I don’t expect anything like the existential horror of The Swimmer, I’m excited to see this classic for another Lancaster performance as a man running from his past.

They are coming to get you, Barbara. With music!

The Trylon microcinema offers up a rare treat this Halloween — the classic grandfather of the modern zombie genre, Night of the Living Dead, with a brand new soundtrack, played live by frequent Trylon collaborators The Poor Nobodys.

The film won’t be completely silent, so you’ll still be able to hear the dialog, but since every subsequent zombie movie has copied NotLD‘s plot, the story should be familiar. But the chilling live music will haunt your soul and invade your dreams!

These shows are going to be popular, so get your tickets early!

Night of the Living Dead with The Poor Nobodys
Friday, October 25: 7pm, 9pm
Saturday, October 26: 7pm, 9pm
Sunday, October 27: 5pm, 7pm
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