Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Robert Aldrich Retrospective

The Harvard Film Archive is hosting "...All the Marbles (The Complete Robert Aldrich)" this summer in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I'm proud to say I contributed the introduction, as well as program notes on Kiss Me Deadly, World for Ransom, Ten Seconds to Hell, The Legend of Lylah Clare, Attack!, The Longest Yard, Big Leaguer, Apache, The Last Sunset, The Choirboys, The Dirty Dozen, Kiss Me Deadly, The Prowler, Sodom and Gomorrah, Too Late the Hero, The Grissom Gang, 4 for Texas, Hustle, The Southerner, The Angry Hills, The Frisco Kid, Emperor of the North, and The Big Knife.

Here's an excerpt of the intro:

"In many ways, Aldrich came out of the gate with a will to impress and a sensibility largely formed. In the first three years of his career alone, he directed Apache, one of the first Hollywood Westerns to center on a Native American protagonist (despite a bronzed Burt Lancaster playing him) and treat the subject of the white man’s colonization of the West bluntly; Vera Cruz, a financially triumphant vehicle for Lancaster and Gary Cooper; Kiss Me Deadly, a cause célèbre for the tough-to-please Cahiers du Cinéma clique and a sly retooling of the film noir genre; and The Big Knife, a scalpel sunk deep into the charade of a movie industry founded on duplicity and authoritarianism. These were films that aimed to make a mark, upturning expectations for the genres in which they worked and casting a view of society as inherently broken, a wall against which principled men must relentlessly push. They laid down the archetype that would course through Aldrich’s entire body of work. In his words, 'It’s the same character in a number of pictures that keeps reappearing…a heroic figure, who understands that the probabilities are that he’ll lose.'"

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