#PDXFilmDaily for March 18: “Men in War,” “The Omega Man,” and more

The Northwest Film Center presents a series of restored classics, while the Hollywood serves up a thick hunk of Chuck Heston

The Northwest Film Center kicks off a series of ‘Treasures from the UCLA Film & Television Archives’ with an underseen effort from one of Hollywood’s most overlooked filmmakers. Anthony Mann made Westerns, films noir, and historical epics, and regardless of the genre, he brought an integrity and verisimilitude to everything he touched. That’s supremely evident in his 1957 Korean War movie, which bears the suitably universal title “Men in War.” It’s a simple, even primeval, tale, with Robert Ryan as the leader of a platoon of American soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. Aldo Ray, Vic Morrow, and L.Q. Jones co-star, but the most haunting performance in this nearly nihilistic flick comes from Robert Keith (Brian’s father), who plays a shell-shocked colonel the platoon encounters. The novel “Men in War” is based on was set in World War II Normandy, but tells such a basic tale of conflict that it’s easily transferable to Korea. It’s amazing what a talented filmmaker can accomplish with a small cast, a bunch of military surplus, and the arid California hills to work with.

The UCLA series continues through Sunday, March 27, featuring an array of American cinema both beloved and neglected. Check future editions of #PDXFilmDaily for details.

Robert Ryan in Anthony Mann's 1957 film "Men in War."

Robert Ryan in Anthony Mann’s 1957 film “Men in War.”

Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element” starts a weeklong run at Laurelhurst Theater, and Wes Anderson’s delightful “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” does the same at the The Academy Theater. Both are visually spectacular in their own way, even if Besson’s space opera is both more childish and less child-friendly than Anderson’s endearing Roald Dahl adaptation. Melissa Rauch, star of “The Bronze,” isn’t the only “The Big Bang Theory” cast member with a movie opening this week. Kaley Cuoco heads up the cast of “Burning Bodhi,” an ensemble indie piece playing at the Kiggins Theatre that’s billed as “The Big Chill” for a new generation: a group of twentysomethings reunite for a friend’s funeral. Oscar nominee Virginia Madsen co-stars.

 

Last but certainly not least, the one and only Charlton Heston plays the one and only man left on Earth in the dystopian 1971 sci-fi cult classic “The Omega Man.” It screens on 35mm at the Hollywood Theatre for one night only on Friday.

 

 

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