Brit movie legend brings Ball of Fire to Cinema Salon
Starting in April 2006 with guest Arthur Erickson, prominent locals have rolled up to present one of their favourite movies at the Vancity Theatre’s Cinema Salon. On Tuesday (November 5), the event welcomes its first international guest when British producer Richard Goodwin—whose credits include Murder on the Orient Express, A Passage to India, and Seven Years in Tibet—arrives here to share his desert island choice.
Cinema Salon founder Melanie Friesen was enjoying a casual phone call with Goodwin—for whom she worked in the ‘70s—when he announced that he wanted to join in the fun. Goodwin told his incredulous friend, “I’m telling you now that what we’re going to do is Howard Hawks’ film Ball of Fire, 1941, starring Gary Cooper and Barbra Stanwyck.”
“I’m just beside myself,” Friesen told the Straight, adding that she promptly tracked down a 35mm print of the Howard Hawks classic at the UCLA archives. “It arrived this morning, and it’s packed the way the Louvre would pack the Mona Lisa,” she said. “It’s amazing, with paper folded in the shape of a dying swan or something.”
Friesen traced the origins of Cinema Salon back to her time in the U.K., when she would listen to the long running radio programme Desert Island Discs. “Then I went New York and worked for Scorsese for three or four years, and when he was restoring films, he would take the staff, which was just six or seven of us, to the Universal private screening room and screen the film for us and explain to us why he was restoring this particular film. And, you know, he’s the most articulate man, and to hear him explain why he chose this particular film was so interesting…”
If she was ever in doubt that her idea would work, Friesen presumably took it as a sign when Erickson debuted Cinema Salon with the same film Scorsese screened on her first day in New York—Jean Renoir’s The River (1951). How’s that for synchronicity?
Other memorable choices over the years have included Kurosawa’s Rhapsody in August (Douglas Copeland), Network (Kirk LaPointe), The Battle of Algiers (George Bowering), Some Like it Hot (Nicola Cavendish), The Candidate (Mike Harcourt), Miller’s Crossing (Brent Butt), Children of Paradise (Joy Coghill), Rabbit Proof Fence (Grand Chief Edward John), and Requiem for a Dream (Gabor Mate). The Straight’s own Ken Eisner, meanwhile, chose Truffaut’s 400 Blows, and Charlie Smith brought Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Harry.
Friesen’s personal favourite came courtesy of Michael Ondaatje, with The Hustler. “A brand new print had just been struck by the studio,” said Friesen, “so it really was like being in a room with Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason. Out of everything we’ve shown over these years, there was nothing like The Hustler. So sharp and so perfect.”
Richard Goowin present Ball of Fire at Cinema Salon on Tuesday (November 5)