The Thin Man, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, Some Like It Hot, The Misfits: Vancity Theatre
Some of the greatest ever holiday films are rolling into town. More specifically, Vancity Theatre. From It's A Wonderful Life to Some Like It Hot, the movies are sure to make you feel like you just hit a holiday classics jackpot.
Here's the lowdown on the whole lot from the Theatre.
Signed up to play Santa for Macy's Department Store, Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) claims to be the real thing. Preposterous of course. Or is it? Come along after the Santa Claus Parade and decide for yourself. This seasonal evergreen (in black and white of course) is 64 years young and a lovely reminder of the true spirit of Christmas. For tickets, go here.
Kids get in free with Food Bank donation (non perishables please).
1947, 96mins, Blu-ray
Sun., Dec. 4, 3:00pm, 5:00pm
Who said nobody's perfect? Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis come pretty close in Wilder's witheringly funny jazz age sex comedy. After witnessing the St. Valentine's Day Massacre (appropriate for a film which travesties sex roles) Joe and Jerry save their skins by dressing for success, high-tailing it to Palm Beach in the company of an all-girl orchestra – with Miss Sugar Kane on the ukulele.
'You're going to do a comedy with murder?' producer David O Selznick remonstrated with Wilder. 'They're going to crucify you. They're going to walk out in droves.' In fact, the film was a hit and earned six Oscar nominations, although many contemporary critics found it vulgar ('an off-colour commercial traveller's story,' sniffed one).
For better or worse that vulgarity feels distinctly modern – sex and money don't date. Wilder's cynicism is polymorphous: because he holds nothing sacred, he ends up approximating a kind of heady libertarianism. And the movie is studded with 24-carat zingers. For tickets, go here.
USA, 1959, 120 mins, 16mm
Directed By: Billy Wilder
Cast: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon
Sat., Dec. 17, 8:30
Sun., Dec. 18, 3:00
3. The Misfits
The other side of Marilyn, her last completed film, a tender, sad love letter written by husband Arthur Miller but not produced until after their marriage was on rocks. It's a elegiac modern day Western that inadvertently became an elegy for a generation of old Hollywood stars: it was also to be Clark Gable's swansong and one of the last performances by Montgomery Clift.
Monroe is Roslyn, a gentle, loving but slightly lost soul who has come to Reno for a divorce. Local cowboys Guido (Eli Wallach), Gay (Gable) and Perce (Clift) are all over her – and for a while she finds some happiness with Gay. But when they take her along on an expedition to corral some wild mustangs things fall apart...For tickets, go here.
Directed By: John Huston
Cast: Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach
USA, 1961, 124 mins
Sun., Dec. 18, 5:15
"This story is the lousiest cheese," Frank Capra admitted to his star after making a rotten pitch. James Stewart stuck by his favourite director. "Frank, if you want to do a movie about me committing suicide, with an angel with no wings named Clarence, I'm your boy."
Although the picture has become synonymous with homespun, small town values – values Stewart personified and Capra obviously cherished – it achieves its profound emotional resonance precisely by stressing their limitations, even to the point of suicide. This is the tragedy of a man who dreams of traveling the world, building cities, and making love to Gloria Grahame, who never leaves his hometown, works in his dad's office, and marries Donna Reed. The "unborn" sequence where Clarence shows George how things might look if he hadn't been around is chilling not because it's morbid fantasy, but because "Pottersville" was and is so much closer to contemporary society than the nostalgic gentility of Bedford Falls.
For both Capra and Stewart this was their first movie after service in WWII, and it's riven with their anxieties about coming home. Whether you believe in angels or not, it's a wonderful film. For tickets, go here.
USA, 1946, 130 mins
Directed By: Frank Capra
Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
Tues., Dec. 20, 6:30
Thurs., Dec. 22, 6:30
5. A Christmas Carol
Image sourced from ilmaffinity.com
Alastair Sim offers a masterclass in comedy as Ebenezer Scrooge in this definitive black and white version of the Dickens' classic. An incomparable roster of British supporting actors fill out the supernatural morality tale, including Michael Hordern as Jacob Marley, Hattie Jacques as Mrs Fezziwig, and George Cole as the young Ebenezer. For tickets, go here.
"A trenchant and inspiring Christmas show." —Bosley Crowther, New York Times, 1951
UK, USA, 1951, 86 mins
Directed By: Brian Desmond Hurst
Cast: Alastair Sim, Kathleen Harrison, Mervyn Johns, Hermione Baddeley
Tues., Dec. 20, 6:30
Thurs., Dec. 22, 6:30
Beautiful, romantic and dramatic on an epic scale, a new version of the fairytale classic has been created for the Birmingham Royal Ballet as the highlight of its 20th anniversary season. The production marks the world premiere of the first new three act story ballet this century.
Prokofiev's Cinderella is a dazzling new visual experience from one of Britain's leading dance talents, award winning choreographer David Bintley. Heaven meets hell when the clock strikes 12! Neglected and mistreated by her stepmother and sisters, Cinderella's (Australian star Elisha Willis) life is one of drudgery and hardship until the evening of a wonderful ball at the palace when her Fairy Godmother appears to cast a spell that will change her life forever. Transformed into a beautiful princess, Cinderella dances the night away in the arms of a handsome prince (intense Scot Iain Mackay), before the clock chimes midnight and brings a sudden end to the party.
Birmingham Royal Ballet's Director David Bintley creates a spellbinding experience. Award-winning John Macfarlane, designer of The Nutcracker and the Company's recent Le Baiser de la fée conjures up a magical world to bring this much loved fairytale to life. For tickets, go here.
"This sumptuous Cinderella is a banquet for the eyes!" —The Telegraph
"A winner! This Cinderella has heart as well as spectacle!" —The Independent
Special pricing for Cinderella
Youth (17 and under): $7
Fri., Dec. 23, 3:00
Sat., Dec. 24, 3:00
Mon., Dec. 26, 3:00
Tues., Dec. 27, 6:30
2011, 120 mins + 20 min intermission
7. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Being the uncorroborated adventures of a self-confessed mythomaniac (played by John Neville): including a balloon trip to the moon, sundry memorable martial exploits, and an encounter with Venus herself (Uma Thurman). This magical fantasy film marries wonder, melancholy and pure madcap fun. The first of our triple bill dedicated to the imaginarium of Terry Gilliam. For tickets, go here.
Fri. Dec. 30, 1:15 pm
USA/GB, 1989, 127 min
Cast: John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Robin Williams, Uma Thurman
8. Time Bandits
“An extraordinarily inventive fantasy in which schoolboy Warnock is rescued from a dull suburban existence by a band of renegade dwarfs, who emerge from his wardrobe and whisk him off on an incredible journey through time and space. Guided by a 'Time Hole Map of the Universe', Warnock and his diminutive pals gatecrash history, meeting up with Robin Hood and Napoleon, and turning up uninvited in Ancient Rome and on the deck of the ill-fated Titanic. Sometime Monty Python animator Gilliam fills the screen with bizarre images, and directs with a breathless ingenuity.” —Nigel Floyd, Time Out. For tickets, go here.
Fri. Dec. 30, 3:30 pm
UK, 1981, 116 mins, Blu-ray
Directed By: Terry Gilliam
Cast: Craig Warnock, John Cleese, Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, David Warner
9. The Thin Man
Nora: Would you like a drink?
Nick: It’s a little early, isn’t it?
Nora: Too early for a drink?
Nick: No! Too early for stupid questions. Of course I want a drink!
Adapted from Dashiell Hammett’s novel, The Thin Man stars William Powell as Nick Charles, a debonair dipsomaniac ex-detective, happily married to loaded socialite Nora (Myrna Loy). Nominally a mystery thriller, The Thin Man is really a sparkling screwball comedy, and the rare movie to find unapologetic – if unnerving – delight in both the marriage of intellectual equals and a bottomless martini glass. Incidentally, the movie was shot in just 16 days, six months after the publication of the novel, and one year after the repeal of Prohibition. For tickets, go here.
USA, 1934, 91 mins
Dir.: WS Van Dyke
Cast: William Powell, Myrna Loy
Bonus: a special free projection of the Chaplin short ONE AM in the atrium after the feature.
Sat., Dec. 31, 1:00pm
Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is a clerk intelligent enough to work the system, but who generally keeps his head down – until he catches a glimpse of his dream girl (Kim Greist). As a piece of visionary cinema, it's Gilliam's richest and most coherent work, an astonishing amalgam of surrealism, black comedy, and what the director dubbed 'retro-futurist' design. For tickets, go here.
"Terry Gilliam's ferociously creative black comedy is filled with wild tonal contrasts, swarming details, and unfettered visual invention -- every shot carries a charge of surprise and delight." Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"My favourite Christmas movie." Dan Jolin, Empire
UK, USA, 1985, 131 mins, Blu-ray
Directed By: Terry Gilliam
Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Kim Greist, Ian Holm