Robot Monster (Phil Tucker, US 1953, 62 min.)
In recent years, 3-D has come back stronger than ever, with artistic triumphs like Hugo and Pina earning critical raves, James Cameron’s commercial blockbuster Avatar breaking all box-office records, and Piranha and Final Destination proving that old-fashioned exploitation is alive and bleeding. At the same time, there’s something a bit soulless about the contemporary three-dimensional megaplex experience, whether it’s the smudgy glasses, the high ticket prices, or the dim digital projection.
As always, there’s nothing like the “real thing” — in this case, two-strip, dual-projector 3-D, with the brilliant luminosity and incredible depth of field that only 35mm film can provide — our silver screen is up to throw five days’ worth of Golden Age classics right at ya. The fun starts with Man in the Dark, the first major studio film released in 3-D and a cracking film noir that concludes with — what else — a literal roller coaster ride. On July 4, 3-D expert Bob Furmanek will be presenting an evening of treasures from the 3-D Film Archive, the first organization dedicated to the preservation of our stereoscopic film heritage. He will help us celebrate Independence Day in all three dimensions with a number of rare shorts, and on the day after, Phil Tucker’s infamous Robot Monster (aka “the movie with the guy in the gorilla suit and diving helmet”) rises from the apocalyptic ash of Bronson Canyon to teach us what it means to be Hu-Man. Finally, we’ll wrap up the week with an established classic (Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder) and one that should be: Roy Ward Baker’s awesome, recently rediscovered Inferno, in which Robert Ryan struggles to survive in the Mojave Desert after being left for dead by his wife. Shot on location (!) in Technicolor (!!) with an unmatched depth of field, this one’s a don’t-miss.
Lori Donnelly is the George Eastman House Dryden Theatre film programmer.