Seattle Screens: ‘The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp’

Roger Livesey and John Laurie

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, the 1943 Technicolor debut of filmmaking team Michael Powell and Emerich Pressburger, is not your usual wartime drama. This dashing, deft epic begins with the dinosaur of an old soldier, Major General Clive Wynne-Candy (a curmudgeonly Roger Livesey in a bald cap and walrus mustache), getting ambushed by the new young army in an attempt to jolt the old man out of his outdated notions of a “gentleman’s war” against the Nazis, and then drifts back to show just how Candy got here. Livesey is warm and witty as an ambitious young officer with a prankster’s streak, who becomes devoted to his German rival (Anton Walbrook) and falls in love with a series of beautiful women (all of them played by Deborah Kerr), all the while petrifying as the world changes around him.

Winston Churchill tried to stop the film from being made—he refused to release Sir Laurence Olivier (the filmmakers’ first choice) from service and prevented the armed forces from cooperating with the filmmaker—but film it was made, in beautiful Technicolor and sweeping, grand style that defied the budget. And Churchill may have inadvertently helped The Archers, for it’s hard to image Olivier as the warm, amiable figure created by Livesey. Though cut in subsequent years, the BFI restored the film to its complete 163 minute running time and correct flashback structure a few years ago, and has just last year returned to the elements for another restoration. The new restored 35mm print plays through the week at NWFF.

Ruby Sparks

Openings

Ruby Sparks, the first film from Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris since Little Miss Sunshine, opens wide.

Dark Horse, the new comedy from Todd Solondz, opens at the Varsity.

Klown, a raunchy, outré comedy from Denmark that has turned into the country’s biggest homegrown hit in a decade, opens at the Uptown.

The documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry profiles the Chinese artist and activist. At Harvard Exit.

Visit the film review pages at The Seattle TimesSeattle Weekly, and The Stranger for more releases and reviews.

Repertory / Revival

The Sting, the 1973 reunion of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford and director George Roy Hill, comes to Grand Illusion for a week run in a 35mm print.

The Seattle Art Museum summer film series “Queen of Screwball: The Films of Jean Arthur” comes to an end on Thursday, August 9 with Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair (1948), co-starring Marlene Deitrich.

“Warriors! Come out and play-ay!” Walter Hill’s 1979 comic book street gang classic The Warriors comes out to play midnight shows at The Egyptian this weekend.

For more alternative screenings, read Moira Macdonald’s At A Theater Near You roundup at The Seattle Times.

Schedules and Showtimes

View complete screening schedules through IMDbMSNYahoo, orFandango, pick the interface of your choice.

You can check your favorite independent cinemas, neighborhood theaters and multiplexes here.

Independent theaters:
SIFF Cinema
Northwest Film Forum
Grand Illusion
Seattle Art Museum
Central Cinema
The Big Picture
Majestic Bay Theatres
Cinerama

Multiplexes and Chains
Cinebarre
Sundance Cinema
Landmark Theatres (Egyptian, Guild 45, Harvard Exit, Varsity)
Regal Cinemas (Meridian 16, Thornton Place and others)
AMC Cinemas (Pacific Place, Oak Tree, Alderwood and others)
Kirland Park Place
Lincoln Square Cinemas
Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas