A Century of Olivia

Happy Birthday to the last great star from Hollywood’s Golden Age, Miss Olivia de Havilland! Olivia turns 100 on July 1, 2016. The Pickwick Theatre Classic Film Series honored her this past May with a screening of Captain Blood (1935). We were grateful to have Errol Flynn’s daughter, Rory Flynn, as a special guest. Rory shared with us a wonderful letter she had received from Olivia.

Olivia is best known for her roles in the Errol Flynn classics and for her two Oscar-winning performances in To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949). And, for an entire legion of fans, she will be remembered as Melanie in Gone With the Wind (1939).

Olivia de Havilland currently resides in Paris, France.

Vanity Fair recently published an article on Olivia which can be found here!

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Since 2016 is also the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, we thought for our summer movie recommendation we’d offer A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935). This was Olivia’s screen debut.

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Film 101: Color & Prints

With the Pickwick Theatre Classic Film Series,  I work with a large venue and large crowds, but one thing I miss about running the smaller LaSalle Theatre was working with actual film– and talking about film. Since those days of projecting 16mm and 35mm prints, most theatres in recent years have converted to digital projection. “DCP” (Digital Cinema Package) being the format that has replaced film. But it has not replaced the unique qualities of film itself. Images were not meant to be pixelated and uploaded into a computer. The properties of Technicolor, for instance, most certainly cannot be duplicated digitally. Sadly, with theatrical film exhibition receding into the past, the values and history of such terms as Technicolor have become lost on the new generation. Since I often say, “If we only had an IB Technicolor print of this title we would bring in twice as many people…” Whether that’s true now, I don’t know. But to answer some of the specific questions I’ve taken this season, I thought I’d elaborate in more detail.

Three-strip Technicolor is IB Technicolor. One and the same. “IB” stands for “Imbibition” indicating the use of dyes (cyan, magenta and yellow) on a single black strip of finished film (a matrix) from corresponding (three) camera negatives. After 1975, the word “Technicolor” was merely a copyright logo and saleable name in the industry; everything was actually processed on Eastman stock. Not that it made much difference by then. Full-blown, full-lit color photography was out; the kind of muted, shaded “noir” look was in. Everything started to look drained thereafter. All other studio systems, i.e., Metrocolor, Warnercolor, Pathe, etc., were all Eastman products. The absolute nadir was Deluxe, filled with pinks and purples over true reds and blues, and, interestingly, mostly associated with the Cinemascope process; the cost of wide-screen photography was offset by the inferior hues. Sort of pointless, really. As far as 16mm went, all those Warnercolor films of the early and mid-1950s were genuinely finished on Technicolor stock and consequently rather nice as projected.

I can’t exactly tell you how to spot a true Technicolor print; you just know it from experience. But Tech film stock is the “thickest,” naturally, due to the three layers of dyes, and the soundtrack is jet black as opposed to a bluish or purplish-ish track on an Eastman. The nice thing is, Techs were virtually vacuum-packed and, hence, fading is almost nil, even forty, fifty years later. Eastmans can literally fade to red in a matter of months. Of course, I’m talking about the “old days” before the low tolerance Japanese stocks that surfaced a few decades ago. There’s a CRI Technicolor standard stock (actually Kodak) that really captured most of the hues of the original Tech, except possibly for that unique “green” shading no one could touch. I suspect that A Matter of Life and Death was a CRI or just possibly a true Tech from England, in which case we all would relish a screening! The Biograph, pre-VCRs, used to annually run a Tech on The Adventures of Robin Hood which would knock your eyeballs for a loop; it was so sharp and rich you thought it was a 3-D print!

I can’t say for certain that some of the  Warner cartoons I played at the LaSalle Theatre were Tech. They could’ve been Kodak dupes. Generally speaking, most every major film photographed after 1935 was Technicolor, with an occasional foray into Cinecolor or Magnacolor or some similar 2-color Eastman process; up until maybe 1949 when Kodak refined a single strip process that was more feasible than the costly and mechanically-difficult Technicolor and the 3-pack camera set-up. You’ll notice a lot of films starting in the early ’50s carry a credit “Print by Technicolor” meaning they were shot in some form of Eastmancolor but processed onto a Tech release stock, and quite often the difference was almost undetectable due to improved raw celluloid. Though I’m not positive, I believe one of the last features shot in the 3 camera Tech negative way was Underwater in ’55, with Jane Russell, before they went to a ‘single-pack’ film in which the three colors were printed onto the single strip of stock in the camera via a prism.

I almost forgot about those eccentric-looking ‘Trucolor’ Westerns from Republic, a dual-color format showcasing snazzy ‘teal’ greens and ‘orange’ reds.

Another question I’ve been asked pertains to how new film prints are made or “struck” for replacement after old prints wear out. As previously mentioned, prints are no longer being struck for the commercial market, though some filmmakers still shoot on 35mm film. But generally, new prints of classic films would be made through institutions like the George Eastman House, or the Library of Congress, or the Museum of Modern Art, etc. But back in the day when all theatres projected film, the process went something like this: There were a number of avenues, which also accounts for the disparity in results. In a nutshell, we start with the original negative, that is, the camera negative. A positive “work print” is struck from the various reels. This is edited and acts as a blueprint for cutting the original negative. From there you can print all the ‘release’ positives wanted. ‘Protection’ copies of both the negative and positive can be created– duped– from these sources as safeguards. Film will naturally wear out the more times through the optical printer. Now, I’m talking the Golden Age when nitrate ruled. Decades pass. Film deteriorates. Nitrate was highly flammable and quick to decompose. Sometimes titles disappear forever in original form, negative or first positive. Protection prints, also known as ‘lavenders,’ may be the only existing source material. Enter acetate ‘safety’ film in 1949. Their biggest problem is shrinkage. Kodak introduced 16mm in 1923, mainly for amateur home movies. Hollywood product was first matched to 16mm around 1944, the popular format for rental libraries, later TV packages. Needless to say, a new ‘inner’ negative in the reduced gauge was struck from any available source, as close to the camera neg as possible. That shift in tone, light and dark, within a continuous strip is due to the lab not ‘timing’ the different edit cuts (like the same scene was broken up in two or three different photographic sessions). The reason some newer 16mms are ‘light’ struck, dupey, flat contrast, etc., is you might be working from a dupe reduction positive, or a duped 16mm from the only existing fine-grain positive. I can tell you, for example, there is no 35mm material on a Republic movie serial like Dick Tracy Vs. Crime, Inc. in existence. Lost, mis-catalogued, damaged, decomposition, whatever. Only fine-grain 16mm positives from which everything down the line is or will be struck. Obviously, the further away from the initial source, the lesser the quality. I don’t have to mention how this problem is magnified a million-fold in dealing with color stock. Improved stocks of today can yield marvelous representations of older prints, and with the advent of computer and digital technology, whole images can be erased, certainly cleaned up to near perfection. The bottom line, before digital, was how good was your best source material?

And what can you say about abnormal situations, like RKO selling off its entire library of some 755 titles, shipping the camera negs to South American labs, and forever altering the opening credits on many a classic by eliminating the tower trademark and relabeling everything a “C&C” film (with freeze frame titles) and doing the same with the endings. That was 1955 and there are still Radio pictures so disfigured. Ditto for a lot of Universals, like the Abbott & Costellos, taken over for reissue in the ’50s by Realart. Or the Columbias which emerged as “Screen Gems” product in TV packages. You’ll be unhappy to hear there is no 35 neg on Stagecoach for the most heinous reason imaginable: Wanger/UA sold the material to Masterpiece Imprints in the late ’40s and they cut up the camera neg to make new trailers! Most of your modern day print-offs were copied from the only 35mm positive around– from John Wayne’s collection– donated to USC.

~MCH

Rory & Taryn in Season 3 Finale!

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This past week Hollywood Royalty came to Park Ridge–the daughters of two acting dynasties!

Thank you to the nearly 400 fans who came out on May 17, 2016, to see Captain Blood with special guests Rory Flynn (daughter of Errol Flynn) and Taryn Power-Greendeer (daughter of Tyrone Power). The ladies met with fans in the theatre lobby before and after the screening. Onstage, Rory was interviewed about her father and took a few questions from the enthusiastic audience. One of the great highlights of the evening was a beautiful letter from the legendary Olivia de Havilland, which Rory generously shared with us. (Since this was a personal letter written from Olivia to Rory, we’re not going to post the contents on the Internet. However, there was a nice follow-up article online in the May 24, 2016 issue of the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate about Rory’s appearance. Click Here!)

We are extremely grateful to our special guests and to all our patrons who attended. With your support this season, we averaged 466 people a show! Thank you!

Thank you to Nick Digilio of WGN Radio and to Turner Classic Movies for their continued support.

And thank you to our staff A-Team: Movie Hostess Allison, Shannon (our ticket taker), and Elizabeth (our photographer). Finally, our evening with Rory & Taryn would not have been possible without the generous assistance of Evelyn Delmar!

We’ll be back September 2016!

 

Rory Flynn
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Taryn Power meeting with fans…
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Taryn Power-Greendeer, program host Matthew Hoffman, and Rory Flynn
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The interview onstage…
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Congratulations, Steven, winner of our Captain Blood treasure chest!
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Lee & Dee
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Shannon, Matthew, Elizabeth, Allison
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Movie Hostess Allison & Program Host Matthew
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Thoughts on Flynn; A Fan Remembers

The following are some comments about Errol Flynn from one of our classic film supporters, Mary Dalton. We thought we’d share her thoughts with you before our screening this Tuesday night…

I thought it would be easy to write about Errol Flynn, but my knowledge of him is actually minimal, beyond the usual stories. And when one starts to read about his life, a sense of depression inevitably takes hold. Perhaps I’m getting old, but I hate Flynn’s personal reputation, at least as biographers would have it (except for Rory, of course). Once upon a time, before appalling behavior became a cultural staple in the West, Flynn’s lifestyle was a novelty — he was a celebrity in the way that Casanova was a celebrity. But Western Culture is now in its death throes, partly due to that lifestyle, and it’s hard to write about it without a sense of weariness.

Captain Blood definitely remains my favorite movie of his. I love it because I can see him as the 25-year-old he was, full of promise, before Hollywood and his own cynicism got the better of him. Flynn would spend the rest of his life subtly mocking the larger-than-life persona he’d helped create, and one wonders if his personal scandals weren’t an attempt to kill off that persona for good. I feel like crying whenever I watch him in The Sun Also Rises, because he played a late vision of himself, and he played it honestly. I really wish he could have cut himself some slack.

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Sometimes I wonder how Flynn would have seen himself had he lived into old age. This may be a stretch, but I believe that his film persona offers a brief glimpse into the “real” man. Errol Flynn wasn’t virtuous, of course, but at some level he must have believed in the idea of virtue. It didn’t exist much in Hollywood, but he must have looked for it. I don’t know how else to reconcile the mystery of him — his great charm and natural warmth set against outrageous conduct; his love for his children and his tendency to seduce young girls; his desire to serve in the war and the abuse he put his body through when he was denied by the draft board. I think he might have been happier if he could have lived his roles, rather than simply playing them. But perhaps I’m trying to psychoanalyze him too much. I don’t know any of this, of course. Maybe there is too strong a desire in me to see him as Captain Blood!

It’s possible that Errol Flynn could occasionally reconcile himself to what he’d become. There is that compelling quote of his: “I allow myself to be understood as a colorful fragment in a drab world.” This I find more interesting that any of his cryptic pronouncements on death. The way he says “I allow myself” makes me think that the reason we don’t know anything about Flynn’s inner life is because he simply chose it that way. And why not?

Who was it that spoke of Flynn as the “symbol of the unvanquished man?” I can understand why a movie like Captain Blood, and an actor like Flynn, would have such an impact on Depression-era audiences. We need stories like this now, and heroes like Peter Blood now, in our own time, but I don’t think Hollywood is capable of making them, because the industry doesn’t believe in virtue. But at least we have Flynn’s movies and can watch them whenever we need to. I’d like to think that one day the scandals and idiotic theories, like the one about his being a Nazi spy (why the hell would an iconoclast like him follow the Nazis?) will fade away and all we’ll have is Errol Flynn as he should be remembered: as Captain Blood, as Robin Hood, as the hero showing us how to prevail against the odds. It’s not the worst afterlife one can have.

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Mary Dalton is a freelance writer and former publicist for Park Ridge Classic Film.

Flynn/De Havilland Tribute with Rory Flynn at Pickwick Theatre!

WHAT: Captain Blood (1935) screening
WHEN: Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at 7:30 PM
WHERE: Pickwick Theatre, Park Ridge, IL
WHO: Special Guests: Rory Flynn, younger daughter of Errol Flynn
Taryn Power, younger daughter of actor Tyrone Power
Rory will be signing copies of her memoir, The Baron of Mulholland.
WHAT ELSE: Jay Warren performs prelude music at 7:00 PM.
We will have a raffle for a “Captain Blood” treasure chest.
HOW MUCH: $10/$7  60+ or $8/$6 (advance tickets) at theatre box office

Rory grew up in Hollywood in the 50’s with her father Errol Flynn and mother Nora. At the age of 18 Rory was discovered by the Eileen Ford Agency, she started modeling in NY, and soon after left for Europe where she worked in the fashion centers, London, Paris & Milan,

As a high fashion model, having worked with some of the best photographers, Rory picked up the camera as a hobby, later the camera became her profession, which later led her back to Hollywood, becoming a stills photographer for feature films and television.

Rory has done over 35 feature films and numerous television sitcoms and movies of the week. Then after meeting her husband on a film in Sri Lanka that he was producing. They settled into a home, very close to the house she grew up in, in the Hollywood Hills to raise their son, Rio.

Rory wrote a book about her growing up in Hollywood with her famous dad, “The Baron of Mulholland.” This book and the research Rory has done for the book, has led her to her lecturing career. Rory has lectured in universities, charity functions for Veterans and Cruise lines.

Errol Flynn was born in Hobart, Tasmania, and in 2009 Rory put together a centenary celebration for her father, a 2-week festival in Hobart, sponsored by the Heart Foundation.

Rory’s brother is the famed Vietnam War photo Journalist, lost in Cambodia 1970.

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Captain Blood (1935)

Captain Blood screens Tuesday night, May 17, at the Pickwick Theatre.

The following was originally published in the Crossed Swords blog.

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Captain Blood (1935) is one of the essentials to any movie series on swashbuckling. It was the film that not only made Errol Flynn a star but kicked off a second cycle of swashbucklers that would continue until the start of World War II. I remember seeing Captain Blood when I was a little buccaneer, and in those pre-Robert Osbourne days, we had Frazier Thomas and “Family Classics” on WGN-TV. This is where I saw all the great Errol Flynn swashbucklers. I watched Captain Blood again recently, and a few things really stood out. I was captivated by Flynn’s performance, of course, but also by the direction, and how well the story fits into the mold of the classic hero tradition.

“It was fortunate for you that I was here to save you.”
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Captain Blood was Flynn’s American debut as a leading man, but you would never know it watching him onscreen. It was certainly daring for Warner Brothers to not only cast him as the lead but also Olivia de Havilland too, who was practically an unknown herself. Both are marvelous in the film. It’s easy to see why they would be paired together seven more times. Flynn is everything we expect a hero to be and more. He is dashing, romantic, and totally convincing with a sword. Flynn is also quite sincere in the role. In later years, he was often dismissive about his costume pictures, but it’s this sincerity in his characterization that makes the film work. He made it all seem so easy, and perhaps this is why he was underrated as an actor.

One of his best scenes comes early in the film after he is arrested for giving medical attention to a rebel of King James II. After months in prison, he finally faces an English magistrate in what becomes a mockery of freedom and equality. Unlike his fellow prisoners, Dr. Peter Blood pleads not guilty to the charges he is accused of doing. We feel his anger at the injustice of the court before him. His dialogue in this scene is some of his best in the movie, and he expresses his anger with great conviction. Throughout the film, he makes several important speeches, and it’s amazing that a relative newcomer to the screen is able to pull it off as well as he does.

“Captain” Michael Curtiz
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Cinematographer Hal Mohr, Errol Flynn, and Michael Curtiz
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Flynn was reportedly very nervous when production began, but director Michael Curtiz settled him down and got the performance he needed. Curtiz’s handling of his actors produced the desired results. Equally commendable is Curtiz’s atmospheric direction which was well-suited to the genre. Captain Blood is filled with striking shots and use of shadows. A good example of the director’s staging is the aforementioned court scene in which the set is very severe and stark in appearance. Curtiz’s framing and compositions are expressionistic in design. This was certainly the European influence behind his direction. As with Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s musical score, the look and design of Curtiz’s film convey what words cannot.

Captain Blood embodies the hero tradition that audiences would see throughout the 1930s and ‘40s. It has many similarities to The Adventures of Robin Hood, made three years later by the same director. In both films, there is a rebel rallying his men against injustice. In both films, there are corrupt leaders who are ultimately replaced by good kings. But whether the hero was an English outlaw or an Irish doctor, he never sought to overthrow the government or replace the system– only those leaders who had corrupted it.

Olivia de Havilland on the set of Captain Blood. Jean Muir and Anita Louise were first considered for the role.
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Injustice was a recurring theme at Warner Brothers. Throughout the early 1930s the studio tackled social injustice in contemporary films whose source material came directly from news headlines. One might recall Paul Muni’s unfair sentencing in I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang (1932). These themes continued in the historical genre. Social injustice is what’s behind Peter Blood’s desire for revenge. There is injustice and cruelty depicted in the authority figures—from the “unclean tyrant” King James to the magistrate that sentences Peter Blood to the Lionel Atwill character, Bishop, who runs the Port Royal plantation and tortures his slaves with a branding iron. We want to see these antagonists get what’s coming to them. With this as a background, Flynn makes us sympathize and identify with him.

Despite leading the life of a pirate– a life of stolen fortunes and unholy alliances– Peter Blood has a code, as embodied in the articles he draws up on the ship for those under his command. Women, for instance, are not to be taken hostage. And when they are, he sees to it that they are put ashore. It seems that despite his new life as a seafaring rogue, chivalry rides the high seas with him. His wanton ways of buying a woman’s attention with sacks of coins, for instance, are contradicted by his inherent decency towards Arabella Bishop (Olivia de Havilland). Peter Blood reflects life’s contradictions. However, to have gone any further into psychological complexity the film would have ceased to be a swashbuckler. One of the conventions that separates the golden age swashbuckler from the modern one is that they weren’t about social realism. The stories could have themes and conflicts that were relevant, but they always had the fundamental morality and idealism of a hero legend. Characters could be cynical at times, but the tone of the film itself could never be such in the end. Ugly realities were always vanquished by the sword.

Location shooting included Laguna Beach, California.
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Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone. (Swordplay staged by Fred Cavens.)
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Crossed Swords is the mirror opposite of previous programs like Forbidden Cinema. So often I hear people talk about that pre-Code era in Hollywood (1929-1934) as though that was the only time studios made honest films—movies that featured strong female characters and subjects Hollywood would not tackle again for decades. These same viewers are often dismissive towards the Production Code and the films made under it as though they feel idealism—such as that found in the Crossed Swords series—cannot contain any truth. For this critical circle, the age of chivalry is false, a romantic notion better suited for children’s fairy tales than for adults. But there was a reason these films played on “Family Classics”; it was because they are family films. Not only did they offer a sort of moral guidance for the young and impressionable, but they satisfied a need in people of all ages to believe in what is best in human nature.

Some of Hollywood’s finest examples of storytelling were in fact made under the Production Code. The swashbucklers might not have been “realistic,” but they could still contain an emotional truth which can be more powerful than realism. In addition to this, they managed to tackle subjects that were not only relevant then– but today as well. Just last week one of our patrons came up to me after our screening of The Count of Monte Cristo and referenced the corrupt banking practices that Edmond Dantes sought to expose. (It’s a familiar issue to our modern society!) And here in Peter Blood we have a character who is a reflection of our own frustrations. How many of us have no use for our current political leaders? Yet we always seem to unite in a crisis (and war), and there is always a hope of a great unifier in some distant future. In our swashbucklers, it was always a good King who restored the peace and happiness and changed the shape of the world. For Peter Blood, his reputation is restored with the ascendancy of King William. This was the dynamic of the classic swashbuckler. It’s a testament to these films that they resonate with us so much all these years later.

~MCH

Hollywood filmmaking reaching its zenith…
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Look Out! Bond Night at the Pickwick!

Dear Matthew,

Please just say to the audience that not only I enjoyed immensely making the film but even until today, I am reminded continuously by my fans how much they loved my performance and therefore fifty years later I am still reaping the benefit of being a Bond Girl.

Bless them all for me!

Thank you and good luck!

Warmest regards.

Luciana Paluzzi

The line to get in! (photo courtesy of Kenny Chmielewski)
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Over 500 patrons attended our 50th anniversary screening of Thunderball on April 21, 2016. The screening was a popular event for the community with many people in the lobby trying to get either a glimpse of the Vulcan Bomber model or meet New York Times best-selling author Raymond Benson. We also had a large amount of memorabilia from the film on display, courtesy of guest Colin Clark of the Ian Fleming Foundation.

We gave away some Bond prizes courtesy of the Ian Fleming Foundation. The grand prize was the tour of the IFF James Bond vehicle and prop facility in Kankakee, IL. There were multiple winners for this rare opportunity! The last prize was our giant “Bond Basket,” which we were raffling off.

Organist Jay Warren performed the pre-show music. His James Bond themes on the Mighty Wurlitzer sounded magnificent!

We had so much going on around the movie, but the real surprise of the night was the quality of the film itself. The color and detail of this particular DCP presentation was extraordinary– so much so that our long-time projectionist commented that it was one of the best restorations he had seen. The film looked absolutely gorgeous on the big screen.

Thank you again to everyone who came out to support the Pickwick Theatre Classic Film Series!

We dedicated this screening to IFF Chairman Peter Janson-Smith and Guy Hamilton, the director of Goldfinger. Both of whom had recently passed away.

Shannon & Elizabeth with the Vulcan Bomber!
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(photo courtesy of Kenny Chmielewski)
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James Bond Author/Film Historian Raymond Benson
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Raymond signing copies of his novels! (photo courtesy of Kenny Chmielewski)
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Colin Clark of the Ian Fleming Foundation
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Matthew, Colin & Raymond
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Giving stuff away! (photo courtesy of Kenny Chmielewski)
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Shannon with Colin’s homemade speargun!
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Our “Bond Basket” winner, Sue!
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The Biggest Bond of All!

Thunderball screens this Thursday, April 21, at 7 PM at the Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge. Doors open at 6 PM.

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When two atomic bombs are stolen and held for ransom by the organization SPECTRE, Agent 007 is called into service. His search takes him to the Bahamas where he encounters SPECTRE’s Number Two, Emilio Largo. It’s a race against time when a U.S. city is threatened with atomic terrorism. The chase leads to a spectacular underwater confrontation between James Bond and the frogmen of SPECTRE.

James Bond mania reached its zenith with the release of 1965’s Thunderball, the fourth film in the franchise. The Bond craze was everywhere by the mid-sixties, from merchandising to knock-off movie imitations. Though the series has continued to the present-day, never again would a Bond film generate as much excitement. What makes the film so well remembered fifty years after its release is that it lives up to the hype.

In anticipation of our anniversary screening at the Pickwick Theatre, we’ve met many fans who have cited Thunderball as their favorite Bond movie. This is high praise considering it followed From Russia With Love and Goldfinger! Reasons why are varied. “It has the most beautiful Bond girls,” is one of the more frequent responses. Regardless of its critical ranking in the 007 pantheon, Thunderball remains the most successful film of the franchise.

The definitive Bond, Sean Connery.
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James Bond author/historian Raymond Benson will be a guest on April 21 to discuss the film’s complicated genesis. The original story was based on an abandoned screenplay written by 007 creator Ian Fleming, along with Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham. Their intent was to make Thunderball the first James Bond movie. When this plan fell through, Fleming turned the screenplay into another Bond novel in 1961. McClory immediately sued, claiming he owned the rights to the story with Fleming. The case was eventually settled out of court. In the wake of this legal issue and the incredible success of the early Bond films, Eon producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman made a deal with McClory in 1964. They would allow him a producing credit on Thunderball. This was done in order to avoid McClory making a competing Bond film, as would be the case twenty years later with Never Say Never Again (1983).

Luciana Paluzzi as villainess Fiona Volpe. She originally tested for the role of Domino (played by Claudine Auger). On Thursday night, Luciana will be sending us a special message for the Pickwick audience!
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Thunderball was directed by Terence Young, a stylish British filmmaker who had already directed the first two Bond films. He was adept at mixing elegance with adventure, giving Thunderball a high gloss. The film benefits from beautiful locations in the Bahamas, spectacular underwater footage choreographed by Ricou Browning, and memorable set designs by production designer Ken Adam. Adam, who recently passed away at the age of 95, was one of the men most responsible for the look of the James Bond movies. His sets were never bland or static, but rather sophisticated and kinetic. Something was always moving in the frame, whether it was a giant map in Goldfinger or a Spectre agent’s electrified chair in Thunderball.

The famous Bell Rocket jet pack.
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In addition, Thunderball features one of the best John Barry musical scores, a witty script by Richard Maibaum that balances the danger with the sex, and lush cinematography by Ted Moore (shot in the Widescreen Panavision format), which captures the romance of the West Indies. The film would win an Oscar for special effects by John Stears. With so many talents involved, Thunderball stands as a testament to the collaborative art of epic filmmaking.

Contact sheet with scenes from the movie.
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Thunderball: 50th anniversary at the Pickwick Theatre

WHAT: Thunderball (1965) 50th anniversary screening (on DCP)
WHEN: April 21, 2016   7:00 PM
WHERE: Pickwick Theatre, Park Ridge, IL
WHO: Special guests: James Bond author Raymond Benson & Colin Clark of the Ian Fleming Foundation
WHAT ELSE: The “Vulcan Bomber” model plane used in the film will be on display in our lobby.
Also, the first hundred patrons (with an admission ticket) will get a chance to win a tour of the IFF James Bond vehicle & prop facility in Kankakee, IL.
We will have a free prize drawing as well as a raffle for a “Bond basket” ($1/ticket, 5 for $4).
Jay Warren performs pre-show music at 6:30 PM.
ADMISSION: $10/$7 seniors 60+ ($8/$6 advance)


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The historic Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge, IL, will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THUNDERBALL with a screening of the classic James Bond blockbuster film on Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 7:00pm.

Program Host Matthew C. Hoffman of the Classic Film Series welcomes as special guests, representative of the Ian Fleming Foundation Colin Clark, and 007 continuing novelist and film historian Raymond Benson, who will introduce the movie and sign books.

IFF board member Colin Clark will have on display from the Foundation the five foot model of the RAF Vulcan Bomber used in the filming of the picture, restored to its original condition.

The evening’s festivities will include discussion of Thunderball‘s history and behind-the-scenes stories, several Bond-related raffles, and photo ops with Bond movie props and theater standees.

Pickwick’s Classic Film Series presentations often draw fans in costume. Attendees are invited to dress as their favorite Bond, Bond Girl, or Bond Villain.

On Wednesday, April 20, 2:00 a.m. CST, Hoffman and Clark will appear on Chicago’s WGN AM720 morning radio show with host Nick Digilio to talk about the Pickwick’s special Thunderball celebration and all things Bond.

Counting on Comedy Teams by Leonard Maltin

The following is film historian Leonard Maltin’s “Legends of Laughter 2” introduction written specifically for Park Ridge Classic Film. LOL2 runs from March 3-May 26 only at the Park Ridge Public Library.

There is no guarantee that two or three comedians will provide double or triple the laughter of a single performer…yet comedy duos and trios were a staple of both vaudeville and movies. What’s more, the most successful teams bore no resemblance to each other.

Laurel and Hardy were overgrown children. Abbott and Costello were made up of a wiseguy and a schnook. The Three Stooges were as different from the Marx Brothers as oil and seltzer water.

In each instance, these entertainers found something that clicked when they worked together: a rhythm, a comic contrast, a balance or harmony. The stars aligned and magic was in the air. (Few of them had solid solo careers, although there were notable exceptions.)

I was lucky enough to grow up at a time when these films were ubiquitous on television. I got to watch Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy every single day, to the point where I not only memorized their films but felt as if I knew them. It might be tougher for a newcomer to embrace the duo right away, but I know that familiarity will breed the opposite of contempt: the more you see of them, the more you’ll understand and like them. That’s because they almost never broke character: there is no reason to believe that the fellows you see onscreen aren’t exactly who they seem to be.

In a similar vein, it’s impossible to think of Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and “Curly” Howard as actors playing characters: after just one short subject we are completely convinced that this is who they are. (And remember, in the 1930s and 40s, there were no talk shows to “expose” them to the public.)

On the other hand, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby gleefully broke the fourth wall and spoke directly to the audience—when that audience was gathered together in a theater, long before the advent of television—and made “inside” jokes that referred to their show business personas and popular radio shows. Moviegoers loved their irreverence.

Vaudevillians like Wheeler and Woolsey and nightclub performers like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis found their own niche in movies…and, as I said before, bore no resemblance to any other duos.

This brand of show business has all but disappeared, but the enduring entertainment value of these films speaks to the timelessness of great comedy and the impact of watching inspired entertainers at work. So sit back and enjoy!
Copyright  2016 by Leonard Maltin

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