One-Night Stands 

Repertory film listings for July 10 through July 16, 2008.

Thu., July 10

Let's Go with Pancho Villa! Director Fernando de Fuentes' Mexican Revolution drama rides with the rowdy Pancho Villa. It stars Antonio R. Frausto and was shot by the great Gabriel Figueroa, with Jack Draper (92 min., 1935). (PFA, 6:30)

The Pearl John Steinbeck gave director Emilio Fernández first crack at this lushly melancholic folkloric fable, before it was published in the US. Adapted from an indigenous Mexican legend, it tells of a poor Indian fisherman and his wife (Pedro Armendáriz and María Marqués) who discover a giant pearl, which is sure to bring them wealth and happiness. Naturally, it brings them sadness. Fernández's style is the same as in all his popular classics: dramatic black-and-white phography by Gabriel Figueroa matched with hushed, naturalistic acting. This utterly beautiful, incomparably poignant film was made in 1945, from a screenplay by Steinbeck, Fernández, and Jackson Wagner (85 min.). — K.V.

Mafioso The great Italian comic actor Alberto Sordi portrays a sweet, meek auto technician living in Milan who takes his blond Northern Italian wife and daughter on a trip to his native Sicily — where the local don recruits him, more or less against his will, for a little side trip to New Jersey. It's a story about cultural legacies and cultural clashes; there are situations in this movie that will make you squirm, then laugh with delight, at director Alberto Lattuada's ability to seize this situations and push them still further. Visually sophisticated as well as fast and funny, Mafioso is one of the great black comedies of the screen. With Norma Bengell, Uto Attanasio, and Lilly Bistrattin (105 min., 1962). — M.C. (EC, 9:15)

Runners High Teenagers from a rough neighborhood in East Oakland sign up to spend a season training for a marathon, and in the process find inner strength and learn important life lessons (2006). (Temescal Street Cinema, 49th St. at Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 9:00)

Fri., July 11

Paths of Glory Before Spartacus initiated the transformation of Stanley Kubrick into America's Auteur #1 came this emotive, hot (as opposed to the cooled-out 2001, A Clockwork Orange, etc.) antiwar story of French soldiers in the trenches at Verdun in World War I. Kirk Douglas stars as an officer forced by his inept commanders to send three scapegoat soldiers to the firing squad for cowardice. Adolphe Menjou and George Macready costar as popinjay generals, and Ralph Meeker shines with a creepy intensity as one of the unlucky poilus (87 min., 1957). — K.V. (PFA, 7:00)

The Killing Before Stanley Kubrick drifted off into the fastness of his obtuse personal vision, he directed stylized genre pieces like Paths of Glory and this nervous, exciting heist story. Ambitious hood Sterling Hayden plans to knock off the pari-mutuel handle at a racetrack, and for everything that goes right for him and his gang (Jay C. Flippen, Timothy Carey, Elisha Cook Jr.), two things go wrong. Contains the famous scene of a sniper parked near the backstretch attempting to pick off a horse during the race. Kubrick wrote the script with film noir/pulp auteur Jim Thompson. Cinematography by Lucien Ballard (83 min., 1956). — K.V. (PFA, 8:45)

Sat., July 12

The Apartment Billy Wilder's bitter satire of the business world has Jack Lemmon as a would-be executive and near-pimp to his bosses, and Shirley MacLaine as a demi-vierge elevator operator nearly destroyed by her affair with a big shot. Although the characters edge on stereotype and their situation is painted in broad, melodramatic strokes, there's something disturbingly intimate just below the surface, in the contrast between the script's obviousness and MacLaine's subtlety. Screenplay by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond (125 min., 1960). — N.W. (PFA, 6:30)

Goldfinger Exceedingly clever. Goldfinger wants to corner the world market in gold, not by robbing Fort Knox, but by contaminating it with fallout from an atomic blast. Can James Bond (Sean Connery) stave off the imminent collapse of Western civilization's monetary structure? Is it possible to go on breathing if your entire body has been painted with gold? Would you want to play Frisbee with Goldfinger's right-hand man, Oddjob? Directed by Guy Hamilton (111 min., 1964). — M.C. (PFA, 8:55)

Key Largo We no longer have old ballads; we have old genre flicks. The joy of certain movies, especially those of the '40s, is in their very movie-ness, with stock characters and situations transformed, by repetition, into folk classics. Key Largo is a case in point. John Huston's essence-of-genre film translates Maxwell Anderson's earnest play into genuine cinema, with a gangster holding a group of "innocents" hostage at a crummy Florida hotel during a hurricane. Huston, as in Maltese Falcon, cast his film perfectly, with Bogie, Bacall, Edward G. Robinson, Lionel Barrymore, and Claire Trevor all playing splendidly according to type, in a situation that bears no relationship to real life, but carries all the resonance of the modern, cinematic folk tale (100 min., 1948). — N.W. (EC, 6:00)

Sun., July 13

The Great Escape An elaborately planned mass escape by the international inmates of a German POW camp is enacted by an immense, excellent cast (Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn, from the "stock company" assembled by director John Sturges in Magnificent Seven, plus James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasance, David McCallum, James Donald, etc.), accompanied by Elmer Bernstein's exuberant score. Each character is sharply and memorably delineated, McQueen's motorcycle derring-do is thrillingly shot, and although the film is long, it's consistently involving. A magnificent swan song for a director who subsequently, inexplicably, descended into hackwork (172 min., 1963). — N.W. (PFA, 4:00)

Key Largo See Saturday. (EC, 5:00)

Mon., July 14

Charlotte's Web E.B. White's parable on life, friendship, gullibility, and prejudice is served up by Hanna-Barbera and Sagittarius Productions as a syrupy cartoon feature that preserves some of the form and language of the original but fattens and sweetens his lean and pungent prose. Debbie Reynolds is the voice of Charlotte (94 min., 1973). — D.D. (Wente Vineyards, Livermore, twilight)

Tue., July 15

The Saint That Forged a Country Mexican filmmaker Julio Bracho chronicles religion and politics from the 16th century through the 19th, paying particular attention to the Virgin of Guadalupe, "Mother of Mexico" (110 min., 1942). (PFA, 7:30)

Wed., July 16

La Dolce Vita Federico Fellini at his most coherent, tracking Marcello Mastroianni through Roman high society in search of gossip and salvation, encountering Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimee, and the ghostly Nico (of the Velvet Underground) on the path of decadence. Lavish, powerful, and chic, the film introduced a "new" Fellini, who was turning his back on the bleak miseries of the poor to check out the sophisticated miseries of the rich and famous (175 min., 1960). — N.W. (PFA, 7:30)

El Benny Documentary on the life of Cuban musician Benny Moré (120 min., 2006). (Madeline F. Whittlesey Community Room, Richmond Main Library, 6:30)


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