Repertory Series

Watching The Detectives
Friday, November 23 - Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sponsored By The Harvard Coop

The Brattle is well known for featuring the gritty crime dramas known as film noir and because of this we find ourselves frequently screening the rough-and-tumble films inspired by the work of the great detective novelists, Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammett. We seldom have opportunity, however, to fully explore the lighter or more colorful film that also feature some of the world’s greatest detectives… So, we take this opportunity to bring you some of the best onscreen appearances of Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Mike Hammer, and Nick & Nora Charles – as well as appearances by some lesser-known compatriots including John Shaft, Father Brown and Philo Vance. We’ve also paired Chandler’s THE BIG SLEEP starring Humphrey Bogart with one of its greatest parodiers, Steve Martin’s DEAD MEN DON'T WEAR PLAID. Don’t miss this chance to see some of these rarely screened gems on the big screen!

Film Descriptions, Dates & Showtimes

Friday 11/23 at 3:30, 5:30, 7:30, 9:30

The Hound Of The Baskervilles
(1959) dir Terence Fisher w/ Peter Cushing, André Morell, Christopher Lee, Marla Landi [87 min]
Creepy British country estates, foggy moors, hauntings by monstrous hounds, mysterious killings… Who more appropriate to film one of Sherlock Holmes’ most gothic cases than Hammer Horror veteran Terence Fisher? Holmes (Cushing) and Watson (Morell) are hired by a British nobleman (Lee) who fears falling prey to a family curse. One of the most memorable stories of the world’s most famous detective is brought to vivid life by a legendary team of horror filmmakers and actors. Unforgettable.

Saturday 11/24 at 3:45, 7:30

The Thin Man
(1934) dir W.S. Van Dyke w/ William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan [93 min]
Dashiell Hammett’s great tale of pickled-ex-cop-turned-society-sleuth, Nick Charles (Powell), and his always game wife, Nora (Loy), is a wonderfully successful merging of detective story and screwball comedy. Stars Powell and Loy share sparkling chemistry as they try to track down a killer. The dialogue is as sharp as a whip and the film stands as one of the screen’s funniest mysteries.

Saturday 11/24 at 2:00, 5:45, 9:30

Double Feature w/THE THIN MAN
The Kennel Murder Case
(1933) dir Michael Curtiz w/ William Powell, Mary Astor, Eugene Pallette [73 min]
Powell again stars as a society detective, this time the debonair Philo Vance, who investigates a classic of the whodunit genre: a locked-room mystery. A member of a Long Island dog kennel is found bludgeoned, stabbed and, for good measure, shot in said locked room. When the chief suspect, the man’s brother, is also found dead, only Philo can unravel the case!

Sunday 11/25 at 3:30, 7:30

Double Feature w/MURDER MOST FOUL
Murder She Said
(1961) dir George Pollock w/ Margaret Rutherford, Arthur Kennedy, Charles Tingwell [87 min]
There have been many onscreen portrayals of Agatha Christie’s classic sleuth Miss Jane Marple over the years, but none is as crotchety, determined or down right enjoyable as the great Margaret Rutherford. While traveling, Miss Marple witnesses a murder on a passing train and, much to the consternation of the local police, she begins her own investigation into the crime.

Sunday 11/25 at 5:30, 9:30

Double Feature w/MURDER SHE SAID
Murder Most Foul
(1964) dir George Pollock w/ Margaret Rutherford, Charles Tingwell, Stringer Davis [90 min]
Unfortunately for everyone, except for the innocent person accused, Miss Marple is serving on the jury for a murder trial. In typical Marple fashion, she is the only holdout on the jury, refusing to convict. Instead, she joins an acting troupe in an attempt to uncover who the real killer is. The mystery is deliciously rich and Rutherford’s performance is, as always, top notch in this, the last of her starring appearances as Marple.

Monday 11/26 at 7:00

Double Feature w/FATHER BROWN
Murder On The Orient Express
(1974) dir Sidney Lumet w/Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Widmark, Michael York [128 min]
The all-star mystery that set off a string of imitators, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS features the wonderful Albert Finney in the role of Agatha Christie’s idiosyncratic Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. Poirot is traveling on the Orient Express, but the train has become stranded in snow and a murder has been committed. With a train full of possible suspects (all recognizable stars to heighten the mystery), Poirot has his work cut out for him.

Monday 11/26 at 5:00, 9:30

Father Brown (a.k.a. The Detective)
(1954) dir Robert Hamer w/Alec Guiness, Joan Greenwood, Peter Finch, Cecil Parker, Bernard Lee [91 min]
G.K. Chesterton’s pious investigator, Father Brown, takes his definitive onscreen turn in the form of the always-entertaining Alec Guinness. When an international art thief outsmarts Guinness’ humble, near-sighted Brown and a priceless religious artifact is stolen from him, he sets out to find the robber… not only to recover the artifact but also to save the man’s soul. Where other detective films are long on action and short on charm, FATHER BROWN fits right in with Guinness’ reputation for making gentle, witty films. A real charmer.

Tuesday 11/27 at 5:00, 9:00

Crime By Night
(1944) dir William Clemens w/ Jerome Cowan, Jane Wyman [72 min]
Just as a reminder that not all of the private eyes of the 1940s were hard-boiled, we present the frothy CRIME BY NIGHT. CRIME BY NIGHT features the great character actor Jerome Cowan (Bogie’s deceased partner in The Maltese Falcon) as detective Sam Campbell. With his perky sidekick Robby Vance (Wyman) in tow, Campbell investigates a child custody case that, of course, rapidly becomes a murder case. Campbell basically plays the detective as a drunken jerk and so much for laughs that it’s impossible not to see this as a (perhaps unintentional) parody of film noir.

Wednesday 11/28 at 5:00, 7:15, 9:30

Kiss Me Deadly
(1955) dir Robert Aldrich w/ Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart, Maxine Cooper, Cloris Leachman [106 min]
From the mighty pen of Mickey Spillane comes the most audacious and imaginative film noir of the fifties. Against the ultra-paranoid backdrop of the Cold War, tough-guy, private eye Mike Hammer is sucked into a deadly search for the great “whatsit,” a glowing suitcase that might just lead him to the end of the world.

Friday 11/30 at 5:30, 7:30, 9:30

New 35mm Print!
(1971) dir Stephen Frears w/ Albert Finney, Billie Whitelaw, Frank Finlay, Janice Rule [88 min]
A charming homage to classic film private eyes, GUMSHOE features the always-engaging Finney as a bingo caller who decides to become a private detective. The only problem is that his only experience comes from watching Humphrey Bogart films. Donning the trademark Bogie trenchcoat and spouting rapid-fire dialogue, Finney quickly finds himself wrapped-up in a case involving gunrunning and murder – and possibly his own brother-in-law. GUMSHOE is the feature film debut from the great British director Stephen Frears (The Queen).

Sunday 12/2 at 7:00

The Big Sleep
(1945) dir Howard Hawks w/ Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall [116 min]
This original version of the classic Bogie and Bacall film features more of an emphasis on the original Raymond Chandler novel and less of an emphasis on the onscreen chemistry between its two leads. Hence, it is slightly more intelligible as a mystery. Private detective Phillip Marlowe is hired by a sickly millionaire to hush up a scandal involving his wayward daughter and ends up embroiled in a convoluted murder case.

Sunday 12/2 at 5:00, 9:30

Double Feature w/THE BIG SLEEP
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
(1982) dir Carl Reiner w/ Steve Martin, Rachel Ward, Carl Reiner [89 min]
Steve Martin and Carl Reiner’s hilarious send-up of/love letter to film noir is also a remarkable experiment in moviemaking. Martin stars as Rigby Reardon, a private eye investigating the death of a prominent cheese scientist. He is supported by an all-star cast of characters cut into the movie from other classic films – including Bogie himself as Reardon’s assistant.

Monday 12/3 at 4:45, 7:15

Double Feature w/TWIN PEAKS PILOT
Blue Velvet
(1986) dir David Lynch w/ Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rosselini, Laura Dern, Dennis Hopper, Dean Stockwell [120 min]
The discovery of a severed ear in the woods draws amateur sleuth Jeffrey (MacLachlan) and an innocent high school girl (Dern) into a mystery bringing them face-to-face with murder, sexual brutality and pure, unadulterated evil (as personified by a terrifying Dennis Hopper). BLUE VELVET is laced with the vaguely unnerving and dreamlike quality that is Lynch’s signature, but it is the compelling story and love-conquers-all morality that makes BLUE VELVET an unforgettable and deeply rewarding classic.

Monday 12/3 at 9:45

Twin Peaks Pilot
(1990) dir David Lynch w/ Kyle MacLachlan, Lara Flynn Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, Madchen Amick, Michael Ontkean, Richard Beymer, Ray Wise, Piper Laurie, James Marshall, Joan Chen, Jack Nance, Russ Tamblyn [60 min]
A peaceful logging town is shaken to its core when the homecoming queen is found brutally murdered, and it's up to intrepid FBI agent Dale Cooper (played by a delightful Kyle MacLachlan) to figure out who wanted Laura Palmer dead. “I will remind you that these crimes occurred at night... "

In honor of David Lynch’s visit to the Brattle last year, the city council declared December 3 David Lynch Day in Cambridge. In celebration, please join us for free coffee and pie before the free screening of the TWIN PEAKS pilot, presented here as originally aired without the 'European ending'.

Tuesday 12/4 at 8:00

(1974) dir Roman Polanski w/ Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston [131 min]
Polanski’s masterful CHINATOWN is set in the rapidly expanding Los Angeles of the late 1930s. What starts out as a run-of-the-mill investigation into infidelity for private detective Jake Gittes (Nicholson) turns into uncovering a murder plot centering around the most precious commodity in this growing desert metropolis… water.

Wednesday 12/5 at 7:15

Double Feature w/SHAFT
(1971) dir Alan J. Pakula w/ Jane Fonda, David Sutherland, Charles Cioffi, Roy Scheider [114 min]
Sutherland and Fonda make a great neo-noir team. He is the quiet, serious smalltown detective, she the call-girl with a heart of steel. Sutherland’s John Klute comes to the big city to investigate the disappearance of a businessman. Fonda is the only one who has any information about the mystery, and now her life is being threatened.

Wednesday 12/5 at 5:15, 9:45

Double Feature w/KLUTE
(1971) dir Gordon Parks w/ Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn, Charles Cioffi [100 min]
Slick private detective John Shaft teams up with a notorious racketeer and a bunch of Black Panther wannabes to keep the mob out of Harlem and rescue an innocent girl. Though mainly remembered for its über-classic soundtrack or its ‘blaxploitation’ reputation, SHAFT is also a great detective film that reinvented the private detective for a whole new generation in the 70s.

Thursday 12/6 at 9:30

Blood Simple
(1984) dir Joel & Ethan Coen w/ John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh [94 min]
For this fiendishly clever neo-noir, the Coens throw classic noir tropes (an unfaithful wife, a down-and-out private detective and a bundle of cash) into a serpentine plot and tweak these conventions in a way that is both ghoulish and blackly funny. Like so many of their films, BLOOD SIMPLE invites us to laugh and cringe at the chaos that can ensue when normal people find themselves in way over their heads. And remember, sometimes the detectives aren’t always the good guys...

©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.