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UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program presen

Celebrating William Cameron Menzies

March 26, 2016 - 7:30 pm

These vintage Archive restorations offer early examples of the revolutionary artistry of William Cameron Menzies, famed as a pioneering production designer, and a director of visually striking and interpretive pictures.  Early in his career, before the concept of elevated "production design" had come to the movies, Menzies enlivened the screen with production plans that animated dramatic situations through line, volume and light (as well as darkness), raising the bar for American filmmaking of visual impact. 

This evening's program coincides with the publication of James Curtis' book, William Cameron Menzies: The Shape of Films to Come.  Curtis will be on hand to sign copies of his book at this screening.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and George Eastman House,with funding provided by the AFI/NEA Preservation Grants Program.

Tempest  (1928)

William Cameron Menzies received his first Academy Award for Art Direction for two 1928 pictures; one of them, this depiction of a Russian peasant who ascends to power within the Tsar's Army, then joins the Bolshevik revolution, while romancing an imperious princess.  Menzies' extensively researched and evocative designs gave the film a formal beauty and unity that belied its turbulent production circumstances, drawing praise from admiring star John Barrymore.

35mm, b/w, silent, 105 min.  Production: Joseph M. Schenck Productions; Feature Productions, Inc.  Distribution: United Artists Corp.  Director: Sam Taylor.  Screenwriter: C. Gardner Sullivan.  Cinematographer: Charles Rosher.  Editor: Allen McNeil.  With: John Barrymore, Camilla Horn, Louis Wolheim, Boris de Fas, George Fawcett.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive from a 35mm nitrate print from the collection of Raymond J. Bungard,in cooperation with the Hemingway Western Studies Center at Boise State University,with funding provided by the AFI/NEA Preservation Grants Program.

The Bat  (1926)

Credited with "settings" in this moody crime thriller about the eponymous master criminal "The Bat," William Cameron Menzies indeed set the pulpy mystery story, familiar as a popular play, against a visually arresting world that could only be achieved in cinema.  Depicting a mansion of soaring, vaulted spaces sheathed in darkness, and nighttime cityscapes viewed from vertiginous rooftops, Menzies lent the film brooding atmosphere and stimulating graphic interest.

35mm, b/w, 86 min.  Production: Feature Productions, Inc.  Distribution: United Artists Corp.  Director: Roland West.  Based on the play The Bat by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood.  Screenwriter: Julien Josephson, Roland West.  Cinematographer: Arthur Edeson.  With: André de Beranger, Charles W. Herzinger, Emilly Fitzroy, Louise Fazenda, Arthur Houseman.