Aug 6, 2009

Upcoming Los Angeles Spy Screenings: The President's Analyst And John Barry

Popular revival house The New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles is currently running a film festival curated by director Joe Dante. Dante (who directed Patrick Macnee in The Howling) has hand-picked some of his favorite films to screen, and he will be introducing certain nights in person. One of my own very favorite spy movies, James Coburn's post-Flint satire The President's Analyst, will play on a double bill with Cold Turkey on August 11 and 12; Dante will be there to introduce the films on Tuesday, August 11. Theodore Flicker's 1967 film casts Coburn as a shrink selected to be the President's personal analyst, but having all those secrets suddenly in his head (and being on constant call) starts to make Coburn a tad paranoid. Of course, it's easy to be paranoid when spies from all the world's intelligence services (even Canada's) really are out to get you! The film is a brilliant mixture of smart satire and expertly-orchestrated slapstick–the same blend that makes the OSS 117 parodies so successful today. Even though the movie is firmly rooted in the 1960s counterculture, its satire–for better or for worse–is just as applicable today. Coburn is brilliant in the very best role of his career, and Godfrey Cambridge and Severn Darden both turn in standout supporting performances.

On Thursday, August 12, Dante will host another screening of interest to spy fans. The movies aren't spy movies, but they are a tribute to one of the key personnel behind James Bond's screen success. It's a John Barry double feature of The Last Valley (1970, starring Michael Caine) and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972, starring future Bond Girl Fiona Fullerton and featuring Peter Sellers as the March Hare). "The composer has written many more celebrated music scores than these," writes Dante in his description on the New Beverly's webpage, "but to my mind these haven't received the attention they deserve, probably because both were major boxoffice flops." While James Clavell's The Last Valley is available on DVD from MGM (though not anamophically), Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is only available in a poor-quality, pan-and-scan public domain version. Dante promises a rare opportunity to see the movie in its original 2.35:1 aspect ration–if in a slightly faded scope print. Frequent James Bond lyricist Don Black collaborated with Barry on this musical version of Lewis Carroll's classic story.

Dante discusses the festival an a lengthy and awesome interview at the blog Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. The New Beverly does not sell advance tickets, so you'll need to line up early to be assured a seat.

1 comment:

Armstrong Sabian said...

If you go to this festival, see Cold Turkey. It's number one on my list of "Why the @#$% hasn't this been released on DVD yet?" movies.