Chinatown. They'll make a mint showing this, and they deserve to. What seemed to be another cashing-in on the spate of the thirties films that did so well at the box office, turned out to be much more complex and intelligent than anyone expected. Beneath the precise atmospheric touches (the right clothes, the right music, the right slang, etc.) you find an apt and sinister diagram of where the tentacles of power lead. It's a lovely new interpretation of the American pioneerism: John Huston's Noah Cross serves as one of the more indelible and paradigmatic characters in recent movies. He singlehandedly demystifies the American dream. The connection he embodies between incest, political power and capitalism finds a voice in his eloquent, filthy madness. Robert Towne's amazing screenplay sketches the self-cannibalizing character of urban growth. There is no scene in the movie which doesn't reek of the Noah Cross character's scent. If there's any weak spoke, it's the banality of the "Chinatown" theme, which never really rings true. Nicholson, it seems, can dip endlessly into some well of inventiveness and charm and never scrape. His J.J. Gittes destroys and transcends the romantic stereotype of the hard-boiled dick; the more he learns about power relations, the less he finds himself able to do about them. The movie is a wonder--it ought to be shown annually at the American Realtor's Convention to teach techniques of land purchase.
Yankee Doodle Dandy. Cagney's favorite role, says he in his autobiography. He good taste. You could watch this eight times a week on Million Dollar Movie and never get tired of it, especially the Cohan dance numbers. It's filled with stock Warner Brothers actors, not to mention the great Walter Huston and somebody who does an uncanny Franklin Roosevelt imitation. The movie's disregard for Cohan's real personality makes no difference. He was a patriot, and patriotism is never out of style.
The Harvard-Radcliffe Progressive Film Society (whoever they are) is presenting a Soviet Film festival this spring and Ballad of a Soldier, tonight's offering, is a true masterpiece. If bourgeois sentimentality is your bag, and it is ours, then this is the film of a lifetime for you. A virginal 18 year old recruit in the Red Army, which is reeling from the German assault of 1941, is decorated for heroism at the front and granted a short leave home to visit his mother. This journey home, through the interior of war-torn Russia is complete with a love affair and an emotional reunion with mother and comrades at what appears to be a collective farm. The beauty of the scenery and the beauty of his unfulfilled romance combine to make this a remarkably moving film.
Sambizang (film on Angola) and Prince of Peace, Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9:30
Yankee Doodle Dandy (Cagney) Friday and Saturday at 8 and 10
SCIENCE CENTER A
A Woman Rebels (Katherine Hepburn, free) Friday at 8 and 10; Charulata (Satyajit Ray) Saturday at 8 and 10
SCIENCE CENTER B
Chinatown Friday and Saturday at 8 and 10:30; Films from China, Sunday at 2 pm
SCIENCE CENTER C
Ballad of a Soldier Today at 7 and 9; The Pink Panther (Peter Sellers, David Niven) Friday and Saturday at 8 and 10
The Longest Yard and The Knute Rockne Story, Friday and Saturday, call 495-4731 for times