Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Giacconi & Pennuti & Fabbri)

Does different things with colored stage lights, including flashing fullscreen in a mesmeric flicker, story of a musician’s vision loss added at the end to explain the visual scheme.

Secret Screening Short 1

Passing strangely through space and process, works popping into empty spaces, contextual history at the end.

The Sea, The Stars, A Landscape (Alison O’Daniel)

L.A. smog, small groups around the hideous city. Mostly I was engaged by wondering how this short work ties into the filmmaker’s larger project about tuba theft.

Lost Three Make One Found (Atsushi Kuwayama)

Quirky guy drives through Portugal looking for a mythical fountain that can bring peace after a breakup. Funny movie, good translation humor in the subtitles. They interview a hitchhiker about his own life and outlook, then play the interview back for him the next day while filming his reaction – this turns out to have been a genius idea, one of the best scenes of the fest.

A short movie for a weekend afternoon. It wastes no time, opening with heavy doom music and a written warning, then a hitchhiker, face unseen, shoots the people who gave him a ride, and a couple (movie) minutes later he’s being picked up by a couple of dudes on vacation.

“You guys are gonna die, that’s all. It’s just a question of when.”

Driver Roy is Edmond O’Brien, star of D.O.A. and “Rock Around the Rockpile” singer/gangster in The Girl Can’t Help It, and Passenger Gil is Frank Lovejoy, lead cop in House of Wax the same year as this. Our baddie Emmett, who immediately pulls out the pistol and tells the two they’re taking him on a multi-day journey to Mexico, is William Talman, Perry Mason’s TV rival. And all three guys look kinda similar, which becomes useful towards the end when the hitcher wants to swap clothes with Roy in case they’re walking into an ambush (they are).

Doom-camera when they stop for a William Tell shooting competition:

Not sure what to make of the plot point where the guys turn out to have lied to their wives about which direction they were driving. Bystanders in the 1950’s are more suspicious and attentive than you’d expect, so once they cross into Mexico the cops are on their trail, issuing Fake News over the radio in case the kidnapper and crew are listening (they are). Roy hurts his foot trying to escape, the car finally breaks down, and Emmett’s caught at the docks while seeking a boat. Tense little movie.

Sleeping with one eye open:

M. D’Angelo:

In December 1950 and January 1951, an ex-con named Billy Cook went on a killing spree that took him halfway across the country, from Missouri to California, and eventually into Mexico. He murdered an entire family that stopped to pick him up, a crime so well-publicized that Jim Morrison referred to it 20 years later in “Riders On The Storm” … Released in March 1953, only three months after Cook was executed, The Hitch-Hiker fictionalizes his final run, when he bummed a ride from two men on a hunting trip and forced them to drive him across the border.

Weirdly, for one of the best romantic comedies of all time, I had much trouble remembering this a couple weeks later and had to look up the TCM synopsis – unlike The Good Fairy and Roman Holiday and High Society and What a Way to Go!, which I recalled as well as I ever do. So I’d better watch this again sometime.

Anyway, heiress Claudette Colbert (between Lubitsch films The Smiling Lieutenant and Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife) is on the run from her overdetermined life and meets chivalrous Clark Gable on the bus. He’s a reporter who agrees to help her if he gets an exclusive story – shades of Roman Holiday – but unlike that movie, this is one of the madcap screwball comedies where writing out the plot would take longer than rewatching the movie – the gist being that the two of them fall gradually in love after spending much travel time together, and she finally flees her society wedding to stay with Gable.

Unhappy bride:

Criterion ad copy: “The first film to accomplish the very rare feat of sweeping all five major Oscar categories (best picture, best actor, best actress, best director, and best screenplay), It Happened One Night is among the most gracefully constructed and edited films of the early sound era, packed with clever situations and gags that have entered the Hollywood comedy pantheon and featuring two actors at the top of their game.”

S. Winer:

That first autobus ride is clearly an alien experience for the heiress, who has until this point remained unaware of the greater world around her. At first, she is uncomfortable with her fellow passengers, but eventually she joins them in song and then feels sympathetic pain for the plight of a mother and son who don’t have enough to eat. (Explicitly here, and implicitly throughout the film, Capra is making a brave choice for a romantic comedy by telling us that this is no movie fairyland but very real Depression America — where buses might serve those who could no longer afford cars and hitchhiking those who could afford neither.)

F. Nehme:

In what must be the movie’s most famous scene (although it has a lot of competition), Pete demonstrates, at length and with a fantastic amount of condescension, the proper way to hitchhike: “It’s all in the thumb.” Ellie, splendidly deadpan, watches an entire traffic jam’s worth of cars zip by Pete and his magic thumb, then slinks over and lifts her hem to reveal one of the loveliest legs in movie history. Cut to slamming brakes, then the couple in the rumble seat of a car. But here’s the thing: The man who has stopped (played by Alan Hale) turns out to be a road thief, bent on stealing their remaining suitcase. For all Ellie’s triumph, the creep was looking for a mark, and probably would have stopped in any event.

Katy would not have liked it. An open-road hitchhiking serial killer movie. The trucker (“wheeler”) and the cowboy (“walker”) vie for the same victim. Mean, violent fun. No eye gouging that I can remember, but it has the MOH trademark naked woman (being tortured to death).

Interesting thing about it, really the only thing that sets it apart from your standard trucker serial killer movie is that every single character is either killer or victim. No bystanders here… if we see someone, they’re kill-or-be-killed. A familiar-looking Fairuza Balk stars (ed norton’s excitable gf in American History X) with Michael Moriarty, a Cohen regular.

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