Filmspot goes to Hollywood with Billy Wilder!

Hope you’ve all had a splendid Easter! We have been getting ourselves ready for next weekend when Filmspot goes to Hollywood, without even leaving Eastbourne!

We have two fantastic Hollywood themed films over the weekend, on Friday 5th April at 7.30pm (doors open at 7pm) we are screening Sunset Boulevard, and on Saturday 6th April at 4pm (doors 3.30pm), we’re showing Singin’ in the Rain. In my last blog, we explored some great Gene Kelly moments, in honour of Singin’ in the Rain, so this time we’re looking at some of the classic Billy Wilder moments…

Some Like it Hot (1959)

Probably Wilder’s best-known film, Some Like It Hot stars Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and George Raft. Lemmon and Curtis play two jazz musicians who accidently witness the Valentine’s Day Massacre. Struggling to find work, they disguise themselves as women and join a women’s band, headed by Marilyn Monroe. The American Film Institute listed Some Like It Hot as the greatest American comedy of all time.

The Apartment (1960)

Starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, this charming drama-comedy focuses on a lonely office worker, C C Baxter (Lemmon), who allows his four managers to use his apartment for their extramarital liaisons. The initial idea for the film came from Noel Coward’s play ‘Brief Encounter’, and also from the real life Hollywood scandal when producer Walter Wanger shot agent Jennings Lang after discovering Lang was having an affair with his wife. Released after the success of ‘Some Like it Hot’, it was widely thought of as a comedy when it came out, but it has a very melancholic, dramatic air.

The Lost Weekend (1945)

Very different in tone from the above two films, this Noir masterpiece shows the life of an alcoholic, particularly focussing on a weekend-long binge. While less bleak than the autobiographical novel by  Charles Jackson on which it is based, this is a rare depiction of the grim realities of alcoholism, rather than the usual Hollywood tactic of using drunken-ness for laughs. The film rightly swept the board at the Academy Awards, winning best picture, director, actor (for the lead, Ray Milland) and screenplay in 1946.

Double Indemnity (1944)

Co-written by Wilder and the great Raymond Chandler, based on a novella of the same name by James M Cain, Double Indemnity is regarded as one of the classics of Film Noir. Featuring hardboiled dialogue, and a cruel femme fatale, this film was actually created before the term ‘Film Noir’ was even coined! Barbara Stanwyck plays a provocative housewife, who schemes a complicated insurance scam, in which she entangled Walter Neff (played by Fred MacMurray), a successful but greedy insurance salesman.

Ace in the Hole (1951)

Starring Kirk Douglas, Ace in the Hole is Wilder’s scathing examination of the press, and its ‘victims’. Douglas plays a disgraced reporter who is desperate to regain work on a national newspaper. He senses an opportunity to get back onto front page national news when a man gets trapped in a cave, while gathering ancient Indian artefacts. He gets involved in the rescue mission, trying to prolong it in order to get the biggest story possible from the situation, turning the rescue mission into a ‘circus’. Unsurprisingly, given its theme, the film was poorly received by the press on release, but it really is classic Wilder material, with his typical biting outlook.

On Friday, however, we are showing one of Wilder’s greatest, and possibly darkest, works, Sunset Boulevard. We hope to see you at the Devonshire Park Tennis Centre, for the film start at 7.30pm.

Tickets may be booked here – and tickets for Singin’ in the Rain (on Saturday 6th April, at 4pm – doors 3.30pm) may be booked here



A cinematic childhood…

The Filmspot team had a great time at King’s Place in London on Friday night, when we went to see a tribute to Oliver Postgate and Small Films, including the North Sea Radio Orchestraperforming music by Vernon Elliott, and from Bagpuss.

It’s got us thinking about childhood memories of film. We are hoping to stage an event based on our thoughts into this at some point next year, so do let us know any films from your childhood that you’d like to see on the big screen, but in the meantime, we thought we’d put together some films about childhood… let us know your thoughts!

1. ET (1982)

This film cast a huge ET-shaped shadow over many children growing up int he 80s, but as well as being for (and frightening many) children, there are some brilliant splashes of 80s middle-class childhood in this classic.

2.The Innocents (1961)

OK, slightly daft trailer aside, this is a genuinely sinister film directed by Jack Clayton, with the supposed corruption of innocence at its centre. Lots of recent films have tread the same territory (see The Others or the Orphanage), but none have quite the same atmosphere.

3. I’m not Scared (Io Non Ho Paura) (2003)

Gabriele Salvatores’s slow-moving film is essentially a kidnap story, seen through the eyes of 10 year old Michele. The depiction of an almost endlessly-long summer holiday, and the small observations of childhood is what really brings this film to life. Certainly one of the most engaging films of its type, the acting is utterly convincing, and Salvatore’s direction is absolutely spot-on.

4. My Neighbour Totoro (Tonari No Totoro) (1988)

Studio Ghibli are absolute masters of capturing childhood through animation, and we could have picked any of a number of their features (see Graveyard of the Fireflies or Spirited Away), but this film is so refreshing in its simplicity. Unlike most western animations for children, this doesn’t feature any of the usual ‘baddie’ or ‘villian’ characters, the children in Totoro have to deal with very real problems, such as the illness of a parent. It features some of the most beautifully observed animation you will ever see, and really charming characters that you will wish were present in your own childhood.

5. Night of the Hunter (1955)

A childhood fable, seen through a Film Noir lens. Robert Mitchum is one of the most effective bogeymen in cinema history as Rev Harry Powell, a serial killer and self-appointed preacher. As he pursues two children through the mid-west, the film serves as a strong illustration that “children are man at his strongest. They abide”

There are of course, lots of films that we’ve missed out here (To Kill a Mockingbird, Life is Beautiful, Fanny and Alexander, etc…) – why not drop us a line and let us know your favourites?