A wonderful series opens in Westwood this Friday evening, November 4th: Blonde Crazy: Joan Blondell.
The series will take place over seven evenings in November and December at UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater.
The majority of the films will be shown on 35mm, with four films on 16mm and one digital print.
Some of the screenings will be accompanied by Joan Blondell's home movies, which were donated to UCLA by the family of Blondell's second husband, Dick Powell.
The entire lineup is below. Click any hyperlinked title for reviews.
Opening night, November 4th, features a dynamite pre-Code triple bill consisting of BLONDIE JOHNSON (1933), BLONDE CRAZY (1931), and BIG CITY BLUES (1932).
Chester Morris (seen at right) is the leading man of BLONDIE JOHNSON, with James Cagney costarring in BLONDE CRAZY.
Matthew Kennedy, author of JOAN BLONDELL: A LIFE BETWEEN TAKES, will be present on opening night and is available to sign copies of the book. I reviewed it in 2013.
This Saturday, November 5th, features two more pre-Codes, THREE ON A MATCH (1932) and THREE BROADWAY GIRLS (1932). Bette Davis and Ann Dvorak costar in the first film, with Madge Evans and Ina Claire in the second title. (Update: Here's my post on seeing these movies.)
November 12th the Busby Berkeley musical DAMES (1934) will be screened, which costars Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler. It's followed by I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER (1934) with Pat O'Brien. (Update: Here is my post on DAMES and I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER.)
On the 16th the titles are STAND-IN (1937), also starring Leslie Howard, and the wonderful Berkeley musical FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933). (As a side note, I saw FOOTLIGHT PARADE at UCLA last June, and while watchable, if it's the same print it's not on a par with most of the prints screened at UCLA.)
On November 21st there's a fun comedy with Melvyn Douglas, THERE'S ALWAYS A WOMAN (1938), along with THE KING AND THE CHORUS GIRL (1937).
One of Blondell's finest performances was as Aunt Sissy in A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (1945), being shown on December 3rd. It's paired with the comedy THREE GIRLS ABOUT TOWN (1941) with Janet Blair.
Closing night on December 10th will feature just one title, from late in Blondell's career, OPENING NIGHT (1977), starring and directed by John Cassavetes.
Last week Kenneth Turan wrote about the Blondell series for the Los Angeles Times.
In closing, we are fortunate to have many classic film opportunities in Los Angeles. In addition to the opening of the Blondell series, this Friday night Southern Californians also have the opportunity to see one of the key film noir titles, CRISS CROSS (1949), at Union Station. The movie stars Burt Lancaster, Yvonne DeCarlo, and Dan Duryea, and it features great Los Angeles locations -- including inside Union Station! The screening will be hosted by Alan K. Rode of the Film Noir Foundation. (Update: Here is my post on a great night at Union Station.)