Posts Tagged ‘1969’

Original 1969 reviews of “Once Upon a Time in the West” and “True Grit”

December 14, 2009

Better late than never!

Click for bigger images.

Credit: Film Quarterly v. 23 no. 1 (Fall 1969) p. 57

Once Upon a Time in the West
Variety Staff.  Variety Review Database.  New York:Jan 1969.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier, Inc. Jan 1969

Henry Fonda and Jason Robards relish each screen minute as the heavies, and Charles Bronson plays Clint Eastwood’s ‘man with no name’ role.

Italy – US

Paramount/Rafran/San Marco. Director Sergio Leone; Producer Fulvio Morsella; Screenplay Sergio Leone, Sergio Donati, Mickey Knox; Camera Tonino Delli Colli; Editor Nino Baragli; Music Ennio Morricone; Art Director Carlo Simi

Henry Fonda and Jason Robards relish each screen minute as the heavies, and Charles Bronson plays Clint Eastwood’s ‘man with no name’ role.

Leone’s story here [from one by Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci and himself], presented in broad strokes through careful interconnection of set-piece action, focuses on the various reactions of four people – the three male leads, plus Claudia Cardinale, extremely effective as a fancy lady from New Orleans – to the idea of garnering extreme wealth via ownership of a crucial watertown on the route of the transcontinental railroad.

The paradoxical, but honest ‘fun’ aspect of Leone’s previous preoccupation with elaborately-stylized violence is here unconvincingly asking for consideration in a new ‘moral’ light. This means that Leone’s own special talent for playing with film ideas gets lost in a no man’s land of the merely initiative.

Original 1969 articles about “True Grit”

December 12, 2009

It’s the last weekend of 69!  And what better way to go out than with two monumental westerns?
I found some great original reviews of both True Grit and Once Upon a Time in the West, but alas, was out sick on Friday and didn’t get to post them in time for the screenings.

Instead, enjoy this profile of John Wayne as True Grit was released, as well as an interesting time capsule story about Paramount Pictures, slimming down it’s big-budget roadshow movie events to make way for higher grossing small films, like True Grit.

Look for more on Once Upon a Time on Monday.

True Grit plays Northwest Film Forum Sat-Sun at 6pm; Once Upon a Time in the West shows Sat-Sun at 8:30pm.

Click for bigger images. (PS. Check out the great Hirschfeld illustration! Can you find all three Ninas?)

Western double feature for the last weekend of “69”

December 10, 2009

As 2009 comes to a close, so does our year-long series exploring the films of 1969.

We began with new prints of two outlaw odysseys Easy Rider and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. We close the series with two icons of cinema, John Wayne in True Grit (Wayne won his only Academy award for his leading role), and Henry Fonda in Sergio Leone’s ever popular Once Upon a Time in the West. Both are operatic, impressive Westerns in their own right, but more importantly for the 69 series, these are films that highlight the outlaw spirit that dominated the year.

Join us for the final screenings in this historic series this weekend, December 12-13.

Reflect on everything you’ve seen by looking through our blog archives here, and looking at the entire year’s programming schedule here.

And here’s a guide to everything you need to know about Sergio Leone, courtesy of Richard Jameson and Parallax View:

Space is a constant adventure in Once Upon a Time in the West. The film’s baroque vastnesses resonate with the promise of a detonation that will at once supply energy for the winning of the West and shatter its aesthetic sublimity. Four bodies crash down around an acre of plank flooring, followed almost immediately by a full-screen shot of sun-creased skin and one blue eye returning to life. To watch Leone’s film is to realize how few truly widescreen movies there have been. Three, maybe four men die under the creaking wheel of the windmill, and in the next scene Brett McBain (Frank Wolff) pans the circuit of his Sweetwater claim when the constant life-sound of the cicadas stops of a sudden. His survey reveals nothing. After a moment he turns his attention to getting water from the well; the wind raises a swell of dust, the cicadas cease again, and he and his family are wiped out, their assassins metamorphosing out of the very color of the land. His new widow similarly checks the same dooryard after a night-long vigil in the home she never had; yet a moment later Cheyenne (Jason Robards) is there at the door when she opens it, and his men sit beyond on their horses, and moments/hours later they are still sitting there when Cheyenne has done talking with her.

Read the whole thing here.

“La Danse” held over through December 16

December 8, 2009

We are pleased to announce that we are able to hold over Frederick Wiseman’s documentary La Danse: Le Ballet de l’Opera de Paris through December 16, playing daily at 7pm.  The film has been drawing huge crowds all weekend, and now you’ll have six additional nights to catch the highly-praised film.

Says Moira MacDonald of the Seattle Times, “Four stars: captures the fleeting beauty of ballet in dozens of miniature portraits, each quietly soaring…It’s magical.”  And A.O. Scott of the New York Times hailed it as “one of the finest dance films ever made, but there’s more to it than that.”

To accommodate this, we’ve had to reshuffle our calendar a bit.  Please note the following updated showtimes:
True Grit and Once Upon a Time in the West will now play December 12-13 (Sat-Sun) ONLY!

True Grit screens at 6pm and Once Upon a Time in the West is at 8:30pm.

See you in the cinemas!

Original 1969 review of “The Passion of Anna”

November 20, 2009

I was having trouble accessing the Seattle Public Library database this week, so I wasn’t able to find the original clipping of this Vincent Canby review, but you can read it online here:

The Passion of Anna (1970)

The Times’ website requires registration (free), but here’s a small excerpt:

“The Passion of Anna is one of Bergman’s most beautiful films (it is his second in color), all tawny, wintry grays and browns, deep blacks, and dark greens, highlighted occasionally by splashes of red, sometimes blood. It is also, on the surface, one of his most lucid, if a film that tries to dramatize spiritual exhaustion can be ever said to be really lucid. However, like all of Bergman’s recent films, it does seem designed more for the indefatigable Bergman cryptologists (of which I am not one) than for interested, but uncommitted filmgoers.”

See all you “indefatigable Bergman cryptologists” this week!
The Passion of Anna plays November 20-25 daily at 7pm.

We did 69; BAM does 62

October 17, 2009

The New York Times has a great piece on Brooklyn Academy of Music’s series of 12 films from 1962. I can’t help but compare the connections made between films in the article to those we have hoped audiences would draw in our year-long 69 series (in which we have already shown about 40 movies from that year).

Here’s the great final line from critic A.O. Scott:
“But one lesson of the great films of 1962 is that the old is always sending out a few flickers of glory even as the new is restlessly being born. The moment of change is always now.

I urge you to read the entire thing, and to come to the final few films in our 69 with similar themes in mind. And you never know, it’s not too late for the Seattle press to write something up like the Times about our series!

Focal Points: Rare 1969 documentaries on Wednesday

October 12, 2009

This just in from our co-presenter, the Sprocket Society:

Hi everyone —  Coming up this Wednesday night is our second program co-presented with Northwest Film Forum as part of the 69 series.  More info and links below; we hope you can make it, it’ll be a great show.

Also watch out for our mind-blowing Halloween Spook-Show Spectacular on Oct. 30!  And if you missed out on the Heavy Visuals ’69 show in September, you can download the program notes at (180kb).

FOCAL POINTS:  Documentary Shorts of 1969

One show only!
Wed. October 14, 2009 – 8:00 PM

1515 12th Ave. – on Capitol Hill, between Pike & Pine
Advance tickets available online at

In 1969 America was painfully divided by politics, culture and even aesthetics.  These rarely-seen films provide riveting glimpses of the nation at a turning point.

The program reflects the vigorous diversity of the documentary scenes at the time, with films made in the major cities, the rural Midwest, and a technocratic enclave of the US defense network.  The stories are a cross-section of a fractured culture: revolutionary protest, conservative religion, hedonist pranksters, and Dept. of Defense computer research.  The documentary styles also just as eclectic: verite, newsreel, experimental, traditional interview and narration, and scientific instructional.

All films are being shown in their original 16mm format, using a theatrical-grade projector.

Co-presented by The Sprocket Society and Northwest Film Forum as part of the year-long 69 Series, celebrating the films of 1969.
About the series:


The Kuchar Brothers (Legendary Epic Yarns and Fables, Part 4), Stephen Gebhardt’s confessional interview with the most far-out exploitation filmmakers of the decade;
Excerpt from a Kuchar film (not being shown), “The Craven Sluck” –
Stephen Gebhardt is an Ohio filmmaker and festival producer who in 1970 moved to New York to run Jonas Mekas’ new Anthology Film Archives.  He later ran Joko Films with John Lennon and Yoko Ono and made films for them, the Rolling Stones, and others. Ultimately he returned to Cincinnati to teach graduate-level filmmaking at the university there. His 1969 series, Legendary Epic Yarns and Fables, consisted of four filmed interviews with an unusual array of cinema artists.

Leo Beuerman, an Oscar-nominated portrait of a severely handicapped man in Lawrence, Kansas; made over two years during off-hours by a crew who worked for a company that produced industrial and educational films.  (Some of the same people also worked on the 1962 horror cult classic, Carnival of Souls.)
Watch an excerpt —
Beuerman, Leo and Cart – History of Lawrence, Kansas —

Testimony, Brian Patrick’s verite visit with a group of Pentecostal Christians in Athens, Ohio (his master thesis film);
Bio & filmography —

Mayday!, a radical newsreel about a Black Panther “Free Huey” rally in San Francisco;
Produced by California Newsreel, which was part of a small but nation-wide network of Newsreel film collectives. Each produced films, and helped to distribute and screen the others’ stuff. Shortly after this film was made, there was a split in the California group, with one faction forming Single Spark Films (a reference to Mao).  A number of Newsreel films have emerged recently on DVD.

Campaign, Tom Palazollo’s experimental diary-film of the protests during the 1968 Democratic National Convention;
A dedicated documentary and experimental filmmaker for over 40 years, Palazzolo’s films about urban life in Chicago are regarded as classics. A number of his early films were recently preserved through a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

Fallout Shelter Analysis by Computer Graphics, produced by the University of Utah Computer Center for ARPA, the sensitive Dept. of Defense research unit that invented the Internet (really).
In 1969, the first “internet” was established, and the Univ. of Utah was one of its five nodes.  UU was also on the forefront of research into computer imaging and interfaces.  This documentary shows us how to use an early light-pen system to manipulate primitive electronic designs of fallout shelters.  Along the way, we get to see a whole new technology in its toddler years — one that would grow up to truly change the entire world.

Heavy Visuals ’69

September 22, 2009

Allow me to suggest this exceptional evening of experimental shorts from 1969, screening tomorrow at 8pm courtesy of The Sprocket Society (who, by the way, are also presenting this night of documentary shorts on October 14).

Electronic Cinema and Experimental Film

Northwest Film Forum
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
8:00 PM

A selection of 1969’s cutting-edge landmarks in avant garde shorts, video art, and even pioneering digital animation.
Surreal animation, psychedelic abstracts, and strange rituals.

Featuring classics and rarely-seen treasures by:
Kenneth Anger, Lawrence (Larry) Jordan, Jud Yalkut & Nam June Paik, Scott Bartlett, Michael Whitney, and Piotr Kamler
plus a short documentary about controversial Aktionist performance artist, Hermann Nitsch

For selected streaming video previews and more information about the films, visit

Presented as part of the Northwest Film Forum’s year-long 69 Series.

The Films:

Invocation of My Demon Brother
Kenneth Anger, with synthesizer soundtrack by Mick Jagger

Our Lady of the Sphere
Larry Jordan

Moon 1969
Scott Bartlett

Le Labyrinthe
Piotr Kamler, with electronic score by Bernard Parmegiani

Binary Bit Patterns
Michael Whitney

Beatles Electronique
Electronic Moon no. 2
Jud Yalkut and Nam June Paik

Hermann Nitsch: An Introduction to the O.M. Theatre
Stephen Gebhardt

For more about our Fall 2009 season, visit

October 21 —  Focal Points: Documentary Shorts of 1969.
The Black Panthers meet Pentecostal Christians and the Kuchar Brothers in the psychedelic ruins of the ’68 Chicago riots.
Schizoid time capsules from a schizoid time.

October 30 — The Halloween Spook-Show Spectacular
During a Halloween movie show, The Grand Illusion Cinema is overrun with creeps, spooks, ghouls, and fiends.
Will you escape alive??  Or will your head explode with terror?!?!?!

Original 1969 review of “The Prime of Ms. Jean Brodie”

September 11, 2009

Vincent Canby on “The Prime of Ms. Jean Brodie,” which plays September 11-17 at 7pm (click for larger image):

“[The film] will probably be underrated because it must seem smaller than the big, extraordinary performance that Maggie Smith gives in the title role.”

And here’s a bit more from Canby about Smith’s performance (he would have voted for her, if of course, he actually voted), pulled from a larger article about Oscar night (“Oscars—Tears and Toupees,” April 17, 1970). I left in the paragraph about John Wayne since we’ll be showing “True Grit” in our last week of 69.

Original 1969 review of “If…”

September 11, 2009

Here’s good old Mr. Canby on Lindsay Anderson’s youth rebellion classic, “If…” which screens as part of our 69 series September 11-17 at 9:30pm: