Jay Allen Sanford 11 a.m., Feb. 14
Film Forum: Gabriel Over the White House
With the presidency secured, Judson Hammond (Walter Huston) counted on weathering his four-year term by playing the part of a glad-handing finger-pointer. Fate had other plans, including a horrible car wreck with Hammond at the wheel. (It’s pre-code, thus no mention made of the fates of his three fellow passengers.) There came a point in the evolution of special effects when all that was needed to signal a spiritual presence entering a room — in this case, the unseen titular Archangel — was a rustle-inducing fan aimed at the drapery. Hammond’s transformation from partisan hack to proto-fascist demagogue manifests itself in three manners: a terminally mussed-up comb-over, satchels penciled under the eyes, and an overriding desire to revoke the Constitution while charting a road to dictatorship. The comparisons between Hammond and Orange 45 are chilling, but tough though it may be, resist the temptation of reading too much into a film released years before “Individual 1” was even born. Directed by staunch Depression-era chronicler Gregory LaCava (My Man Godfrey). Kudos to Film Forum’s Ralph DeLauro for unearthing this timely gem. — Scott Marks
- When: Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Cost: Free