The Crank: ‘After Tomorrow’ Program Notes (1/17/13 Screening)

The Crank is a graduate student organization that runs weekly screenings of the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s extensive holdings. The Crank shows films that either are not widely available on video or are such spectacular specimens of nitrate and celluloid that merely to see them on a television set would be a crime both to the student of film and to the canon of film history.

In 1931 Frank Borzage directed the screen adaptation of Viña Delmar’s novel (and subsequent Broadway play) Bad Girl. The film was an enormous commercial and critical success, grossing over $1,100,000 at the box office and earning Borzage his second Academy Award for Best Director.1 Hoping to recreate the success of this stage-to-screen domestic drama, Fox went to great lengths to purchase the rights to John Golden and Hugh Stange’s new play After Tomorrow, a similarly-themed story of two working class lovers attempting to achieve domestic bliss in spite of tremendous financial and familial obstacles. Despite purchasing the motion picture rights for After Tomorrow only a month after the play premiered, the studio’s contract with the playwrights stipulated that the film adaptation could not be released until February 1932 as to not compete with the play’s initial Broadway run. Continue reading “The Crank: ‘After Tomorrow’ Program Notes (1/17/13 Screening)” »

Mutual Admiration Society

Editors’ note: This week we’re featuring two posts on the 84th Academy Awards. We had hoped to run them closer to the awards ceremony taking place earlier this year, but technical issues delayed the Blog’s launch until recently. Nevertheless, we think both posts have some interesting things to say about the last year or so in movies, so we’re running them now.

The Age of Freedom Fries is over, at least in Hollywood. The 84th Oscars ceremony served up more than a soupçon of cheek-kissing, from both sides of the Atlantic.

While the French-made Best Picture winner, The Artist, was a love letter to Old Hollywood (and the only major nominated film shot entirely in Los Angeles), the American-made co-top awards-getter, Hugo, proffered a valentine to the French pioneer of special effects, Georges Méliès. Baguetted in between was Woody Allen’s Best Original Screenplay for Midnight in Paris, whose Hollywood screenwriter’s romance with the City of Love derives as much from the American expatriate artist colony of the 1920s as from the allure of the present-day French capital.

More than nostalgia, or a fanciful rewriting of history, is at play here. A key to the phenomenon was voiced by Artist director Michel Hazanavicius, a Frenchman of Lithuanian Jewish extraction, whose acceptance speech concluded with three thank-yous—not to his mother, his agent, and Harvey Weinstein, but to Billy Wilder, Billy Wilder, and Billy Wilder. Continue reading “Mutual Admiration Society” »