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Goofy Comedies and a John Huston Showcase
From the Wall Street Journal of Thu, 25 Dec 2014 20:44:04 EST
A scene from ‘Fat City,’ a movie directed by John Huston.
A scene from ‘Fat City,’ a movie directed by John Huston. The Kobal Collection
Let There Be Light: The Films of John Huston

Film Society of Lincoln Center

165 W. 65th St.

(212) 875-5601

Through Jan. 11

Forty films directed by John Huston (1906-1987), and several more that feature his acting or influence, unspool in this intensive retrospective. It’s a showcase for a prolific, genre-defining filmmaker who was great from beginning (“The Maltese Falcon”) to end (“The Dead”). The classics are peppered with a number of overlooked efforts. Along with World War II documentaries Huston made as a member of the Army Signal Corps, there are forgotten early ’70s spy thrillers such as “The Mackintosh Man,” written by Walter Hill and starring Paul Newman, and “The Kremlin Letter,” with Max von Sydow and Orson Welles.

‘Easy Living’

IFC Center

323 Sixth Ave.

(212) 924-7771


In this rags-to-riches screwball comedy that pivots around mistaken identity, the distance between pavement and penthouse is shorter than it first appears.

Jean Arthur lucks out when millionaire Edward Arnold dumps one of his wife’s furs off his Manhattan roof and it lands on her shoulders. The reckless largess initiates a chain of events that rock the stock market and lead to an unexpected romance, in a Cinderella story for the Depression Era. It’s scripted by Preston Sturges, who would hire much of the cast for the movies he began directing two years later.

Acteurism: Joan Bennett
Joan Bennett and John Boles in ‘Careless Lady.’
Joan Bennett and John Boles in ‘Careless Lady.’ The Museum of Modern Art

11 W. 53rd St.

(212) 708-9400

Through Jan. 30

A later generation knew her best as the matriarch on “Dark Shadows,” the gothic soap opera than ran from 1967-71 on ABC. But film history recognizes Joan Bennett (1910-1990) as an actress who sustained an unusually long career, from the late 1920s to the late 1970s, with a final turn in Dario Argento ’s horror classic “Suspiria.” The first half of this retrospective concludes with the 1932 “Careless Lady,” a sex comedy in which Bennett’s ingenue gets in over her head on a jaunt to Paris. As the series progresses, Bennett transforms from fetching blonde to formidable brunette and her roles become more complex, as in the screwball comedy “Wedding Present” (with Cary Grant).

‘The Shop Around the Corner’
Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan in Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘The Shop Around the Corner.’
Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan in Ernst Lubitsch’s ‘The Shop Around the Corner.’ Film Forum/Photofest

Film Forum

209 W. Houston St.

(212) 727-8110

Through Wednesday

Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan play shop employees who can’t stand each other—but unknowingly exchange love letters as anonymous admirers—in Ernst Lubitsch ’s romantic comedy, set in pre-war Budapest. The 1940 film inspired remakes including the Judy Garland screen musical “In the Good Old Summertime” and “You’ve Got Mail,” but the original is evergreen. It also delivers the big reveal on Christmas Eve, thus preceding “It’s a Wonderful Life” by several years as a holiday-themed movie with Stewart in the lead.

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