It’s true what they say about Chicago – it IS one hell of a town. Specifically one hell of a film town. I am still dumbstruck that I was invited to introduce two Ann Dvorak films on consecutive nights at two different movie palaces in the Windy City. On both nights I was welcomed with open arms by appreciative classic film fans and even managed to sell a few books.
First up was The Strange Love of Molly Louvain at the Patio Theatre in the Portage Park neighborhood. The screening was sponsored by the Northwest Chicago Film Society who secured a restored 35mm print from the Library of Congress, which was gorgeous. Around 250 people showed up, and it was exciting to see this film on the big screen for the first time with an appreciative crowd. The only damper on the evening was that this was the last screening at the Patio for the foreseeable future, as the owners are having trouble maintaining the operating costs.
Night two brought us to the Pickwick Theatre in the suburb of Park Ridge for Scarface, sponsored by the Park Ridge Classic Film Series. At least 100 people came to this gorgeous theatre to watch this 1932 classic. This was the third or forth time I have seen the gangster flick on the big screen and it never gets old. Even though I have seen Scarface countless times over the years, I never made the connection that the play Muni and his gang are watching shortly before gunning down Boris Karloff in a bowling alley is Rain. As I’ve noted before, Howard Hughes made every attempt to secure the film rights for Rain in order to have Ann Dvorak star as Sadie Thompson. It didn’t pan out and Joan Crawford ended up with the role. I’m not sure if this was something Hughes requested of director Howard Hawks or if it were just a coincidence.
I need to extend my sincere gratitude to Kyle Westphal of the Northwest Chicago Film Society and Matthew C. Hoffman of the Park Ridge Classic Film Series. They were the ones responsible for pulling the two nights together and were incredibly hospitable to me and my family. Kyle and Matthew were at both screenings, handled logistics and took care of the book sales. Chicago film fans are very lucky to have these two!
Over the course of the two nights, I was able to meet up with old friends and new ones and it was wonderful to see so much attention focused on Ann Dvorak. As if the screenings themselves were not grand enough, me and the family had a blast at the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Adler Planetarium, many pizza places and a productive weekend for my husband at the C2E2 convention.
I have to admit it was difficult to leave such a beautiful city, though the 80+ degree temperatures in Los Angeles were a nice welcome home present. Just in case you missed them, I did interviews all about Ann-D over at the Chicago Reader and the Cine-File blog.
Thanks a bunch Chicago!