Friday 30 April 2021

CINEMA REBORN - SUPER SATURDAY - A day of classics from South Korea, Australia, France culminating with Visconti's Palme d'Or winning THE LEOPARD

At 5.45 PM Saturday 1 May

THE LEOPARD (Luchino Visconti, Italy, 1963)


“One of the greatest achievements of Italian cinema.” — David Stratton, who will introduce the screening on the stage of the Ritz’s magnificent Cinema One 


Based on Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s celebrated novel, the 4K restoration brings out every detail of the sumptuous production design, every glorious costume and every facial expression with a clarity previously unknown.  Remarkable performances by Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon. The near hour-long ball scene which concludes the film is its own epic depiction of a society whose end is near.  


At 3.30 PM Saturday 1 May

LE CORBEAU/THE RAVEN  (H-G Clouzot, France, 1943)


“…a superb noir thriller, starring the great Pierre Fresnay, about the corrosive effect of poison-pen letters in small French town. Made in 1943, it is to the Occupation what Renoir's La Règle du Jeu is to the years before the Second World War, a devastating allegory about the state of the nation as weak people betray friends and neighbours. Philip French, The Observer


At 1.15 PM Saturday 1 May

THREE IONE  (Cecil Holmes, Australia, 1953)


“a landmark in the development of the Australian cinema.” — Pike & Cooper, Australian Film 1900-1977

Cinema Reborn will be screening a beautiful, rarely-seen 35mm copy of Three in One from the NFSA collection. Three in One is three stories by Frank Hardy, Rex Rienits (adapting a Henry Lawson classic), and Ralph Peterson, each with linking introductions by actor John McCallum.


At 11.00 AM Saturday 1 May

AIMLESS BULLET (Yu Hyon-mok, South Korea, 1961)


Aimless Bullet masterfully captures the collective anxiety of post-war Korea… Banned shortly after its first screenings by the then military government, Aimless Bullet has now been painstakingly restored by the Korean Film Archive. Cinema Reborn’s screening will be the first for the restoration in Australia. 



There are tickets available to all sessions. You can book online (includes booking fee)  ON THE RITZ WEBSITE   or buy tickets at the Box Office from 10.00 am today. If you buy your tickets at the Box Office you can redeem the NSW Government Dine and Discover vouchers.



Cinema Reborn’s work is supported by a network of volunteers who freely give their time and service to select, manage, present and write about the annual event and its program. Donations to support this work are always welcome and our donors are listed in the printed catalogue providing they arrive before the print deadline this week. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation, no matter how small, or large, you may do so online through the Australian Cultural Fund. JUST CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS 

Thursday 29 April 2021

CINEMA REBORN - Friday 30 April at 6.30 pm at the Randwick Ritz - Four quick critical remarks on LE AMICHE (THE GIRLFRIENDS), Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy, 1955)

In the 1950s Antonioni made six feature films of which Le Amiche (1955) stands out for giving full rein to a developing aesthetic focusing on women who have lost their way amidst the anxieties of modern life. 

Jane Mills

In his fourth feature film, from 1955, Michelangelo Antonioni turns a glossy romantic melodrama of modern prosperity inside out to reveal the essence of modernity itself.

Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Having been made in 1955, Le Amiche  falls well before director Michelangelo Antonioni’s most vaunted period (the early 1960s), and isn’t nearly as esoteric as the work that followed. And certainly one could look at it and note aesthetic/thematic concerns of alienation, loneliness, and the impossibility of true human connection that would increasingly consume him, but as true as that may be, it does a disservice to a piece that is in and of itself magnificently accomplished and tremendously moving.

… The film’s title translate to “The Girlfriends” in English, which is a bit of quiet irony unusual for the time. The women in the film are friends insofar as they spend an awful lot of time together, confiding their thoughts and feelings, but Antonioni isn’t shy about exploring the gamesmanship and competitions prevalent in so many female friendships. It’s not that they don’t care about one another; they just care about themselves a little bit more.

Scott Nye

…what makes [Le amiche] so bracing -- so sad and, sometimes, so funny -- is that its heroines are fallible, flawed, vain and powerful, each in her own way. They often make one another miserable, but their company is always a pleasure.” 

A.O. Scott, New York Times

To book (includes booking fee) CLICK HERE

Tickets on sale at the Ritz box office from 10.00 am.  If you buy your tickets at the Box Office you can redeem the NSW Government Dine and Discover vouchers.



Cinema Reborn’s work is supported by a network of volunteers who freely give their time and service to select, manage, present and write about the annual event and its program. Donations to support this work are always welcome and our donors are listed in the printed catalogue providing they arrive before the print deadline this week. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation, no matter how small, or large, you may do so online through the Australian Cultural Fund. JUST CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Tuesday 27 April 2021

CINEMA REBORN - a few pointers, some thank you's, some recommendations - DESTRY RIDES AGAIN, THREE IN ONE, THE LEOPARD

James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Destry Rides Aagin

Cinema Reborn gets underway tomorrow night  Thursday 29th night at 6.30 pm when DESTRY RIDES AGAIN hits the Randwick Ritz screen in a brand new 4K restoration from Universal Pictures. The restoration was done under the supervision of Martin Scorsese’s World Film Foundation. Tickets are still available at regular Ritz Randwick prices and you can book IF YOU CLICK HERE (booking fee applies) or just walk up on the night.


…..and a special thanks to the enthusiastic staff at the Ritz who have recognised our festival with this special bit of business up in lights out the front.


….and again speaking of enthusiasts, a big thanks to David Tiley of Screen Hub for a terrific report on the prospects for the weekend and some recommendations. You can read his preview IF YOU CLICK HERE



…and another heartfelt thanks to Cinema Reborn’s two key institutional supporters the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia and Italian Institute of Culture in Sydney.  The NFSA is supplying us not merely the 35mm print of Cecil Holmes 50s classic THREE IN ONE but a print in excellent condition that will show off Ross Wood’s remarkable black and white photography to its full effect. Some people are coming a long way to participate in what will be the film’s first theatrical screening in Sydney for decades, a unique opportunity given that the film has never been released on video or DVD, is not on a streaming service and hasn’t been screened on television for over fifty years. Special thanks to Cecil Holmes daughter Amanda Holmes Tzafrir for permission to have this rare screening.

Cecil Holmes with actor Sydney Cook during filming of 'I, the Aboriginal' at
Katherine River, Northern Territory, 1962.'

photo Sandra Lebrun Holmes,
'Faces in the Sun' autobiography. (Copyright Amanda Holmes Tzafrir)


The Italian Institute of Culture is supporting the screenings of the three Italian films in the 2021 selection  - THE LEOPARD by Luchino Visconti, LE AMICHE/THE GIRLFRIENDS by Michelangelo Antonioni and our first ever silent classic FILIBUS by Mario Roncoroni. The music for FILIBUS will be provided by the impeccable accompanist Donald Sosin on a specially recorded soundtrack


There are still tickets available to all ten sessions. You can book (includes booking fee) on ON THE RITZ WEBSITE   or buy tickets at the Box Office from 10.00 am each day. If you buy yoyur tickets at the Box Office you can redeem the NSW Government Dine and Discover vouchers.

Cinema Reborn’s work is supported by a network of volunteers who freely give their time and service to select, manage, present and write about the annual event and its program. Donations to support this work are always welcome and our donors are listed in the printed catalogue providing they arrive before the print deadline this week. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation, no matter how small, or large, you may do so online through the Australian Cultural Fund. JUST CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale, The Leopard

Sunday 25 April 2021

Streaming and on DVD - John Baxter revives memories of KEEPER OF THE FLAME (Dir: George Cukor, Sc:Donald Ogden Stewart, USA 1942)


Donald Ogden Stewart

      When people talk about films starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, they seldom mean the 1942 Keeper of the Flame. One might think that its stars, with George Cukor as director and screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart of Philadelphia Story famewould rate at least a small measure of respect. So complete has been its eclipse, however, that not even the most engagé Australian critics have risen to the fact that Ida Alexa Ross Wylie, author of the original novel, was Melbourne-born, and enjoyed a prominent public profile as both lesbian and suffragette. 

          The message of Keeper of the Flame was timely. In June 1941, twenty thousand people assembled at the Hollywood Bowl to hear isolationist Charles Lindbergh urge that America keep out of the war. Don Stewart, then president of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, the American League of Writers and the Anti-Franco League (“I loved being president,” he confessed once, with one of his cat-like smiles),was easily persuaded to join closet leftists Tracy and Hepburn in suggesting that a heroic figure like Lucky Lindy might become the figurehead of a Fascist takeover of the United States. In December of that year, Pearl Harbor rendered the argument irrelevant but in certain quarters commitment to the war remained grudging.

Katharine Hepburn

Wealthy, feted, the epitome of trivial humour, Stewart made an improbable leftist. He dated his transformation from 1936. That spring, he came, as usual, to London to refresh his wardrobe. He also did a little work. “I was writing a play and it had a Communist in it,” he said. “I didn’t have any idea of how tall Communists were, so I asked the doorman at Claridge’s, where we were staying, if he knew anything about Communism. He said ‘No, sir,’ but directed me to a book shop. I bought John Strachey’s The Coming Struggle for Power and read it going back on the boat. It was a revelation to me. When I got back to America, I started boring friends about Socialism. I knew I was boring them because I didn’t get invited to as many parties as I once had.”

At Hawes and Curtis, London’s best formal-wear shop, he had bought a dozen stiff shirts, a dozen soft evening shirts, and six black bow ties, in expectation of a lively season. “You know,” he told me, a little forlornly (and without, I’m sure, a grain of truth) “I still have a few of those shirts? They’re a bit yellow, but mostly unworn.”  

         The premiere of Keeper of the Flame at New York’s Radio City Music Hall didn’t go well. “I’m told Louis B. Mayer stormed out,” Stewart said. “I certainly hope it’s true.” Those who stayed were troubled by a niggling sense of déjà vu. After a newsreel documenting the death of a significant figure in American public life, reporters gather for the funeral at his grim walled estate, while a lone journalist sets out to investigate his secret life. Hadn’t they seen all this before?  For once, Hedda Hopper seemed to have got it right when she called it “Citizen Kane with all the art scraped off." 

         There’s still plenty of art to go around, though not of the Wellesian variety. Cinematographer William Daniels shuns the flamboyance of Gregg Toland, opting for the high-key formalism he did so much to perfect in his films for Garbo. Shot entirely on interiors, Keeper of the Flame is MGM precision incarnate, investing its characters with the same immobility as the furniture that fills the mansion’s vast rooms. 

Spencer Tracy

         Tracy as the reporter, Hepburn as the widow and Richard Whorf as the dead man’s secretary navigate the decor as formally as chess pieces, with Hepburn, often dressed in soft draped white, as the omnipotent queen.  If she’s the queen, the treacherous Whorf, oleaginous and peremptory by turns, is a side-sliding bishop, while Tracy, hat brim so sharply turned down as to resemble a visor, and tending always to the awkward and oblique move, must be the knight.  In that capacity, he woos the widow into a confession that she let her husband drive over a demolished bridge rather than let him take the first steps in a coup d’etat.    

Richard Whorf, Katharine Hepburn  

         Cukor directs in Gaslight mode, but rather than Charles Boyer lowering over a shuddering Ingrid Bergman, Tracy, soft-eyed and low-voiced, sits at the knee of Hepburn as she stares over his head, eyes glowing with the receding glory of her dead hero. Bronislau Kaper’s discreet score is no match for such images. They demand Wagner. 

          RKO owned the novel first, and planned a modest thriller more in keeping with its discreet political subtext; something for Robert Mitchum or Joel McCrea perhaps, and Laraine Day. With memories, however, of Citizen Kane, the rock that sank the regime of George Schaefer, they willingly relinquished it to MGM, where folie de grandeur stalked the halls. Producer Victor Saville, recently arrived from Britain, had less to do with the film than Tracy, Hepburn and Stewart, who seized the reins and confidently directed it to the left.  

         Cukor didn’t argue. The film was made, he said later, "during a period of undercover Fascism in the country. Certain things were in the air but hadn’t come out into the open. I suppose, to draw attention to them, we exaggerated." He, like Tracy and Hepburn, could afford to, since his value to MGM rendered him fireproof, but Stewart’s career never recovered. In 1950, he fled, blacklisted, to England – “not caught,” he said with rueful precision, “but caught up with.” Among his numerous credits, this was the one of which he was most proud. A keeper of the flame to the last.         

Friday 23 April 2021

On Blu-ray - David Hare is enthralled all over again by Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell in BROADWAY MELODY OF 1940

The screen above is from the opening of the six minute Cole Porter "Begin the Beguine" sequence, one of several breathtaking numbers in Broadway Melody of 1940. (Youtube links below).

Here Eleanor Powell heads the figurative mass blocking of white in the frame, with chorus and giant stage, until she dances backwards adagio tempo towards the dim figure of Fred Astaire, immersed in black, then the image shifts from white, to black, day to night, solo to duet. After the first three minutes of lyrics sung and tapped by Powell and chromatic tonality the number shifts from the giant sets into a dazzling tap duet from the two. It’s a great shame this was the only movie to pair Astaire with Powell.
In creative visual response to Porter's great tune, and the Alfred Newman scoring I think the principle genius behind the staging and imagination for all these amazing production numbers essentially goes to Metro Production Design king, Cedric Gibbons. There's really no credit for choreography, and one suspects the hand of Berkeley if only for the mass chorus, and hallucinatory travelling shots with cross cutting. But the only dance credit recorded is Bobby Connolly. The problem always arises in dissecting who's done what in any picture directed by a Metro hack like Norman Taurog. I suspect some credit for the shape and feel of these dance sequences might go to editor Blanche Sewell, and Adrian for possibly more than gowns, as well as Gibbons’ underling, Edwin Willis.
In any case the movie is all about the dances and their flights into delirium with a killer Cole Porter repertoire.
This is the sort of glory you get from an industry in which a nobody (in terms of talent) officially directs the picture but the machinery behind the credits (and sometimes on the credits as it was later with the Freed Unit) delivers these masterpieces. Cocteau surely pinched the mirrors and black/white duality of Orphee from this number which he would only have been able to see after the war and the occupation of course. Watch the second half in which Powell and Astaire riff a long duet including the most subtle "challenge tap" in the history of the musical. She was a flawless dancer on her own and with him she's his equal. Everything she is in worth watching.

The picture has been released from a new 4K scan of some parlous quality elements from Warner Archive Blu-ray. It looks and sounds glorious, once again. Jo Ruttenberg's glistening photography with crane and track is to die for.

 CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FIRST PART of this magnificent sequence.When Powell steps into the blackness with the camera floating up with her, you’re in a Cocteau Dream. Then Astaire comes towards her but it’s his reflection in another wall of mirrors, and he enters the frame from the left! It’s completely dazzling.

CINEMA REBORN - In a Sentence - Eleven critics, scholars and film-makers give succinct recommendations on the program + Our Trailer on YouTube

Before you read the critics below start with a YouTube viewing of our Trailer by clicking here

One sentence quotes from eleven critics, scholars and film-makers about the Cinema Reborn 2021 program


DESTRY RIDES AGAIN (Thursday 29 April at 6.30 pm)

“…a convergence of high period Studio system talent, notably Pasternak as producer, Marshall as master director of multiple genres (including the musical numbers composed by Friedrich Hollaender for Dietrich in the picture) and the sheer tonal sophistication of the screenplay mark Destry as a both an innovator and a “classic” (David Hare)


LE AMICHE/THE GIRLFRIENDS (Friday 30 April at 6.30 pm)

Le amiche is, above all, impossible to stop watching.(Jane Mills)


AIMLESS BULLET (Saturday 1 May at 11.00 am)

Probably no other film ever screened in this festival more deserves the word “reborn” than Yu Hyunmok’s Aimless Bullet from 1961. (Tony Rayns)


THREE IN ONE (Saturday 1 May at 1.15 pm)

Although rarely screened, Three in One is one of the most singular, significant and impressive features made in Australian between World War II and the film revival of the 1970s.(Adrian Danks)


LE CORBEAU (Saturday 1 May at 3.30 pm)

Clouzot builds up a feeling of foreboding not entirely unlike that to be found now in Nordic noir. (Mark Thomas)


THE LEOPARD (Saturday 1 May at 5.45 pm) 

The concluding 45-minute ballroom scene is both rapturous and mesmerizing, one of the finest set pieces in the history of the cinema.(Rod Bishop)


THE JUNIPER TREE (Sunday 2 May at 11.00 am)

Beyond the pleasures of watching a young, "undiscovered" Bjork perform, the film has so much more to offer in the way of story, cinematography, and—my god—the sound! (Angeline Gragasin) +


SHADOW PANIC (Sunday 2 May at 11.00 am)

It pays homage to surrealism with every shot and director Margot Nash and cinematographer Sally Bongers deserve accolades for the startling beauty of the pictures (Gillian Leahy)


FILIBUS (Sunday 2 May at 2.00 pm

Watching Filibus now, being immersed in its astonishingly vibrant colours, can feel like viewing a cinematic singularity. (Susan Potter)


FOUR FILMS FROM CAAMA (Sunday 2 May at 4.00 pm)

I have often argued that these CAAMA titles represent the most exciting body of documentary filmmaking in Australia over the last few years.  (Andrew Pike)


CRISS CROSS (Sunday 2 May at 6.30 pm)

Stands with mainstream films noirs like Double Indemnity (1944), Detour (1945), Out of the Past (1947), Gun Crazy (1950), The Big Heat (1953), Kiss Me Deadly (1955), andTouch of Evil (1958), at the apex of the canon.(Bruce Hodsdon)





If you are you may care to meet up with some fellow travellers and friends of Cinema Reborn over lunch on Friday 30 April. It starts at 12.30 and is at one of Sydney’s best kept secrets, RK San  at 462 Cleveland St Surry Hills. It offers contemporary Japanese cooking. The price is $50 pp all-inclusive. Website is

RSVP to is essential by Wednesday 28 April.


CINEMA REBORN is managed and presented entirely an enthusiastic group of volunteers and supporters, presenters and writers. You can assist their work by making a tax-deductible donation OF ANY AMOUNT LARGE OR SMALL via the Australian Cultural Fund. For more information or to make a donation CLICK HERE 

Thursday 22 April 2021

SEVEN BEAUTIES: Lina Wertmuller at the Randwick Ritz (4) - Bruce Isaacs introduces LOVE AND ANARCHY (Italy, 1973)


Before I start, I want to acknowledge the Bidgigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional owners of the land on which the Ritz Cinema is on and pay my respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. 




I’ve so greatly enjoyed thinking about Wertmüller’s Love and Anarchy for this event, and so I want to thank Jane Mills for her invitation, and for allowing me to be part of all of this. I also want to commend the Ritz and Cinema Reborn for supporting these retrospectives, which are just such an important part of making film histories visible and meaningful.


Lina Wertmüller’s Love and Anarchy


The film has a very long and playful subtitle, which is a hallmark of Wertmüller’s cinema – and I’ll leave you to discover that in the opening credits. Like the best auteur cinema, Love and Anarchy is inextricably connected to its filmmaker. And Wertmüller has a special place in cinema because she’s part of that astonishing wave of great Italian art cinema of the 70s – consider Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard (1963) or Federico Fellini’s Amarcord (1973), two of my favourite films. But alongside these grand auteurs, Wertmüller has been called iconoclastic, radical, a radical feminist – a subversive stylist – and an all-round prickly filmmaker. There’s a lovely moment at the 2019 Oscars during which she received an Honorary Award. In her acceptance, again, playfully, but with some meaning, I think, in light of the fullness of her career, she suggests that she wishes to change the name “Oscar’ to a feminine name. And the audience laughs. But it’s a powerful moment and declaration, particularly at the point of commemorating an entire career.


Love and Anarchy was released in 1973, and at the height of Wertmüller’s stature as a director. It also returned to themes that had been central to her earlier works. The film is set just before the start of World War II, during the fascist reign of Mussolini. And that time period is crucial, because setting the film in this time and place establishes a lineage to other great Italian films, such as, for example, Roberto Rossellini’s Open City (1945), or in fact the entire canon of Italian neo-realist films that had influenced Wertmüller. You could also situate a film like Pasolini’s Salo (1975), released only a couple of years after Love and Anarchy, within this Italian cinematic tradition. So from the outset of Love and Anarchy, there is an explicit identification with an Italian political cinema of the 1940s and onward, and the fascist-era setting (and the tragi-comedy of the political hijinks), marks the enormous ambition of this film.

Giancarlo Giannini (3rd from left), Love and Anarchy


Wertmüller has been described by critics and theorists as a “knee-jerk” or unsubtle feminist and political commentator. Her movies are melodramatic, excessive, broad, often “messy” – which is Jane Mills’s fantastic term (one of the curators of this festival) that so aptly describes Wertmüller’s body of work. It is true that Love and Anarchy is largely set in a brothel, that its main characters are, in some sense, caricatures or larger than life figures. There is a fantastically playful sequence in which Wertmüller’s camera captures the energy of the brothel in a dazzling array of shots, frenetic cuts, weirdly subversive framings, and so on. Even the film’s style is excessive, or exaggerated, at times messy. 

Mariangela Melato, Eros Pagni, Love and Anarchy

And yet what remains resonant about Love and Anarchy is that Wertmüller seems as interested in the ribald discussion of the goings-on in the brothel as she is in the anti-fascist resistance to Mussolini as she is in the broad satirizing of the hyper-masculinity of Patoletti (played by Eros Pagni) – in a gloriously excessive performance. My sense, therefore, of the achievement of Love and Anarchy, and the real pleasure of spending some time with it, is that, despite what many critics view as its crudeness as a political statement (with which I disagree), or a genre film, or a melodramatic farce, or a feminist treatise – that there remains such a poignancy and passion in the drama itself. And what I love about the film is that Wertmüller never sacrifices the elegance and beauty of this drama for the clarity of an overarching political message.  In my opinion, such an emphasis on a transparent political agenda would severely diminish the film. And Love and Anarchy is a very rich film indeed. 


Bruce Isaacs is Associate Professor  of Film Studies, Department of Art History | Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

The next film in the Lina Wertmuller season  at the Randwick Ritz is Swept Away (1974)  AT 4.00 PM ON SUNDAY 25 APRIL

For bookings JUST CLICK HERE


Wednesday 21 April 2021

On Blu-ray - Rod Bishop welcomes a restoration of NONE SHALL ESCAPE (Andre De Toth, USA, 1944)


De Toth’s sixth feature and his second for Columbia opens at the end of WW2 when a “War Crimes Commission” puts a Nazi officer on trial for crimes against humanity.

In flashback we learn of the life of Wilhelm Grimm (Alexander Knox), once a German teacher in the village of Lidzbark before WW1. Having lost a leg during the war, he returns to Poland angrily denouncing the Versailles Treaty. Through the 1920s and 1930s he develops a devotion to Nazism, is elevated to the SS and becomes the Reich Commissioner for the Western Region of Poland after the German invasion.

Back in Lidzbark, his behaviour is cruel and violent. The war crimes Grimm commits include massacring Jewish villagers who are being forced onto a train headed for concentration camps. The Rabbi who addresses them makes it clear they will be extermination camps.

Alexander Knox (second from left), None Shall Escape

Cinematic value aside, the most striking feature of this war drama is its dates. 

Released in the USA in February 1944, producer Samuel Bischoff reportedly had the idea for the film back in 1942 when Roosevelt announced the Allies were gathering evidence of Nazi war crimes.

None Shall Escape was on American screens 17 months before the end of WW2 and was in production two years before the start of the Nuremburg Trials in November 1945. 

Some have used the film as evidence the Americans - if not all the Allies - knew of the extermination camps long before Patton’s army uncovered the crimes during their drive towards Berlin.

Written by Lester Cole who was destined to be blacklisted as a member of HUAC’s Hollywood Ten, De Toth’s film has recently had a 4K restoration and Lee Garmes’s sparkling chiaroscuro-influenced black and white cinematography seems just as distinctive as it was on Morocco and Shanghai Express.

None Shall Escape - a surprisingly clear-eyed predictor of the Holocaust from the heart of Hollywood.