Around Town: Steve McQueen, the King of Cool, rides again
The American Cinematheque celebrates the legacy of King of Cool Steve McQueen at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood from Thursday through Sunday.
"Low Rider: The Super Charged Cinema of Steve McQueen" opens with one of his quintessential films, the 1968 detective thriller "Bullitt," in which he plays the unflappable, Mustang-driving San Francisco detective Frank Bullitt. Directed by Peter Yates, the film features one of the seminal car chase sequences ever put on film. Following "Bullitt" is McQueen's disappointing final film, 1980's "The Hunter," which was released shortly before his death.
Screening Saturday is the 1973 prison epic "Papillon" and the rarely seen 1963 comedy drama "Soldier in the Rain" with Jackie Gleason. McQueen's first wife, Neile Adams, will be on hand to sign her book "My Husband, My Friend" before the screening Saturday of 1963's classic World War II action-adventure "The Great Escape," which made McQueen a superstar.
The series concludes Sunday with Norman Jewison's sophisticated 1968 romantic caper thriller "The Thomas Crown Affair" with Faye Dunaway and 1972's thriller "The Getaway," directed by Sam Peckinpah, and also starring Ali MacGraw, who became the actor's second wife.
The Cinematheque's Aero Theatre wants you to pass the time by "playing a little solitaire" Thursday evening with a 50th anniversary screening of the iconic political thriller "The Manchurian Candidate," directed by John Frankenheimer, and starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and an Oscar-nominated Angela Lansbury.
With the Farrelly brothers' take on the venerable comedy team "The Three Stooges" opening on April 13, the Cinematheque gets into the "nyuk, nyuk, nyuk" spirit Sunday at the Aero with a double bill of Stooges slapstick -- 1962's "The Three Stooges Meets Hercules" and 1965's "The Outlaws Is Coming," which also features Adam West and several daytime kiddie TV hosts who showed Three Stooges shorts.
The Aero's "Wednesdays with Robert Altman" series kicks off with his 1971 revisionist western, "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" with Warren Beatty and an Oscar-nominated Julie Christie. www.americancinematheque.com
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' "Inside the Booth: A Journey Through Projection," kicks off Thursday evening at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. Presented by the academy's Science and Technology Council, the series -- hosted by the academy's chief projectionist Marshall Gitlitz and silent film historian and projectionist Joe Rinaudo -- is a three-week exploration of the evolution of the motion picture camera.
The opening program, "The Birth of Projection," shines the spotlight on the works of such film pioneers as George Eastman and George Melies, features a demonstration of hand-cranked films and a screening of Buster Keaton's 1924 classic "Sherlock Jr.," in which he plays a projectionist who wants to become a detective. Though the event Thursday is sold out there will be a stand-by line.
Besides the series, there is also an exhibition, "Tech Art 2: The Projection Story," at the venue that features 30 color images of projection equipment shot by photographer Vince Gonzales, as well as projectors and other equipment.
The series continues April 19 and May 4. www.oscars.org
Jason Reitman presents "The Big Lebowski," his final installment in his "Live Read" series for Film Independent at LACMA, on Thursday evening at the Leo S. Bing Theatre. The event is sold out but there will be a stand-by line.
Animation historians and authors Jerry Beck and Adam Abraham will be on hand Friday evening at LACMA for "Madcap Modernism: Mid-Century Cartoons from UPA and Beyond," which features two programs of innovative theatrical animation shorts from the 1950s. LACMA's Tuesday matinee series at the Leo S. Bing Theatre presents one of the jewels in Preston Sturges' comedic crown: the 1942 romantic comedy "The Palm Beach Story," starring Joel McCrea, Claudette Colbert, Mary Astor and Rudy Vallee. www.lacma.org
UCLA Film &Television Archive's "Spencer Tracy: The Natural Thing" comes to a close Friday evening at the Billy Wilder Theater with the actor's final film, 1967's "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner," which also stars Katharine Hepburn, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton. Karen Kramer, the widow of producer/director Stanley Kramer, will be the special guest.
The archive's Wednesday evening series at the Million Dollar Theater in downtown Los Angeles features two thrillers from William Castle: 1964's "Strait-Jacket," starring Joan Crawford and 1961's "Homicidal." www.cinema.ucla.edu
New Beverly Cinema showcases the Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton") Friday and Saturday with screenings of her most recent film, 2011's "We Need to Talk About Kevin," in which she plays the mother of a disturbed son and Sally Potter's 1992 version of Virginia Woolf's novel, "Orlando." www.newbevcinema.com
Film at Redcat presents "Narrative Bodies: Films and Videos by Abigail Child," Monday evening. Child will be appearing in person at the program, which features many of her avant-garde films including 1977's "Peripeteia I" and 1986's "Perils." www.redcat.org
Paul Mazursky and actor George Segal will be reminiscing about "Blume in Love," the filmmaker's 1973 romantic comedy starring Segal and Kris Kristofferson, after a screening Tuesday evening at the Skirball Center. www.skirball.org
Silent screen legend Harold Lloyd would have been 119 on April 20, and the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre is celebrating his birthday Wednesday with a screening of two of his comedies: 1926's "For Heaven's Sake" and 1923's "Why Worry?" His granddaughter, Suzanne Lloyd, will introduce the screening. www.cinefamily.org
Photo: Steve McQueen, left, and Robert Vaughn in "Bullitt." Credit: File photo