This Wednesday, Film Society of Lincoln Center is excited to present a very special continuation of our year-long celebration of the 50-year history of the New York Film Festival—a Jonathan Demme double feature! From the 15th installment of the festival in 1977, we will screen the director's wide-reaching comedy and NYFF debut Handle with Care. As a bonus we will also show his double-Oscar winning, stranger-than-fiction film Melvin and Howard (NYFF '80). The evening will be highlighted by a Q&A with Demme and actor Paul Le Mat between screenings—all for the price of a single admission!
Handle with Care follows the stories of several characters in a small town, all of whom are united by their use of CB (citizen's band) radio. Guided by Demme’s humanist screwball touch, the film moves from wacky to earnest in a stunning composition. Reviewing the film after its initial screening at NYFF in 1977, The New York Times wrote: “The structure is thoughtful, and some of the imagery is so calculated it seems chilly; on the other hand, the film's surface is flippant and funny, full of talented performers in whimsical, open-ended roles.” This screening doubly opportune for cinephiles, as Handle with Care is not available on DVD.
Three years later, Demme and Le Mat reunited for Melvin and Howard, the bizarre real-life story of one Melvin Dummar, a Utah gas-station owner who became the subject of a national media feeding frenzy when he was named as a beneficiary of over $150 million in the much-contested “Mormon will” of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. The film focuses on Melvin's scattered, up-and-down life, his spendthrift, trust-in-luck nature and unwavering belief in the American dream. With Demme helming, and powered by sensational, effective performances from the leading men, Pauline Kael was moved to write: “This picture suggests what it might have been like if Jean Renoir had directed a Preston Sturges comedy.”
Click here for tickets and more info about this unique evening of film. "50 Years of the New York Film Festival" will continue next Tuesday, February 7 with the 1978 classic Gates of Heaven, featuring an in-person Q&A with legendary director Errol Morris!
Below is a full list of all the films that played alongside Handle with Care at NYFF in 1977:
One Sings, The Other Doesn’t (L’une chante l’autre pas)
Agnès Varda, France, 1977.
Shown with Music Of The Spheres, Jordan Belson, USA.
L’enfant de paris
Léonce Perret, France, 1913 (A NYFF Retrospective).
Tent of Miracles (Tenda dos milagres)
Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Brazil, 1977.
Men of Bronze
William Miles, U.S.A, 1977.
Shown with Children of Labor, Noel Buckner, USA.
The American Friend (Der amerikanishe freund)
Wim Wenders, West Germany/France, 1977.
My Father, My Master (Padre padrone)
Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, Italy, 1977.
Rafael Corkidi, Mexico, 1976.
Shown with Nightmare, Aleksandar Marks, Yugoslavia.
The Truck (Le camion)
Marguerite Duras, France, 1977.
Shown with Grandpa, Stephen L. Forman, Paul Desaulniers USA.
Robert M. Young, U.S.A., 1977.
The Devil Probably (Le diable probablement)
Robert Bresson, France, 1977.
Shown with Glove Story, Eli Noyes, USA.
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italy/ France, 1975.
Heart of Glass (Herz aus glas)
Werner Herzog, West Germany, 1976.
Shown with La soufrièr, Werner Herzog.West Germany.
The Man Who Loved Women (L’homme qui aimait les femmes)
François Truffaut, France, 1977.
Merzak Allouache, Algeria, 1977.
Shown with Striptease, Bruno Bozzetto, Guido Manuli, Italy.
James Ivory, U.S.A., 1977.
Shown with Part of Your Loving, Tony de Nonno, USA.
Martin Brest, USA, 1977.
Shown with Moya Babuska (My Grandmother) Kote Mikaberidze, U.S.S.R.
Women (Ök ketten)
Márta Mézáros, Hungary, 1977.
Shown with What I Did Not Tell The Prince, Jiri Brdecka, Czechoslovakia.
Also, Single Fathering, Ron Taylor, USA.
The Lacemaker (La dentellière)
Claude Goretta, Switzerland/France/West Germany, 1977.
Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy, 1976.
*Note: Alberto Grimaldi, the producer, would or could not commit this film to the NYFF until after our annual NY Times ad had gone to press. Rather than lose the film we filled the spot with a question mark, but word was out and the question mark was the first film to sell out.
That Obscure Object of Desire (Cet obscur objet du désir)
Luis Buñuel, France/Spain, 1977.
SAVED!, A retrospective of twelve American films from the preservation vaults of the AFI, George Eastman House, MoMA and UCLA:
Downstairs, Monta Bell, 1932.
The Letter, Monta Bell, 1929.
The Torrent, Monta Bell, 1926.
Paid, Sam Wood, 1930.
City Girl, F.W. Murnau, 1930.
Transatlantic, William K Howard, 1931.
Wild Oranges, King Vidor, 1924.
Regeneration, Raoul Walsh, 1915.
It, Clarence Badger, 1927.
It’s The Old Army Game, Edward Sutherland, 1926. Dodsworth, William Wyler, 1936.
Liliom, Frank Borzage, 1930.
An Animation Festival: Five programs including 76 short animated films of all types.