United Artists, the Hollywood studio famously founded in 1919 by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith, is nearing its 90th anniversary. Though one industry competitor sniped about the new company “The inmates are running the asylum,” the studio would go on to produce some of the most lasting and influential contributions to American cinema during its rich history.
From silent era gems (D.W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms, Buster Keaton’s The General) to westerns (John Ford’s Stagecoach, Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad and the Ugly) to 1970s classics (Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, Hal Ashby’s Coming Home), United Artists has been a major player through Hollywood’s diverse eras. Many believe the studio truly hit its stride in 1951, when lawyers Arthur Krim and Robert Benjamin took over the studio for a 27-year run, producing both venerable franchises (James Bond, The Pink Panther) and beloved classics from Hollywood’s greatest moviemakers, including Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot, The Apartment), John Huston (The Misfits) and John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate).
The famed New York Film Forum will host an extensive five-week retrospective this spring in celebration of the studio’s 90th anniversary, offering movie fans the chance to revisit an eclectic selection of classics from United Artists’ deep canon. The 54-film festival will kick off with a New York-themed double bill: Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull (1980), in a new 35-mm print, followed by Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979). The retrospective programming encompasses a vast variety: West Side Story, Midnight Cowboy, Last Tango in Paris and Sweet Smell of Success are just a few of the films on the docket. 007 fans should take special note of the festival’s Bond-themed evening, which will not only include a new 35 mm print of Goldfinger but a sing-along with the classic theme song. The retrospective concludes May 1st with a Charlie Chaplin double bill of his classics City Lights and Modern Times.
For more information, visit www.filmforum.org.