Screwball comedies

We’re getting prepared for our screening of Frank Capra’s lighthearted and endearing It Happened One Night, this Saturday. It’s part of our ongoing series for the CMPCA in Brighton, at St Michael’s Church Hall. There are a few tickets left, so for full details, please see our main website.

In the meantime, we’ve picked out five of our favourite screwball comedies (aside from It Happened One Night), to get you all in the mood:


Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Frank Capra, the director of It Happened One Night hit gold with this dark, but delightfully silly screwball comedy featuring Cary Grant. Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, who discovers a corpse hidden in window box at the house of his two sweet, harmless aunts…

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

This classic is bring rereleased in cinemas by the BFI at the moment, so do look out for screenings of it locally. George Cukor’s sparkling film is regarded as one of the best examples of the popular ‘comedy of remarriage’ – a common theme from the ‘production code era, when depictions of extramarital affairs were prohibited – a couple divorce, flirt with outsiders and then remarry.

Top Hat (1935)

Probably the best known work to come from the dance partnership of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, this musical has some some rather fun and dazzling set pieces. Irving Berlin wrote the music, with many of the songs now regarded as classics (such as ‘Cheek to Cheek’).

Design for Living (1933)

Ernst Lubitsch is the director most closely linked to the Screwball genre, and this quirky film is possibly his finest. Loosely based on a play of the same name by Noel Coward (who famously said “I’m told that there are three of my original lines left in the film—such original ones as ‘Pass the mustard'”), the film is surprising to today’s audience: it is much more racy than you would expect! It was made pre-code, and features a woman (Miriam Hopkins) leaving her husband for two  men (Frederic March and Gary Cooper).

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Although not a hit on release (it did moderately well, but nothing to write home about), Howard Hawks’s Bringing up Baby is now widely regarded as a classic, and features on the AFI’s ‘100 Greatest American Films of All Time’ list. Katherine Hepburn is delightfully aggravating as a dotty heiress who turns the life of Cary Grant’s palaeontologist upside down.


A very glamorous weekend… in Eastbourne!

Team Filmspot had a brilliant time last weekend at the International Lawn Tennis Centre in Eastbourne. Thank you to all who came along – we hope you enjoyed the events!

We kicked off our weekend with a walk on the noir side, with Billy Wilder’s classic Sunset Boulevard.

Filmspot helpers, Angie and Kathleen, with Rachel, Co-Director, and Oscar

Filmspot helpers, Angie and Kathleen, with Rachel, Co-Director, and Oscar

The audience, gripped by William Holden in 'Sunset Boulevard'!

The audience, gripped by William Holden in ‘Sunset Boulevard’!

...Rob and Rachel, Co-Directors of Filmspot, getting into the Hollywood spirit!

…Rob and Rachel, Co-Directors of Filmspot, getting into the Hollywood spirit!

On Saturday afternoon, we all had a great time, bringing a bit of technicolor fun to the Tennis Centre, with ‘Singin’ in the Rain’! (all photographs of our ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ event are by our wonderful roving photographer, Lukas Rohulan!)

Rachel and Angie, all set and ready for 'Singin' in the Rain'!

Rachel and Angie, all set and ready for ‘Singin’ in the Rain’!



Lukas (L), our roving photographer for the occasion, and Rob made a rather sophisticated looking double act...

Lukas (L), our roving photographer for the occasion, and Rob made a rather sophisticated looking double act…





Luckily, there was no rain to sing in... but that didn't stop us donning our rain macs and grabbing our brollies!

Luckily, there was no rain to sing in… but that didn’t stop us donning our rain macs and grabbing our brollies!

Carmen, from the Lewes Junior Film Club, helped us out. ushering for the afternoon.

Carmen, from the Lewes Junior Film Club, helped us out. ushering for the afternoon.

Angie, gave all the visitors a warm welcome to the Tennis Centre...

Angie, gave all the visitors a warm welcome to the Tennis Centre…

The audience settling in for the beginning of 'Singin' in the Rain'

The audience settling in for the beginning of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’

and... action!

and… action!

What a whirl!!

What a whirl!!

It was great fun, it was lovely to meet so many film fans of all ages. We look forward to coming back, soon!

For all of you in Eastbourne who are looking for some more cinematic shenanigans, we have helped facilitate a drive in screening of ‘The Italian Job’ on Saturday 4th May, on Eastbourne seafront. Details can be found on the Eastbourne Borough Council website here

For our next full Filmspot event, we are returning to Newhaven Fort for a screening of ‘Dam Busters’ on 16 May. This is a free screening as part of Museums at Night, and it celebrates the 70th anniversary of the famous raid. More details on that soon!

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



Call for performers and unwanted brollies – and ‘Great White Silence’ postponed

Yes, unfortunately we have had to postpone our upcoming screening of ‘The Great White Silence‘ at Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum, due to unforeseen circumstances. This was originally planned for Saturday 9 March, but will now happen on Saturday 5 October. If you already hold a ticket, these will still be valid for the new date – but if you would like to discuss the screening, or cannot make 5th October, do please contact Salisbury Museum directly on 01722 332151.

If you live in East Sussex, our screening at Newhaven Fort will go ahead as planned, on 15 June.

On a completely different note, we are looking for volunteer ushers/ usherettes/ performers for our upcoming Hollywood themed weekend at Eastbourne Devonshire Park Tennis Centre, where we will be showing:

5th April – SUNSET BOULEVARD: 7.30pm (doors 7.00pm)

6th April – SINGIN IN THE RAIN: 4.00pm (doors 3.30pm)

See my previous post for full details and trailers for each of the films.

We are looking for ‘vintage’ ushers and usherettes for both events. For Sunset Boulevard, we are recruiting performers to take the part of 1950s paparazzi, to create a buzz on our ‘red carpet’, at the entrance to the screening. For Singin’ in the Rain, Filmspot are looking for a number of dancers or performers to dress up in yellow macs, wielding brollies (the suspicious need not apply!). We will provide costumes.

We can offer travel expenses and food – and the chance to dress up and be the envy of all your friends! We are going to be filming at the event, and can provide any performers who take part with copies of videos, for their portfolios.

Email Rachel Hunter, Co-Director of Filmspot, for details: or call 07525 357393.

ALSO! We are looking for donations of any unwanted or broken umbrellas for a large-scale installation at the Devonshire Park Lawn Tennis Centre

Any donations are gratefully received – please contact Rachel Hunter ( or 07525 357393).



Announcing our Spring/ Summer Season!

We are really pleased to be presenting our upcoming season of films for 2013. There is one final addition to the programme, which we are in the process of confirming, so do check back in the next week or two for details of that, but in the meantime, get out the diary and start marking up dates! We’re looking forward to seeing you all at events around the South East soon!

The Great White Silence (1924) [U]

at Salisbury Museum, Saturday 9th March, 2.30pm (doors 2.00pm)

I posted about this remarkable film a couple of weeks ago, so for further information, please look back to my last post. Last time, I included the trailer, but for those of you who can’t wait for the event, here’s a few Q&As about the film from the BFI:

Tickets: £6 Members of Salisbury Museum, £8 Non-Members

From: 01722 332151


The Golden Age of Hollywood Weekend

at Devonshire Park Tennis Centre, Friday 5th and Saturday 6th April

Filmspot are delighted to be partnering up with Eastbourne Borough Council Events to present two very different films about Hollywood, with theatrical touches, music, period trailers and themed snacks.

Sunset Boulevard (1950) [PG]

Friday 5th April, 7.30pm (doors 7.00pm)

Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of American cinema, Billy Wilder‘s classic noir is a scathing satire of the movie industry. William Holden portrays an unsuccessful screenwriter who is sucked into a web of sleaze and insanity by a deluded, faded silent movie star, played by tour-de-force, Gloria Swanson.

Tickets: £6.50 adults, £4.00 children


Singin’ in the Rain (1952) [U]

Saturday 6th April, 4.00pm (doors 3.30pm)

Gene Kelly’s comedy-musical is a lighthearted look at Hollywood’s transition from silent film to ‘talkies’. Starring Kelly alongside the undisputed talents of Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, the films boasts instantly recognisable tunes, fun and awe-inspiring dance routines and charming comic performances. A sure-fire hit for the entire family! dance routines and charming comic performances.

Tickets: £6.50 adults, £4.00 children, £18.00 family (two adults, two)


Filmspot at Newhaven Fort

Filmspot are delighted to be working with Newhaven Fort again in 2013 for three exciting film screening events. Expect theatrical touches, installations, as well as period trailers and newsreels to set the scene. Themed refreshments will be available, including a licenced café.

The Dam Busters (1955) [U]

at Newhaven Fort, Thursday 16th May, 7.30pm (doors 6.30pm)

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the RAF Squadron 617’s raid on the Ruhr Valley dams, Filmspot are pleased to be presenting a special screening of The Dam Busters at Newhaven Fort, as part of Museums at Night.

Based on true events as featured in the book Enemy Coast Ahead by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, the film focuses on scientist Barnes Willis’s (played by Michael Redgrave) work on the ‘bouncing bomb’ during WWII, as well as on the mission itself. The breathtaking footage of aircraft required that five Lancaster Bombers were rebuilt, with the aircraft expenses making up a tenth of the film’s overall budget. With its ‘docu-drama’ tone, stellar cast and memorable music, The Dam Busters is regarded as one of the finest British war films.

Tickets for The Dam Busters are free but must be booked in advance.

Call Newhaven Fort for bookings on 01273 517622 

The Great White Silence (1924) [U]

At Newhaven Fort, Saturday 15th June, 7.30pm (doors 7pm)

We are taking Captain Scott and company on the road – for those of you who cannot quite get to Salisbury on 9 March, we are presenting The Great White Silence in the atmospheric setting of Newhaven Fort.

Tickets: Adults: £6.00; Children: £4.00.

Call Newhaven Fort for bookings on 01273 517622


As I mentioned above, we have one more very special screening to be confirmed for our Spring/ Summer season, more news on that to follow, but in the meantime get booking your tickets – we hope to see you all soon!