December 28th 2012. Pick Of The Day.

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2012's last weekend arrives, and some say not a moment too soon. But amongst the terrible memories we're all sure to associate this year with, there were also some great things, not the least of which may be innacurate Mayans. Well I'm sayin' that anyway.

This site focuses solely on classic film screenings in the five boroughs, and the various venues that show said in our fair metropolis did not let us down this year. MOMA offered a complete James Bond fest, all 22 films in 35mm on the 50th anniversary of 007's feature debut. BAM assembled a definitive retrospective of the Hollywood comedy film in the sound era, beginning with Ernst Lubitsch and ending with BEVERLY HILLS COP 3. For better or worse. And Film Forum blew the rest of the pack away with the best three programs of the year I argue, beginning with the Spaghetti Western fest in June, the exhaustive Universal Studios centenary celebration in July, and the French Old Wave series in August. I practically lived there for weeks.

So within this niche of NYC life I cover there were very good memories indeed, and 2012 goes out with the potential for some more to be made.

Film Forum kicks off a week of the aforementioned Lubitsch with his only collaboration with Greta Garbo, the classic NINOTCHKA, screening in what's becoming a rare format indeed, a brand new 35mm print! Those wondering what's meant by the term The Lubitsch Touch are urged to attend.

The Pier Paolo Pasolini hugfest proceeds at MOMA with a double bill of HAWKS AND SPARROWS and MAMMA ROMA. The former's about a talking intellectual bird and the latter about an altogether different type of bird. Anna Magnani would kick me.

Museum of the Moving Image screens the DCP restoration of BONJOUR TRISTESSE as part of its See It Big! series. Otto Preminger's cult fave found no takers back when initially released and his second attempt to make Jean Seberg a star foundered. She would have to double cross Jean Paul Belmondo a year later to hit it big.

The Rubin Museum gets you loaded while screening Roman Polanski's often imitated 70's period noir CHINATOWN. Not a fan, I take Joe Mantell's final line of advice.

The IFC Center offers competing midnight screenings of David Lynch's I'm-fucking-sick-of-trying-to-describe-this-thing-though-I-still-love-it ERASERHEAD, and John Frankenhiemer's masterpiece of paranoia THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. Both concern the loss of one's very soul. Just in different ways. Very different.

Finally the Film Society shows off by booking some 70mm classics in their unadulterated format at the Walter Reade Theater. LORD JIM aims for David Lean heights and falls short, yet stands tall on its own merits. I mean how many movies get to be LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. One sez me.The FSLC's other 70mm offering, actually an even more format obsolete Cinerama offering whence initially released, is my Pick this freakin' brick ass cold day. It may not be a buried suitcase with 350 G's inside, but it's a treasure worth hunting down nonetheless.

Stanley Kramer first made his name in film as an independent producer in the postwar era specializing in "message" pics of the 50's, his Screen Plays Inc. production comany plucking up emerging talent and showcasing them in topical dramas of the day. Some of the new faces he broke were Jose Ferrer, Grace Kelly, Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier. In the mid-fifties he took over directing reins as well, cranking out controversial classics like THE DEFIANT ONES, ON THE BEACH, INHERIT THE WIND and JUDGEMENT AT NURENBERG. After proving that heavy material unflichingly writ could conjure repeated critical and commercial success, he decided to take a break from weighty subject matter and instead make a tiny inexpensive yukfest based on a script that caught his eye. Something about a big W.

Assuming any film producer at the height of his powers financially and artistically will make a "little" project inbetween epics is like thinking your dog's not hungry after that bowl of chow. The cast quickly filled with not only the comedy A-listers of the period, but nearly EVERY comedy A-lister from EVERY period. Only the Marx Brothers seem to have declined the invite, and that's probably only because Chico was dead when the cameras rolled. The budget balloned, and 35mm turned into the first and ONLY comedy ever filmed in Cinerama, that bendy immense screen format that should've lasted longer dammit! Two hours expanded to three and a half. With an intermission! It's initial release turned into a roadshow run. the little comedy between big projects metastasized into the BIGGEST project of the daring auteur's career!

And far from a break from his "message movies" there is indeed a profound message, messages even, at the heart of this flick, the most expensive and most profitable black comedy ever made; one is that the primal motivation of man, no matter how technologically or philosophically advanced we seem, is sheer unadulterated greed. The second is that laughter is the only thing that makes the first truth tolerable. It's large, loud, insane and one of the funniest films ever made. Stanley Kramer's name on the credits was one I took much notice of when my addiction to cinema first took root in my early teens, so I take special pleasure in awarding my Pick Of The Day to this cinematic maverick and his only comedy, which remains one of the most iconic of all time.

IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD screens today, 6pm at the Walter Reade Theater. I implore you to attend this 70mm restoration!


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And above all enjoy this last weekend of the year! Youse tha goodz! Excelsior!


-Joe Walsh