Midcentury Madness ’22
First show: September 24
MIDCENTURY MADNESS ’22
PART 15-16 of 16 • The Early Years of Elio Petri and Arturo de Córdova: Always on the Brink
Not content to simply keep breaking ground with his FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT series, Midcentury Productions‘ head honcho Don Malcolm is presenting 32 ultra-rare mid-century films (what else?) from around the world in 16 double features—an ongoing event unlike anything else.
Midcentury Madness ’22 concludes its singular excavation of forgotten films with a multinational excursion focusing on prescient examinations of flawed masculinity. The truism “boys will be boys” was never more aptly on display than in these four films, even if the phrase “even when they should be men” is (as is so often the case) intentionally omitted! Italian director Elio Petri and Mexican actor Arturo de Córdova specialized in films that capture an astonishing range of male dysfunction, perhaps proving that “the more things change…”
EARLY ELIO PETRI: THE ASSASSIN + HIS DAYS ARE NUMBERED
Elio Petri is remembered almost exclusively for INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION, his 1970 film that earmarked him as a kind of Italian counterpart of Costa-Gavras, but there is much more to his oeuvre—and there is no better place to start than at the beginning. THE ASSASSIN / L’ASSASSINO (1961, Italy, 83 min) takes the tricks turned by Godard in BREATHLESS and gives them ironic resonance, anchored by a masterful performance from Marcello Mastroianni as an antiques dealer-cum-gigolo who suddenly finds himself accused of murdering his wealthy mistress (Micheline Presle). Petri makes it clear from the start that even a life-changing experience is not necessarily enough to make an overgrown boy grow up.
In HIS DAYS ARE NUMBERED / I GIORNI CONTATI (1962, Italy, 98 min), Salvo Randone (the wily, world-weary cop from THE ASSASSIN) creates a fascinating character living through a mid-life crisis that stems from seeing a man his own age turn up dead on a bus in downtown Rome. Will his recognition of life’s random ironies transform him, or will he discover that the desperation he suddenly sees around him is impossible to comprehend? Randone, the unlikeliest of all male leads, gives a towering performance as Cesare, a plumber with no depths to plumb…
ARTURO DE CÓRDOVA: RED FISH + THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE
For nearly four decades, Mexican actor Arturo de Córdova was a bankable star on “the Latin circuit” (Spain, Mexico, Argentina). His strong intimations of obsession, jealousy, and madness were his calling cards in an on-screen persona that captured seemingly infinite gradations of masculine excess. It’s only fitting that a series like MIDCENTURY MADNESS should conclude with two ultra-rare examples of de Cordova’s affinity for “men on the brink.”
In RED FISH / LOS PESCES ROJOS (Spain, 1955, 100 min) and THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE / EL HOMBRE SIN ROSTRO (Mexico, 1950, 91 min) he plays mama’s boys driven to fantasy and fabrication that border on the supernatural. In the former, he’s a would-be novelist whose greatest fiction is invented to trick his way into an inheritance; in the latter, he’s a police investigator haunted by dreams that strongly suggest he’s suppressing his own past, leading to a set of horrific and surreal revelations. Both films are gloriously overwrought and filled with flashbacks, demonstrating that the narrative virus of film noir was even more potent (and downright queasy!) in the hands of international directors. Come see why the “Latin circuit” anointed de Córdova as their “go-to guy” for toxic masculinity!
☇ Join the MidCentury Productions mailing list for more info & our upcoming schedule.
Midcentury Madness '22: Upcoming Showtimes