By Kevin Thomas
Times Staff Writer
August 23, 2001
Leading the pack at the Village is Daniel Alter, who manages to graduate from high school early so he can be first in line; his counterpart at the Chinese is Lincoln Hasking of Melbourne, Australia, who is promoting the Web site Countingdown.com.
Although the gathering at the Chinese sparks a media circus and is more commercial, patient fans at both theaters are largely young and likable. Przywara examines these groups to discover rather than judge, and he finds most are yearning for idealism and spirituality that the "Star Wars" saga embodies for them. Included are segments on two young Daly City men who have managed to mount "Star Wars: The Musical," an ambitious student production. Screening with "Star Woids" is writer-director Leif Einarsson's clever and funny "Jar Jar Binks: The F! True Hollywood Story," a brief video sendup of E! bios. Execs at the cable network were amused but still asserted their copyright, so Einarsson and his colleagues changed their original E to F. It charts the rise and fall of the "Star Wars" character with a sea horse-like head in a hilarious parody. 6712 Hollywood Blvd. (323) 466-FILM.
No sooner did movies start to talk than they sang and danced, too. The craze for musicals in the early days of sound produced the slogan: "All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!"--and were, for the most part, All Lousy. With their static camera work, their biggest value is as a record of what '20s musical and vaudeville acts were like, with timeless songs and the occasional legendary performer transcending dated material.
So intent was MGM on demonstrating that its stars could also sing and dance, the studio ordered virtually every player--a notable exception was Greta Garbo--to appear in the elaborate "Hollywood Revue of 1929," which will screen, ironically, at the Silent Movie Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
It is awful, clumsy and sluggish and doesn't lack in camp value. Joan Crawford, introduced by co-emcee Conrad Nagel as "the personification of youth and beauty, joy and happiness," sings passably before segueing into an energetic Charleston (which had won her trophies at the Coconut Grove).
Comediennes Marie Dressler and Polly Moran transcend their material, and Bessie Love, who had starred with Charles King and Anita Page in Metro's "Broadway Melody," the movies' first musical, is a natural musical comedy performer; Page is the only star of the film still living. Nagel's fellow emcee, Jack Benny, had already developed his trademark self-deprecating air that would serve him well for the rest of his life.
The many production numbers are trite and lethargic by comparison with the imaginative, exuberant Busby Berkeley choreography about to explode across town at Warner Bros. Yet Buster Keaton, soon to be supplanted at MGM by Jimmy Durante, is hilarious in a drag number without uttering a word.
Laurel and Hardy are on hand for a magic routine, not their most inspired, and there is a fancy showgirl tableau in the Ziegfeld manner. Norma Shearer and John Gilbert essay the balcony scene from "Romeo and Juliet" in a two-strip Technicolor segment under the direction of Lionel Barrymore.
Color turns up again in the finale in which the entire cast joins in the evergreen MGM anthem, Arthur Freed's durable "Singin' in the Rain." The poignant film's nominal direction is credited to Charles Riesner. 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Hollywood. (323) 655-2520.
The Laemmle Theaters' "World Cinema 2001" series continues at the Sunset 5 with Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. screenings of "A Love Divided," a powerful dramatization of a true story.
In the picturesque community of Fethard-on-the-Sea in 1949 Ireland, an attractive couple, Sean Cloney (Liam Cunningham) and Sheila Kelly (Orla Brady), fall in love and decide to marry, even though Sean is Catholic and Kelly Protestant. Sheila figures that signing a document agreeing that their children be raised as Catholics is a small price to pay for her happiness. But after marrying Sean in a London registry, followed by marriages in both Protestant and Catholic churches, she gets him to agree that it must "be us against the world."
Those words prove prophetic. All is well until the Cloneys' eldest daughter is ready for school. Sheila thought she and Sean would decide what school would be best for their daughter but is preempted by the local Catholic priest, Father Stafford (Tony Doyle), who rules the community with an iron hand.
When Sean cannot bring himself to defy Stafford, Sheila flees to Belfast with her girls, only to face kidnapping charges. Short of giving up and returning home, she has little recourse but to accept Presbyterian aid to flee to Scotland's Orkney Islands, where she will work for bed and board on a farm owned by a sympathetic couple.
Father Stafford, meanwhile, uses Sheila's defiance to foment mob hysteria in Fethard's dwindling Protestant community, already facing the destruction of their way of life. What director Syd Macartney and writer Stuart Hepburn reveal in a compelling manner is the timeless evil unleashed by the majority on the minority when it turns religion into a weapon. Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd.; (323) 848-3500. The film will also screen at 11 a.m., Sept. 22 and 23, at the Monica 4-Plex, 1332 2nd St., Santa Monica; (310) 394-9741.
The American Cinematheque will celebrate the publication of Polly Platt and Rudy Behlmer's "Henry Hathaway: A Directors Guild Oral History" with a 7:30 p.m. screening of Hathaway's durable "Call Northside 777" (1948), a film-noir thriller with documentary flavor.
A discussion and book signing with Platt and Behlmer follows. (323) 466-FILM.
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