The Other Side of Yuletide… An alternative Christmas at Cornerhouse

Christmas time, we love it. Roasting chestnuts on an open fire, sleigh bells in the snow... But Christmas can also be a backdrop to slightly more troubling things, as these films show.

By Matthew Tyas | November 28th '13

Christmas time, we love it. Roasting chestnuts on an open fire, sleigh bells in the snow… But Christmas can also be a backdrop to slightly more troubling things, as these films show. Selected by Garry Watson, Cornerhouse Chief Projectionist.

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Lady in the Lake (CTBA)
Sat 14 Dec, 16:00
Dir Robert Montgomery/US 1947/ 102 mins
Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan
While few would make a case for Lady in the Lake being classic film noir, its subjective camera technique and eerie Christmas ambience sets it apart from the rest. Adapted from the novel by Raymond Chandler, in this film you are Philip Marlowe and see everything from his point of view. Starring and directed by Robert Montgomery, this may one of the strangest noirs to come out of the 1940s studio system.

Curse of the Cat People (U)
Mon 16 Dec, 18:20
Dir Gunther von Fritsch, Robert Wise/US 1944/70 mins
Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph
A sequel to 1942’s The Cat People but tenuously connected in terms of plot and characters, Curse of the Cat People serves up an even more dreamlike, fairy tale mood. A study in childhood loneliness and the power of the imagination, this is a beautiful, charming fantasy rather than the horror film the title suggests. Co-directed by Robert Wise (who later made the terrifying The Haunting – and The Sound of Music!) and produced by the great Val Lewton. The Christmas sequences are magical. A poetic masterpiece.

A Midnight Clear (15)
Thu 19 Dec, 18:10
Dir Keith Gordon/US 1992/104 mins
Peter Berg, Kevin Dillon, Arye Gross, Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinise, Frank Whaley
December 1944. As the end of the Second World War approaches, American and German soldiers come together in a snow-bound forest somewhere near the French/German border. In an effort to save at least some lives, the Germans surrender themselves and spend Christmas with their captors. This haunting and moving anti-war film features a great cast of young, up-and-coming actors, including Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinise, Peter Berg and Kevin Dillon. An ethereal score by Mark Isham adds to the atmosphere.

Dead of Night (PG)
Sat 21 Dec, 15:30 – introduced screening
Dir Alberto Cavalcanti, Basil Dearden, Charles Crichton, Robert Hamer/GB 1945/100 mins/French and English with partial EngST.
Mervyn Johns, Roland Culver, Mary Merrall, Sally Ann Howes, Googie Withers
A visitor to a manor house can’t shake off déjà vu when the guests begin to recount sinister experiences… Ealing Studios made a detour from comedy with this striking portmanteau blend of traditional ghost stories, a whimsical haunted golf course and, most memorably, a deeply disturbed ventriloquist.

This screening will be introduced by Linnie Blake, Principle Lecturer in film and Director of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University

Matinee Classic
The Queen of Spades (PG)
Sun 15 Dec, 12:00; Wed 18 Dec, 13:30
Dir Thorold Dickinson/GB 1949/96 mins
Anton Walbrook, Edith Evans, Yvonne Mitchell
Thorold Dickinson’s tantalisingly macabre tale tells the story of an ancient countess and her dealings with the devil to secure success at the gambling table. This is a rare opportunity to see a forgotten classic of British cinema, don’t miss out!

Wed 18 Dec, 13:30: post-screening discussion/ The Queen of Spades led by Linnie Blake, Principle Lecturer in film and Director of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Christmas Café Deal
Treat yourself in the Café after watching one of the Christmas films. Present your ticket and you can enjoy a glass of mulled wine and a slice of traditional Italian Christmas dessert Panforte di Siena for just £3.95.

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