CINEMA ’62 is Now in Paperback!—62nd Anniversary Screenings of Two 1962 Classics: WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? and RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY

Announcing the publication of the new paperback edition of our acclaimed book CINEMA ’62: The Greatest Year at the Movies with 62nd anniversary screenings of two quintessential films from that milestone movie year, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Ride the High Country. The films will have separate screenings at two different Laemmle Theatre locations: Baby Jane only at the NoHo 7 in North Hollywood on April 11, and High Country only at Newhall in Santa Clarita on April 16. Both films are notably among nine 1962 movies inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry for “historical, cultural, or aesthetic significance.”

The cult classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? stars Hollywood legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, teamed for the first time in a thriller about the intense psychological rivalry between two reclusive sisters, former actresses, holed up in Hollywood obscurity. Producer-director Robert Aldrich hired Lukas Heller to adapt the Henry Farrell novel, and the expert mix of black comedy and suspense, along with powerful acting by the cast, made the film a worldwide success. The movie scored a trifecta: box-office bonanza, pop cultural phenomenon, and show business sensation, and revived the stalled movie careers of both Davis and Crawford, restoring their rightful places in the Hollywood pantheon. It also spawned a genre of Grande Dame Guignol that gave veteran actresses roles for the next decade.

When the film was unexpectedly nominated for five Academy Awards, with Davis among the best actress nominees, and Crawford omitted, it exacerbated the alleged off-screen rivalry between the two movie queens. “Feud” a partly fictionalized 2017 miniseries about the rivalry between the two stars while shooting the movie, sparked the most recent interest in the film, which had already existed for the past six decades through parodies and drag impersonators. As the late critic Roger Ebert observed, “at some point the film stops becoming a camp classic, which it is usually identified, and starts becoming the real thing, a psychological horror story.” Oscar winner for black-and-white costume design, with other nominations for supporting actor (Victor Buono in his screen debut) and master cinematographer Ernest Haller, who had worked with both stars in their 1940s heyday.

Ride the High Country is now regarded as one of the all-time western classics, a seminal film in the western canon. Director Sam Peckinpah (it was only his second film) and writer N.B. Stone, Jr (with Peckinpah contributing), spin a story of two aging former lawmen tasked with a gold delivery from a mining camp who are pursued when they rescue an unwitting bride from an unsavory family. Golden Age actors Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea, who had extended their post-war careers in westerns portray the lawmen, and Mariette Hartley is the bride in her screen debut, featuring a number  of recognizable character actors. Expert color cinematography by veteran craftsman Lucien Ballard, who became a frequent Peckinpah collaborator.

The film’s setting at the twilight of the Old West and its theme of men who have outlived their times but cling to their moral code (for the most part) would be revisited by Peckinpah later in his career, most notably at the end of the decade in The Wild Bunch and into the 1970s. Although The Wild Bunch would ensure his legacy, the underseen Ride the High Country is now considered his first masterpiece. The film was a box-office failure upon its 1962 release, relegated to the bottom half of double bills in neighborhood theaters by MGM who had no faith in its prospects. But critics worldwide rescued the movie from obscurity. Newsweek magazine named it the best film of the year, and in their original review stated, “In fact, everything about this picture has the ring of truth, from the unglamorous settings to the flavorful dialogue and natural acting, Ride the High Country is pure gold.”

Authors Stephen Farber and Michael McClellan will introduce both screenings, with books available for sale and signing.

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