FROM the early silent era to Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," gangster films have captivated audiences around the world.
"Gangsters & Crime in the Big City," a weeklong retrospective at the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre, offers an eclectic array of famous and rarely screened examples of the genre.
The series opens Thursday with the barely released 1996 comedy-drama "Mad Dog Time," starring Richard Dreyfuss, Jeff Goldblum and Ellen Barkin, which was written and directed by Larry Bishop — son of Rat Packer Joey Bishop. That film is paired with Quentin Tarantino's landmark 1992 thriller, "Reservoir Dogs."
FOR THE RECORD:
Peter Falk: The Cine File column in Sunday's Calendar section said "Murder, Inc." was actor Peter Falk's first film. It was his fourth. —
Other highlights include a double bill with two versions of "Scarface" — Howard Hawks' 1932 original, starring Paul Muni, and Brian De Palma's 1983 cult classic, starring an over-the-top Al Pacino as the coked-out Cuban-born Miami kingpin; 1949's "White Heat," starring James Cagney at his volatile best as the "Ma"-obsessed hood; and Joseph Lewis' 1949 gangland thriller "The Undercover Man."
There's also a double bill of gritty crime dramas directed by Burt Balaban: 1961's "Mad Dog Coll," starring John Davis Chandler as the New York gangster of the title, who took on the police department and rival kingpin Dutch Schultz, as well as 1960's riveting "Murder, Inc., co-directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
"Murder, Inc." marks the electrifying film debut of Peter Falk, who received an Oscar nomination as the ruthless hit man, Abe "Kid Twist" Reles.
Though gangster films are made around the world, Cinematheque programmer Chris D believes American gangster films are a continuation of the western.
"It's part of the American Old West that has never died," he says. "There is a fascination with the outlaw. They are always bigger than life. Some of them rightly or wrongly have been viewed as Robin Hoods and other have been viewed as psychopaths and just really monsters."
email@example.com `Gangsters & Crime in the Big City' Where: American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood When: Thursday through Feb. 22 Price: $10 Contact: (323) 466-FILM or go to www.americancinematheque.com Schedule Thursday: "Mad Dog Time," "Reservoir Dogs," 7:30 p.m. Friday: "Scarface" (1932), "Scarface" (1983), 7:30 p.m. Saturday: "White Heat," "The Undercover Man," 5 p.m.; "Mad Dog Coll," "Murder, Inc.," 9 p.m. Next Sunday: "The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond," "Riot in Cell Block 11," 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22: "Carlito's Way," "Mean Streets," 7:30 p.m.