Event box

Friday, April 5, 2024
7:30pm - 9:45pm
Billy Wilder Theater


Introduction by UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Darnell Hunt; Dennis Doros, Amy Heller, Milestone Films. Q&A with filmmaker Charles Burnett; film critic and KCRW The Treatment host Elvis Mitchell.

Admission is free. No advance reservations. Your seat will be assigned to you when you pick up your ticket at the box office.

The Lighter Side of Hearst Newsreels #1: “Air”

Our first newsreel segment covers some peculiar inventions in aviation, including a mechanical bird, a plane without propellers and a midget airplane. These are some truly wacky and inventive aerial creations that have to be seen to be believed.—Jeffrey Bickel 

Preservation funded by The Packard Humanities Institute. Preserved by The Packard Humanities Institute and the UCLA Film & Television Archive from 35mm nitrate and acetate negatives and positives. For this program, laboratory services provided by The Packard Humanities Institute with assistance from Audio Mechanics.and Simon Daniel Sound.

Hot Chocolate

U.S., 1942

Precursors to the modern-day music video, Soundies were produced throughout the 1940s to be played on coin-operated film jukeboxes found in bars, restaurants, bus terminals or anywhere people might gather. Thousands were made capturing rare performances by some of the decade’s biggest musical acts, making them extraordinary historical documents as well as toe-tapping entertainment. One of the jumpin’est is Hot Chocolate, featuring Duke Ellington and His Orchestra swinging “Cotton Tail” while the members of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers jitterbug in gravity-defying style. Bright and bold, this one’s liable to have you dancing in the aisles, too!—Paul Malcolm

35mm, b&w, 3 min. Director: Josef Berne. With: Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers.

Restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Packard Humanities Institute from a 16mm print. Laboratory services by The Packard Humanities Institute. Special thanks to the Library of Congress.

The Annihilation of Fish

U.S., 1999

West Coast restoration premiere

In a quiet Los Angeles boarding house, an unlikely romance develops between eccentrics Obadiah “Fish” Johnson (James Earl Jones) and Flower “Poinsettia” Cummings (Lynn Redgrave). Fish is newly released from a mental institution despite his regular physical wrestling matches with his demon, Hank. Poinsettia, prone to belting out arias from Madame Butterfly, contends with her own invisible partner, the ghost of the composer Giacomo Puccini, to whom she is engaged to be married. All this unfolds under the loving eye of the matron of the house, Mrs. Muldroone, played almost unrecognizably by Margot Kidder.

The seemingly outlandish setup by screenwriter/novelist Anthony C. Winkler may lead viewers to expect a slapstick comedy, but instead the film handles the issues of aging, mental illness and finding a life’s purpose with a gentle touch. The leads impress in the character-driven story, with an emotional and athletic performance from Jones as the widower Fish, and a bold but nuanced turn by Redgrave as the over-the-top Poinsettia.

Revered director Charles Burnett has had a prestigious career since his time in the Master of Fine Arts program at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Two of his acclaimed films have been placed on the National Film Registry: the “L.A. Rebellion” masterpiece Killer of Sheep (1978) — which was just ranked the 43rd Greatest Film of All Time in Sight and Sound — and the devilish family drama To Sleep with Anger (1990). Previously unreleased and unavailable on any home video format, The Annihilation of Fish is ripe for discovery as a worthy volume in Burnett’s impressive oeuvre. It is due to the persistence of Dennis Doros of Milestone Films, who pursued the rights for 19 years, that audiences will finally be able to experience this charming and poignant film.—Jillian Borders

DCP, color, 102 min. Director: Charles Burnett. Screenwriter: Anthony C. Winkler. With: Lynn Redgrave, James Earl Jones, Margot Kidder.

Restoration funded by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. Restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Film Foundation in collaboration with Milestone Films from the 35mm original picture and track negatives. Laboratory services by Roundabout Entertainment, Inc., FotoKem, Audio Mechanics, Simon Daniel Sound. Special thanks to Charles Burnett, John Demps, Dennis Doros, Amy Heller.

Event Organizer

Suzy Lee