NYFF50: Men of Cinema: Pierre Rissient and the Cinema Mac Mahon

September 29 – October 12

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Pierre Rissient in person for all screenings!

A still-functioning movie house located in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, the unassuming façade of Paris’ Cinéma Mac Mahon belies its history as one of the world’s sacred sites of celluloid worship. It was there, in the early 1950s, that the future critic-publicist-programmer Pierre Rissient and his band of film-crazed friends (mostly high-school students from the nearby lycée Carnot) convinced the theater owner to let them commandeer the programming, ushering in a tidal wave of American movies—especially film noirs and other genre fare—directed by the likes of Fritz Lang, Joseph Losey, Otto Preminger and Raoul Walsh (collectively dubbed the "Four Aces").

It was, in the words of critics J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum, "a temple which, unlike the Hollywood film cathedrals of the 1920s, would show movies for movies’ sake." It also advanced an alternate cinematic pantheon that placed the likes of Italian genre directors Vittorio Cottafavi and Ricardo Freda above Antonioni and Bergman, Rear Window above Vertigo, The Magnificent Ambersons above Citizen Kane. We are pleased to offer this selection of films and filmmakers championed by the Mac-Mahonists, as chosen by Pierre Rissient, who will join us to present the screenings. Of the selection, Rissient says: "Along with Mizoguchi’s Oharu and Ugetsu, these magnificent seven films make an almost accurate autobiography of my youth and discovery of cinema."

In This Series

Liebelei

Liebelei

Max Ophüls | 1933 | 88 mins

In turn-of-the-century Vienna, a young officer and the daughter of a violinist seem destined for happiness until a duel over a married woman puts the lovers in jeopardy in this early success from the director of Lola Montes. Print courtesy of Academy Film Archive.

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Night and the City

Night and the City

Jules Dassin | 1950 | 101 mins

In one of Jules Dassin's most exciting films, set in pre-Mod London, Richard Widmark stars as an ambitious hustler trying to score big while the lovely Gene Tierney tries to convince him to go legit.

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Objective, Burma!

Objective, Burma!

Raoul Walsh | 1945 | 142 mins

A platoon of Army paratroopers (led by Errol Flynn) find themselves trapped behind enemy lines after destroying a Japanese radar station in director Raoul Walsh’s lean, intense WWII action drama.

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The Prowler

The Prowler

Joseph Losey | 1951 | 92 mins

The bored wife (Evelyn Keyes) of an all-night DJ takes up with an amoral cop (Van Heflin) in director Losey’s taut film noir classic.

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Pursued

Pursued

Raoul Walsh | 1947 | 101 mins

Massacre survivor Robert Mitchum attempts to untangle the suppressed memories of his traumatic childhood in Walsh’s extraordinary, expressionistic film noir/western hybrid.

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The Tiger of Eschnapur

The Tiger of Eschnapur

Fritz Lang | 1959 | 101 mins

After his Hollywood career flatlined, the great Fritz Lang returned to Germany for this late-career triumph, the first film of his two-part “Indian Epic” centered around the exploits of a German architect hired to build a Maharaja’s temple.

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Whirlpool

Whirlpool

Otto Preminger | 1949 | 98 mins

A compulsive shoplifter submits to hypnosis to solve her problem, then wakes up next to a dead body in this typically dry, mean, poetic thriller by the great Otto Preminger.

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