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PIX Flix Spotlight On The Staff: The Sting

The Set-Up.

It’s the best movie of 1973 — the Academy says so. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Score bring its total Oscar wins to seven, with three more nominations (Best Actor for Robert Redford, Cinematography, and Best Sound) to boot. And what a film! It’s got everything: charismatic leads, despicable villains, a charming supporting cast of connivers and swindlers, and a brilliant score to match.

The Sting is the ultimate con movie, and its PG rating keeps it friendly for the whole family.

The Hook.

The film features Paul Newman and Robert Redford at the top of their charismatic game, Robert Shaw as the mustache-twirling villain, and a whole cast of characters helping along the way (including Robert Earl Jones as Luther and Eileen Brennan as Billie). Directer George Roy Hill also directed Butch Cassidy And The Sundance KidThoroughly Modern Millie, Slap Shot, and Hawaii. Screenwriter David S. Ward went on to write Major League and Sleepless in Seattle, among others, and his gift for comedy shines through in the dialogue and charm of The Sting.

The Tale.

When Johnny Hooker (Redford), a small-time grifter, unknowingly steals from the ominous Doyle Lonnegan (Shaw), the big-time crime boss demands satisfaction after the insult. After his partner is killed, Hooker seeks out the help of Henry Gondorff (Newman), master of the long con, to take Lonnegan down.

All it takes is a little Confidence.

The Wire.

The indelible ragtime tunes of Scott Joplin, as adapted for the film by Marvin Hamlisch are, technically, completely wrong for the period in which The Sting is set. Ragtime music, most popular in the 1910s, was well out of fashion by the film’s 1936. And yet, I would challenge anyone to find music that fits the film better than Joplin’s “The Entertainer.” The two are inextricably linked now for audiences: when someone thinks of the movie, they’ll hear the first few piano notes of the song, and vice versa.

The Shut-Out.

WCT has undergone a lot of changes in the last few months, from upgrading our lighting system to hiring a new Managing Artistic Director. You won’t want to miss anything our theatre has to offer, so get your tickets early!

The Sting.

Well, we can’t go and spoil the movie, now can we? If you want to see how it all plays out on the big screen, you’ll just have to come see The Sting at WCT on March 11!

Ya follow?

 

 

Meghan Hopper

Office Manager

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PIX Flix Spotlight On The Staff: The Muppet Christmas Carol

Since it was first published in 1843, Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol has captured the imagination of readers and the spirit of Christmas. The ghostly story of Ebeneezer Scrooge has been adapted for the big screen twenty times, and even more for television and stage. It’s as tied to the holiday as pine trees and sugar cookies. Is there anything that could make this story better?

Add Muppets, of course!

I consider myself something of a Christmas Carol connoisseur. This story, more than any Christmas story (aside from the big one!), is my family’s go-to for the holidays. And The Muppet Christmas Carol is my favorite adaptation of all time. (With a special shout-out to the George C. Scott 1984 classic!)

Does it help that I was seven years old when it came out in theaters in 1992? Of course! But its heart-warming storytelling and sharp sense of humor (not to mention its clever use of puppetry!) are what bring me back every year to my favorite Christmas movie, my favorite Muppet movie, and, frankly, one of my favorite movies of all time.

The first Muppet movie made after Jim Henson’s untimely passing, The Muppet Christmas Carol features a few nods to the creator, including a shooting star that Kermit the Frog watches early in the movie. Kermit plays faithful employee Bob Cratchit, but I won’t spoil any more clever Muppet casting here for those who haven’t seen the film yet. I will, however, spend some time praising Michael Caine’s performance as Ebeneezer Scrooge. He is always fully committed, even when he’s acting against a miniature mouse Muppet, and his heartfelt performance grounds the story while never getting in the way of the fun.

Every family has its holiday traditions. My family’s Christmas Eve includes corned beef sandwiches and beloved frog puppets. What could be better?

This year, though, I’ll be viewing the movie a bit earlier than usual. (Don’t worry, family, we’ll still get in our Christmas Eve tradition!) I couldn’t miss a chance to see the movie again on the big screen, now could I?

Whether you’re seeing the movie for the first time or the twenty-sixth time (and I may still have you beat!), Waukesha Civic Theatre hopes you’ll join us for our December PIX Flix showing. Tickets are only $5. Be sure to pick up some Pop’s Kettle Corn at the concession stand, and we’ll see you on December 10th at 6:30!

 

 

 

Meghan Hopper

Office Manager

PIX Flix Spotlight On The Staff: Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

After a run of 694 performances on Broadway during the 1955-1956 season, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof made it to the big screen in 1958, just in time for Elizabeth Taylor to get her second Best Actress Oscar nomination in two years. The film was highly acclaimed by critics and audiences alike and it received five additional Oscar nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Paul Newman); Best Director (Richard Brooks); Best Writing; Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Richard Brooks and James Poe); and Best Cinematography – Color (William Daniels).

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is truly an actor’s movie, and it is one of those rare films where every single actor is perfect.

Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor are both brilliant as Brick and Maggie. Not very often is there a screen couple that have the same chemistry together that they do. And those eyes! It is hard to say which of them had the most captivating eyes. Taylor and Newman were more than extraordinarily beautiful. She was an amazing actress, and he is arguably one of the greatest actors of all time. The relationship between Brick and Maggie is fascinating; full of confusion, betrayal, honesty, dishonesty, love, desire, and trust.

As Big Daddy, Burl Ives gives one of the best performances of his exceptional career. Jack Carson, Madeleine Sherwood, and Judith Anderson round out the cast as Gooper, Mae (Sister Woman), and Big Momma, and all deliver performances that are astoundingly memorable.

Tennessee Williams was reportedly unhappy with the screenplay, which removed almost all of the homosexual themes and diminished the original play’s critique of homophobia and sexism. But it is important to remember that the play and the film are two separate entities. The film is an adaptation, and they are not meant to be the same. They should be judged each on their own merit!

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is one of the great pieces of 20th century American literature and cinema. It has some universal lessons we could all profit by in viewing it.

 

 

John Cramer

Managing Artistic Director

PIX Flix Spotlight On The Staff: It’s A Wonderful Life

“Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” – Zuzu Bailey

It’s A Wonderful Life has become synonymous with the holiday season in America, but when the movie premiered in 1946, it was met with a lukewarm reception. It wasn’t until the 1960s, when there was some confusion over rights and the film entered the public domain. TV stations began to air the film regularly, because they didn’t have to pay for it. By the time the rights paperwork was corrected, it had found its place as a holiday tradition.

The message of the film resonates as much among the Greatest Generation, immediately post-WWII, as it does today: Your life matters. Your contribution is important. You can, and do, make a difference. Nestled among the brilliant acting of Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, that’s what really endears the film to viewers and why so many of us keep coming back, year after year.

The December PIX Flix film has become a holiday tradition for us here at WCT, too. Even though the title differs year to year, it’s a way for our community to come together, enjoy each other, and experience quality entertainment in a historic theatre. For only $5 a ticket, on a Monday night, there’s no better way to get family and friends together for an evening.

It’s A Wonderful Life is one of John Cramer’s very favorite films and both he and I hope to see you here at the PIX on Monday, December 18th, at 6:30 pm.

 

Happy Holidays!

Katie Danner

Marketing Director

 

PIX Flix Spotlight On The Staff: Disney’s 101 Dalmatians

6,469,952 spots. 101 Dalmatians. 1 highest grossing movie of 1961. Walt Disney’s 101 Dalmatians has adventure, romance, and a feel-good family narrative that appeals to everyone. Join us at the PIX for this iconic Disney film on Monday, August 14th at 6:30 pm! Tickets are $5 for everyone – unless you bring a group of 10, in which case you’ll only pay $4 a ticket! Quality entertainment doesn’t get much more affordable than that.

Growing up, I always wanted a dog. My kids want a dog. My husband had a dog. Not everyone is a dog person , it’s true, but most of us can appreciate pets and the special place they hold in humans’ hearts and homes. The makers of Walt Disney’s 101 Dalmatians deliberately cast dogs with deeper voices than their human owners so they had more power. They have the power over our imaginations and, ultimately, over the villains in this film.

These 101 purloined puppies also had the power over the visual style of Disney animation for more than a decade. To save on production costs, the filmmakers used photocopying technology (Xerography) for the first time in a Disney feature film. This technique made the visual complexity of the film possible and also set the tone of Disney animation until 1977. It also allowed the animators to have a little fun – there’s a hidden Mickey on almost all the Dalmatians!

I’ll be at the PIX on Monday, August 14th, hunting for hidden Mickeys and cheering on Pongo, Perdita, and their intrepid pups along with my family. We’d love to see you and yours there!

 

 

Katie Danner

Box Office Supervisor

Marketing Director