One Night Stands for the week of January 10-16, 2007 

In this week's rep picks: an Ernst Lubitsch retrospective, Prince, and

Reviews by Don Druker, Andy Klein, Rob Nelson, and Kelly Vance

Thu., Jan. 11

Army of Shadows — Led by a short, rotund man who carries a briefcase and speaks as if conserving his last reserves of emotion, the heroes of this long-unreleased French resistance drama from 1969 engage in little of what counts for action these days. And yet, as directed by WWII veteran and gangster-movie master Jean-Pierre Melville, Army of Shadows is deeply engrossing — and deep in numerous other ways that one scarcely encounters at the movies anymore. The chief of the resistance group (Lino Ventura) is repeatedly apprehended by the Nazis and forced to reckon with the knowledge that any breath could be his last — that even if he escapes again, his group's survival will require him to execute some of those closest to him, those who have earlier saved his own life. Initially dismissed by French critics for bringing a hardboiled aesthetic to a story whose true horrors warranted greater gravity, Army of Shadows in fact reveals that all of Melville's movies about fatalistic tough guys were tales of occupation and resistance: Some of them were simply forced to work in disguise (2006). — R.N. (PFA, 7:30)

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers — Scientists combat aliens from outer space in this 1956 sci-fi thriller distinguished only by Ray Harryhausen's superb special effects. Hugh Marlowe, Joan Taylor, and Donald Durtis star. Fred F. Sears directs (83 min.). Shown with a short: The Pit and the Pendulum. (PW, 9:15)

Improvising Jerez Style — A flamenco performance documentary, shot on location in Spain by director Eve Ma (running time unknown). (LP, 7:30)

Fri., Jan. 12

China Blue — Documentary on the manufacturing of blue jeans in China, directed by Micha Peled (running time unknown). (College Preparatory School, 6100 Broadway, Oakland, 7:30)

Double Indemnity — Billy Wilder assembled a wonderful ensemble to paint a dark, deadpan picture of greed in the LA hills. Fred MacMurray is the insurance salesman beguiled into committing a profitable murder by Barbara Stanwyck, while Edward G. Robinson is the claims adjuster who smells a rat. The terse, nasty script is by Wilder and Raymond Chandler from James M. Cain's novel. Arguably the best film to ever be tagged noir, it's also a thumbnail sketch of one particular style of California entrepreneurship. Filled with sun, but ice cold (106 min., 1944). — K.V. (Paramount, 8:00)

Lady Windermere's Fan — One of Ernst Lubitsch's greatest films, this 1925 filming of the Oscar Wilde classic neatly synthesizes the best elements of silent comedy and melodrama, without ever falling into either trivia or heavy-handedness. Lubitsch expertly juggles sexual desire, social proprieties, and financial realities so that what emerges is a Schnitzleresque study of moral sham and the reasons for it (82 min.). — D.D. (PFA, 7:00)

The Shop Around the Corner — Ernst Lubitsch brought a subtle, playful comedic style to Hollywood to match the expert European production craftsmen already there, and resultant pictures like this are proof that the right director can create a world, any world, out of thin air. James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are young Hungarians who fall in love at the store where they work, with Felix Bressart and Frank Morgan in ingratiating support (99 min., 1940). — K.V. (PFA, 8:45)

Wind Over Water — A short documentary on a proposed offshore wind farm in Cape Cod, Massachusetts (running time unknown). Shown with another doc: Out of Balance — about Exxon-Mobil's harmful impact on the Earth (running time unknown). (Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland, 7:30)

Sat., Jan. 13

Army of Shadows — See Thu. (PFA, 8:20)

Le Cercle Rouge — Corey (Alain Delon), fresh out of the slammer, teams up with fugitive Vogel (Gian-Maria Volonte) and alcoholic sharpshooter Jansen (Yves Montand) to pull off a jewelry heist. This 1970 thriller from Jean-Pierre Melville is firmly in the tradition of Rififi and his own Bob le Flambeur (recently remade as The Good Thief). It was Melville's second-to-last feature, and it shows him in top form, with a more generous dose of humor than usual — Corey and Vogel's "meet cute" is particularly droll, as are the machinations of the police inspector (Bourvil) hunting them. Despite that, this is still Melville, so fate has it in for them. Montand's Lost Weekend-like initial scene is unforgettable. — A.K. (PFA, 5:30)

Rear Window — James Stewart, the least likely and most "American" of the classic Alfred Hitchcock male leads, is a disabled photographer who likes to look into his neighbors' windows from the safety of his wheelchair. He sees what might be a murder, and we see what he sees. Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey, and Raymond Burr costar in the most graceful descent into the psychology of voyeurism ever put on film. As always with Hitch, it's pretty funny. It's also a masterwork from the director's strongest period. Recommended (112 min., 1954). — K.V. (Cerrito, 6:00)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show — The original 1975 British rock music horror spoof, starring Tim Curry as the androgynous Dr. Frank N. Furter, with Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick. Directed by Jim Sharman (95 min.). (PW, midnight)

Sun., Jan. 14

Ninotchka — One of Ernst Lubitsch's best, a sparkling, witty fairy tale of a cold, but beautiful, Bolshevik commissar (Greta Garbo) who succumbs to the charms of Paris (and Melvyn Douglas), jeopardizing her honor and her career. The casual sophistication and stylistic grace that were Lubitsch's trademarks are fully in evidence, with a great deal of help from the Charles Brackett/Billy Wilder/Walter Reisch screenplay (110 min., 1939). — D.D. (PFA, 3:00)

Rear Window — See Sat. (Cerrito, 5:00)

Tue., Jan. 16

No. 4 (Bottoms) — Yoko Ono's experimental documentary bares the derrieres of some 365 subjects (80 min., 1966). Preceded by a short: Becoming Academic Part III: Falling for Yoko by Dore Bowen and Cathy Lee Crane (20 min., 2002). (PFA, 7:30)

Purple Rain — This two-and-a-half hour rock vid tells us more than we needed to know about Prince, the Little Richard of the '80s, who is nevertheless a talented producer-performer. His fans will want to ignore the sexism, slow-witted lines, and slower-witted acting to focus instead on a bevy of tunes by Prince, the Time, and Apollonia 6, whose members look like refugees from Penthouse. Directed in a scattershot, gimmicky style by Albert Magnoli (111 min., 1984) — K.V. (PW, 9:15)

Wed., Jan. 17

The Descent — If Neil Marshall's Dog Soldiers is Platoon at war with Predator, the Brit writer-director's follow-up is an underground Aliens, once its army of slithering, sharp-toothed hominoid fiends traps a half-dozen women spelunkers in their subterranean lair. In the great B tradition, Marshall gets a lot out of nothing, the dark in particular: A good half of the wide screen is pitch-black much of the time; although this genre excavator begins his adventure with a half-dozen flashlights, one strapped to each woman's helmet, that number quickly decreases as horror conventions require (2006). — R.N. (JCCEB, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley, 7:00)

Free to Be — You and Me Invitational — This reworking of Marlo Thomas' original album and film is curated by Thomas Beard, who appears in person, and Nick Hallett (55 min., 2006). Preceded by a short: Mary Worth by various artists (15 min., 1998). (PFA, 7:30)

Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes — A music documentary by Byron Hurt (running time unknown). (Oakland Museum of California, 6:30)

Introduction to Film Language — An illustrated lecture by Marilyn Fabe (running time unknown). (PFA, 3:00)

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