Alec Guinness Centennial
July 3-September 15
April 2 marked the centennial birthday of the chameleonic British actor Alec Guinness (1914–2000), whose career stretched from David Lean's 1940s Dickens adaptations through the heyday of British comedies at Michael Balcon's Ealing Studios in the 1950s to iconic turns in international blockbusters, as Prince Feisal in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) and as Obi-Wan Kenobi in STAR WARS (1977) and beyond. This summer, explore the many faces of the great Alec Guinness in this wide-ranging selection of some of his greatest films.
AFI Member passes will be accepted at all screenings.
"Please sir, I want some more." Orphan Oliver Twist (John Howard Davies, "still perhaps the most memorable and affective Oliver yet seen on screen." –David Parker, BFI) runs away from workhouse drudgery for life on the London streets, exhilarating but dangerous, and falls in with a gang of young pickpockets, including the happy-go-lucky Artful Dodger (Anthony Newley), trained by a Mephistophelean ringleader, the charismatic Fagin (Alec Guinness). David Lean, working with his Oscar®-winning collaborators from GREAT EXPECTATIONS, crafts another high-water mark in Dickens adaptations.
DIR/SCR David Lean; SCR Stanley Haynes, from the novel by Charles Dickens; PROD Ronald Neame. UK, 1948, b&w, 116 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Thu, Jul 3, 12 noon; Tue, Jul 8, 4:30; Thu, Jul 10, 4:30
Orphan lad Pip (Anthony Wager) struggles to get by until an unknown benefactor provides him a generous allowance in David Lean's beloved Dickens adaptation. Along the way, there's an encounter with escaped convict Magwitch (Finlay Currie) on the foggy moors; etiquette lessons in the crumbling mansion of mad Miss Havisham (Martita Hunt), where he meets the lovely but cruel Estella (Jean Simmons) and best pal Herbert Pocket (Alec Guinness); and finally adventures in London as a young man on the move (now played by John Mills). Nominated for five Oscars®, with wins for Cinematography and Art Direction.
DIR/SCR David Lean; SCR Anthony Havelock-Allan, Cecil McGivern, Kay Walsh, from the novel by Charles Dickens; SCR/PROD Ronald Neame. UK, 1946, b&w, 118 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
Thu, Jul 3, 2:20; Mon, Jul 7, 4:30; Wed, Jul 9, 4:30
David Lean's signature achievement, winning seven Oscars® in 1962 including Best Picture, and the film that made a then-unknown Peter O'Toole an international star (and for which O'Toole would earn the first of his eight Oscar® nominations for Best Actor — amazingly, none of which he won!). O'Toole is riveting as T. E. Lawrence, the legendary British officer who rallied the Arabs against Turkish invaders during World War I, and Lean's film, a two-year undertaking shot entirely on location, is one of the true masterpieces of 70mm photography. With Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn and Omar Sharif.
DIR David Lean; SCR Robert Bolt, Michael Wilson; PROD Sam Spiegel. UK, 1962, color, 231 min. including 15 min. intermission, DCP. RATED PG
KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS
Fri, Jul 4, 1:15; Sat, Jul 5, 1:15
There are eight D'Ascoyne heirs ahead of Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price) in the line of succession to the Chalfont Dukedom, and Mazzini's methodical murderousness makes Shakespeare's Richard III look like a lazybones. And all eight D'Ascoynes are portrayed by none other than Alec Guinness, in a bravura display of makeup and make-believe. Robert Hamer's classic black comedy makes mordant, mirthful fun of the English aristocracy. With Joan Greenwood and Valerie Hobson.
DIR/SCR Robert Hamer; SCR John Dighton, from a novel by Roy Horniman; PROD Michael Balcon. UK, 1949, b&w, 106 min, DCP. NOT RATED
Fri, Jul 11, 3:00; Sat, Jul 12, 1:00; Mon, Jul 14, 12:20; Tue, Jul 15, 7:00; Wed, Jul 16, 12:20
On holiday in France, British schoolteacher John Barratt (Alec Guinness) is stunned to meet his spitting image in Count Jacques De Gué (Guinness again), who, for reasons of his own, wishes Barratt to take his place. Discontented with his lot in life, Barratt wonders what a life of privilege might be like, but soon discovers the sordid world of upper-class decadence, including morphine-addled dowager Countess Bette Davis, a wife (Irene Worth) terrified the Count wants her dead, an embezzling brother-in-law (Peter Bull) and a younger mistress (Nicole Murray). Robert Hamer (KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS) adapts this twisty tale of double trouble from a novel by "Rebecca"'s Daphne du Maurier.
DIR/SCR Robert Hamer, from the novel by Daphne du Maurier; PROD Michael Balcon. UK/US, 1959, b&w, 92 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
FATHER BROWN aka THE DETECTIVE
Sat, Jul 12, 11:00 a.m.; Mon, Jul 14, 5:00; Wed, Jul 16, 5:00, 9:00
Alec Guinness dons the robes as G. K. Chesterton's sleuthing priest in this caper directed by KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS' Robert Hamer. En route from London to Rome with the precious Cross of St. Augustine in his care, Father Brown is robbed by the wily thief Gustave Flambeau (Peter Finch). The clever cleric sets to solving the crime, hoping to extract a dual confession from Flambeau and save not only the Church's precious relic but a soul to boot. With Joan Greenwood and Cecil Parker.
DIR/SCR Robert Hamer; SCR Thelma Schnee, Maurice Rapf, from stories by G. K. Chesterton; PROD Paul Finder Moss. UK, 1954, b&w, 91 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sun, Jul 13, 11:10 a.m.; Mon, Jul 14, 7:00; Tue, Jul 15, 5:00;
Thu, Jul 17, 5:00
Enchanted by a cameo of Queen Victoria, street urchin or "mudlark" Wheeler (Andrew Ray) sneaks into Windsor Castle to meet the great lady in person. Sequestered after the death of her beloved Prince Albert and under heavy guard by the court, concerned about another assassination plot, the lad's good cheer helps the Queen to reconnect with the world. With Irene Dunne as Victoria and Alec Guinness as Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Based on a true story.
DIR Jean Negulesco; SCR/PROD Nunnally Johnson; SCR from the novel by Theodore Bonnet. UK/US, 1950, b&w, 99 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
A RUN FOR YOUR MONEY
Fri, Jul 18, 5:15; Sun, Jul 20, 1:00--just added!; Tue, Jul 22, 5:00;
Thu, Jul 24, 5:00
Singing Welsh miners David "Dai Number 9" Jones (Donald Houston) and Thomas "Twm" Jones (Meredith Edwards) from the hamlet of Hafoduwchbenceubwllymarchogcoch win a trip to London sponsored by the Echo newspaper. On their first trip to England, let alone the big city, the two plan to live it up, causing much consternation for their minder, the paper's gardening columnist, Whimple (Alec Guinness).
DIR/SCR Charles Frend; SCR Richard Hughes, Leslie Norman, Clifford Evans; PROD Michael Balcon. UK, 1949, b&w, 85 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sat, Jul 19, 11:30 a.m.; Mon, Jul 21, 5:00; Wed, Jul 23, 5:00
Newly diagnosed with a terminal disease, quiet, unassuming George Bird (Alec Guinness) opts to go out on a high note, withdrawing all his savings and booking himself into a posh hotel. Taking risks for the first time in his life, Bird's luck now changes, as he begins making friends with the other hotel residents, who are intrigued by their mystery guest, falling into a good business opportunity and even finding love. But after he's exhausted his bank account, Bird receives a surprising second opinion about his prognosis.
DIR Henry Cass; SCR/PROD J. B. Priestley; PROD Stephen Mitchell, A. D. Peters. UK, 1950, b&w, 88 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE
Sat, Jul 19, 2:00; Tue, Jul 22, 7:00
Alec Guinness gives noble bearing to his performance as Marcus Aurelius in Anthony Mann's epic account of Rome's twilight, as Livius (Stephen Boyd) and Commodus (Christopher Plummer) battle both each other, for control of the waning empire, and the uppity barbarians from north of the Alps, intent on destroying it. With Sophia Loren, James Mason and Omar Sharif.
DIR Anthony Mann; SCR Ben Barzman, Basilio Franchina, Philip Yordan; PROD Samuel Bronston. US, 1964, color, 203 min including one 15-min intermission, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE LAVENDER HILL MOB
Sun, Jul 20, 1:00 –canceled
Charles Crichton enjoyed a late-career transatlantic hit with A FISH CALLED WANDA, but he made his reputation directing postwar Ealing comedies, THE LAVENDER HILL MOB being perhaps his best-loved. With no promotion in sight, Henry Holland (Alec Guinness) is fed up after 20 years of faithful service working as a glorified delivery man for his gold-trading firm. Recruiting his old pal Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway), a sculptor stuck in the tchotchke business, and two small-time Cockney crooks, Lackery (Sidney James) and Shorty (Alfie Bass), Holland hatches a plan to boost £1 million in gold bullion, melted and molded into Pendlebury's Eiffel Tower souvenirs. Oscar® nomination for Guinness and a Best Screenplay win for T. E. B. Clarke.
DIR Charles Crichton; SCR T. E. B. Clarke; PROD Michael Balcon. UK, 1951, b&w, 81 min, DCP. NOT RATED
THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT
Fri, Jul 25, 5:30; Sat, Jul 26, 1:00; Tue, Jul 29, 5:15; Thu, Jul 31, 7:00
Amateur inventor Alec Guinness wizards up a wondrous fabric that can't wear out or stain. And that's not all: this miracle-worker manages to unite the garment industry's ownership and labor — in aggressive opposition to his invention — as both sides close ranks to discredit him as a crackpot and destroy his formula before it destroys their livelihood. Director Alexander Mackendrick would later go on to his biggest success in Hollywood with an even more acid-drenched film, noir classic SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS.
DIR/SCR Alexander Mackendrick; SCR Roger MacDougall, John Dighton; PROD Michael Balcon. UK, 1951, b&w, 85 min, DCP. NOT RATED
Sat, Jul 26, 11:10 a.m.; Mon, Jul 28, 5:15; Thu, Jul 31, 5:15
Criminal mastermind — in his own mind, at least — Alec Guinness poses as a mild-mannered music professor in order to rent a room from sweet little old lady Katie Johnson. Her home makes the perfect hideout for his eccentric gang of thieves — including pre-PINK PANTHER Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom — who gather there under the guise of string quartet practice. Guinness and the gang make their big score, but does the dotty old bird know too much? And will she sing? "A grotesque fantasy of murder...extravagantly funny." –Pauline Kael.
DIR Alexander Mackendrick; SCR William Rose; PROD Michael Balcon. UK, 1955, color, 91 min, DCP. NOT RATED
THE HORSE'S MOUTH
Sun, Jul 27, 11:10 a.m.; Tue, Jul 29, 9:00
Alec Guinness chews the scenery in this comic romp as free-spirited, strong-willed painter Gulley Jimson, for whom all the world is a canvas to cover, and all people potential buyers, patrons or assistants. Two Oscar® nominations for Guinness, for both Best Actor and Screenplay.
DIR/PROD Ronald Neame; SCR Alec Guinness, from the novel by Joyce Cary; PROD John Bryan. UK, 1958, color, 97 min. NOT RATED
THE CARD aka THE PROMOTER
Fri, Aug 1, 5:10; Mon, Aug 4, 7:30; Wed, Aug 6, 5:15
Young man on the make Denry Machin (Alec Guinness) wheels and deals his way up in the world, bending the rules when he's not outright breaking them. He becomes smitten with fellow opportunist Ruth Earp (Glynis Johns), but, after learning the hard way that business and pleasure don't mix, finds new love with good-hearted Nellie Cotterill (Petula Clark).
DIR Ronald Neame; SCR Eric Ambler, from the novel by Arnold Bennett; PROD John Bryan. UK, 1952, b&w, 85 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
TUNES OF GLORY
Sat, Aug 2, 11:00 a.m.; Wed, Aug 6, 7:20; Thu, Aug 7, 5:15
Having worked his way up from boy piper to Major in the Highland Guards, and served as acting commander of his regiment during WWII, clever Jock Sinclair (Alec Guinness) has come up in the world from his lowborn beginnings. Strange, then, to find conflict in peacetime, and within his own beloved army, when bureaucratic Col. Basil Barrow (John Mills), a martinet and unapologetic snob, takes command. A matter of family honor involving Sinclair's daughter (Susannah York) leads to a battle of wits and a battle of wills between the two men. With Dennis Price, Kay Walsh and Gordon Jackson.
DIR Ronald Neame; SCR James Kennaway, from his novel; PROD Colin Lesslie. US/UK, 1960, color, 106 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sun, Aug 3, 11:30 a.m.; Tue, Aug 5, 7:30
Debut film by Peter Glenville, who also directed the West End stage sensation, with Alec Guinness reprising his role as a stalwart cardinal standing up to persecution in an unnamed eastern European Communist regime. Thrown into jail, Guinness is interrogated and cajoled by party apparatchik Jack Hawkins, his ally just a few years ago when they both sought to undermine their pro-fascist government during WWII. Based on the real-life case of Hungarian cardinal Mindszenty, persecuted by both the Nazis and the Communists.
DIR Peter Glenville; SCR Bridget Boland, from her play; PROD Vivian Cox. UK, 1955, b&w, 91 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE CAPTAIN'S PARADISE
Fri, Aug 8, 5:15; Mon, Aug 11, 7:00
Facing a firing squad, Gibraltar ferryboat captain Henry St. James (Alec Guinness) reminisces about how good he had it when he was living large in blessed bigamy: domestic bliss with homebody wife Maude (BRIEF ENCOUNTER's Celia Johnson) on the European side, and nonstop nightlife in North Africa with vivacious spouse Nita (Yvonne De Carlo). But the delicate equilibrium of Henry's situation becomes upset when Maude becomes restless for more excitement, and Nita gets a hankering to settle down.
DIR/PROD Anthony Kimmins; SCR Alec Coppel, Nicholas Phipps. UK, 1953, b&w, 94 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI
Sat, Aug 9, 6:15; Wed, Aug 13, 7:00
"Madness...madness." Burma, 1943: ordered by Japanese prison camp commandant Sessue Hayakawa to construct a bridge, British POW Colonel Alec Guinness at first refuses but then acquiesces, reasoning that the undertaking will provide a morale boost for his men. But in his obsession with detail and pride in his work, Guinness loses sight of the fact that the bridge will serve a deadly purpose — the transport of Japanese munitions. It falls to American escapee William Holden and British Major Jack Hawkins to lead a mission back to the camp to destroy Guinness' folly. A powerful portrait of war and madness, and winner of seven Oscars® including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Guinness.
DIR David Lean; SCR Carl Foreman, Michael Wilson, from the Pierre Boulle novel "Le pont de la rivière Kwaï"; PROD Sam Spiegel. UK/US, 1957, color, 161 min, DCP. RATED PG
HITLER: THE LAST TEN DAYS
Sat, Aug 16, 2:00; Tue, Aug 19, 6:30
Free of the stereotypical screen bombast unavoidably associated with Hitler, Alec Guinness' portrayal of the Führer during his grim final days in the bunker is instead an understated portrait of ordinary madness, a miserable man who authored monstrous deeds and whose imagined world is now all too really crashing down around him. Directed by prolific screenwriter Ennio De Concini, an Oscar®-winner for DIVORCE ITALIAN STYLE.
DIR/SCR Ennio De Concini; SCR Maria Pia Fusco, from a book by Gerhardt Boldt; SCR/PROD Wolfgang Reinhardt; PROD John Heyman. UK/Italy, 1973, color, 108 min, 16mm. RATED PG
THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM
Sat, Aug 23, 4:30; Wed, Aug 27, 9:20
Phoenix, a cell of former Nazis in West Berlin, have assassinated two British agents. Young agent Quiller (George Segal) is tasked by his handler, Pol (Alec Guinness), to root out the Reich diehards. This Cold War-era spy thriller boasts an excellent cast, including Max von Sydow, Senta Berger and George Sanders, not to mention a screenplay by Harold Pinter. Music by John Barry.
DIR Michael Anderson; SCR Harold Pinter, from the novel "The Berlin Memorandum" by Elleston Trevor; PROD Ivan Foxwell. UK/US, 1966, color, 104 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sun, Aug 24, 11:05 a.m.; Mon, Aug 25, 4:50; Tue, Aug 26, 2:30; Thu, Aug 28, 2:30
King Charles I (Alec Guinness) matches wits and eventually armies with upstart Puritan Parliamentarian Oliver Cromwell (Richard Harris) in Ken Hughes' lavishly appointed (Oscar® winner for Best Costumes), slightly one-sided account of the English Civil War. With Robert Morley and Timothy Dalton.
DIR/SCR Ken Hughes; PROD Irving Allen. US/UK, 1970, color, 139 min, 35mm. RATED G
Sun, Aug 24, 4:20; Tue, Aug 26, 7:00
Ten nominations and five Oscar® wins for David Lean's adaptation of the Boris Pasternak classic recounting the time before, during and after the Russian revolution, as experienced by soulful doctor/poet Omar Sharif and recounted later by his half-brother, Soviet army officer Alec Guinness. Sharif navigates a difficult love triangle between his aristocratic wife Geraldine Chaplin and new love Julie Christie, a nurse who has suffered heartbreak as the former lover of self-righteous revolutionary Tom Courtenay, and dishonor at the hands of politician/rapist Rod Steiger.
DIR David Lean; SCR Robert Bolt, from the novel by Boris Pasternak; PROD Carlo Ponti. UK, 1965, color, 212 min. including 15 min. intermission, 35mm. In English and Russian with English subtitles. RATED PG-13
STAR WARS: EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE
Sat, Aug 30, 4:00; Mon, Sep 1, 8:00; Tue, Sep 2, 11:30 a.m.;
Wed, Sep 3, 1:00; Thu, Sep 4, 12 noon
A long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far away... Alec Guinness earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar® nomination for his iconic turn as Jedi knight Obi-Wan Kenobi, lending his veteran screen presence to the cast of young unknowns in George Lucas' history-making, paradigm-shifting, swashbuckling space adventure.
DIR/SCR George Lucas; PROD Gary Kurtz, Rick McCallum. US, 1977/1997, color, 125 min, 35mm. RATED PG
This version is the Special Edition released in 1997, the only version the distributor allows to be shown theatrically.
OUR MAN IN HAVANA
Sat, Aug 30, 8:00; Sun, Aug 31, 4:45
The third and final of the Carol Reed-Graham Greene collaborations, this time in spoof mode: Havana vacuum cleaner salesman Alec Guinness is surprised to find himself recruited by Caribbean spymaster Noël Coward for service in MI6. He's happy for the extra income, but when nothing much happens, Guinness spices up his reports to please his superiors. Matters are complicated when a real spy ring gets wind of Guinness. Ralph Richardson, Burl Ives and Maureen O'Hara round out a terrific cast, with Ernie Kovacs shining as the crafty Batista enforcer Captain Segura.
DIR/PROD Carol Reed; SCR Graham Greene, from his novel. UK, 1959, b&w, 111 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Fri, Sep 5, 5:10; Sat, Sep 6, 1:15; Sun, Sep 7, 1:00; Tue, Sep 9, 5:00;
Thu, Sep 11, 5:00
Third Hollywood remake of Ferenc Molnár's play about a Mittel-European princess (Grace Kelly, in, yes, her Hollywood swansong, before marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco) torn between marrying the Crown Prince Alexander (Alec Guinness), as her family desperately desires, and her love for dashing tutor Dr. Nicholas Agi (Louis Jourdan). With Agnes Moorehead and child actor, later Beach Boys collaborator and songwriter extraordinaire, Van Dyke Parks.
DIR Charles Vidor; SCR John Dighton, from the play by Ferenc Molnár; PROD Dore Schary. US, 1956, color, 104 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
A PASSAGE TO INDIA
Sun, Sep 7, 3:20; Mon, Sep 8, 4:45; Wed, Sep 10, 4:45
David Lean's exquisite E. M. Forster adaptation, his return to the screen after a 14-year hiatus, earned 11 Oscar® nominations, winning Best Supporting Actress for Peggy Ashcroft and Best Score for Maurice Jarre. In 1920s colonial India, headstrong Brit Judy Davis befriends local doctor Victor Banerjee, but a mysterious event while touring the mystical Marabar caves leads to accusations of rape. Guinness delights as Brahmin scholar Dr. Godbole.
DIR/SCR David Lean; SCR from the novel by E. M. Forster and the play by Santha Rama Rau; PROD John Brabourne, Richard B. Goodwin. UK/US, 1984, color, 164 min, 35mm. RATED PG
Sun, Sep 14, 1:30; Mon, Sep 15, 4:00