Filmmaker John Landis Makes Mark on Sag Harbor Cinema

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With the neon “Sag Harbor” sign firmly back in its place on Main Street, the Sag Harbor Cinema has officially invited its first guest curator.

And it is none other than John Landis, director of “Animal House” and “An American Werewolf in London.”

“I had the pleasure to collaborate closely with John on a book I wrote about his work, and by curating retrospectives of his films in Europe,” Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan, head of programs at the Sag Harbor Cinema. “Besides being one of the great American directors of his generation, he is a true film historian. His passion for and knowledge of film are contagious.”

Starting Sunday, June 9, the “Really Funny” series includes 10 of Landis’ favorite comedies, covering an ample portion of film history — from Laurel and Hardy to Howard Hawks, Mel Brooks and Melissa McCarthy, as well as lesser-known treasures.

“Comedy is the most unforgiving of genres,” Landis said. “You either laugh, or you don’t. Highbrow, lowbrow, witty words or just slapstick, if it makes you laugh then it’s successful. These are of some of the many motion pictures that make me laugh. And laughter is the best way to deal with so much of life.”

Landis offered a commentary on each of his chosen titles, and the schedule is as follows:

June 9: “Sons of the Desert,” 1933, directed by William A. Seiter

“Laurel and Hardy were sublime,” Landis said. “Their interplay with one another was always a source a joy. This time the hilarity is increased as they play two married men hopelessly outmatched by their wives.”

June 23: “It’s a Gift,” 1934, directed by Norman Z. McLeod

“W.C. Fields remains a unique comic persona,” he said. “In this film, he plays a put upon everyman who despite all odds realizes his dreams.”

June 30: “The Awful Truth,” 1937, directed by Leo McCarey

“One of the best, and funniest, films to tackle divorce,” he said, “with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in classic form.”

July 7: “His Girl Friday,” 1940, directed by Howard Hawks

“The genius idea of changing the sex of one of the leads of The Front Page, this peerless comedy features career high performances of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell,” he said.

July 21: “The Producers,” 1967, directed by Mel Brooks

“Brooks’ marvelous screenplay perfectly cast,” he said. “Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder reach comedic heights rarely matched.”

August 4: “A New Leaf,” 1971, directed by Elaine May

“A charming, sweet and truly funny movie about love starring Elaine May and Walter Matthau,” he said.

August 18: “Trading Places,” 1983, directed by John Landis

“An update on Mark Twain’s ‘The Prince and the Pauper,’” the director said. “Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche and Denholm Elliot take on Reagan’s America.”

September 8: “Soapdish,” 1991, directed by Michael Hoffman

“A classic farce in the world of daytime soap operas,” he said, “with a great cast and hysterical observations of the actors played by Sally Field and Kevin Kline.”

September 15: “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” 2006, directed by Larry Charles

“A comedy where the lead actor, Sasha Baron Cohen, literally puts himself in danger for laughs and political commentary,” he said.

September 22: “Bridesmaids,” 2011, directed by Paul Feig

“A broad comedy about women, written by women and starring women,” he said. “Great slapstick!”

The “Really Funny” series will screen at Pierson High School Auditorium, located at 200 Jermain Avenue in Sag Harbor, and all films will start at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit sagharborcinema.org.

 

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