Four from Robert Hamer: BAM, July 28 through 31, 2008
Robert Hamer needs to be rescued from relative obscurity and recognized as a major director. His career trails off into a series of half-realized works in the 50s, but even these later films are worth exploring; and in the postwar 40s he was one of the finest filmmakers in the world. BAM is hosting a four-film Hamer retrospective on July 28 through 31 – the best films in it are not that rare, and the rare films in it are perhaps not Hamer's best, but it's nice to see Hamer get any theater space. Beginners should start with the celebrated 1949 black comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets on Tuesday, July 29, and the 1947 sociological drama It Always Rains on Sunday (which I wrote about earlier this year) on Thursday, July 31. The 1954 comedy-thriller Father Brown (aka The Detective), screening on Wednesday, July 30, is to my mind the best of Hamer's 50s films, a bit silly in conception but touched by that stoical gravity that Hamer comes by so naturally – and it manages to use the priest-as-detective format without making a travesty of religious principles. BAM necessarily skewed its programming to capitalize on Alec Guinness's stardom – perhaps someday soon we'll have the opportunity to see the rest of Hamer's work, including the 1949 masterpiece The Spider and the Fly.