starlite, with a hitch

the starlite cinema series returns to austin on saturday, 8.20.11!

we return from a lovely engagement in virginia just in time to celebrate alfred hitchcock's birthday. in honor of the master of suspense's 112th we are going to be screening what is probably my favorite, and most underrated, of his films, rope (1948).

two school chums, proponents of the nietzschean concept of the superman, decide to make their notion of the moral superiority of a select few into a concrete reality by murdering a friend. their perfect crime is a work of art, their hiding the body in a chest in that sits at the center of a dinner party is their most artistic flourish, their serving dinner from their friend's grave is the grisly signature on their masterpiece. not satisfied with pulling off the perfect crime, they invite the only man they think could understand their particular genius, their former schoolmaster, and engage in a taunting game of wits with him throughout the evening. based on patrick hamilton's play from from 1929, which, in turn, was based on the sensational leopold and loeb murder case in 1924, the film is hitchcock's boldest experiment in both theme and execution. it plays as one long continuous take, with only ten clever cuts in eighty minutes. the soundstage was a massive hive of activity, with the set walls on wheels so that prop department could constantly move them and the furniture around as the camera wove among them and the players to give the illusion of one uninterrupted piece. the backdrop of the manhattan penthouse was a marvel in and of itself - an exact miniature reproduction of 35 miles of skyline containing 8000 incandescent bulbs, 200 neon signs requiring 150 transformers and 26,000 feet of wire all perched among voluminous clouds made of spun glass. as audacious as it was technically, the subject matter was just as brazen. in 1948 you didn't often see, and by that i mean ever, homosexual lovers who had just committed a thrill killing arguing their moral superiority with america's everyman, jimmy stewart, with the corpse sitting ten feet away. i find it fascinating and i hope you will too. we're going to keep this one short and cross our fingers that the next time we convene the temperature will be more in our favor. can't wait for autumn. showtime is at 8:30 p.m. on saturday, 8.20.11. the facebook event page is here if you'd like to rsvp. if that's not an option, just get in touch with me and we'll get you there. as always, these shows are completely free. bring a lawn chair or blanket if you like and feel free to bring friends.

in preparation for september, i was looking back over the list of what we've shown in the past year and a half and was amazed to find no entries from either italy or sweden. that means no fellini, no bergman and on and on. regular starlite goers, or irregular, for that matter, where would you rather visit? feel free to weigh in either here or on the facebook page and i will begin rectifying this next month. see you soon.

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