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Hollywood's Enduring Rebels - the films and the rebels who brought them to the big screen

Art Department, Central Library,
Orson Welles as Citizen Kane Photo

The Art Department of Central Library hosts a fall film series with three motion pictures whose directors took risks with their visual stories.  While the subjects, the use of photography, and the film scores differ, all three directors created filmic experiences with provocative endings that leave viewers engaged with the picture long after the last credits roll.

 

Film Screening

Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 1 p.m. in Central Library’s Meeting Room A

We begin with the 1941 feature film debut of Orson Welles - a story about a newspaper tycoon.  Following his success in radio broadcasting and his adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel, “War of the Worlds,” Welles arrived in Hollywood with an enviable contract allowing him final cut of a studio motion picture.  He co-wrote the script with Herman Mankiewicz, worked with cinematographer, Gregg Tolland, and brought in Bernard Herrmann to score the film.

The story, told in flashbacks from unreliable narrators, presents snapshots of the life of a man whose career in the newspaper business reflected his drive for personal gain and political power.  Writers, reviewers, and moviegoers have often drawn parallels between the fictional character, Charles Foster Kane, and other politicians and journalists including William Randolph Hearst who sought to block the release of the film that opened at the Palace Theatre on Broadway in New York on May 1, 1941. The film currently tops AFI’s Best 100 list.

 

Film Screening

Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 1 p.m. in Central Library’s Meeting Room A

Next up will be the 1991 film directed by Ridley Scott who brought Callie Khouri’s script about two women, played by Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, who leave their routines of work and home life behind them in favor of a weekend road trip to the mountains in a 1966 T-bird.  Their adventure unfolds like a dramatized reality show with a running social commentary on the predicaments of women caught in the times that pinned them down. 

The film locations include Bakersfield, California and several places in Utah including Canyonlands National Park.  The soundtrack with Hans Zimmer’s score and an infusion of pop tunes including “Ballad of Lucy Jordan” by Shel Silverstein performed by Marianne Faithful courtesy of Island Records, The Temptations rendition of Smokey Robinson’s “The Way you Do the Things You Do,” courtesy of Motown Record Company, L.P., and Van Morrison’s “Wild Night” performed by Martha Reeves courtesy of MCA Records set the tone for the scene.  Adrian Biddle, Director of Photography captures the time, place, and one of the most poignant freeze frames ever.

Film Screening

Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 1 p.m. in Central Library’s Meeting Room A

The third film screening is the 1974 motion picture by Director, Roman Polanski and Producer Robert Evans adapting Robert Towne’s script about the water wars in California.  Towne condenses and places his fictional story about the water and the water rights struggles for the growing City of Los Angeles in the late 1930’s, and gives his protagonist  - a sharp, successful private detective, played by Jack Nicholson - the role of unraveling a series of mysteries surrounding water rights and the players involved in back room deals, and personal and political schemes.  Faye Dunaway and John Huston co-star in the film.

While the film is not an historical version of the deeds and divisions of Californians over waterpower, the viewer, suspended in limbo over the ending of the film, may well head off to research the truth behind this dramatic story.  Before you go, listen one more time to Jerry Goldsmith's scoring of the sultry trumpet solo that opens the title screen; Arthur Morton, a longtime collaborator with Goldsmith, orchestrated the piece, and trumpeter Uan Rasey played the solo.  Producer Robert Evans brought in Goldsmith less than two weeks before the wrap to take over the role of scoring the film, and by many accounts he wrote one of the best film scores of the era. 

 

A few film series resources:

The Encyclopedia of Orson Welles by Chuck Berg and Tom Erskine. New York: Checkmark Books. 2003   (812.092 W455Be)

The Hollywood Film Music Reader edited by Mervyn Cooke.  New York: Oxford University Press. 2010   (781.68 H7465)

Los Angeles in Maps by Glen Creason.  New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. 2010   (979.41 L881-Crea)

The Los Angeles River: Its Life, Death, and Possible Rebirth by Blake Gumprecht.  Baltimore & London: The John Hopkins University Press. 2001   (627.10974 G974-1 2001)

Orson Welles by James McBride. New York: Da Capo Press. 1996   (816.092 W449MA 1996)

Orson Welles: Six Films Analyzed, Scene by Scene by Randy Rasmussen.  Jefferson, North Carolina, and London: McFarland & Co., Inc.  2006   (812.092 W449Ra)

Ridley Scott: The Making of His Movies by Paul M. Sammon.  New York: First Thunder Mouth’s Press. 1999   (791.92 S428SA)

Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles by David Thomson. New York: Vintage Books, Random House.  1996   (812.092 W449Th)

 


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