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‘Bagels & Docs’ doubles up on the warmth with 2 films

Times Staff Writer

THE Laemmle Theaters’ “Bagels & Docs: New Jewish Documentaries” series continues this weekend with a warmhearted double-header, Benjamin Hershleder’s 34-minute “The Bronx Boys” and a reprise of Alice Elliot’s Oscar-nominated 34-minute “The Collector of Bedford Street,” which tells how a group of neighbors in an increasingly upscale Greenwich Village neighborhood banded together to care for a longtime resident, a mildly retarded man of 60 who has devoted his life to collecting funds for charities.

In the first film, 15 men, all born in 1931, decide to celebrate their 70th birthday year with a reunion, in which they play the games of their childhood and youth and share golden memories. All have been friends since kindergarten in the Bronx, with the exception of Howard West, who transferred to P.S. 80 in the third grade. Of course, “The Bronx Boys” is sentimental, but it is more than that, as the men express concern that in today’s world, few youngsters will have the stable childhood they did, enabling them to make sustaining friendships that would last a lifetime.

Amiably hosted by Carl Reiner, the documentary was produced by West and another Bronx Boy, George Shapiro, the two of whom became an Emmy Award-winning producer-manager team. Other entertainment industry veterans among the 15 friends: screenwriter John Herman Shaner and film marketing executive Joel Coler. Yet another Bronx Boy is Larry Lauren, designer Ralph’s older brother and longtime business partner.

Also continuing is the Goethe Institute’s revealing “Europe Watches America” series of documentaries on American life as seen from a foreigner’s point of view. Christian Bauer’s “Missing Allen,” screening tonight, is a film of chilling accumulative power. Beginning in 1989, Bauer began collaborating with Chicago cameraman Allen Ross, but in November 1995, Ross disappeared.

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Appalled to discover how little police had done to locate him, Bauer took matters in his own hands. What Bauer uncovers while traversing America’s deceptively tranquil heartland is very scary indeed, yet in discovering the truth of what happened to Ross, he also is inevitably confronted with the reality that he can never truly know why his friend so drastically veered off the path his life was taking.

The UCLA Film Archive’s “Sin Uncensored: Hollywood Before the Code” has been offering a clutch of early talkies in Melnitz Hall’s James Bridges Theater that are sensational, in both senses of the word.

Saturday’s double feature begins with “The Story of Temple Drake” (1933), a lurid take on William Faulkner’s “Sanctuary.” Miriam Hopkins in the title role is a reckless Southern belle who winds up in the clutches of white slaver Jack LaRue, thus hastening the formation of the Legion of Decency. It will be followed by Rowland Brown’s “Blood Money” (1933), a stylish evocation of a wide-open L.A., where good-bad guy George Bancroft’s politically powerful bail bondsman is smitten with thrill-seeking Brentwood deb Frances Dee, while down-to-earth nightclub proprietor Judith Anderson holds a torch for the big lug. Vaudeville legend Blossom Seeley is the star attraction at Anderson’s swanky joint.

Warren William, a suave 1930s leading man with a Barrymore profile, had a dry, sophisticated wit that wears well, and Roy Del Ruth’s “The Mind Reader” (1933), which screens Sunday, offered him a major role of uncommon depth as a struggling carnival grifter who at last hits it big with a phony clairvoyant act, only to ultimately discover he has a conscience. It will be followed Tuesday by “The Spider” (1931), co-directed by William Cameron Menzies and Kenneth MacGowan and starring Edmund Lowe as a magician pursuing a killer who struck while Lowe was on stage; evocative camerawork by James Wong Howe.

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Screenings

“The Bronx Boys”

and “The Collector of Bedford Street”

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Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.

Laemmle’s Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood

(323) 848-3500

“Missing Allen”

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Tonight, 7 p.m.

The Goethe Institute, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 100, Los Angeles

(323) 525-3388

“The Story of Temple Drake”

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and “Blood Money”

Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Melnitz Hall’s James Bridges Theater, UCLA, Westwood

(310) 206-FILM

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“The Mind Reader”

Sunday, 2 p.m.

Melnitz Hall’s James Bridges Theater, UCLA, Westwood

(310) 206-FILM

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“The Spider”

Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

Melnitz Hall’s James Bridges Theater, UCLA, Westwood

(310) 206-FILM

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