Summaries written by David Thomson


Tuesday and Wednesday

The Breaking Point (1950)

As if realizing that the 1944 masterpiece by Howard Hawks had not really bothered with Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not, Warners now tried a more responsible version that really captures the novel’s somber tone. Jerry Wald produced, Ranald MacDougall did the script and yet again Michael Curtiz di- rected. Now, John Garfield is Harry Morgan, with a boat for hire; Phyllis Thaxter plays his wife (omitted from the 1944 film); and Patricia Neal is a girlfriend. Juano Hernandez is the Walter Brennan figure. The result is a film noir worthy of the book.

Plays Tuesday and Wednesday (September 19-20) at 7:30.

Four Daughters (1938)

The somewhat bemused Claude Rains finds himself with four daughters, played by the Lane sisters (Priscilla, Rosemary and Lola) and Gale Page. Their blissful household is devoted to making music, until a rather tough song-writer (played by John Garfield) arrives. The formula was a success that prompted immediate sequels and then one day it became the basis for Young at Heart (playing later in this festival). But as written by Lenore Coffee and Julius Epstein and directed by the versatile Michael Curtiz, this is sweetness all the way.

Plays Tuesday and Wednesday (September 19-20) at 5:50 and 9:25.


Thursday and Friday

East of Eden (1955)

If nothing else, this is a story of the rivalry between brothers—a real Warners subject. It is also an abridged version of the John Steinbeck novel, as scripted by Paul Osborn. But especially it is the meeting of director Elia Kazan and actor James Dean, a remarkable example of the Method digging into wounded psy- chology. Dean’s three films were all for Warners, and Kazan was often at the studio in the ’50s. Also stars Raymond Massey, Julie Harris, Dick Davalos, Burl Ives, Lois Smith and the piercing Jo Van Fleet as the mother.

Plays Thursday and Friday (September 21-22) at 7:30.

The Fountainhead (1949)

Ayn Rand did all she could to control this movie version of her novel. She wrote the script with not a word to be changed. And while Barbara Stanwyck had set her heart on playing the female lead, Rand went for Patricia Neal. She also countermanded director King Vidor’s wish to cast Bogart as the architect, Howard Roark, by pushing for Gary Cooper. It all worked out (sort of): Cooper and Neal fell into a passionate love affair, and Vidor found delirious imagery to match Rand’s ideology. Also with Raymond Massey, Robert Douglas and Kent Smith.

Plays Thursday and Friday (September 21-22) at 5:25 and 9:45.


Saturday through Monday

My Fair Lady (1964)

Of all the films he had his name on, none was closer to Jack Warner’s heart (and his love of singing) than the movie adaptation (after six years of stage glory) of My Fair Lady. Warner had George Cukor to direct, and Cecil Beaton to do the art direction. He kept the stage cast (Rex Harrison and Stanley Holloway), but he felt Julie Andrews lacked enough following, so he cast Audrey Hepburn instead. Then he lost his nerve and had Marni Nixon dub Eliza’s songs. It won Best Picture; Cukor got his Oscar; but Audrey wasn’t even nominated—Julie Andrews won for Mary Poppins.

Plays Saturday through Monday (September 23-25) at 7:30, plus Sat/Sun matinee at 3:00.