FSLC September Series Salute One of Hollywood’s Most Spirited Leading Ladies Gloria Grahame and Author James Baldwin
By: Ellis Nassour
Soon Film Society of Lincoln Center will unreel its 53rd New York Film Festival – 17 days and nights that’ll provide movie lovers with the best of world cinema. Shortly after that, the studios will roll out their best shots for recognition during end-of-year awards season. However, if you want entertainment with a punch, FSLC has a 12-gun salute to Oscar-winning Gloria Grahame, the blonde bombshell with a brain and a heart, Gloria Grahame: Blonde Ambition, September 4-8.
On the heels of that series, September 11-14, the Society salutes novelist, playwright, activist, and critic James Baldwin with The Devil Finds Work: James Baldwin on Film.
Grahame had the talent to segue from flighty and naïve [she was anything but!] to tragic femme fatale. The series segues from film noir to one of Hollywood’s best stage musical adaptations: 35mm prints of The Bad and the Beautiful [an unvarnished look at behind-the-scenes Hollywood, which won her the Featured Oscar for her role as a Southern belle wife], The Big Heat, Crossfire, Human Desire, In a Lonely Place, Odds Against Tomorrow, and her hilarious and sexy spin on Ado Annie in Oklahoma!
[One of the only things missing is Grahame’s scene-stealing role as sassy, gum-chewing Angel (and she was anything but), the circus performer in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth, which took home a Best Picture Oscar.]
The directors are some of cinema’s most celebrated: Vincente Minnelli, Friz Lang, Edward Dmytryk, Nicholas Ray, Josef von Sternberg, Robert Wise, and Fred Zinnemann. Grahame’s co-stars are Kirk Douglas, Lana Turner, Dick Powell, Glenn Ford, Richard Widmark, Lillian Gish, Lauren Bacall, Robert Ryan, Broderick Crawford, Humphrey Bogart, Jane Russell, Robert Mitchum, and Harry Belafonte.
Tickets for Gloria Grahame: Blonde Ambition are $10 and $7 for FSLC members, students, and seniors.
The Devil Finds Work: James Baldwin on Film features rare interviews, debates, documentaries, and features reflecting Baldwin’s fascination with movies – dissected in his 1976 book-length essay, The Devil Finds Works, which explores the seductive and distorted power of American cinema and the complex racial politics that inform our culture.
Selections include 16mm and 35mm screenings of the adaptation of his acclaimed best-selling first novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, and features The Defiant Ones, Native Son, and Ingmar Bergman’s The Naked Night (a.k.a. Sawdust and Tinsel).
There are documentaries in which he took part or of which he was the subject, such as I Heard It Through the Grapevine, in which he retraces his time in the Civil Rights movement, reflecting on the fiction of progress in post-Civil Rights America; James Baldwin’s Harlem; James Baldwin in Paris; and William Miles’ landmark I Remember Harlem, with Baldwin interviewed about the 17th century settlement of the Village of Harlem and its urban renewal and redevelopment in the 70s; an extended director’s cut of Take This Hammer; and the remastered authoritative biography The Price of the Ticket with footage – some never before seen – from his1987 funeral with stirring eulogies from Maya Angelou and Amiri Baraka.
The Baldwin salute is programmed by Rich Blint and Jake Perlin, co-presented with Columbia University School of the Arts Office of Community Outreach and Education.
Tickets for The Devil Finds Work: James Baldwin on Film are $14; $11 for students and seniors; and $9 for FSLC members. See more and save with the All Access Pass or 3+ film discount package.
On September 12, there’ll be a first come/first served free digital screening at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center of Richard O. Moore’s 1963 made-for-TV Take This Hammer, documenting Baldwin’s devastating tour of San Francisco and his struggle to shield black children dispossession and despair in communities undergoing gentrification and urban renewal. It’ll be shown with Public TV’s WGBH’s documentary The Negro and the American Promise (1963), with interviews with Baldwin, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X.
For more information, including dates and showtimes, venues, and synopses for both series, visit www.filmlinc.org.