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2003 Program

Saturday evenings at 7.30pm (except where noted), Bundeena School Hall

22 February, (8pm start during daylight saving) Casablanca (1942, 102 min)

Set in World War II Casablanca, a Moroccan city under the control of the collaborationist Vichy French government, the movie opens with a news wire that two German couriers have been murdered and their letters of transit stolen. Each letter will permit one person to leave Casablanca to a neutral country.

Enter Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, owner of the shady but cheerful Cafe Americaine. Rick is a cynical and hard-nosed man whose motto is, "I stick my neck out for nobody." Like many a cynic, Rick is an embittered ex-idealist, still nursing his wounds from being abandoned by his lover Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). By chance he falls into possession of the missing letters of transit.

Enter Ilsa, who comes to Casablanca on the arm of Czech Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a few steps ahead of the Nazi police. We now have three people and two letters of transit. Who will reach America, and who will stay in Casablanca?

Casablanca is an excellent treatment of the ancient theme of the love triangle in its balance of humour, romance, and drama. You’ve probably seen it before but it gets better every time!


29 March, (8pm start during daylight saving) The Man in the White Suit (1951, 85 min)

A laboratory dishwasher, Sidney (Alec Guinness) invents a fabric that never wears out and never gets dirty. This would seem to be a boon for mankind, but the established garment manufacturers don't see it that way and try to suppress it. One of the few British films about industry and capitalism, it subverts the Ealing comedy from within, Ealing's familiar actors and routines representing the fixed ideas that the film satirises. The ending has the feel of a nightmare with the suit as an emblem of Sidney's ignorance and innocence.

This film is comical yet serious, at a time when synthetic fibres were rather new. Lessons from this film could well be applied to issues relating to GM experimentation of today.


26 April, Harold and Maude (1971, 91 min)

Harold (Bud Cort) is a depressed, death-obsessed 20-year-old man-child who spends his free time attending funerals and staging fake suicides in front of his mother (Cyril Cusack) . At a funeral, Harold befriends Maude (Ruth Gordon), a 79-year-old woman who has a zest for life. She and Harold spend much time together during which she exposes him to the wonders and possibilities of life. After rejecting his mother's three attempts to set him up with a potential wife, and committing fake suicide in front of all of them, Harold announces that he is to be married to Maude. However, Maude has a surprise for Harold that is to change his life forever

Red Balloon (1956, 34 min)

A boy finds a balloon - or is it the other way around? Together the pair wanders the streets of Paris, coping with grownups and the local bands of children. When one of the pair disappears, the loss is but temporary... This short film was highly acclaimed at the festival de Cannes in 1956 and has been well received in many countries, but not France, whose critics often dismissed it as bland, mushy and arty. Filmed in the streets of Paris, its approach was innovative for the time. The red balloon forms an interesting contrast against the grey walls of the French capital. Some details date the movie but they inspire its vital charm making it a thoroughly delightful film.


31 May, Europa Europa (1989, 112 min)

A Jewish boy, Solomon (Solly) Perel (Marco Hoffschneider), separated from his family in the early days of WWII poses as a German orphan and is taken into the heart of the Nazi world as a 'war hero' and eventually becomes a Hitler Youth. Solly's good looks and charm are part of what get him to convince the Gestapo that he is not a Jew, but an ethnic German. But Solly has much more getting him through this ordeal. His determination and strength of spirit, plus blinding will to live, and perhaps the youthful exuberance of being able to accomplish it, help him to pull off the charade. The young boy speaks several languages, and is able to use this skill to convince Nazi soldiers that he is not Jewish. The soldiers adopt him as a sort of "mascot." Solly is careful not to show his circumcised penis to anyone, including the German girl he falls in love with. Fate is also on his side, since several times when it seemed he might be found out, the hand of a higher power intervenes.

This is an engrossing film, sad and funny. Perhaps Solomon Perel is ashamed that he lived with the enemy to save his life but he lived to tell his story. Although improbabilities and happenstance are cornerstones of the film, the story is made even more amazing since it is based on fact. The movie is a bit factually inaccurate, but it is still tremendously well-made. The real Solomon Perel makes a brief appearance at the end.


28 June, High Fidelity (2000, 113 min)

Based on the cult novel of the same name by Nick Hornby, High Fidelity follows the 'mid-life' crisis of Rob Gordon (John Cusack), a thirty-something record-store owner who must face the undeniable facts - he's growing up. In a hilarious homage to the music scene, Rob and the wacky, offbeat clerks that inhabit his store expound on the intricacies of life and song all the while trying to succeed in their adult relationships. Are they listening to pop music because they are miserable? Or are they miserable because they listen to pop music? This romantic comedy provides a touching and whimsical glimpse into the male view of the affairs of the heart.


26 July, To Kill a Mockingbird (1963, 128 min)

Based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning book of 1960, the story portrays just what growing up in the South of the USA was like during the 1930s. Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) is a softly-spoken lawyer, an exemplar of liberal humanism in a racially divided Alabama town. He agrees to defend a young black sharecropper who is accused of raping a white woman. Many of the townspeople, who refuse to consider the possibility of the black man's innocence, try to get Atticus to pull out of the trial, but he decides to go ahead. How will the trial turn out - and will it change any of the racial tension in the town?

As well as the courtroom drama, several other plots are played out. For the children, the adult world of race, sex and prejudice represented in the courtroom is incomprehensible. This acclaimed film is on AFI list as one of the 100 greatest movies of all time. Gregory Peck won an Oscar for his performance.


30 August, Some Like It Hot (1959, 120 min)

One of the great screen comedies, directed by Billy Wilder, Some like It Hot is set in 1929 with Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) witnessing the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Fleeing for their lives, they disguise themselves as female musicians in order to get to Florida and away from the mob. Renamed Josephine (Tony Curtis) and Daphne (Jack Lemmon) they try to keep their secret. But when "Josephine" meets sexy ukulele player Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe), you know he's going to blow his cover somehow. While Curtis tries to woo Monroe by pretending to be her dream man as she has told him, Lemmon is courted by Osgood Fielding (Joe E. Brown). Curtis adapts a Cary Grant accent and pretends to be frigid in the movie's funniest scenes. Lemmon has fun with Fielding and adores the things he buys him. Between the cases of mistaken and pretend identities, the mobsters come to Florida for their Opera Lovers Meeting. It all winds up with hilarious ending.


27 September, Smithy (1946, 119 min)

In the days when you can fly around the world at the cost of a week’s wages (perhaps a little more lately), it’s difficult to visualise what flying was like in the pioneering days.

Smithy focuses on the achievements of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith (Ron Randall) as he sets out to make records in "Southern Cross" only for the pleasure of breaking them later. The emphasis is in Smithy’s heroism and obsessive quest for perfection, focusing on his momentous Pacific flight of 1928. To add a touch of reality to the film, "Southern Cross" was resurrected from storage and flown by two of its old pilots.

It seems that a film is not complete without a love affair so Smithy’s romance with his aristocratic wife-to-be (Muriel Steinbeck) is given some attention.

Although not part of the film, it is interesting to note that following the Pacific flight, Smithy and one of his crew, Charles Ulm (John Tate), formed the first incarnation of Australian National Airways. Those of us who were about in the1950s will remember the resurrected ANA before it succumbed to the pressure of Sir Reginald Ansett to become Ansett-ANA and later Ansett Airlines.

Smithy is a highly professional production by Cinesound under the direction of Ken Hall. Filmed in England and Australia, Smithy was picked up for release in the USA in 1947 by Columbia Pictures, renamed as Pacific Adventure. The film is also notable for the appearance of former Prime Minister William Morris Hughes as himself.


25 October, And Then There Was None (1945, 97 min)

From that great crime writer, Agatha Christie, And Then There Was None is a portrayal of ten people, strangers to each other, invited to a remote island mansion for dinner by an unknown host. At dinner, a record is played accusing each person of committing an unpunished crime. Soon afterwards, one of the guests is dead, and then another, and another . . . . It seems that one of those remaining is the murderer, but which one? At last only two people seem to be left. The musical score is excellent, being so carefully tuned to the actions of the characters.

The black and white photography lends itself well to the oppressiveness of the setting where the characters find themselves. This version is the first, and as several reviewers comment, the best adaptation of Agatha Christie's benchmark whodunit. If you have a chance to read the book before or after the movie, don't miss it.


ONE WEEK LATER THAN USUAL (because of prior hall booking) + 8pm start (daylight saving)

6 December, Passport to Pilmico (1949, 84 min)

An hilarious comedy from the Ealing Studios which produced such classics as The Lavender Hill Mob, The Ladykillers and Kind Hearts and Coronets, Passport to Pimlico is set in London soon after the Second World War. Residents of Pimlico investigating a bomb site discover a document which reveals that a corner of Pimlico is legally part of the ancient Duchy of Burgundy, France, and is outside British Law. The British Government is none too pleased about the Pimlico residents declaring this and attempt to regain control by setting up border posts and cutting off services to the area. A battle of wits follows as the "Burgundians" fight back . . . . . . . . . .

The Little Match Girl (1927, 29min)

A fantasy by Jean Renoir, The Little Match Girl is based on Hans Christian Anderson's story about a young, but poor girl who sells matches. She finally falls asleep in the snow and enters the world of dreams and hallucinations.

Selected shorts and continuing adventures of Flash Gordon will support the program

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This page was last updated on Wednesday, 17 September, 2003