James Brown: The Hardest Working Man in Show Business

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Admission

  • $10 General Public
  • $7 Member, Student & Senior
Films & Showtimes »

August 29 - September 1

Few popular music stars have ever given the eye—and the camera—so much to drink in as James Brown. Brown’s showmanship was, in the context of early-60s pop music, radically new: a dramatic, exactingly controlled marriage of movement and voice that somehow seemed completely, wildly spontaneous. It was an art Brown inherited from, among other sources, the gospel tradition, but it was Brown who brought it across racial and regional lines—to make it, in other words, an instrument of political and social change. And it was an art especially well-suited to the movies, through which we now have access to many of his finest, most exhilarating performances: the furious theme song of Black Caesar; his scratch-heavy, bongo-driven funk set in Soul Power; the miracle that is his 18 minutes on The T.A.M.I. Show. That last performance might be his crowning achievement, although Brown himself likely wouldn’t have agreed. A fan, he tells the crowd in Soul Power, once asked him to “play the best of James Brown.” “I can’t do that,” he told the man. “The best of James Brown is yet to come.”

In This Series

Black Caesar

Black Caesar

Larry Cohen | 1973 | 35mm | 87 mins

Skype intro by filmmaker Larry Cohen on Friday!

James Brown dance party with free Stella beer on Saturday from 7:30pm - 9:30pm, open to all ticket holders!

In this furious Blaxploitation riff on the Hollywood gangster film, for which Brown composed the soundtrack, a poor black shoeshine boy takes out a corrupt mob boss, only to accept the white man’s power structures when he himself gains control.

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Friday, August 29

8:30pm

Saturday, August 30

6:30pm
The Blues Brothers

The Blues Brothers

John Landis | 1980 | 35mm | 133 mins

James Brown dance party with free Stella beer on Saturday from 7:30pm - 9:30pm, open to all ticket holders!

The Blues Brothers’ big-screen debut, a trigger-happy action odyssey featuring Brown as a roof-raising leader of a gospel choir, remains their crowning achievement.

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Saturday, August 30

8:30pm

Monday, September 01

3:15pm
James Brown Performance Compilation

James Brown Performance Compilation

| Digital Projection | 75 mins

A truly one-of-a-kind assortment of clips featuring the Godfather of Soul on stage and in his element, workin’ it as only he could.

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Sunday, August 31

4:30pm

Sunday, August 31

9:00pm
Rocky IV

Rocky IV

Sylvester Stallone | 1985 | 35mm | 91 mins

The Italian Stallion went up against a cartoonishly impassive Soviet “mountain of muscle” in Stallone’s bombastic Reagan-era take on U.S.-Russia relations, capped by a standout Brown performance of “Living in America.”

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Monday, September 01

1:15pm

Monday, September 01

6:00pm
Ski Party

Ski Party

Alan Rafkin | 1965 | 35mm | 90 mins

Brown made an unforgettably zany cameo in this prime example of ’60s youth movie, skiing uninvited into a cabin full of teenagers and launching into a spontaneous rendition of “I Feel Good.” With Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman.

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Friday, August 29

4:30pm

Saturday, August 30

4:30pm
Soul Power

Soul Power

Jeffrey Levy-Hinte | 2008 | 35mm | 92 mins

Jeffrey Levy Hinte, the editor of When We Were Kings, directed this exhilarating portrait of the three-day music festival held in Kinshasa before the Ali-Foreman match, featuring, among many others, B.B King, Bill Withers, The Spinners, and Brown at his finest.

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Friday, August 29

6:30pm

Saturday, August 30

2:30pm
The T.A.M.I. Show

The T.A.M.I. Show

Steve Binder | 1964 | 16mm | 123 mins

The Holy Grail of concert films—featuring Brown in an earth-shaking, career-defining performance—is a showcase for American pop music at the undisputed height of its passion, humor, pathos, virtuosity, and vigor.

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Sunday, August 31

2:00pm

Sunday, August 31

6:30pm
When We Were Kings

When We Were Kings

Leon Gast | 1996 | 35mm | 88 mins

Leon Gast’s now-classic documentary on the “Rumble in the Jungle” is a snapshot of a moment when black Americans were starting to embrace their African heritage—thanks in part to the example of Muhammad Ali, whose irrepressible presence dominates the film.

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Monday, September 01

8:00pm
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