The masterful director Howard Hawks had a simple strategy: Craft great scenes. String enough of ‘em together, and you have a great movie. The Big Sleep (1946), starring Humphrey Bogart as smart-mouth punching bag Philip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as spoiled thoroughbred Vivian Rutledge, executes the formula to timeless perfection. Raymond Chandler’s sordid saga of nymphomania, blackmail, beatings, and murder, adapted for the screen by William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, and Jules Furthman, crams more ugly truths about human nature into 114 minutes than is healthy. It’s on our All-Time Top 10 list, needless to say, and reps a brilliant choice for the opening weekend of the Castro’s 90th Anniversary. The bounty of riches includes a set by vocalist Monique Argent Gannon, an introduction by noir savant Eddie Muller, plus the rumpled king of cool, Robert Mitchum, in Where Danger Lives (1950). The first program of the day, if your heart can take it, begins with banjo-pickin’ Jack Convery and Blackie Norton’s Paradise Club Band warming up the crowd for the Mary Poppins Sing-A-Long. Sunday is even more daunting, er, impressive, with the gluttonous double bill of Gone With the Wind and Citizen Kane. Save room, somehow, for birthday cake.
Sat., Aug. 4, 7:30 p.m., 2012