Marilyn Monroe and her enduring legacy step into the spotlight in this week’s Friday Night Double Feature on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck. One of the most iconic Hollywood films of all time, Billy Wilder’s 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot features Monroe as the jazz singer Sugar “Kane” Kowalczyk, whose all-female band is joined by two musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) dressed as women in order to hide from the mob. Nicolas Roeg’s characteristically idiosyncratic 1985 chamber piece Insignificance takes place in a New York City hotel room, where characters based on four larger-than-life figures of the 1950s—Albert Einstein (Michael Emil), Joe DiMaggio (Gary Busey), Joseph McCarthy (Curtis), and Monroe herself (Theresa Russell)—reflect on their lives, fame, and the era they’ve come to signify.
Also on this week:
Terence Davies’s achingly beautiful 1992 film adopts the perspective of a young boy growing up in 1950s Liverpool, affording an intimate glimpse of the hopes and fears of a lonely child on the cusp of adolescence. Unlike many coming-of-age films, Davies’s heavily autobiographical second feature eschews a linear progression in favor of a boldly nonchronological method of storytelling. In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, a Channel-exclusive series that every month offers viewers a ten-minute dose of film school, Professor Kristin Thompson focuses on how the film’s editing holds its unorthodox narrative structure together. Davies has said that “when you see a dissolve, whether you realize it or not, you always read it as time passing, either forward or backward,” and here, Thompson observes the ways in which the technique allows The Long Day Closes to mimic the fluidity and emotional texture of memory.
Weird science powers these films from two of cinema’s most original dreamers. In Guy Maddin’s Night Mayor (2009), a black-and-white short set in 1939 Winnipeg, a Bosnian-immigrant inventor learns how to use the northern lights to broadcast images across his adopted homeland of Canada. In Alain Resnais’s 1968 Je t’aime, je t’aime—a major influence on a later head-trip down memory lane, Michel Gondry’s 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind—a group of scientists persuade a suicidal man to take part in a mysterious time-travel experiment.
This masterpiece by Jean-Pierre Melville about the French Resistance went unreleased in the United States for thirty-seven years, until its triumphant theatrical debut in 2006. Atmospheric and gripping, Army of Shadows is Melville’s most personal film, featuring Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and the incomparable Simone Signoret as intrepid underground fighters who must grapple with their conception of honor in their battle against Hitler’s regime. Supplemental features: a short program on Melville and the film, a rare short documentary shot on the front lines during the final days of German-occupied France, and more.