Catch 10 Hard-To-Find Films On The Northwest Side

By Joel Wicklund in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 11, 2016 8:21PM

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Malcolm McDowell struts his stuff in "Get Crazy." (1983, © Embassy Pictures.)

If you've ever wanted to see British cinema bad boy Malcolm McDowell, art rock legend Lou Reed, punk pioneer Lee Ving, and early bubblegum pop idols Fabian and Bobby Sherman in the same movie ... well, your wait will soon be over.

That insanely eclectic cast is featured in Get Crazy, a 1983 cult film from Rock 'n' Roll High School director Allan Arkush, showing on Wednesday, May 4 as part of the Northwest Chicago Film Society's upcoming season. The latest series of rarely screened features from the adventurous film revival organization begins Wednesday, Jan. 13 with the 1935 melodrama/fantasy Peter Ibbetson, starring Gary Cooper and directed by Henry Hathaway (Kiss of Death, True Grit).

This is the third consecutive NCFS season at the auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University (Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.), so thankfully the group seems to have found a stable and supportive new home. Rising from the ashes of the much-loved LaSalle Bank/Bank of America series in 2011, the NCFS first set up camp at the Portage Theatre before owner Eddie Carranza temporarily closed the venue with no warning. A short-lived residency at the Patio ended when that troubled theater couldn't keep the heat and A.C. running.

But Northeastern is looking like an ideal partner. Though built mainly for live performances, the school's auditorium is attractive and well-maintained, with stadium seating. The movie screen and projection equipment were brought in to accommodate the NCFS. In turn, the group's weekly screenings are being incorporated into the college's film studies courses.

Ensconced in the middle of NEIU's campus with no visible signage, the auditorium is a little hard to find on a first visit—but that's kind of fitting. The original LaSalle/BoA series was presented in an unusual theater space inside the bank, with an unmarked rear parking lot entrance. It was worth the effort to find it and, as the new NCFS schedule proves, the same will go for the new venue.

In addition to Peter Ibbetson and Get Crazy, the 10-film series includes everything from obscure genre offerings to revered masterworks, covering over 60 years of movie history.

The Sacrifice (1986), the challenging final film by Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris), shows on Jan. 20. Moontide (1942), featuring the American film debut of the great French star Jean Gabin (The Grand Illusion), will play Jan. 27. Next month brings the 1926 silent epic Old Ironsides (Feb. 3), the 1929 musical Sunnyside Up (Feb. 10), and Gus Van Sant's daring 1991 feature My Own Private Idaho (Feb. 17), starring River Phoenix in a career-defining performance (and Keanu Reeves in a typically wooden one).

After a two-month break, the season resumes with 1972's Cisco Pike (April 20), a nearly forgotten counterculture item that marked Kris Kristofferson's first leading role. Next up is the 1933 non-musical version of State Fair (April 26), starring the great American humorist Will Rogers.

Things wind up in May with Get Crazy and the 1955 western The Naked Dawn (May 11). The latter film is directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, famous for making stylish movies like Detour and Bluebeard on threadbare budgets. The Naked Dawn is an opportunity to see how the inventive filmmaker worked under slightly less impoverished circumstances (and in Technicolor).

The NCFS continues its film purist stand, projecting all the features and accompanying shorts from 35mm or 16mm prints. It's also worth noting that several of the movies showing (including Get Crazy) have either never been released on a legitimate DVD or Blu-ray disc, or are extremely hard to find in those formats. Admission is just $5, or $2 for NEIU students. Dates, details and show times are available here.