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Lola Montes

Lola Montes
This Is Widescreen

Linwood Dunn Theater
Pickford Center, 1313 Vine Street
Hollywood, CA 90028


All screenings will feature pre-show presentations that may include shorts, trailers, cartoons and/or behind -the-scenes footage. 

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Cinema has endured for decades in the face of competing visual storytelling mediums. In connection with our event The New Audience: Moviegoing in a Connected World, discover how studios and filmmakers – long before tablets, smartphones and the Internet – responded as audiences began trading regular visits to the movies for the ease and affordability of the first small screen: television. In response, numerous widescreen cinematic formats were rolled out around the world and capitalized on the breathtaking width of the projected image, not to mention the heightened fidelity of stereophonic sound, to achieve effects far beyond the reach of TV sets. This Is Widescreen offers a colorful assortment of films that demonstrate how filmmakers found new means of engaging the flexibility of the cinema and the key larger-than-life film formats employed over a 15-year period in Hollywood – from the launch of Cinerama in 1952 and the subsequent widescreen boom that included CinemaScope, VistaVision, Todd-AO and others – plus highlights from the first wave of 'Scope filmmaking from around the globe.

The story of legendary courtesan Lola Montez is rendered with painterly grandeur in the final film by pantheon director Max Ophüls (The Earrings of Madame De…, Letter from an Unknown Woman). Working in color and CinemaScope for the first and only time in his career, Ophüls offers a visually opulent look at the picaresque rise and fall of Montez, whose lovers included Franz Liszt and Bavaria’s King Ludwig I. Ophuls’s exuberant color palette, sinuous cinematography, and daring non-linear narrative confounded many viewers upon the film’s initial release. When Lola Montès opened in Paris, police were called to monitor theaters for fear of riots by perplexed moviegoers. A flop in France, it was heavily recut for its equally disastrous and delayed U.S. release. But for cinephiles, Lola Montès became a cause célèbre with François Truffaut, writing at the time of its Paris opening, proclaiming “if we must fight, we shall; if we must polemicize, so be it.” And Andrew Sarris wrote, “Lola Montès is in my unhumble opinion the greatest film of all time, and I am willing to stake my critical reputation, such as it is, on this one proposition above all others.” Lola Montès would not return to American screens the way Ophüls had intended it until 2008 when it received a breathtaking restoration by the Cinémathèque Française, which will be screened tonight.

1955, 116 minutes, color, 35mm | Directed by Max Ophüls; screenplay by Ophüls, adaptation by Annette Wademant, Ophüls, based on the novel La vie extraordinaire de Lola Montès by Cecil Saint-Laurent; with Martine Carol, Peter Ustinov, Anton Walbrook, Ivan Desny, Henri Guisol, Lise Delamare, Oskar Werner.