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"The Newspaper Picture," Renoir and More

The Auteurs Daily

The Front Page

"An extra folded into Film Forum's all-35mm, month-long celebration of The Newspaper Picture (April 9 through May 6) celebrates the brashest, cleverest motor-mouth newshound to ever slang a source or elbow his way through the urban jungle: Lee Tracy (1898 - 1968)." J Hoberman retraces the career in the Voice.

"Is there a class of film, besides the history-specific emergence of noir, that says as much about American life?" asks Michael Atkinson in his overview of the series for L Magazine. "Westerns, musicals and romantic comedies were their own brands of fantasy, but the newspaper movie, with its boundless cynicism and keep-it-moving pace and narrative need to know what happened, captures a sense of our national character that's unique and that hasn't faded a pixel since."

"There were, basically, two kinds of newspaper films," argues Stephen Whitty in the Star-Ledger. "In the first, the story was all about The Story — and how one dogged newshound (or, occasionally, newshen) got it. The methods, which often included bribery and theft, were hardly pretty. (Rosalind Russell's tactics in His Girl Friday would get her fired today). Still, they were stories in which the newspaper business was seen as exciting, important and fun. The second kind of film used the reporter as a type. Clark Gable in It Happened One Night, Jean Arthur in Mr Deeds Goes to Town, Barbara Stanwyck in Meet John Doe — they're jaded singles who think they've got love figured out, and mister, is it a lot of hooey. But then they meet someone, and rediscover their idealism. These were comic fables in which the newspaper business was presented as slightly suspect, a metaphor for cynicism. That latter view would grow more popular as the years went on — and grow even darker."

 

RENOIR @ BAM


"We could mention his phalanx of disciples — from Orson Welles to Wes Anderson — as well as decades of top-ten-list appearances. But there'd still be a whiff of 'spinach cinema' wafting from the work of Jean Renoir, France's mighty humanist and standard-bearer. His twin triumphs, the brotherly prisoner-of-war drama Grand Illusion (1937) and the country-estate roundelay The Rules of the Game (1939), will always be art-house perennials. Yet it's a crime that Renoir, that most passionate of populists, seems divorced from the general public today. Let's fix that." In Time Out New York, Joshua Rothkopf presents "five reasons to try out BAM's 22-title retrospective." Friday through May 11.

 

Toni

The New Yorker's David Denby zooms in on Toni (1935) and the Boston Globe's Mark Feeney riffs on the Henri Cartier-Bresson connection.

 

OTHER FESTS AND EVENTS


"One frontier in which Israel remains politically left-forward is that of gay rights." Dennis Harvey in the San Francisco Bay Guardian: "Three out of five films in the Out in Israel series at the Roxie deal with strife between gay and Orthodox religious communities. Copresented by San Francisco's Jewish Film Festival, they're all part of a larger lineup of April events assembled by the Israeli Consulate in honor of Israel's Gay Pride Month."

Michael Fox talks with Rachel Rosen, who's returned to the San Francisco Film Society as director of programming, about the long-term goals of the San Francisco International Film Festival (April 22 through May 6), establishing a year-round program and a trend she's tracking, "the blurring of the documentary/narrative line."

Dennis Cozzalio previews several goings on in the Los Angeles area.

The Asian American Showcase is on at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago through April 15.

The Philadelphia Film Festival won't be happening until the fall, but this weekend the Philadelphia Film Society presents a Spring Preview — eleven features screening for free. The Philadelphia Weekly's Matt Prigge picks out a few highlights.

The inaugural edition of DOC NYC runs November 3 through 7. Brian Brooks (indieWIRE) and AJ Schnack report.

 

IN OTHER NEWS


"Corin Redgrave, who has died aged 70, was both a formidable actor and a strenuous political activist," writes Guardian theater critic Michael Billington. "But, while it is fashionably easy to suggest that his career was blighted by his political activities, I suspect his talent was intimately related to his radical political convictions. And, if he enjoyed a golden theatrical rebirth from the late 1980s onwards, it may have had less to do with politics than with his determination to inherit the mantle of his revered father.... He had appeared occasionally in films since the 1960s, with early credits such as A Man for All Seasons, The Charge of the Light Brigade and Oh! What a Lovely War, and later films including In the Name of the Father, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Enigma and Enduring Love."

Jonathan Derbyshire introduces a brief interview the New Statesman conducted with Redgrave last year.

Top image: Detail from Edward Steichen's 1928 photograph, Improvisation - The Front Page, for a Vanity Fair piece on the Broadway production. Pictured are Osgood Perkins and Lee Tracy. Second image: Toni.

Update, 4/8: "The Film Forum series will close, four weeks from now, on a high note of idealism, with Alan J Pakula's All the President's Men, from 1976." AO Scott in the New York Times: "It's an old favorite of mine, and also by a good decade the most recent selection in the program. Only a small handful of the newspaper pictures in The Newspaper Picture were released after the 1950s, and the years between the introduction of sound and the rise of television were clearly the genre's heyday. Like the western, it survives in somewhat ghostly, self-conscious form, since an on-screen newspaper job can still provide action, laughter and intrigue. Jennifer Aniston has one in The Bounty Hunter, which I have now evoked in an article that also mentions Citizen Kane. Get me rewrite!"

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