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Rialto Cinema Classics At MoMA



Monday, July 23-------You may think you know the film that many major film critics chose as the best of last year. But in reality, with little fanfare or certainly Oscar buzz, the film that garnered the most uniform praise from top film scribes was a French thriller, shot in 1959 and set in occupied France during World War II by a director who has been six feet under for more than three decades. That film, ARMY OF SHADOWS, directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, was an astonishingly gritty and involving film that, somehow, had never been released in the United States. Its resurrection was the work of the dedicated arthouse distributor Rialto Pictures, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary. In recognition for film heroism, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is devoting a 17 film retrospective to the company, that begins on Wednesday and runs through August 10th.

The idea for the company was the inspiration of Bruce Goldstein, the respected retrospective programmer at the Film Forum, a citadel of film culture. Goldstein, a veteran curator specializing in long-forgotten cinema gems, decided to launch Rialto Picturesa company dedicated to invigorating classic cinema by ensuring that it continued to be viewed, as originally intended, on the big screen. Over the past decade, along with his partner Adrienne Halpern, the company has released almost 40 classic and little known foreign films, often in restored 35mm prints with new English subtitles. Many of the films had not been seen in theaters since their original runs. The team also resurrected key films from important auteurs that somehow were never released in the US. "Rialto has given a new generation of filmgoers the opportunity to experience the works of masters as they were meant to be seen, and invites those who saw these films years ago to revisit them,” Laurence Kardish, the Senior Curator at MoMA who organized the retrospective, recently stated. The company continues its good work with the current revival of the largely unseen LE DOULOS (1962), a gangster caper by Jean-Pierre Melville, starring the iconic Jean-Paul Belmondo and a planned revival of Alain Resnais' still-controversial LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (1961).

The film series begins on Wednesday with the rarely seen heist film RIFIFI (1955), stylishly directed by American expat Jules Dassin (whose best known films included NEVER ON SUNDAY and TOPKAPI, both starring his then wife, the delicious Greek dynamo, Melina Mercouri). Other classics that will be seen in all their splendor include THE THIRD MAN (1949), Carol Reed's atmospheric film noir set in post-war Vienna and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli and an uncredited Orson WellesMOUCHETTE (1967) and AU HASARD BALTHAZAR (1966), two seminal classics by the minimalist Robert Bresson; BOB LE FLAMBEUR (1955), the best known of French director Jean-Pierre Melville's neo-noir crime films; NIGHTS OF CABIRIA (1956), the Oscar-winning tale of a lovable Roman prostitute (played by the wonderful Guiletta Masina) and directed by her husband, the incomparable Federico FelliniBILLY LIAR (1963), a key film from the British New Wave that features star-making performances by Tom Courtenay and Julie Christie; and Spanish surrealist Luis Buñuel’s DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID (1964), a visionary film of seduction and voyeurism starring the impossibly beautiful Jeanne Moreau.

The series will also hails the return of several recent Rialto success stories, including Jean-Pierre Denis’ MURDEROUS MAIDS (2002), the chilling true story of two homicidal sisters; MAFIOSO (1962), a dark comedy by Alberto Lattuada and starring the hilarious Alberto Sordi, which was a major hit of the 2006 New York Film Festival; as well as a revival of ARMY OF SHADOWS, considered the major cinematic discovery of the past film season. A definite series highlight will undoubtedly be COMING ATTRACTIONSa compilation of 10 trailers produced by Rialto Pictures to advertise their upcoming releases. The 20-minute program, which will be screened twice during this exhibition preceding the sentimental comedy THE TWO OF US 1967), includes six trailer of film titles which are in this exhibition as well as four additional ones: THE GRADUATE (1967), ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS (1958), THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (1966) and BAND OF OUTSIDERS (1964). Last, but not least, the series will present the uncut and newly restored version of the Japanese sci-fi classic GODZILLA (1954), in the original Japanese and including 40 minutes that were cut from the American release version starring a slightly uncomfortable Raymond Burr. To see this film trailer, click here: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/gojira/trailers.php

Wow, is this ever a cure for the dog days of August.....pounce! For full information on the series, film descriptions and a full schedule, log on to the website of the Museum of Modern Art: www.moma.org

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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