Compatriots cooperate

Theaters: Share and share alike -- that's the motto of the Senator and the Charles.

September 24, 1999|By Ann Hornaday | Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC

Many Baltimore film-goers assume that the Senator and Charles theaters -- both locally owned and both dedicated to showing classier fare than the usual megaplex -- are engaged in cutthroat competition.

In reality, the theaters' owners cooperate more often than not, to which the case of "Yellow Submarine" attests. The 1968 classic of Beatles tunes, psychedelic graphics and a whimsically humane message opened at the Senator last weekend to large and appreciative audiences. So Kiefaber faced something of a quandary when Dreamworks said they were sending him "American Beauty" one week early.

"The word of mouth was just getting around," Kiefaber said of "Yellow Submarine," which had more than 600 film-goers singing and clapping to "All Together Now" last Saturday. "I realized it was building. This thing really deserves to be seen on the big screen, and it's probably not going to come back." Not wanting to disappoint audiences counting on seeing "Yellow Submarine" this weekend, Kiefaber called Charles co-owner John Standiford and asked if he had room for it.

Standiford did have room, so "Yellow Submarine" will begin an indefinite run at the Charles today. "I'm ecstatic about it because it's good for the Charles, it's good for the film, it's good for future of re-releases in Baltimore, and now I have something to tell people who've been crying and begging to see the film," Kiefaber said, adding that the arrangement epitomizes "the kind of cooperative relationship John and I have developed over the years. Rather than compete, we work together against what we see as a common threat, which is these megaplexes beckoning from the county. John and I are compatriots. We're in this thing together."

Imaginations unite

The Imaginative Film Society will meet Saturday at the Perry Hall Presbyterian Church, 8848 Belair Road. ICS member Barry Murphy will talk about classic movie serials, and Bob Kuzyk will bring his list of 16 mm films from which members will select the October program. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.

They've got mail

Yes, it's true: The Smithsonian National Postal Museum will present "Postal Inspectors on Film" at 1 p.m. tomorrow. Clips of early films like "Postal Inspector" (1936), starring Bela Lugosi, and the 1998 Showtime movie "The Inspectors" will be shown, and Dan Mihalko, Postal Inspector in Charge, Congressional and Public Affairs, will discuss. The program will take place at the Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., in Washington. Admission is free and open to the public.

`Texas' on Sunday

Cinema Sundays is back for a 16th season this Sunday with a screening of "Happy, Texas," a comedy in which Steve Zahn and Jeremy Northam star as two chain-gang escapees who are mistaken for two musical theater directors. Sheri Parks, associate professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland and co-host of WJHU's "Media Matters," will introduce the film, and will lead the post-screening discussion.

Cinema Sundays is a film series dedicated to film watching, discussion and noshing. Doors open at the Charles Theatre at 9: 45 a.m., coffee and bagels are served, and screenings usually begin around 10: 30. New memberships to this season's 10-film series are available for $120; current members can renew for $100. Five-film mini-memberships are also available for $70 and $60, respectively. For an application or more information call 410-727-3464.

`King and I'

Loews Theatres will present its second feature in the annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS film festival on Oct. 3. "The King and I," the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical starring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr, will be shown at the Loews Valley Center Theatre at 2 p.m. Tickets are a $4 donation to BC/EFA and are on sale now at the Valley Center, White Marsh and Rotunda theaters. Film-goers can also call 410-931-4980.

Good eye, reader

A Sun reader swears there was something missing from the version of "Yellow Submarine" he saw at the Senator recently. And it turns out he was right.

While enjoying the chance to see the film again, a recent correspondent writes that he remembers a scene in which one of the Blue Meanies, reacting to the love he's surrounded by as the film nears its end, stops saying "I don't wanna be happy/I wanna be sad" and starts saying, "I wanna be happy/I don't wanna be sad."

"This was one of the major transformations of the movie," he writes, "and to my great consternation I found it had been deleted from this new and supposedly superlative print."

To get to the bottom of this, we turned to Bob Hieronimus, Baltimore radio-show host and perhaps the world's leading authority on "Yellow Submarine."

"He must have seen that film 100 times to catch that," says an impressed Hieronimus. "He's right."

Here's the deal: The version now playing in theaters includes an additional sequence, played out as the Beatles sing "Hey Bulldog," that had been cut from the original film before its American release; apparently those responsible for the film's original final version felt it slowed down the action and was anticlimactic, coming after the Beatles had routed the Blue Meanies.

The filmmakers didn't want to make "Yellow Submarine" any shorter, however, so they inserted about three minutes worth of additional footage to make up for lost time. When it came time for the re-release, Hieronimus says, "Hey Bulldog" was re-inserted, and the additional scenes were dropped.

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