Film Forum marks milestone Kazan, Rohmer films to air

October 30, 1992|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Film Critic

Ten, count 'em. Ten. Years that is, logged in residence by the Baltimore Film Forum at the Baltimore Museum of Art. And in celebration of this decade of symbiosis the forum, which is 24 years old chronologically, will hold a little celebration at the museum at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

"Well, I guess you could say we're just patting ourselves on the back," says the forum's director, Vicky Westover. "We're going to have some fun. There'll only be about a half an hour of speechifying, and then we're going to show films by Buster Keaton and some vintage cartoons from the collection of Mark Kotishion, an animation buff who has been one of the projectionists at the Senator. And then we'll serve dessert and everybody will go home happy."

The event is free to forum and museum members, and to anyone who cares to join at the door.

On other fronts, the forum is continuing its fall tradition titled "Director's Showcase," spotlighting the works of world-class film auteurs. Getting the nod this November are the Frenchman Eric Rohmer and American Elia Kazan.

The Rohmer series, Thursdays at 8 p.m. at the museum, features works from the director's '80s movies. On Nov. 5, the film is "The Aviator's Wife" (1980); Nov. 12, it's "Summer," sometimes called "The Green Ray" (1986); and finally, Nov. 19, it's "Boyfriends and Girlfriends" (1987).

As for the Kazan selections, Westover said, "We wanted to stay away from the pictures that everybody's seen and show some of his lesser-known works."

The series begins Nov. 6 with two of the director's early works, among the first examples of location shooting in post-war film culture, which gives the movies vivid geographical sense of reality that felt completely fresh in the late '40s. The movies are "Boomerang," about a miscarriage of justice righted by a courageous prosecuting attorney, filmed in Stamford, Conn., in 1947; and "Panic in the Streets," about a disease crisis in New Orleans, filmed in 1950.

On Nov. 13, Kazan's revolutionary tribute "Viva Zapata," with Marlon Brando as the Mexican peasant-soldier, will be shown. The script in this film is by Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck.

The most famous of the Kazan works will be shown Nov. 20. "On the Waterfront," again with Marlon Brando, is considered by many to be Kazan's masterpiece, a courageous bit of muckraking, exposing the corruption on the New York docks. Others see it as a weaselly justification for testifying against one's own, as Kazan had done during the Hollywood witch-hunt days before the House Un-American Activities Committee. The series ends with Kazan's last mainstream Hollywood picture, a movie seldom seen these days that may deserve a second chance. It's his version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Last Tycoon," itself based on the life and times of legendary MGM producer Irving Thalberg. The movie stars Robert De Niro.

For information, call the forum at (410) 889-1993,

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