Brash Beauty: A Tribute To Shelley Winters

Repertory Series
February 27 - March 9, 2006

Brash is often the first word that comes to mind when someone mentions Shelley Winters. In fact, she is so heavily associated with the bigger-than-life roles that she portrayed in her later years that it is sometimes hard to believe that she started her career in Hollywood as a blond ingénue. Born in 1920 in St. Louis, Winters moved to New York and worked as a chorus girl before moving to Hollywood. Once there, she established herself as an actress to be reckoned with both onscreen (she won two supporting actress Oscars) and off (she boasted Marlon Brando, Errol Flynn, Burt Lancaster, Sean Connery and Clark Gable among her sexual conquests). Although she sadly died in January at the age of 85, she continued her bold style of living up to the very end - marrying her longtime companion, Jerry DeFord, just hours before her death. We celebrate this remarkable actress with a look at some of her most famous - and infamous - roles.

Dates & Showtimes

Monday, February 27
Double Feature!
LOLITA at 6:45
A PLACE IN THE SUN at 4:15, 9:45

Tuesday, February 28
Double Feature!
LOLITA at 4:00, 9:30
A PLACE IN THE SUN at 7:00

Wednesday, March 1
A PATCH OF BLUE at 5:15, 7:30, 9:45

Thursday, March 2
Double Feature!
NIGHT OF THE HUNTER at 8:00
WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HELEN at 10:00

Monday, March 6
Double Feature!
HE RAN ALL THE WAY at 7:30
ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW at 5:30, 9:30

Tuesday, March 7*
THE BIG KNIFE at 4:45, 10:00
*Please Note: The 7:15 show has been cancelled and the 9:45 show bumped to 10:00 in order to accommodate a special screening - we apologize for any inconvenience.

Wednesday, March 8
Double Feature!
CLEOPATRA JONES at 7:30
WILD IN THE STREETS at 5:30, 9:30

Thursday, March 9
Double Feature!
CLEOPATRA JONES at 7:30
BLOODY MAMA at 5:30, 9:30

Film Descriptions

LOLITA
(1962) dir Stanley Kubrick w/ Shelley Winters, James Mason, Sue Lyon, Peter Sellars [152 min]

Shelley Winters' shines in one of the defining roles of her career in Kubrick's deceptively charming adaptation of Nabokov's classic novel. Professor Humbert Humbert (Mason) idolizes, lusts for, and, eventually, falls in love with the 14-year-old Lolita (Lyon), even going so far as to marry her rather grating mother (Winters) in order to stay close to her. Hilarious, disturbing, disorienting and riveting, this is rightfully one of the quintessential films of the 1960s.

A PLACE IN THE SUN
(1951) dir George Stevens w/Winters, Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift [122 min]

Liz Taylor, in one of her steamiest roles, plays a rich girl who steals the heart of a poor but ambitious young man, played by Clift, leaving Shelley a pathetic victim. This landmark melodrama is a brilliant depiction of the idle rich and American morals.

A PATCH OF BLUE
(1965) dir Guy Green w/Winters, Sydney Poitier, Elizabeth Hartman, Wallace Ford [105 min]

Winters won a supporting actress Oscar for her role as the bigoted mother of a poor blind girl (Hartman) who falls in love with a black man (the always sensational Poitier). Although seeming a bit dated today, A PATCH OF BLUE was an important milestone when it was made, exposing not only class and race differences but also the extent to which men and women judge each other based on appearances.

NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
(1955) dir Charles Laughton w/Winters, Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish, Billy Chapin, Sally Jane Bruce [93 min]

Not to give anything away, but it's remarkable how many films that Shelley Winters drowns in… In the great Charles Laughton's one and only directorial effort, Winters is featured as one unfortunate victim of Mitchum's sinister preacher who charms his way into a Southern family in an attempt to gain access to a hidden pile of cash. Simply put, one of the creepiest films ever made.

WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HELEN
(1971) dir Curtis Harrington w/Winters, Debbie Reynolds, Dennis Weaver, Agnes Moorehead [101 min]

Shot in muted sepia tones and set in the 1930's, Harrington's cult favorite features suitably creepy performances by Winters and Reynolds as the mothers of two murderers who flee persecution in their hometown to open a school for aspiring child stars in Hollywood. Reynolds becomes involved with the millionaire father of one of their pupils while Winters falls under the spell of a radio evangelist. Soon their strong personalities and different destinies cause a serious clash that results in sheer mayhem!

HE RAN ALL THE WAY
(1951) dir John Berry w/Winters, John Garfield, Wallace Ford, Selena Royle, Bobby Hyatt [77 min]

The great John Garfield stars in this, his final film - and it's one of his best. Garfield plays a frightened criminal holding a family hostage in their apartment after a failed hold-up. Winters stars as the daughter of the family who falls for the desperate but sympathetic criminal. A prime example of film noir that focuses on middle class values subjected to a violent force from outside. Not available on video.

ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW
(1959) dir Robert Wise w/Winters, Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, Ed Begley , Gloria Grahame [96 min]

This smoldering, sultry thriller about a pair of desperate crooks is enhanced by a knock-out jazz score. Winters stars as Robert Ryan's sugar-mama. Racial bigotry and botched hold-ups lead to one of the most explosive climaxes in cinema. An underrated gem!

THE BIG KNIFE
(1955) dir Robert Aldrich w/Winters, Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, Wendell Corey, Jean Hagan [111 min]

"A dynamite portrait of a man on the verge of total psychological and moral collapse, Robert Aldrich's 1955 indictment of Hollywood stars Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, and Rod Steiger. Adapted from a series of plays by Clifford Odets, Aldrich's film focuses on the ways in which a man's freedom is systematically denied him by the forces that control his world, whether that world is the arts, business, or politics. Palance is superb as the Hollywood star who now has to be blackmailed to continue starring in the dreadful films produced by Rod Steiger (in a magnificent portrayal of Harry Cohn, Louis B. Mayer, and Jack Warner rolled into one)."- The Chicago Reader

CLEOPATRA JONES
(1973) dir Jack Starrett w/Winters, Tamara Dobson, Bernie Casey, Brenda Sykes, Antonio Fargas, Don Cornelius [89 min]

Winters is at her most shriekingly hilarious as Mommy, the evil drug czarina in this Blaxploitation classic! "The first swashbuckler to star a fighting superwoman. Beautiful black Amazon Tamara Dobson… plays a cross between James Bond and Robin Hood. A 6-foot-2-inch CIA narcotics agent, Cleopatra is out to get the dope dealers who are preying on blacks."- Pauline Kael

WILD IN THE STREETS
(1968) dir Barry Shear w/Winters, Christopher Jones, Diane Varsi, Hal Holbrook, Millie Perkins, Richard Pryor, Ed Begley [94 min]

A teenage fantasy burned onto celluloid! The voting age is lowered to 15, LSD is dropped into the water supply, the "over-30s"are sent to rehabilitation camps where they're forcibly doped up, and the president is a rock star!

BLOODY MAMA
(1970) dir Roger Corman w/Winters, Pat Hingle, Don Stroud, Diane Varsi, Bruce Dern, Robert De Niro [90 min]

Winters kills (literally!) in this Corman exploitation classic as the notorious Kate ‘Ma' Barker. Based on a true story, BLOODY MAMA portrays ‘Ma' as a way too dedicated mother who will do anything to improve the lives of her four sons, including leading them on a murder, kidnapping, and robbery spree! Featuring a very young Robert De Niro (3 years before Mean Streets) as one of Ma's sons.

©The Brattle Film Foundation. All rights reserved worldwide. The Brattle Film Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit, supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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