“Don’t let it be forgot that once there was a spot for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.”
This favorite line of President Kennedy juxtaposes the creation of a utopia with the ubiquitous troubles of maintaining those ideals by imperfect mortals — who, inevitably, can never escape the pitfalls of human nature. Camelot asks the question, Can mankind ever escape its worst enemy: itself?
The Lerner and Loewe musical Camelot was brought to the screen in 1967 with a booming budget to provide grand, sweeping sets and costumes that breathe cinematic life into this well-known medieval tale of knights, chivalry, politics, and forbidden love.
Vanessa Redgrave, Richard Harris, and Franco Nero shine as the mythic characters of Guenevere, King Arthur, and Sir Lancelot. Their complex relationship is intertwined with the creation of a utopian round table government and kingdom — that is ultimately brought down by the actions of those who most believed in it.
The musical is a stage classic, and the film provides what the stage cannot: massive sets and costumes that stun the eyes while bringing you into director Joshua Logan’s vision of Camelot. Catchy songs are at times jaunty (“What Do the Simple Folk Do?”) while others simmer with the indescribable pain reserved only for love that is as powerful as it is doomed to destroy anyone it touches (“I Loved You Once In Silence”).
Themes of just governing systems were particularly relevant during the film’s Vietnam War era release, and these themes continue to remain relevant as contemporary notions of democracy remain tested and retested in modern times.
Children will enjoy the songs and scenes — but they may also note the familiarity of Richard Harris who, decades after playing King Arthur, brought a special magic to his portrayal of Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films. Potter aficionados may also enjoy the political philosophy discussions present in both Harry Potter and Camelot regarding the best use of ‘might’ in enforcing ‘right’.
The movie opens at the close, with King Arthur surveying the tragic conclusion of decisions gone awry. His magical mentor Merlin urges him to look back to the beginning.
Arthur and Guenevere meet and find love in the songs “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood” and “Camelot.” King Arthur creates a political ideal with timeless symbolism that is as applicable now as the decades and centuries prior: a democratic round table governance, where men can come together to share ideas without a single ruler at the head.
Word spreads, bringing French knight Lancelot to Camelot. While most do not trust his boastful swagger (“C’est Moi”), Arthur and Lancelot quickly form a nearly impenetrable bond. A love triangle emerges that threatens to undo the greatness King Arthur has created.
As the story climaxes to dark conclusions, an idealistic youth crosses paths with King Arthur. Perhaps all is not lost! Tom wishes to be a knight of the round table, espousing dedication to Arthur’s original ideas: “Not might ‘makes’ right, but might ‘for’ right.” Tom brings with him a spark of hope that Camelot may be a phoenix that will rise anew from its own ashes.
Join me as we welcome this beautiful movie back to the big screen as we continue our PIX Flix series this season. Also, remember to check out any of our social media for what’s coming up next at WCT or talk to one of the friendly house staff!
“Now, I have some instructions for you….” DON’T MISS THIS FILM!
I fear I am not a good enough writer to describe the myriad of reasons to come see Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, on February 11 at 6:30 p.m. I also don’t have enough room on the page.
Wikipedia tells us it is a 1967 American comedy-drama, starring film-legends Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy and is one of the few of that time to depict interracial marriage in a positive light. At the time of its release, laws prohibiting interracial marriage had only recently been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Frank Rich, in a 2008 New York Times article, noted that “[t]hough the film was a box-office smash and received 10 Oscar nominations, even four decades ago it was widely ridiculed as dated by liberal critics. The hero, played by the first black Hollywood superstar, Sidney Poitier, was seen as too perfect and too ‘white’.” But, according to director Stanley Kramer, the film was intentionally structured to debunk ethnic stereotypes and purposely created idealistically perfect, so that the only possible objection to him would be his race, or the brevity of the 10-day engagement. This factor lends itself to the concerns of both sets of parents: the lack of thought and consideration to what a mix-race marriage would mean.
While a victim of its times, with all the clichés and what some will find politically-incorrect positions, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner transcends the shallow, ridicule-filled approach of today’s films, with a subtle, empathetic and non-judgmental recognition of the very real, and very personal, struggles of all its characters. Though it may have all of the flaws its critics claim, it is still a great film that recognizes that there is always more than a single layer or motivation behind our behavior and portrays this internal deliberation with sensitivity and understanding. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of scenes where blatant racism is called out and ridiculed, not the least of which is Hepburn’s surgeon-like extraction of her snoopy, ill-mannered employee.
For me, the beauty of this film is not the obvious. It is not the crackling dialog addressing the issue of race in a way few movies of its time dared, but rather, it is the study of two mature marriages and the generational conflict of a father and son. Both concepts are portrayed throughout the film, but most beautifully by Beah Richards as she reproaches Spencer Tracy’s character in the most dignified and heartfelt scene in the movie, juxtaposed artfully with Poitier’s angry, yet loving, discussion with his father’s character about their difference in self-image and what it means to him as a man.
In 2017, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” It was the winner of the Best Screenplay Oscar and gave Hepburn her second Oscar for Best Actress. It is the last time Hepburn/Tracy were on screen together and indeed, the last film of Tracy’s career – he died just days after its release and it was questionable he would even complete filming. Hepburn and Tracy may be the main dishes of this fantastic meal, but delicious performances by Poitier, Beah Richards, Isabel Sanford (best known for her role as Weezy in the T.V. sitcom The Jeffersons) and Cecil Kellaway make for a banquet to be savored. Just as a fine chef layers flavor upon flavor to achieve a culinary masterpiece, Kramer and the all-star cast serve up a multi-layered film that makes us not only laugh and cry, but critically consider our biases and relationships.
Will you be coming?!
To Kill A Mockingbird could easily borrow a line from Dickens that said… “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This cinematic classic is based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel about innocence, strength and conviction. Experience one of the most significant milestones in film history…nominated for 8 Academy Awards and starring screen legend Gregory Peck as courageous Southern lawyer Atticus Finch. Peck’s Academy Award winning performance was hailed by the American Film Institute as the greatest movie hero of all time.
There are so many life lessons to be taken from this classic story…from Scout’s perspectives on growing up as seen through adult eyes as Jean Louise narrates the story. It truly is “the best of times” as we witness the adventures of Scout, Jem and Dill and they dare to discover the legend of Boo Radley. Through Atticus’ wisdom the children learn that “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”
As the story develops “the worst of times” is portrayed when an angry mob attempts to take Tom Robinson from the safety of the jail…only to be stood down by Atticus and Scout in the end. The angry hatred and racism incited by Bob Ewell toward Tom Robinson leading up to and throughout the trial provide some intensely dramatic moments.
The highlight of my 40 plus year community theatre acting career has to be delivering Atticus’ closing argument monologue in defense of Tom Robinson. Very powerful and emotional even now as I reflect on that scene.
This is one of my personal all time favorite movies. However, my affection for the movie begins with the classic novel and stage play. As I pen this blog I am drinking coffee from a mug that says…
What would Atticus do?
A present from the young actress who played Scout onstage at WCT in November 2016. It was truly a blessing and honor to portray Atticus finch with an amazing ensemble cast. I will always remember the final scene of the stage play when looking across the stage to see young Scout returning home from escorting Boo Radley and making brief eye contact with the adult Jean Louise as it becomes clear to her that Atticus knew that she was “already beginning to stand in other peoples’ shoes!”
Please join us on Monday, January 7 at 6:30 pm, sit back and enjoy every classic minute of this cinematic treasure as we present…
Board Of Directors
After over 40 years, this action packed thriller still keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. North By Northwest is the best expression of one of Hitchcock’s favorite themes: the wrong man. The wrong man theme puts an everyman into an impossible situation. Cary Grant plays Roger O. Thornhill, an ad executive from New York who is mistaken for secret agent George Kaplan. Thornhill gets kidnapped by Phillip Vandamm (James Mason), who tries to kill him. Through the many twist and turns that the movie takes Cary Grant, as usual, is very debonair, sophisticated and believable in his approach to this character. I believe that North By Northwest is Grant’s most celebrated performance. This role lets him play many different character types: hero, clown, victim, drunkard, and – the part that he always plays best – the romantic lead. Grant is in almost every scene and he owns the screen, whether he is being seduced by Eve Kendall or chased by Phillip Vandamm or the CIA.
Eva Marie Saint as Eve Kendall is also very believable in her part. She is sexy, mysterious and dangerous. She keeps us guessing in each different scene, who her character really is. James Mason is also brilliant in his role as the villain. Mason also has a very sophisticated, charming air about him that even competes with Grant. Jessie Royce Landis is very funny as Cary Grant’s mother. Truly, Grant is the star of this show, but everyone in the show shines in their parts.
The crop dusting scene is my personal favorite in the film. Our hero in the show, Roger Thornhill finds himself attacked by a machine-gun-equipped crop dusting plane. It is one of the most remarkable scenes in film history. It has left me on the edge of my seat and holding my breath every time I watch the film. Although, all the scenes are impeccably done: the Mt. Rushmore visitor center scene, the drunk driving scene, the auction and the UN segment.
Hitchcock’s vision, Grant’s charm, and the rest of the casts’ truly brilliant performances makes this one film that you need to see. Join us on Monday, November 12th at 6:30 pm. See you at the PIX!
Board Of Directors
Who you gonna call? “Ghostsmashers.”
Well, I don’t know about you, but I am sure glad the original title didn’t stick for Ghostbusters. Who could forget the classic 1984 comedy featuring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis, of which Aykroyd conceived and later rewrote with Ramis. From the moment you hear the Ghostbusters theme song, which reached number one on the Billboard charts for three weeks straight, and see the iconic Ghostbusters logo, the movie grabs your attention and the characters keep you engaged with the story and make you smile with their witty comedy.
I remember being a teenager at the time and this being one of the most talked about comedies of the time. The movie was originally intended for an adult audience but the cast and crew were shocked to find that children were loving the film for its fun fantasy adventure of scientists battling supernatural threats with their innovative technology to track down and capture the ghosts and ghouls. This lead to a continuation of Ghostbusters as a successful 80’s Saturday morning cartoon then leading to the sequel in 1989 with the same beloved cast as the first.
So head on over to Waukesha Civic Theatre and grab your bag of popcorn on Monday, October 8 at 6:30 pm for some ghoulish delight from a great cast of characters. You will definitely get your fill of laughs, suspense, and heroic moments. There is even a love to hate antagonist figure that adds additional drama to the overall all battle of the rather unorthodox heroic Ghostbusters. Please get the word out and make our showing of Ghostbusters the highest-grossing PIX Flix film of all time just like Ghostbusters was the highest-grossing comedy of all time (until it was topped by Home Alone).
Board Of Directors
Bueller (Pause)…. Bueller (Pause).… stated in a monotone voice. One of the most often used quotes when someone mentions the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Come enjoy watching High School senior Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) show us how to skip school by faking an illness to enjoy a fun filled, adventurous day in Chicago with his pessimistic best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara). Ferris dances and sings to Twist and Shout fully enjoying his entire day while his sister, Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) and the school principal, Edward Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) fail at trying to find proof that Ferris is just playing hooky.
Even the people seen dancing (including the construction worker and the window washer) during the parade scene thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Originally, they had nothing to do with the film as they were simply dancing to the music being played during filming. Director John Hughes found it so humorous, that he told the camera operators to record it.
As quoted by Ferris Bueller on his day off, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it!” Don’t miss your chance to join us on June 11th at 6:30 to sit back and enjoy this funny comedy that will leave you wanting to dance your way out of the theater.
Dirty Dancing – A 31 Year Old Favorite
So if you’re looking for a movie to make you feel good, has toe tapping catchy music, sexy dancing, great acting and an awesome story line filled with a little spice and good girl falls for bad boy – Dirty Dancing is the film to see! Released in 1987, Dirty Dancing is one of the best dance/teen love movies ever made. It’s also the movie that catapulted the career of Swayze. Just three years later he went on to make the movie Ghost with Demi Moore (another awesome love story, but let’s stay focused!) Dirty Dancing is literally one of those movies you can watch again and again, and never get tired of it.
It’s been said that Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey had terrible chemistry off camera – but you’d never know that watching them on the big screen. The movie takes off when Baby Houseman and her family go on vacation to a resort in New York. After Baby meets the camp’s dance instructor, Johnny, and signs up for dance lessons…well, let’s just say sparks begin to fly. Some of the scenes between Johnny and Baby draw you in and leave a feeling of happy, sad, excitement – and might even make you think you could dance. There have been many movies made with music and dancing since 1987 – but none quite like Dirty Dancing. It’s in a category all by itself.
So bring a friend, relative or significant other to the Waukesha Civic Theatre to watch this nostalgic feel-good feature film. Future movies include The African Queen, Apollo 13, Rear Window, and the final PIX film feature – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. In addition, there are many Mainstage performances to choose from.
Come see Dirty Dancing on Monday, February 5th at 6:30 pm and have ‘the time of your life’! See you at the PIX!