The Best Old Movies On a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, September 2-8

gods little acre - robert ryan

God’s Little Acre (1958)
Directed by Anthony Mann
Stockton, California stands in swimmingly for Erskine Caldwell’s Georgia backwoods in Mann’s sometimes over-sweaty but fascinating adaptation of the 1933 censorship-benefiting bestseller. A more pathetic lead actor might’ve tipped things into straight mockery, but stolid, sensitive (and spray-grayed) Robert Ryan is able to lend Ty Ty—the widowed patriarch with gold fever, damaged sons and hyper-libidinous daughters—a queer dignity, even when he’s buying into the gold-sniffing knack of albinos or unfavorably comparing a landscape painting to Coca-Cola signs. The screenplay, by either Philip Yordan or blacklisted Ben Maddow (both claimed authorship), gives space to each semi-grotesque offspring, like Fay Spain’s just-wanna-have-fun Darlin’ Jill and Aldo Ray’s Will, whose expansive subplot involving mill worker unrest dumps some cold well water on the dirty-lusty fun. Justin Stewart (September 6, 6:15pm; September 9, 9pm at Anthology Film Archives’s Robert Ryan series)


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