For any readers who didn't get their fill of heartwarming, B&W cinema a few weeks back with the Lucas Theatre's one-night-only showing of the 1935 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers classic "Top Hat," the Psychotronic Film Society is offering another chance to see a beloved romantic comedy from the Golden Age of Hollywood the way it was meant to be seen: on the big screen, surrounded by friends and strangers.
There simply isn't any better way to enjoy a screwball comedy of this type - especially in the laid-back-yet-respectful environs of the Sentient Bean Coffeehouse.
So on Aug. 11, the PFS once again showcases its extreme diversity in programming with a screening of the stone-cold gem of "high society" farces, director Gregory La Cava's 1936 smash hit "My Man Godfrey."
Not to be confused with the 1957 remake starring David Niven, this original film adaptation of Eric Hatch's book "1101 Park Avenue" is about as good as it gets when it comes to clever repartee, biting class commentary (in the wake of the Great Depression), and the onscreen depiction of sexual tension from another, much more restrained age.
It stars the dashing - and by most behind-the-scenes accounts half-soused - leading man William Powell (best known for his longtime role as roguish detective Nick Charles in the adorable "Thin Man" series) and his ex-wife Carole Lombard (from Alfred Hitchcock's 1941 romantic comedy "Mr. & Mrs. Smith") as mismatched paramours. Or are they really that mismatched?
"My Man Godfrey" takes places in the depths of the United States' financial downfall. When a party game finds a flighty socialite (played by beautiful, blonde Lombard) at the city dump, she meets an unusually erudite and charming bum and winds up hiring him to be her butler.
Before long, he's pegged her family as a ditzy clan whose behavior epitomizes the eccentric, idle rich of the time.
She's fallen head over heels in love with this man from the "lower class," who (in a move which perplexes and confounds her to no end) repeatedly refuses her advances. What secret could this mysterious, penniless derelict be hiding?
The first film to ever receive four Oscar nominations for acting, it did so in the very year in which those categories were first introduced.
It also nabbed Academy Award nominations for writing and directing, yet in a seemingly perverse twist, was not in the running for Best Picture.
It also famously lost every single one of those nominations.
Although they'd been divorced for more than three years when this picture was made, leading man Powell reportedly insisted his ex-wife play his love interest, as he claimed the mood and tone of their real-life romance reminded him of the scripted courtship.
Named one of the 50 Greatest Comedies of All Time by "Premiere" magazine in 2006, "My Man Godfrey" pulls no punches in its merciless skewering of the U.S. aristocracy of the 1930s.
It is a provocative snapshot that provides a window into a time period in our country's history which increasingly has much more in common with today's political and social climate than one might wish to think. Then again, it also serves as an incredibly cute piece of lighthearted entertainment that's suitable for those 13 and older. $7 admission, 8 p.m. showtime.
On Aug. 14, the PFS salutes the life and career of the late, great star of stage and screen and civil rights activist, the one and only Robert Culp.
Remembered fondly by many of a certain age for his iconic role as "Kelly Robinson," a jet-setting tennis pro who doubles as a Cold War secret agent alongside his partner/tennis trainer "Alexander Scott" (played with great aplomb by a young Bill Cosby) in the popular, pioneering NBC action series of the mid-'60s, "I Spy," Culp was a highly respected leading man who delighted in balancing mainstream fare with challenging character-actor roles.
A talented cartoonist and promising high school track star (he won athletic scholarships to six different universities), Culp devoted himself to both acting and the teaching of speech and phonetics (he excelled at enunciation and using different dialects in his roles) before winning raves on Broadway and an Obie Award for his off-Broadway work.
Eventually, he made his way to Hollywood, and embarked on an eclectic career path that found him starring in the lovably dated "hippie sex dramedy" "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" alongside Elliot Gould, Dyan Cannon and the late Natalie Wood.
Later generations will recognize him as jaded F.B.I Agent Bill Maxwell on ABC's tongue-in-cheek early '80s superhero series "The Greatest American Hero," as comic Ray Romano's father-in-law on "Everybody Loves Raymond" or perhaps as the president of the United States in the 1993 feature film adaptation of John Grisham's political thriller novel "The Pelican Brief."
Robert Culp fans know he gave some of his most intense performances in a number of made-for-TV films in the '70s - most of which have never been released on home video in any format.
For this special tribute, the PFS has unearthed a forgotten horror/sci-fi feature starring both Culp and the great Eli Wallach ("The Magnificent Seven," "The Misfits," "Mystic River"), which is completely unavailable on DVD.
1973's "A Cold Night's Death" aka "The Chill Factor," finds Culp and Wallach as scientists stationed by themselves at a remote Arctic outpost who must investigate the mysterious demise of the previous caretaker.
A genuinely creepy film which clearly influenced director John Carpenter's 1982 cult classic "The Thing," it was shown theatrically in Europe, but not in the U.S.
It's highly recommended for fans of "lost" thrillers. $6 admission for ages 15 and older. 8 p.m. showtime.
Thanks for supporting independent cinema in Savannah, and don't forget to turn off your cellphone.
Jim Reed directs the award-winning Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah - presenting indie, foreign, classic and cult cinema year-round. Read more from Jim on Savannah's film scene at filmsavannah.com.
What: "My Man Godfrey"
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 11
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.
Cost: $7, ages 13 and older
What: "A Cold Night's Death" aka "The Chill Factor"
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 14
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.
Cost: $6, ages 15 and older