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20,000 Years in Sing Sing and The Mad Genius

February 3, 2018 @ 7:30 PM - 10:30 PM


UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program present “Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film”

20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932)
Directed by Michael Curtiz

The sole screen pairing of Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis is an unsparingly grim film based on Warden Lewis E. Lawes’ book. Arrogant gangster Tommy Connors (Tracy) leaves his girlfriend (Davis) behind after he is sent up the river to do hard time. Connors believes his slick mouthpiece (Louis Calhern) will be able to undermine the integrity of the upright warden (Arthur Byron) with whom he engages in a contest of wills. Curtiz’s exceptional compositions enhance a distinctive social commentary that is folded into a classic Warner gangster melodrama. With Lyle Talbot, Grant Mitchell and Warren Hymer, the picture also features second unit footage shot at Sing Sing prison.

Production/Distribution Company: First National Pictures, Inc. Director: Michael Curtiz. Screenwriter: Wilson Mizner, Brown Holmes. Based on the book Twenty Thousand Years in Sing Sing by Lewis E. Lawes. Cinematographer: Barney McGill. Editor: George Amy. Cast: Spencer Tracy, Bette Davis, Arthur Byron, Lyle Talbot, Grant Mitchell.

35mm, b/w, 78 min.

Followed by:

The Mad Genius (1931)
Directed by Michael Curtiz

The illustrious John Barrymore delivers a tour de force performance as Tsarakov, a club-footed puppeteer who rescues a young boy (Frankie Darro) from an abusive father (a pre-Frankenstein Boris Karloff) and turns him into a famous ballet dancer (Donald Cook), through whom he lives vicariously. Curtiz artfully directed the Great Profile’s follow-up to Svengali by working the cast and crew so hard during a short schedule that Barrymore compared the experience to being a finalist in a marathon dance contest. Co-starring Marian Marsh and Charles Butterworth as Tsarakov’s insipid assistant.

Production/Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. Director: Michael Curtiz. Screenplay: J. Grubb Alexander, Harvey Thew. Based on the play The Idol by Martin Brown. Cinematographer: Barney McGill. Editor: Ralph Dawson. Cast: John Barrymore, Marian Marsh, Charles Butterworth, Donald Cook, Luis Alberni.

35mm, b/w, 81 min.

In person: Alan K. Rode will sign copies of Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film beginning at 6:30 p.m.

FREE admission for all UCLA students with valid I.D.


February 3, 2018
7:30 PM - 10:30 PM
Event Category:


Billy Wilder Theater
10899 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024 United States