‘Screwball Holidays’ ends year with a laugh

Times Staff Writer

THE American Cinematheque’s fourth annual “Screwball Holidays” series continues at the Egyptian Theatre tonight with one of Bob Hope’s best films, the 1940 comedy-chiller “The Ghost Breakers.”

Hope and his co-star Paulette Goddard had scored a big success the year before in the horror comedy “The Cat and the Canary.” Directed by George Marshall, this comedy also features Richard Carlson, Anthony Quinn, Paul Lukas and legendary African American comedian Willie Best

Rounding out tonight’s bill is 1948’s charming “Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid,” starring the irresistible William Powell as a married man in the depths of a midlife crisis who falls for a perky mermaid (Ann Blyth).

Saturday’s program features two classic comedies starring the great farceur Jean Arthur: 1943’s “The More the Merrier,” which marked her only best actress nomination, and 1940’s newly restored “Too Many Husbands.”


Directed by George Stevens, the romantic “More the Merrier” revolves around the housing crunch in Washington, D.C., during World War II and features one of the sexiest -- and most innocent -- love scenes put on screen between Arthur and Joel McCrea. Charles Coburn won a supporting actor Oscar for his scene-stealing role as matchmaker.

“Too Many Husbands” is a distaff “My Favorite Wife,” with Arthur playing a woman who marries her husband’s business partner (Melvyn Douglas) a year after her spouse (Fred MacMurray) allegedly drowned at sea. But when MacMurray shows up very much alive, the two men must vie for Arthur’s attentions

On New Year’s Day at the Egyptian is one of Abbott and Costello’s best vehicles, the clever, slap-happy 1948 horror comedy “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,” as well as Frank Capra’s enjoyable 1944 adaptation of the hit Broadway play “Arsenic and Old Lace,” starring Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey and Peter Lorre.

Scheduled for New Year’s Day at the Aero are two Marx Brothers gems: 1935’s “A Night at the Opera,” their first and best vehicle at MGM, and 1931’s frenetically funny “Monkey Business.”


Silent rarity

The Silent Movie Theatre’s final presentation of 2006 is the rarely seen 1926 Clara Bow comedy “Dancing Mothers,” which screens tonight. The “It” girl plays a young, wild and willing woman who becomes a flapper.

Ray retrospective

The series “In a Lonely Place: The Rebellious Cinema of Nicholas Ray,” which was recently at the Egyptian, comes to the Aero in early January.


Screening Wednesday is the director’s memorable movie debut, 1948’s moody film noir romance “They Live by Night,” starring Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell as doomed lovers. Also on the bill is the riveting 1952 noir “On Dangerous Ground,” starring a revelatory Robert Ryan as a desensitized L.A. detective who is sent to a small town in Northern California on a manhunt case and ends up falling for the fugitive’s blind sister (Ida Lupino).

James Mason gives a harrowing performance in Ray’s 1956 film “Bigger Than Life,” screening next Thursday. Mason plays a suburban teacher who becomes addicted to cortisone and turns into a modern-day Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Rounding out the bill is 1958’s unjustly neglected Prohibition-era drama “Party Girl,” starring Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse and Lee J. Cobb.

Other Ray films in the retrospective include “In a Lonely Place,” screening Jan. 5; “Johnny Guitar,” set for Jan. 6; and his best-known film, “Rebel Without a Cause,” on tap for Jan. 7

Credit Saul Bass


In conjunction with its upcoming exhibition “Saul Bass: The Hollywood Connection,” the Skirball Cultural Center is offering free Tuesday matinee screenings in January of films for which Bass designed the notable opening and closing credits.

Scheduled for Jan. 9 is Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” the seminal 1960 shocker that changed everyone’s perceptions of a shower. Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh and Vera Miles star.




‘Screwball Holidays’

* “The Ghost Breakers” and “Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid”: 7:30 tonight, Egyptian

* “The More the Merrier” and “Too Many Husbands”: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Egyptian


* “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” and “Arsenic and Old Lace”: 5 p.m. Monday, Egyptian

* “A Night at the Opera” and “Monkey Business”: 5 p.m. Monday, Aero

Where: Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica

Info: (323) 466-3456,


Silent Movie Theatre

* “Dancing Mothers”: 8 tonight

Where: 611 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A.

Info: (323) 655-2520,


Nicholas Ray films

* “They Live by Night” and “On Dangerous Ground”: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

* “Bigger Than Life” and “Party Girl”: 7:30 p.m. next Thursday

* “In a Lonely Place”: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 5


* “Johnny Guitar”: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 6

* “Rebel Without a Cause”: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 7

Where: Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica

Info: (323) 466-3456,


Skirball Cultural Center

* “Psycho”: 1:30 p.m. Jan. 9

Where: Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A.

Info: (310) 440-4500,