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27th Jan 2018(Sat)
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 PM 6:00--PM 7:35
"Force of Evil" - part of Shadows of the Blacklist On Screen
Saturday, January 27 6PM

“Force of Evil” Starring John Garfield, Thomas Gomez, Edna Tucker, Roy Roberts, Doris Lowry. Directed by Abraham Polonsky. 1948, 80mins., B&W. Screened digitally.

$8 Adults / $6 Seniors & Kids

The epitome of post-war Film Noir, “Force of Evil” is the story of flawed man crashing in to both the corruption of the world he lives in and the inner morality he has denied. Garfield plays an ambitious attorney who has long since abandoned his scruples in favor of monetary reward. He represents the interests of a major crime boss who plans to take over the numbers racket in New York by misusing the law and government authority. Garfield thinks he’s willing to do whatever is necessary to make this plan happen, including pressuring his estranged brother to help. But soon he finds he’s jeopardized his brother’s life, cut himself off from the woman he’s falling in love with, and put himself in the middle of a lethal three-way crossfire between his boss, other gangsters, and state investigators.

The unfolding plot is a terse, melodramatic thriller that even includes well-placed biblical allusions: Cain and Abel, Judas's betrayal, even stigmata. The dialogue seems almost poetic at times, although it certainly is never padded or flowery. The striking B&W cinematography, like other Noir masterpieces, shows great Impressionistic influences in its commanding use of light and shadow, and is further enhanced by realist location photography.

In its review by The New York Times, the film inspired what is, perhaps, the best description of the essence of Film Noir: “. . . this film is a dynamic crime-and-punishment drama, brilliantly and broadly realized. Out of material and ideas that have been worked over time after time, so that they've long since become stale and hackneyed, it gathers suspense and dread, a genuine feeling of the bleakness of crime and a terrible sense of doom. And it catches in eloquent tatters of on-the-wing dialogue moving intimations of the pathos of hopeful lives gone wrong."

This was, arguably, John Garfield’s finest performance, and there is no small irony in that fact, since it coincided with the beginning of the end of his career. As the film was being completed, Garfield was coming into the cross-hairs of the House Un-American Affairs Committee and other participants in the Communist witch hunt for his progressive political leanings. In testimony, he denied being a Communist, and therefore said he could not “name names” because he simply knew none to give the Committee. But he was perceived as being uncooperative, and Garfield soon found himself Blacklisted, with no more offers to make films. At the same time, “Force of Evil’s” director and co-screenwriter Abraham Polonsky was also accused of being a Communist. Polonsky would not direct another American film for 20 years, and Garfield would die at age 39 in 1952 of a heart attack that is often thought to have been brought on by the stress of being Blacklisted.

“Force of Evil was dropped by its original distributer, and wound up opening during Christmas week – which was a less that fortuitous time for a Noir. But over the years, “Force of Evil” has been recognized by film critics and historians as a masterpiece of the Film Noir genre, powerful in its poetic images and language. Martin Scorsese has repeatedly acknowledged its influence in the making of his crime dramas. In 1994, Force of Evil was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

The Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre at 54 JSQ is directly across JFK Blvd from the JSQ PATH Station. Discount parking for Theatre patrons in Square Ramp Garage located on Magnolia Ave. off of Tonnelle Ave. behind the Loew’s. (201) 798-6055

 PM 8:00--PM 10:10
"On the Waterfront" - part of Shadows of The Blacklist On Screen
Saturday, January 27 8PM

“On the Waterfront” Starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Pat Henning. Directed by Elia Kazan. 1954, 107mins., B&W. Screened in 35mm.

$8 Adults / $6 Seniors & Kids

“On the Waterfront” is a gritty, sometimes brutal, but also thoughtful and moving film based on newspaper accounts of mob corruption among longshoremen and the efforts to clean it up in the Port of New York, and was famously filmed on location in and around the docks of Hoboken, NJ. But the story of Mob informers is also often seen as an allegory to the decision by some to cooperate and “name names” in the Red Scare investigations that led to the Blacklisting of scores of people in the movie business in the 1950s.

Marlon Brando is a ne’er-do-well, washed-up boxer whose brother, played by Rod Steiger, is a crooked union lawyer. Brando witness the murder of a dock worker that was ordered by the Mob-connected union boss, Lee J. Cobb, because the man was going to talk to a crime commission investigating corruption on the waterfront. At first Brando is content to follow the unwritten code on the docks, and say nothing – “play deaf and dumb” – about what he knows. But then he starts to fall for the dead man’s young sister, Eva Marie Saint. And he also starts to listen to “the Waterfront priest”, played by Karl Malden and based on a real Catholic priest who ministered to dock workers, imploring them to rise above the corrupt milieu in which they worked and lived. The story unfolds as Brando’s character struggles with his conscience as priest Malden implores him to “do the right thing” and turn in the corrupt Union boss and his minions.

Director Elia Kazan and screenwriter Budd Schulberg famously informed on suspected Communists before a government committee -- unlike many of their colleagues, some of whom went to prison for refusing to "name names" and many more of whom were blacklisted from working in the film industry for many years to come – so the screenplay has often been read as an elaborate defense of the informers’ position. (And Lee J. Cobb who had at first refused to cooperate with Red Scare investigations, ultimately also did “name names”.)

The film is an extraordinary mix of elements both coarse and refined -- harsh realism and art at its most quietly elegant -- in a coherent and compelling whole that still holds up more than 60 years later. The acting is uniformly superb and imparts an aura of truth, and the decision to shoot on location in northern New Jersey gives the film a powerful sense of immediacy and realism. But in a subtle, yet powerfully effective counterpoint, Leonard Bernstein's music (his only film score), imparts a very subtle operatic quality to the otherwise realist film. “On the Waterfront” won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor for Brando, Best Supporting Actress for Saint, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Editing.

The Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre at 54 JSQ is directly across JFK Blvd from the JSQ PATH Station. Discount parking for Theatre patrons in Square Ramp Garage located on Magnolia Ave. off of Tonnelle Ave. behind the Loew’s. (201) 798-6055


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