London, 1977. A year of nascent punk rock explosion and the rebirth of soul. Pirate DJs and the Queen’s Jubilee. Love on the run and racist skinheads on the prowl. YOUNG SOUL REBELS—an early feature by Isaac Julien—is part-thriller, part-musical, and a groundbreaking exemplar of the New Queer Cinema movement of the 1990s.
Starring Mo Sesay, Valentine Nonyela, Jason Durr, and Sophie Okonedo, the film screens this week in Westwood as part of the Outfest UCLALegacy Project Screening Series.
Long before her international fame as editor-in-chief of Vogue in the sixties and the “Empress of Fashion” at the Met’s Costume Institute in the seventies and eighties, Diana Vreeland was a legend in Manhattan creative circles. As Harper’s Bazaar‘s fashion editor, she was the inspiration for Allison Du Bois in the KurtWeill-Ira Gershwin-Moss Hart musical Lady in the Dark (1941). And Kay Thompson played Maggie Prescott, a version of Vreeland, in the dazzling Paramount musical FUNNY FACE (1957, directed by Stanley Donen).
Upon discovering Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn), a lovely, philosophical clerk in a Greenwich Village bookstore, Prescott and photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire, in a role based on Richard Avedon) sweep Jo uptown for a test shoot. Maggie orders her office minions to chop off Jo’s hair and paint her with a “marvelous mouth.” Jo resists, but gives in once she realizes her new modeling gig comes with a paid trip to Paris, home of Jean-Paul Sartre.
This weekend, as part of its series Runaway Hollywood—Global Production in a PostwarWorld, the UCLA Film and Television Archive will screen FUNNY FACE, followed by the black-and-white Paul Newman-Sidney Poitier vehicle PARIS BLUES (1961, directed by Martin Ritt). The story of two American jazz musicians in Paris, the tourists they fall for (Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll), and the Latin Quarter dives at the center of their expat scene, PARIS BLUES features a score composed by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.
From top: Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face; Kay Thompson performing the “Think Pink” number; Thompson, Fred Astaire, and Hepburn after wrapping up “Bonjour, Paris!”; Verve album cover; Diahann Carroll and Sidney Poitier in Paris Blues; Joanne Woodward and PaulNewman; Louis Armstrong (left), Poitier, and Newman on set.
On a weekend of UCLA Film and Television Archive screenings curated by Sandi Tan—publisher, film critic, and director of the acclaimed doc Shirkers (2018)—a standout is Tim Hunter’s cult eighties noir RIVER’S EDGE.
Favorably compared to In Cold Blood by Roger Ebert, the film centers on the non-reaction by a group of teens to a dead body in their midst, and stars Keanu Reeves, Ione Skye, Crispin Glover, and DennisHopper. (Skye will join Tan for an onstage discussion.)
RIVER’S EDGE will be preceded by Leos Carax’s 1999 shocker POLA X.
“QUEENOF DIAMONDS is my very personal portrait of the United States: an over-enlarged, profit-motivated core surrounded by mute and arid alienation. The female protagonist is both deeply estranged and psychically powerful. Her loner position is the backside of centuries of Western Heroes: she stands in the center as watcher and victim of a system which is starting to crack.” — Nina Menkes
The UCLA Film and Television program Nina Menkes, Cinematic Sorceress features a double-bill of two of Menkes’ key works—both starring her sister Tinka Menkes—including the 4K restoration of QUEEN OF DIAMONDS (1991). The filmmaker will be on hand to discuss her work.
“QUEEN OF DIAMONDS shares not only the formal sophistication and structural rigor of BarbaraLoden’s Wanda (1970) and Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman (1975) but also their themes: female alienation and the ways that passivity, muteness, and a refusal to engage can serve as forms of resistance to patriarchal oppression. Ironically, these same themes helped to eclipse the three works—and many others like them—for too long.” — Sarah Resnick
“My head is splitting! The wine last night, the music, the delicious debauchery!” — CharlesLaughton, as Emperor Nero, in The Sign of the Cross
The sensual freedom that constituted much of the imagery of Hollywood’s silent period persisted into the sound era for four more years until a nationwide morals crusade reached critical mass in 1934, and strict enforcement of the Hays Code began.
Small-town church-goers were pushed to the brink by The Sign of the Cross (1932)—Cecil B. DeMille‘s notorious epic—which purloined a “Christian” story and served up nudity, violence, a lesbian dance sequence, and Emperor Nero as a raging queen. Needless to say, big city audiences responded to DeMille’s decadence with curiosity and enthusiasm, flocking to cinemas wherever it was playing.
Also on the bill: John M. Stahl‘s Only Yesterday (1933)—Margaret Sullavan‘s film debut—depicting out-of-wedlock childbirth, feminist and socialist advocacy, and an openly gay couple (Franklin Pangborn and Barry Norton)—scenarios that would disappear from Hollywood scripts for the next thirty years.
Mark A. Vieira will sign copies of his book Forbidden Hollywood: The Pre-Code Era before the screening.