Chimes at Midnight
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To call Chimes at Midnight (aka Falstaff) Orson Welles’s crowning achievement is tantamount to naming it the greatest movie ever made.

The film never found a home on DVD — there’s a dupe pressing in circulation — making it next to impossible to see since its release in 1965. It’s been over 40 years since I saw the film in its entirety. I had access to a 16mm dupe with a muddled soundtrack, characteristic of every pressing. Years before home video became the main mode of exhibition, the chances of seeing the film again anytime soon weren’t promising. I spent a Sunday watching it three times and have been pining for another viewing ever since.

Video:

Chimes at Midnight

There’s a copy in my DVD library, but I can’t bring myself to watch a bootleg of a film that can’t possibly exist anywhere but on a giant theater screen. Thanks to Landmark’s Week of Film Classics at the Ken, we’ll all have a chance to see the film projected in its restored glory.

The series, running from April 1–7, showcases seven films commencing with the April Fool’s Day presentation of Mel Brooks’ Yiddish oater, Blazing Saddles, followed by Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (April 2), Chimes at Midnight (April 3), Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (for the umpteenth time on April 4), Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (for the zillionth time on April 5), Roman Polanski’s MacBeth (April 6), and the European cut of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (April 7).

Landmark was kind enough to forward a screener of Chimes. The ten minutes I watched on television looked like 3D compared to every pressing that’s come before. And for once I wasn’t straining to hear the dialog. You will not see anything in a theater this year (or for many years to come) that will rival the magnitude of this picture. Don’t miss it!

Landmark Ken

4061 Adams Avenue, Kensington

For showtimes and more information visit Landmark Theatres.

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Comments

dwbat March 30, 2016 @ 8:47 a.m.

It must have been excruciating for a genius like Welles to practice his craft, when Hollywood for the most part didn't appreciate him or his work. And to have him end up getting paid for appearing on Dean Martin's celebrity roasts on TV was sad. If you never saw "The Trial" (1962) starring Anthony Perkins, then try to find it. It's one of Welles' best. I was lucky enough to see it at a theater when it came out.

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SalULloyd March 30, 2016 @ 10:08 a.m.

And playing second fiddle to Merv Griffin or lending his wonderful voice, even at an advanced age, to a docu-ganda adaptation of dispensationalist fanatic Hal Lindsey's THE LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH, just to draw a paycheck!

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SalULloyd March 30, 2016 @ 10:10 a.m.

"Only in a police state is police work easy." -- TOUCH OF EVIL (1958)

With this week's developments on the FBI-Apple i phone conflict, this line has NEVER been more prescient. Orson Welles, pioneer filmmaker, social prophet.

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Scott Marks March 30, 2016 @ 11:02 a.m.

Fellas, you force my hand. "Ma, haaa, the Freeeeench chammm...pagne!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFevH5vP32s

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SalULloyd March 30, 2016 @ 10:54 p.m.

Yeah, and that couple, they seem catatonic!!!

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dwbat April 4, 2016 @ 1:49 p.m.

I can imagine that he's thinking: "Jeez, can we get this #)%[email protected]^ spot done, so I can get my ~&(*) check? And I've drunk better pee than this so-called Champagne."

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AmazingLarry April 4, 2016 @ 12:58 p.m.

Sparse in means, rich in artistry. It was a tremendously fine if strange event Sunday, to see Chimes shown at last again, nearest how it was meant to be seen. Near enough, but funny to hear a member for the small audience remark how many showed up. How few, how few know how to be truly entertained anymore...

Welles was never really in step with what most audiences or the hacks in charge wanted at the time. Even when promoting peas:

Director 2: Can you emphasize a bit "in"? "In July".

Welles: Why? That doesn't make any sense. Sorry. There's no known way of saying an English sentence in which you begin a sentence with "in" and emphasize it. Get me a jury and show me how you can say "in July" and I'll ... go down on you. That's just idiotic, if you'll forgive me by saying so."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frozen_Peas

Uneasy lies the head that knows of a remote farm in Lincolnshire.

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Scott Marks April 5, 2016 @ 7:31 p.m.

You're such pests! I took in the 2pm show. There were more people in attendance than I'd seen at The Ken in years. If ever a film demanded the big screen treatment, it's this one. The first shots of Falstaff – those tight, fisheye closeups – hog the frame in every way. Throughout the course of the film, Welles gradually pulls back until this giant of a man is but a dot on the horizon. I wish the Angelika would give it an extended run. I'd love to see it again.

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dwbat April 5, 2016 @ 8:47 p.m.

There's a superb film to see if you've never seen it: A Man for All Seasons (1966). It won a ton of awards, including six Oscars. Welles had a supporting role, Cardinal Wolsey. When he's onscreen, he's Welles at full blast. Rent or buy it!

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