'Big Red One,' rebuilt

Times Staff Writer

Film critic and historian Richard Schickel's "The Big Red One: The Reconstruction" -- the refashioning of the late writer-director Samuel Fuller's 1980 World War II epic -- represents a major event.

Screening Friday at UCLA, the version assembled by Schickel and his team adds 15 complete scenes and extends 23 more, bringing the film's running time to 2 hours, 39 minutes (from 1:53), which he believes is close to Fuller's director's cut.

It now seems to be Fuller's masterpiece, maybe the most unpretentious war movie ever.

Fuller, who died in 1997, drew from personal experience. The film follows a seasoned sergeant (Lee Marvin) and his rifle squad from North Africa to Sicily, the invasion of Normandy, a bitter and dangerous winter in Belgium in 1944 and on to Germany and finally Czechoslovakia and a Nazi death camp. Fuller's work is eloquent, not indulgent in cheap heroics and shows men doing their job with quiet bravery.

Marvin, in arguably his finest role, is a tough old pro who has kept his humanity. His likable young costars are Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine (as Fuller's wry alter ego), Bobby Di Cicco and Kelly Ward.

A key restored sequence features Christa Lang, Fuller's widow, in a memorable scene as a cynical German countess.

After the screening, Schickel and director Curtis Hanson, Fuller's friend and colleague, will discuss the work.

Marriage dilemma

Carl Theodor Dreyer's "The Parson's Widow" (1920) is a far lighter-spirited film than his stark masterpieces such as "Vampyr," "The Passion of Joan of Arc" or "Day of Wrath."

In fact, the film (screening Monday at the Silent Movie Theatre) starts out as a comedy, set in a medieval Norwegian village, where Sofren (Einar Rod) wins the post of parson. But according to custom, the parson's widow, Dame Margarete (Hildur Carlberg, a remarkable presence) has the right to insist that the new parson marry her.

Sofren's dilemma is funny, poignant and unpredictable. "The Parson's Widow" has unusual warmth for a Dreyer film but has his typical beauty and expressiveness. The key setting, the log structure that serves as the parsonage, seems uncommonly authentic. Many of the film's images recall Dutch Master paintings of domestic life.

Sexual ambiguity

Arturo Ripstein's 1978 imaginative fable "The Place Without Limits," an attack on oh-so-easily threatened machismo, stars the remarkable Roberto Cobo as a giddy but courageous drag queen and proprietor of a small-town bordello. Cobo creates disturbing sexual ambiguity, effeminate in men's clothes but masculine in ruffled flamenco gowns that emphasize his wiry athlete's physique.

It screens Sunday as part of the UCLA Film Archive's Selections From Mexican Cinema (1917-2003).

Hilarious erotica

Filmmaker George Kuchar will be celebrated next week at American Cinematheque with screenings of "Thundercrack!" (1975), his underground classic "Hold Me While I'm Naked" (1966) and several recent works.

Written by and starring Kuchar and directed by Curt McDowell, "Thundercrack!" is underground erotica at its most hilarious.




UCLA Film Archive

* "The Big Red One: The Reconstruction," 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: James Bridges Theatre, Melnitz Hall, UCLA

Info: (310) 206-FILM or www.cinema.ucla.edu

Silent Movie Mondays

* "The Parson's Widow," 8 p.m. Monday

Where: Silent Movie Theatre,

611 N. Fairfax Ave., Hollywood

Info: (323) 655-2520

Selections From Mexican Cinema (1917-2003)

* "The Place Without Limits,"

2 p.m. Sunday

Where: James Bridges Theatre, Melnitz Hall, UCLA

Info: (310) 206-FILM or www.cinema.ucla.edu

American Cinematheque's George Kuchar screenings

* "Thundercrack!," 8 p.m. Tuesday

* "Hold Me While I'm Naked," and other works, 8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood

Info: (323) 466-FILM or www.americancinematheque.com

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