two movies tonight: “Robin Hood” at the Paramount, “Straight No Chaser” at the Tea Bazaar

November 29th, 2010 · No Comments · By

There’s another two movies screening tonight, but great ones (although drastically different):

At the Paramount, they’re concluding their swashbuckling classics series with perhaps the quintessential swashbuckler, 1938’s “Adventures of Robin Hood” with Erroll Flynn. It reunites Flynn with Olivia de Havelland and the always-excellent Basil Rathbone, as well as adding Claude Rains. It was shot on the then-new Technicolor process and the color scheme is one of the oddest — and most delightful — things about the film. Coming one year after “Snow White” and a year before “the Wizard of Oz,” the color here is strange but wonderful; daytime scenes are often rendered as unusually “dark,” and a pervasive matte-black finish lurks around the details of the film, interrupted by triumphantly bright explosions of red and green. It’s pretty much impossible not to imagine audiences of the day thinking “holy shit color looks amazing,” and it’s great that those qualities still come across in the film today.

Furthermore, when contemporary audiences think about Robin Hood, I would say about 85% of the stuff we think of comes from this movie. Sure, stories about the character have been around since they were contemporaneous, but for an indication of just how much the story changed over time, compare this with the 1922 Douglass Fairbanks version, which is nearly unrecognizable to us today. Anyhow, the screening (on high-def video) is at 7pm and it costs $6.

Afterwards you should come on over to the Tea Bazaar for “Straight, No Chaser,” an excellent documentary about the great jazz pianist Thelonious Monk. It’s part of WTJU‘s bi-weekly “Rock & Roll Movie Night” program, but I thought I’d throw a jazz film in there to keep things interesting; plus, it’s (in my opinion) one of the all-time great music documentaries, so it’s well worth checking out.

Here’s what I said to the WTJU volunteers: “I’m sure most of those in the Jazz Department would be able to write a better description of Monk and his importance than I would, so I’ll just say it’s an excellent documentary about a highly idiosyncratic and indelibly great musician. One of the best things about the documentary is that the usual Ken Burns-style, talking-heads format is spiced up with an incredible wealth of archival material featuring Monk himself, both performing and hanging around; in both circumstances, he remains difficult and hypnotically fascinating. This film is recommended for both Jazz aficionados and novices alike.” That’s at 9pm at the Tea Bazaar, and it’s free!

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