February 7th 2013. Pick Of the Day.

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Jacques Becker's CASQUE D'OR screens for the second of its three day run as part of MOMA's Auterist History of Film series. Simone Signoret comes between rival bosses of the vicious Apache gang that terrorized the Mouin Rogue section of Paris during that city's Belle Epoque. Cool and stylish melodrama, and Simone can come between me and and a buddy anytime. As it were. Clean it up, Stockers. And not my Pick.

The New York Neorealism of photography greats Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin screens its last this day, as THE LITTLE FUGITIVE is finally caught. At least I hope you all caught it bwah hah hah yeh I know that's not funny at all. The landmark film explored the potential our once proud film Mecca, which had seen its status usurped by sunny Los Angeles, could have in store as a nurturing environment for experimental and underground postwar cinema. So basically Cassavetes, Warhol and a large swath of the New Hollywood owe a debt to Engel and Orkin. Screens all day at Film Forum. Important to the cinematic timeline, but I already chose it as my Pick on Monday. Plus another great film, not so important but surely beloved of film geeks, screens tonight, and features some of the best scenery chewing antics from two of the greatest stars of the studio era, in perhaps the last great screen work the two would offer.

By the early 60's Robert Aldrich had established himself as a hard bitten no-nonsense autuer, helming strong genre entries like the Jack Palance WWII drama ATTACK! and the neo-noir masterpiece KISS ME DEADLY. So it seemed a bit of a career u-turn to decide to tackle a modern southern gothic that concerned the haunted existence lived by two reclusive sisters who had both once been amongst the biggest stars of early Hollywood. A harsher take on the delusion that was obscurity's gift to stars of the silent era than Billy Wilder's SUNSET BOULEVARD, but also a weird precursor of the Maysles' GREY GARDENS, the film explores the reality and routine concoted by damaged and dysunctional siblings, one perhaps moreso than the other. Aldrich chose as his leads longtime real life bitter rivals Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, who were pretty much forced to accept due to the dearth of offers for actresses their age. So the shoot predictably was hell. At one point Crawford was taken to get stitches for a head wound icurred from Ms. Davis' boot. I mean, fuck all this newfangled Twitter sniping bullshit, that's when we had Hollywood FEUDS, man! Davis was cast in the showier role of Jane, the sister who found fame first but was later overshadowed by Crawford's Blanche, so the former bagged a nomination as Best Actress for that years Academy Awards. Crawford asked all the other nominees for the honor of accepting on their behalf if they won and did not attend. Anne Bancroft took it for THE MIRACLE WORKER, and Crawford tossed some invective Davis' way as she strode up to grab the little gold guy. The hate went THAT deep. And it IS up on the screen for all to behold. Remarkably Aldrich had enough patience left in him to want to reunite the pair for a semi-sequel, but that film, HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE, instead found Davis sharing the screen with Olivia DeHavilland. So this was the only onscreen warfare the two engaged in. And Aldrich finally said Fuck All This Noise and made THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX, which instantly lowered his blood pressure. Tonight's Pick, though, remains kooky, creepy, and wildly entertaining, and as bonus it has as its subject matter the very industry the medium created. So what's not to love?

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? screens tonight at the Clearview Chelsea Cinemas at 7pm and 10pm. Parakeet will not served as concession snack. But it's caloric info will be listed. Weird.


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