'Gold Diggers' is worth every penny

Baltimore Sun

"Gold Diggers of 1933," this weekend's entry in the Charles Theatre's blissfully eccentric Saturday revival series, is one of those relics from a bygone era that can't help but win your heart. Director Mervyn LeRoy and, especially, choreographer Busby Berkeley turned on all the charm they could find, employed just about every chorus girl within a 20-mile radius of Hollywood (maybe that's an exaggeration, but not by much) and managed to put out a movie that made the Depression appear exciting and, more important, winnable. Dick Powell stars as the scion of a wealthy family who, unbeknownst to his parents, hopes to come to the rescue of a beleaguered Broadway show. Of course, given that the show's stars include Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Ginger Rogers, it's no wonder he wants to help them out.

The movie is all about baseless optimism in the face of dire circumstances - a message perhaps as pertinent today as it ever was. And the kaleidoscopic wonders staged by Berkeley, featuring dozens of carefully synchronized dancers, huge surrealistic sets and camera angles that seem to defy the laws of physics, remain a delight by any conceivable standard.

Showtime at the Charles, 1711 N. Charles St., is noon Saturday, with encores set for 7 p.m. Monday and 9 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $6 Saturday, $8 other days. Information: 410-727-3456 or thecharles.com.

King film Sidney Lumet and Joseph Mankiewicz's Oscar-nominated 1970 documentary, "King: A Filmed Record ... Montgomery to Memphis," being screened for free Monday at the American Film Institute's Silver Theatre, is a moving testimony to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s influence and legacy, released two years after his assassination. Newsreel footage follows King from 1955's Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott to the 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech," delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and then on to that fateful April evening in Memphis, Tenn. Onscreen commentary is offered by a host of Hollywood celebrities, including Sidney Poitier, James Earl Jones, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Charlton Heston, Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee and Clarence Williams III.

Showtimes at the Silver, 8633 Colesville Road in Silver Spring, are 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Information: 301-495-6720 or afi.com.

Cinema Sundays Writer-director Rebecca Miller's "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee," this weekend's Cinema Sundays at the Charles offering, stars Robin Wright Penn as a secure, contented mother of twins whose world is seriously discombobulated when her husband (who is some three decades older than she) abruptly decides to uproot the family and move; worse, he also decides to take an even younger lover. Alan Arkin, Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder and Maria Bello also star.

The movie starts at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Charles, 1711 N. Charles St., preceded by 30 minutes of no-extra-charge coffee and bagels and followed by a discussion of the film. Tickets are $15. Information: 410-727-3456, thecharles.com or cinemasundays.com.

AVAM series The American Visionary Art Museum's free Winter Visionary Film Series, featuring documentaries on the sort of proudly self-taught and outside-the-main-stream artists AVAM has so fiercely championed over the years, continues Thursday with a double feature. "Gayleen" focuses on the art of Gayleen Aiken, who gave birth to a family of 24 cardboard cutouts, through which she re-created the pastoral Vermont of her youth. "The Kingdom of Nek Chand" is the story of the artist who secretly carved a beautiful, majestic concrete garden in the middle of an Indian rain forest.

The movies start at 7 p.m. at the museum, 800 Key Highway. Information: 410-244-1900 or avam.org.

'Satin Rouge' The group Film Lovers in Carroll County will present Tunisian director Raja Amari's "Satin Rouge" tonight at the Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St. in Westminster. The film stars Hiam Abbass as a widowed mother who finds unexpected solace and even romance after a late-night visit to a cabaret introduces her to the world of belly dancing.

Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students, seniors and Carroll Arts Council members. Call: 410-848-7272.

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