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UNITED ARTISTS ON PARADE: FROM FAIRBANKS, PICKFORD, GRIFFITH & CHAPLIN TO SCORSESE, MONROE, THE BEATLES & JAMES BOND

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I
n 1919, a magical Hollywood quartet, comprised of Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, set up their very own movie-making shop and called it United Artists. The big bosses at major studios sniggered at the idea of un-savvy artists trying to fend for themselves in the Hollywood jungle. The four founders proved gloriously capable, however, and their bold cinematic baby is now celebrating its 90th anniversary.

That's why New York’s enterprising Film Forum has put together an awesome retrospective of UA fare, running from March 28 through May 1. Descriptions of the individual films--courtesy of Film Forum--are provided below. For complete details on the series, click here and visit the Forum’s Web site.

 

RAGING BULL
(1980, Martin Scorsese)


Robert De Niro’s Jake La Motta never hits the canvas, but his out-of–the-ring battles with wife Cathy Moriarty and brother Joe Pesci are a war of attrition with no winners. Scorsese’s profanity-packed blowtorch boxing biopic of the middleweight legend has consistently topped critics’ Best of the Decade lists, while nabbing a Best Actor Oscar for De Niro’s powerhouse performance (Thelma Schoonmaker also won for editing). To read Guy Flatley's 1973 New York Times interview with Martin Scorsese, click here; for Guy's interview with Robert De Niro that same year, click here.

MANHATTAN
(1979, Woody Allen)


Dumped by wife Meryl Streep for another woman, Woody Allen now dates high-schooler Mariel Hemingway—but pal Michael Murphy’s mistress Diane Keaton sure looks good. Super-complicated relationships backed by Gershwin and shot in ravishing b&w Scope by the legendary Gordon Willis. To read Guy Flatley's 1978 Los Angeles Times interview with Woody Allen, click here; for Guy's 1974 interview with Diane Keaton, also for the Los Angeles Times, click here.

PATHS OF GLORY
(1957, Stanley Kubrick)


WWI colonel Kirk Douglas gets the order to take the “The Anthill,” as icily smiling chateau-bound generals Adolphe Menjou and George Macready play the General Staff office politics two-step. But, after the ensuing bloodbath, it’s time for heads to roll. Shot in Belgium after French authorities nixed it, this is one of the most ruthlessly anti-war films ever, with Kubrick’s telephoto-lensed, side-tracking shooting of the assault perhaps the screen’s most authentic treatment of trench warfare.

THE KILLING
(1956, Stanley Kubrick)

Ex-con Sterling Hayden puts together the usual suspects—including sniveling Elisha Cook, Jr., a chess-playing wrestler and trigger-happy Timothy Carey—to pull off a racetrack heist. En route, the 27-year old Kubrick zigzags through a dizzying series of time shifts, as the inevitable ironic twist awaits. A key “inspiration” for Reservoir Dogs.

THE THIEF OF BAGDAD
(1924, Raoul Walsh)

A magic carpet, a flying horse, the Caverns of Fire, the Valleys of Monsters, the Flight of a Thousand Stairs: a festival of wonders, as Douglas Fairbanks’ “what I want, I take” thief must save the princess while thwarting a Mongol prince’s power grab. Spectacular to this day, the incredible sets (designed by Gone With the Wind’s William Cameron Menzies) seem to shimmer in the air

 

 

THE PARTY
(1968, Blake Edwards)


Brought from Delhi to Hollywood to play the title role in Son of Gunga Din, Sellers’ klutzy Hrundi V. Bakshi is fired when he accidentally blows up the set, but is inadvertently invited to a lavish studio bash. The resulting Tatiesque free-for-all includes a shoe in the hors d’oeuvres, a psychedelic elephant in the pool, and a house full of soapsuds. Rumored to be a personal favorite of Elvis Presley.

A SHOT IN THE DARK
(1964, Blake Edwards)


Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau, convinced sexy suspect Elke Sommer is innocent (despite leaving in-his-face murders in her wake), trails her through Paris and to an even-more-picturesque nudist colony, donning a strategically-placed guitar en route.

STAGECOACH
(1939, John Ford)


A coach full of ill-assorted passengers—including Claire Trevor, John Carradine, and Thomas Mitchell’s Oscar-winning drunken sawbones—treks to Lordsburg despite Geronimo’s warriors and surprise guest The Ringo Kid. John Wayne’s star-making role after a decade of B westerns. Ford’s first sound Western, his first iconic use of Monument Valley and an affirmation of the genre. Orson Welles claimed to have screened it forty times in preparation for Citizen Kane. To read Guy Flatley's 1973 New York Times interview with John Wayne, click here.

RED RIVER
(1948, Howard Hawks)


Mutiny on the Bounty out West: tyrannical trail boss John Wayne battles adopted son Montgomery Clift as they lead the first big cattle drive over the Chisholm Trail. Hawks' mammoth production used 9,000 head of cattle - the stampede alone took ten days to film - and centered around Elgin, Arizona, population 7. First of Wayne's more complex roles of the 40s and 50s, culminating in The Searchers. To read Guy Flatley's 1973 New York Times interview with John Wayne, click here.

THE MISFITS
(1961, John Huston)


Recent Reno divorcee Marilyn Monroe is befriended by Thelma Ritter and taken in by last of the cowboys Clark Gable and ex-flyboy Eli Wallach, as punchy rodeo rider Montgomery Clift comes along for the ride; but then a hunt for wild horses looms. Arthur Miller’s first film script was tailored for wife Marilyn, in what turned out to be her (as well as Gable’s) final movie.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
(1963, Terence Young)


“He seems fit,” allows Brecht/Weill legend Lotte Lenya after buffed-up hit man Robert Shaw (Jaws, Taking of Pelham 123) shrugs off her brass-knuckled punch to his gut; then he proves it in a compartment-wrecking battle on a moving train with Connery’s Bond — himself on the trail of a Russian decoding device. Or is it a SPECTRE trap to pay Bond off for that Dr. No business? With Desmond Llewelyn’s first appearance as “Q” and Mexican legend Pedro Armendariz, in his final role, as 007’s Turkish ally. To read Guy Flatley's 1969 New York Times interview with Sean Connery, click here.

ONE, TWO, THREE
(1961, Billy Wilder)


When Berlin Coca-Cola rep James Cagney learns the boss’s daughter, airheaded Pamela Tiffin, wants to elope with fanatical Commie Oscar Piffl (Horst Buchholz), it’s time to go into overdrive. Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s throwback to 30s pacing, played molto furioso and escalating into Cagney’s machine-gun-fast consumerist aria.) To read Guy Flatley's 1976 New York Times interview with Billy Wilder, click here.

 

 

 


GOLDFINGER
(1964, Guy Hamilton)


Bobbing up from under a stuffed seagull, a frogman strips to reveal an impeccably white dinner jacket — Sean Connery as James Bond, of course. Here, after Shirley Bassey belts the chart-busting title tune, 007 squares off against Gert Frobe’s eponymous master criminal; and his fiendish plot to corner the world’s gold reserves, with Fort Knox (Kentucky) the prize; while dodging torture by laser and that steel-belted hat from Japanese sidekick “Oddjob” — and not dodging Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore or the tragically golden-hued Shirley Eaton. To read Guy Flatley's 1969 New York Times interview with Sean Connery, click here.

DR. NO
(1962, Terence Young)


When a British agent disappears in Jamaica, Sean Connery’s 007 is sent in to investigate, with Hawaii Five-O’’s Jack Lord as his American sidekick - why does nobody come back alive from Crab Key? First big screen Bond adventure is perhaps closest to the books, and sans the later gadgetry and pyrotechnics, but who cares when Ursula Andress’s Honey Chile rises bikini-clad from the surf? With first appearances of “M” (Bernard Lee) & Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), and blacklisted actor Joseph Wiseman (Brando’s Judas in Viva Zapata!) in the missile-redirecting title role.) To read Guy Flatley's 1969 interview with Sean Connery, click here.

THE APARTMENT
(1960, Billy Wilder)


“If you laid the population of New York City end to end, they would reach from Times Square to the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan. I know facts like this because I work for an insurance company.” Low, low, low-level exec Bud Baxter (Jack Lemmon) trades the key to his Upper West Side pad for the key to the executive washroom—then finds users have been boss Fred MacMurray and his own beloved elevator operator Shirley MacLaine. Wilder won an unprecedented three Oscars: for writing (with I.A.L. Diamond), directing, and producing the year’s Best Picture. To read Guy Flatley's 1976 New York Times interview with Billy Wilder, click here; for Guy's 1977 interview with Shirley MacLaine, also published in The Times, click here.

NEVER ON SUNDAY
(1960, Jules Dassin)


In the Athens seaport of Piraeus, an uptight American writer (played by director Dassin)—fired up by a little ouzo—gets divested of that darn idealism and Puritanism by Melina Mercouri’s fun-loving prostitute (Cannes Best Actress award and Oscar nomination), to the tune of bouzouki-playing Manos Hadjidakis’ Oscar-winning theme song.

ORPHANS OF THE STORM
(1922, D.W. Griffith)


Amid lavish sets of revolutionary Paris that covered thirteen acres, orphan sisters Lillian and Dorothy Gish are separated (memorably when blind Dorothy hears a captive Lillian) and reunited while menaced by decadent aristocrat Joseph Schildkraut; with a memorable last reel race to the guillotine.

 

 

 

THE GREAT ESCAPE
(1963, John Sturges)


Steve McQueen rides that cycle, James Garner scrounges, Richard Attenborough provides forceful leadership, Charles Bronson—perhaps remembering his beginnings as Charles Buchinsky in Pennsylvania's coal country—gets tunnel claustrophobia, and James Coburn is "the lifeguard," in Sturges' rip-roaring recreation of the greatest prisoner of war mass escape of WWII, based on the book by participant Paul Brickhill.

MIDNIGHT COWBOY
(1969, John Schlesinger)


“Everybody’s talkin’” at cowboy-geared, straight-from-the-sticks stud wannabe Jon Voight — who immediately becomes the hustler hustled — while seedy tenement squatter Dustin Hoffman is “walkin’ here” as he storms at a pushy cabdriver; but they form their own alliance within the grubby underside of Times Square. Oscars for Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay (Waldo Salt), among 7 Oscar nominations. To read Guy Flatley's 1979 interview with Dustin Hoffman, click here.

ANNIE HALL
(1977, Woody Allen)

Abie’s Irish Rose for the 70s, as Woody Allen’s Alvy Singer loves and loses Diane Keaton over the years between screenings of The Sorrow and the Pity, with a meet-cute helpfully subtitled with real meanings and media visionary Marshall McLuhan popping up to silence an arthouse pontificator. Oscars for Picture, Actress, Director, and Screenplay (by Allen & Marshall Brickman). To read Guy Flatley's 1978 Los Angeles Times interview with Woody Allen, click here; for Guy's 1974 interview with Diane Keaton, also published in the Los Angeles Times, click here; for his 1980 Cosmopolitan magazine interview with Christopher Walken, click here.

WHERE’S POPPA?
(1970, Carl Reiner)


“Is that a tush!” Exasperated son George Segal can’t stop insane Jewish mother Ruth Gordon from kissing his behind, while gorilla-suited brother Ron Liebman finds his true love in Central Park, in the blackest of all black comedies.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
(1966, Sergio Leone)


“If you’re gonna shoot, shoot! Don’t talk.” Lee Van Cleef’s icy bounty hunter (“The Bad”), Eli Wallach’s Mexican bandito (“The Ugly”) and Clint Eastwood’s con man (“The Good”) contend with each other and with battling Civil War armies in their relentless search for buried gold. Leone’s epic Western (accompanied by — Hwah, WAH, Wah — perhaps Ennio Morricone’s greatest score) conjures up opera, horse opera, the bullfight arena, and the blackest of black humor. Screenplay by Sergio Leone, Luciano Vincenzoni and the team of Age and Scarpelli (Divorce Italian Style, Mafioso). To read Guy Flatley's 1976 New York Times interview with Clint Eastwood, click here.

WEST SIDE STORY
(1961, Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins)


Ten Oscars for the dazzling screen adaptation of the Bernstein/Sondheim musical stage smash, including Best Picture, Director(s), Supporting Actor (George Chakiris) and Actress (Rita Moreno – she won a Tony and Grammy the same year!); as the Nativist Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks square off in the slums of Manhattan – shot on location in the condemned neighborhood of the now-Lincoln Center - but Tony (Richard Beymer) and Maria (Natalie Wood, with singing voice of Marni Nixon) find love anyway. To read Guy Flatley's 1977 New York Times interview with Natalie Wood, click here.

NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
(1955, CHARLES LAUGHTON)


“Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms” sing both shotgun-toting child protector Lillian Gish and lurking psycho preacher Robert Mitchum. Fairy tale and nightmare combine in Laughton’s sole directorial effort, written by legendary critic James Agee. To read Guy Flatley's 1971 New York Times interview with Shelley Winters, click here.

 

 

 

BROKEN BLOSSOMS
(1919, D.W. Griffith)


In London’s foggy Limehouse district, brutal prizefighter Donald Crisp takes time out between bouts to pummel waifish daughter Lillian Gish, even as Chinese outsider Richard Barthelmess tries to befriend her. Wedged among the epics, perhaps Griffith’s most delicate and tender chamber piece; shot (amazingly) in 18 days.

ROBIN HOOD
(1922, Allan Dwan)

Doug Fairbanks’ Earl of Huntingdon returns in disgrace from the Crusades to find his Maid Marian seemingly dead and nasty Prince John running the show—obviously it’s time for Robin! Monstrously epic evocation of the legend, its gargantuan castle set the largest since Intolerance—but of course, when Robin raids the baddies’ lair, it’s just a huge playpen for Doug. With Wallace Beery as King Richard the Lionhearted. To read Guy Flatley's 1977 New York Times interview with Allan Dwan, click here.

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE
(1962, John Frankenheimer)


A Commie brain-washer orders Laurence Harvey to go jump in a lake—the Central Park Reservoir—then to stalk a politico at a Madison Square Garden convention, but fellow ex-vet Frank Sinatra reshuffles those cards. With Angela Lansbury (only three years older) as Harvey’s Mother from Hell.)

SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS
(1957, Alexander Mackendrick)


“Match me, Sidney,” barks sanctimonious, Winchellesque gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker (a bespectacled Burt Lancaster) to sycophantic publicist Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), in the quintessential portrait of the rancid underside of The Great White Way, with midtown of the late 50s captured brilliantly by James Wong Howe’s b&w camera. Screenplay by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman. To read Guy Flatley's 1977 New York Times interview with Burt Lancaster, click here; for Guy's 1977 interview with Tony Curtis, also published in the New York Times, click here.

THE BIG KNIFE
(1955, Robert Aldrich)


So is anguished superstar Jack Palance going to sell out and sign that seven-year contract renewal with slimeball producer Rod Steiger? (admittedly for 5Gs a week!) Or is he going to patch things up with estranged wife Ida Lupino and maybe go back to Broadway? Adapted from Clifford Odets’ play, with Steiger’s crying jags and rages an amalgam of moguls Louis B. Mayer and Harry Cohn.)

THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR
(1968, Norman Jewison)

Amid vintage 60s split-screen effects, it’s a chess game as rich businessman Steve McQueen indulges in his bank robbery sideline, as insurance investigator Faye Dunaway gets on his tail, both professional and personal; but when they actually pull out those pieces, it’s the screen’s sexiest board game ever.

TOPKAPI
(1964, Jules Dassin)


Melina Mercouri and lover Maximillian Schell, backed by a hand-picked team, find their carefully laid plans to heist emeralds from the Topkapi museum in Istanbul laid low by the bumblings of hanger-on Peter Ustinov—in an Oscar-winning performance (Supporting Actor)—then decide to go ahead anyway. Pioneer of the heist genre Dassin (Rififi) keeps his tongue firmly in cheek, but the suspense taut in adaptation from intrigue titan Eric Ambler. The high-tech heist has been appropriated by everything from Mission: Impossible to Wallace & Gromit!)

A HARD DAY’S NIGHT
(1964, Richard Lester)


Just another day in the life: fleeing from screaming fans at a train station, contending with a “very clean” grandfather, jamming in a baggage car, cavorting in a field, wandering by a river, weirding out knotted-browed reporters with absurdist comebacks, wowing crowds at an orgasmic final concert—the Beatles’ movie debut rocketed them to another level beyond the latest pop faves as even squarely middle-aged critics were disarmed with grudging hosannas.

THE KNACK, AND HOW TO GET IT
(1965, Richard Lester)


Lester’s follow up to A Hard Day’s Night blends madcap surrealism with social satire, as just-off-the-bus Rita Tushingham mixes it up on her first day in London with blasé playboy Ray Brooks, repressed school teacher Michael Crawford, and anarchic painter Donal Donnelly. Grand Prize, Cannes Film Festival.

SOME LIKE IT HOT
(1959, Billy Wilder)


Chicago, 1929, and jazz musicians Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis get a rare look at history in the making: only trouble is, it’s the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, and with kingpin George Raft barking “Get those guys!” to his goon squad, it’s time to don high heels, girdles, and falsies to join an all-girl band. But how to keep that darned testosterone in check around sultry chantootsie Marilyn Monroe? To read Guy Flatley's 1976 New York Times interview with Billy Wilder, click here; for Guy's 1977 interview with Tony Curtis, also published in the New York Times, click here.

THE GENERAL
(1927, Buster Keaton)


Opening to a tepid response from audiences and critics (“by no means as good as his previous efforts” – NY Times), perhaps Keaton’s greatest work. His spectacular vision of the Civil War’s Great Locomotive Chase reveals his Griffith-level mastery of crowds and action (including the silent cinema’s most expensive single shot), along with perfectly-integrated comedy.)

 

 

WAY DOWN EAST
(1920, D.W. Griffith)


Deceived by bounder Lowell Sherman, Lillian Gish finds haven with a puritanical Maine farm family and their son Richard Barthelmess; but when her secret comes out, it’s time for one of Griffith’s greatest sequences, the pre-special effects race across the floating ice floes. Griffith’s last great commercial success. 1930 reissue musical soundtrack.

STEAMBOAT BILL, JR.
(1928, Charles Reisner)


Buster Keaton is a ukulele-playing collegiate twit who’s a disappointment to gruff sea-faring father Ernest Torrence, until that spectacular cyclone finale — “surely one of the most fantastic dithyrambs of disaster ever committed to film” (Rudi Blesh) still a marvel of special effects and physical stamina.

COMING HOME
(1978, Hal Ashby)


Square army wife Jane Fonda, volunteering at a local veterans’ hospital while hubby Bruce Dern goes on active duty, meeting bitter paraplegic Jon Voight—and her first orgasm (in the most talked about scene)—in one of Hollywood’s first treatments of returning Vietnam vets. Oscar-winner for Best Actor (Voight), Actress (Fonda) and Original Screenplay (Waldo Salt, Robert C. Jones, Nancy Dowd).)

MARTY
(1955, Delbert Mann)


Lonely Bronx butcher Ernest Borgnine gets stuck with a pal’s “dog” of a date, schoolteacher Betsy Blair (then Mrs. Gene Kelly) but “you know, us dogs aren't really so much of the dogs that we think we are.” Low-key adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s TV play became one of the 50s’ biggest sleepers, winning Oscars for Best Actor, Director, Screenplay, and Picture and the Palme d’or at Cannes.

A THOUSAND CLOWNS
(1965, Fred Coe
)

Jason Robards’ Murray Burns quits the Chuckles the Chipmunk Show rat race to play his ukulele, exchange movie quotes with super-precocious nephew Barry Gordon, romance nervous social worker Barbara Harris, and to celebrate Irving F. Feldman’s birthday, while Oscar-winner Martin Balsam sticks around long enough to drop off the fruit. With revolutionary free-spirited tour-of-New-York interludes courtesy of playwright Herb Gardner and ace editor Ralph Rosenblum (The Pawnbroker, Annie Hall, etc.).

TOM JONES
(1963, Tony Richardson)


Barry Lyndon with jokes, as Albert Finney’s eponymous Tom, Henry Fielding’s 18th century foundling, roisters his way to love and inheritance through a succession of beds, amid speeded-up chases, silent movie parodies and asides to the screen. Oscars for Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Score.

THE MARK OF ZORRO
(1920, Fred Niblo)


Sword-slashed Z’s keep popping up on the bad guys as the mysterious masked Zorro starts righting wrongs in Olde California. Based on a book read by Pickford on their Honeymoon, the first of Douglas Fairbanks Sr.’s legendary swashbucklers—and prototype for all the alter-egoed superheroes to come.

LAST TANGO IN PARIS
(1973, Bernardo Bertolucci)


Post-sexual revolution Brief Encounter à Paris, as tormented widower Marlon Brando makes immediate contact with funky Maria Schneider in an empty apartment. Bernardo Bertolucci's succèss de scandale retains its impact today, keyed by Brando's powerful and most self-revelatory performance. With Jean-Pierre Léaud. To read Guy Flatley's 1973 New York Times interview with Bernardo Bertolucci, click here.

 

 

KISS ME DEADLY
(1955, Robert Aldrich)


Wearing a raincoat for a nightie and panting orgasmically, Cloris Leachman’s nighttime encounter with Ralph Meeker’s “bedroom dick” Mike Hammer leads him on a search for a mysterious box. Aldrich on his and scripter A.I. Bezzerides’ adaptation on the Mickey Spillane pulp: “We just took the title and threw the book away.”

99 RIVER STREET
(1953, Phil Karlson)


Can retired-after-one-beating-too-many prizefighter/now-cabdriver John Payne punch his way out after he agrees to help his friend actress Evelyn Keyes cover up a murder —or is it?— then finds himself wanted for killing his wife. Surprisingly complex, typically brutal Karlson thriller.

WOMEN IN LOVE
(1969, Ken Russell)


At the turn of the 20th century, mine owner Oliver Reed can handle business but not headstrong Glenda Jackson (Best Actress Oscar), while her gentler sister Jennie Linden finds love with Reed’s friend Alan Bates. Larry Kramer-scripted adaptation of D. H. Lawrence’s novel; with memorable Reed/Bates nude wrestling bout. To read Guy Flatley's 1979 Newsday interview with Glenda Jackson, click here.

SUNDAY, BLOODY SUNDAY
(1971, John Schlesinger)


“People can manage on very little.” On the same telephone answering service, Jewish doctor Peter Finch and divorced businesswoman Glenda Jackson are both in love—but not with each other; rather with young artist Murray Head. Schlesinger’s own favorite among his films; with tour de force highlight: Finch at the bar mitzvah.) To read Guy Flatley's 1979 Newsday interview with Glenda Jackson, click here.

SPARROWS
(1926, William Beaudine)


Thrills over comedy, as Mary Pickford mothers maltreated orphans held captive in an alligator-infested Southern baby farm/child labor camp presided over by potato-farming commandant Gustav von Seyffertitz. The elaborate sets and cinematography served as inspiration for Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter.

MY BEST GIRL
(1927, Sam Taylor)


America’s Sweetheart meets America’s Boyfriend: Five-and-Dime shopgirl Mary Pickford falls hard for cute co-worker Buddy Rogers—the feeling’s mutual; only trouble is... “A near-perfect romantic comedy (David Shipman), with classic “meet-cute” and one of the star’s longest-held kisses. No wonder: she and Buddy were married in real life—nine years later. Silent, with musical soundtrack. To read Guy Flatley's 1977 New York Times interview with Buddy Rogers, click here.

 

 

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
(1960, John Sturges)


Bum, bump-a-bump… Elmer Bernstein's iconic, Oscar-nominated theme underscores one of the screen's greatest Western adventures, as gunslingers Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson James Coburn, et al., team up to protect a Mexican village from Eli Wallach's bandit horde. Adapted from Kurosawa's masterpiece Seven Samurai, but a super-classic in its own right.

THE LONG GOODBYE
(1973, Robert Altman)


Raymond Chandler Altman style, as Elliott Gould’s Philip Marlowe—in 70s L.A., but still driving a ’48 Lincoln—encounters Sterling Hayden’s boozy novelist, mysterious Nina Van Pallandt and director Mark Rydell’s Coke-bottle-wielding hood, while searching for pal (ex-Yankee pitching ace and Ball Four author) Jim Bouton. To read Guy Flatley's 1973 New York Times interview with Elliott Gould, click here.

THIEVES LIKE US
(1974, Robert Altman)


Escaped cons Bert Remsen, John Schuck, and protégé Keith Carradine hole up at a rural gas station before going the bank robbery route, but Carradine and station owner’s daughter Shelley Duvall find love. Second, more faithful adaptation of Edward Anderson’s novel (after Nick Ray’s They Live By Night), with the 30s effortlessly recreated on Mississippi locations.)

CITY LIGHTS
(1931, Charles Chaplin)


Deftly juggling pathos and slapstick, Chaplin’s Little Tramp befriends a millionaire who recognizes him only when blotto; and finds employment as an elephant-trailing street cleaner and a frightfully mismatched boxer - all for the love of blind flower seller Virginia Cherrill. James Agee described its legendary final shot as "the highest moment in movies.”

MODERN TIMES
(1936, Charles Chaplin)


The Tramp gets trapped in the coils of automation, as he plays guinea pig for an efficiency-promoting feeding machine gone amok; helpfully waves a red flag dropped by a departing truck—just as a Communist demonstration marches up behind him; and gets thrown in the slammer, where he accidentally sniffs a fellow con’s “happy dust.” A corrosive satire on the dehumanizing effects of technology, but also one of his most lighthearted works, with the additional exuberance of Paulette Goddard as “the Gamin.”