‘Wings’, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and Don Murray & Keir Dullea in person - Loew’s Jersey Theater

posted by Michael Zoldessy on November 15, 2012 at 7:53 am



Flights of Fantasy, Love & War On Screen

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

On our BIG 50ft Wide Screen

Saturday, November 17 6PM “A Matter of Life and Death"Starring David Niven, Kim Hunter, Roger Livesey, Raymond Massey. Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. 104mins. 1946 Color and B&W. – – – Shown In Sony Pictures' Archive Print – – –

“A Matter of Life and Death” (released in the U.S. as “Stairway to Heaven”) is one of the most unusual and complex – not to mention entertaining, touching and ultimately uplifting — movies to come out of World War II. It is a comedy that often leaves its viewers in tears; a romantic drama that makes audiences laugh; a literate movie with nods to Shakespeare and Schiller that is also so dazzling in its visuals that it requires more than one viewing to absorb fully. It was the first motion picture ever chosen for a Royal Command Performance, yet critics in England panned it, calling it anti-British.

The work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, the writer/director team who spent the years from 1940 to 1955 enthralling moviegoers on both sides of the Atlantic while outraging British officials and movie critics, “A Matter of Life and Death” was inspired by awareness of the deteriorating relations between the British and the Americans as WWII neared its close, a real life account of a Royal Air Force sergeant who had jumped out of a burning plane without a parachute and escaped with only minor injuries, and the deep sense of passion and devotion felt by so many couples separated during the war. The filmmakers wove these threads together into a fantastic screenplay that presented its action against infinitely large and intimately small canvases, often in the same scene.

David Niven is a World War II RAF pilot who is forced to bail out of his crippled plane without a parachute. He wakes up to find that he has landed on Earth utterly unharmed…which wasn’t supposed to happen according to the rules of Heaven. But even as a celestial agent is sent to correct this mistake, the pilot has a chance encounter with an American girl, and the two promptly fall in love. And it is this new love that the pilot insists is an extraordinary extenuating circumstance that requires Heaven to reconsider his destiny. Along the way, there are ruminations on friendship, fate, sanity, madness and devotion. The film’s denouement is a celestial trial during which the virtues and vices of the British and American peoples are satirized, culminating in the discovery of a common belief in justice and a recognition of the universal need for love.

All of this could have come off as unredeemably hokey. But thanks to a remarkable script that perfectly balances wry wit with real drama, deft direction, pitch-perfect acting, and those wonderful visuals, it is one of the most charming and memorable films ever made.

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

Saturday, November 17 8:40PM “Wings” Starring Clara Bow, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, Richard Arlen. Directed by William Wellman. 139 mins. 1927 B&W Color. – – – Winner of the first Academy Award for Best Picture – – – With LIVE ORGAN Accompaniment

      • Shown In Paramount Pictures' Archive Print – – –

Actor and author William Wellman, Jr. will introduce “Wings” and hold a Q&A about his father and the making of the film after the movie.

PRESS NOTE: Mr. Wellman is available for phone interviews. Please call (201) 798-6055 to arrange.

If you think that thrilling air and ground combat scenes can only be found in such relatively modern movies as Top Gun and Saving Private Ryan, you have to watch the silent-era Wings. The plot may now be comfortably familiar because it’s been reused in whole or part in dozens of later war movies: Two young recruits initially can’t stand each other but become fast friends during their training as aviators, only to fall out again over a girl. Each must face fate in the Great War while one earns the selfless dedication of a pretty virtuous army nurse. But what is still very fresh and truly unique about Wings are the spectacular aerial “dogfight” sequences. Director William Wellman had been a wartime aviator himself and managed to gain the full cooperation of the U.S. War Department. The result was flying scenes that many pilots even today believe are the most thrilling and accurate ever filmed — nothing has ever come close. And the brilliance of the flying sequences is matched by spectacular ground combat scenes. The movie’s leads gave strong performances which ensured that the plot wasn’t overshadowed by the extraordinary effects and production values. Interestingly the nurse was played very effectively by Clara Bow, the quintessential flapper of the 1920s who may have been a model for Betty Boop and who was famously known as “The It Girl”. And Gary Cooper has a small appearance that helped put him on the road to stardom. Today it may be hard to imagine an epic war movie without booming, precisely mixed explosions, screams and other sound effects. But the late silent era Wings set the standard for grand-scale war epics without any of our familiar sound effects. What it did have when it premiered however was live organ accompaniment — which added a dimension equally as vital, moving and thrilling as any recorded soundtrack. And that’s how Wings will be shown at the Loew’s Jersey – with sound provided live by our Wonder Morton Organ.

$9 for Adults, $7 for Seniors (65+) and Children (12 & younger).

      • 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.

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 center.

Don Murray burst upon the Hollywood scene with his first movie role playing opposite Marilyn Monroe in “Bus Stop”. He went on to star in, produce, direct and write dozens of other productions. In later years, he was a star on TV in “Knot’s Landing”. Mr. Murray will be at the Loew’s to introduce and discuss his favorite film, “Hoodlum Priest”, a critically acclaimed movie he co-wrote and produced in addition to starring in. He will be joined by his co-star from that film, Keir Dullea. Mr. Murray will also introduce the movie that started his career — “Bus Stop”.

Sunday, November 18 2PM “The Hoodlum Priest"Starring Don Murray, Larry Gates, Cindi Wood, Keir Dullea. Directed by Irvin Kershner. 101mins. 1961 Hosted by Don Murray & Keir Dullea

Don Murray was a young rising star in Hollywood when he was buttonholed by a Catholic priest from St. Louis. After just one sentence Murray was intrigued: “Listen Kid, I ain’t no square priest.” “I was instantly intrigued by the dichotomy,” Murray recalled. “He was dressed like a priest, but he spoke like a character out of Guys and Dolls.” It turned out that the priest had been doing pioneering work for years to help convicts turn their lives around. He’d opened what was probably the nation’s first half-way house for ex-cons, and was struggling for support. The priest had decided he wanted somebody to make a TV show about his work, and Don Murray was to be that somebody. For his part, Murray had been thinking about following the lead of several other Hollywood stars by developing his own independent films. After hearing the priest’s story, Murray decided that he’d found his subject. The result is an excellent film with a gritty, real feel that packs a surprisingly effective emotional punch as it tells an unabashedly moral tale. The film lays out the general story of the priest, played by Murray, and his work against long odds, but centers the drama around one troubled ex-con played very effectively by Keir Dullea, some eight years before 2001: A Space Odyssey. Great acting from Murray, Dullea and the whole cast was supported by a tight, very effective script co-written by Murray. A young Haskell Wexler, who would go on to become a legendary cinematographer, gave the film a look that belied its small budget. And the direction of Irvin Kershner, better known as the only man other than George Lucas to direct a Star Wars film, was adroit and effective. Making the movie was a herculean task according to Murray, but it won high praise on its premiere, acclaimed by Time and Newsweek among others, and did fairly well at the box office. But some controversy soon developed out of a disagreement between Murray and director Kershner, along with some deliberate bad press from the editor of a St. Louis newspaper who was offended by the production. The film’s distributors seemed to back away, and the movie faded from the public’s mind. And that’s a shame because it is a superb precursor to such big hits as “Dead Man Walking” and “Capote”. It’s a message movie, but make no mistake, you will definitely be entertained even as you reflect. Don’t miss the chance to rediscover it.

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

Sunday, November 18 4:30PM “Bus Stop” Starring Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray, Arthur O'Connell, Betty Field. Directed by Joshua Logan. 1956.96mins. Color Hosted by Don Murray

Marilyn Monroe was already a huge star by the mid 1950s, known around the world as Hollywood’s most luminous sex symbol in movies such as “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. But many critics dismissed any thought that she was a serious actress, even though she had actually turned in good performances in a number of dramatic roles such as in “Niagara”. Monroe desperately wanted to be taken seriously as an actress, and eventually walked out of her contract with 20th Century Fox to study under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York. To woo her back, Fox eventually offered her a good degree of creative control. She took the offer, and for her first “serious” project chose to work on a film version of a hit Broadway play called “Bus Stop”. The story seems frothy verging on silly: A fifth-rate female lounge singer who dreams of making it big even as she sings in backwater bars meets a hayseed-type who’s never even kissed a girl but decides on the spot that she’s his “angel”. When he literally tries to kidnap her they both wind up marooned in a roadside diner/bus stop where each eventually learns something about themselves, the other, love and life. What makes this work so wonderfully well is Monroe — she more than proved how well she could act by playing a clever parody of her screen persona: very sexy but shop-worn, vulnerable but jaded. The critics were impressed. Even the legendarily grumpy Bosley Crowther of The New York Times who wrote “Hold onto your chairs, everybody, and get set for a rattling surprise. Marilyn Monroe has finally proved herself an actress in ‘Bus Stop.’ She and the picture are swell!” But make no mistake, the movie certainly does not diminish Monroe’s image as a sex symbol. Her sexy rendition of “That Old Black Magic,” while lit by red flames is one of the spotlight moments in her career. For his part, Don Murray was pitch-perfect in his first film role as the hayseed; he plays a deliberately cartoon-like character with just enough humanity that the audience feels it understands and likes him. Murray was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work. And though Monroe and Murray playing off each other’s characters is the filling that gives this confection its shape and taste, the supporting cast all contribute nice icing on the cake. “Bus Stop” is perhaps the perfect Marilyn Monroe film because it not only displays her luminous physical charms but also her considerable acting talents.

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

(Thanks to kiwiplant for providing the photo.)

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Comments (1)

HowardBHaas on November 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Anybody from Philly driving there? I am eager to see Wings but due to Hurricane, mass transit (Path from Jersey City to Newark) won’t do. Would be happy to share expenses. Let me know before Saturday.

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