Thursday and Friday
Mayerling (1936) - 16mm
Mayerling was about fifteen miles outside Vienna, prettily situated in the woods. The Crown Prince Rudolf (heir to the Hapsburg throne) built himself a hunting lodge there and used it as a hideaway for his love affair with the teenage Marie Vetsera. The prince wanted to divorce his wife and marry Marie, but his father, the emperor, refused permission. And so, in 1889, the lovers enacted a suicide pact that made for one of the great demonstrations of love fighting duty. This film is French, directed by Anatole Litvak, with Charles Boyer and Danielle Darrieux as the lovers. — David Thomson
Thursday and Friday (October 20-21) at 7:30.
From Mayerling to Sarajevo (1940)
Consequences cannot be denied: the deaths at Mayerling in 1889 brought the unlucky Franz Ferdinand into the position of Hapsburg crown prince. He is played here by the American actor John Lodge, and the prince’s wife (Sophie Chotek) is Edwige Feuillere. They are blithely unaware of being on their way to the events in Sarajevo in 1914. And so the love affairs of Vienna helped organize the devastation of the Great (and Terrible) War. In 1940, Ophuls was at the height of his career (it seemed), but another war intervened. This film was banned because of its Jewish participants. And Ophuls was on his way to Hollywood (which turned out better than Sarajevo). — David Thomson
Thursday and Friday (October 20-21) at 5:50 and 9:20.
Saturday and Sunday
The Third Man (1949)
You knew The Third Man would be in the series just as surely as you suspect early on that Harry Lime is not quite dead. Written by Graham Greene, directed by Carol Reed, and produced by Alexander Korda (while holding off the interfering energy of David O. Selznick), this is the picture that identified Vienna with the ruin of war and the presage of cold war. Harry Lime is a very bad man (just think of children given tainted penicillin) but try telling yourself that when Orson Welles turns on his charm. Joseph Cotten is his forlorn friend, Alida Valli is his lover, and Trevor Howard is the brusque English policeman. It’s the classic, so you knew all this. — David Thomson
Saturday and Sunday (October 22-23) at 3:55 and 7:30.
Act of Violence (1948)
Fred Zinnemann was born in Austria and raised in Vienna — all that shows in his film of Julia (1977). But the Viennese readiness for surprise is also evident in this unsettling thriller. We are in small-town America, in happiness and order: Van Heflin seems to be an upstanding citizen and a war hero, and his wife is Janet Leigh. Then a dark, limping force appears from out of the past. He feels as forbidding as Robert Ryan. But the truth proves so much more complicated. There is a brilliant supporting performance from Mary Astor in this small faultless picture. — David Thomson
Saturday and Sunday (October 22-23) at 5:55 and 9:30.