Hollywood can have Grauman's Chinese Theater and Steven Spielberg, because Baltimore has the Senator Theatre and John Waters. And every few years, when the two join forces for a gala premiere, it's a beautiful thing.
Tickets for the Senator's Sept. 14 U.S. premiere of Waters' A Dirty Shame, a tale of sex-crazed concussion victims who take over the Harford Road corridor, go on sale today at $100 a pop.
For that C-note, lucky Baltimoreans will be among the first to see Waters' latest (it gets its world premiere two days earlier, at the Toronto Film Festival), and they'll have the chance to hobnob not only with the director, but with stars Johnny Knoxville, Selma Blair, Patricia Hearst, Mink Stole, Suzanne Shepherd and James Ransone. There's also a party after the premiere, at the Walters Art Museum, where longtime Waters fans can debate his latest effort to undermine the mainstream by seeming to work within it.
"I never think it's like bringing a little Hollywood to Baltimore," says Waters, taking a break from a round of press interviews he's doing for the movie. "I think it's bringing a little Harford Road to Hollywood."
Then, of course, there's the always-welcome opportunity to unleash a little debauchery on audiences who may not be used to it. "NC-17 and the Walters," says the exultant director. "Another unlikely combination."
Tickets to the premiere, which begins at 8 p.m., can be purchased in advance by calling 410-837-2440; any tickets remaining the day of the show will be for sale at the theater box office. All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit AIDS Action Baltimore.
Marlon the magnificent
On the Waterfront, Elia Kazan's scathing indictment of sleaze and corruption in a longshoreman's local (as well as a veiled defense of Kazan's willingness to name names during the Red Scare of the 1950s), is this weekend's entry in The Charles' continuing tribute to the late Marlon Brando.
Watching Waterfront, even a half-century after its release, is like watching an acting clinic, with Brando as the featured player. His Terry Malloy, a punch-drunk fighter who's become a reluctant enforcer for the local union boss, is one of the screen's great characterizations, an example future generations of actors - from Paul Newman to Al Pacino to Johnny Depp - would struggle to emulate.
Though Brando was notoriously disdainful of Hollywood and all its trappings, he embraced both wholeheartedly when this film came out, playing the movie-star game for one of the few times in his career. It may have been a ruse - he would soon return to his dismissive ways - but it seemed to have the intended effect, as Brando won the first of his two Best Actor Oscars (he'd win again in 1973 for The Godfather).
The film wasn't bad, either, earning a Best Picture Oscar, as well as statues for Kazan's directing and Budd Schulberg's screenplay.
Showtime is noon today and 9 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $5. Information: 410-727-FILM.