The management at the Portage Theater have announced that the building will reopen next month, just over one year after owner Eddie Carranza shuttered its doors. On Saturday 6/14 the Portage will host three separate events: the Six Corners BBQ Fest (which begins at 1 PM), a stand-up comedy show (at 4 PM), and a free program of silent comedy shorts (at 7 PM) with accompaniment by longtime Portage organist Jay Warren. The latter marks the theater’s first cinematic event since the Northwest Chicago Film Society screened Zardoz there last May, and it should be just as funny. On the bill are Charlie Chaplin’s The Fireman, Harold Lloyd’s Haunted Spooks, and the Laurel and Hardy silent Big Business (on which the great Leo McCarey served as “supervising director”).
The theater calendar currently lists another half-dozen screenings for summer—let’s hope that more will be added soon. On Sunday 6/15 Warren will accompany The Iron Mask (1929), a “part-talkie” adaptation of Dumas’s The Man in the Iron Mask starring Douglas Fairbanks and directed by the perennially underrated Allan Dwan. The following Sunday brings a double feature of Alias Nick Beal (1949), one of the standouts of last year’s Noir City festival at the Music Box, and Cause for Alarm, a 1951 Loretta Young vehicle directed by Tay Garnett, another underrated studio filmmaker who authored some crackling programmers in the pre-Code era.
Two more double features are on the schedule at present. On Saturday 7/19 the program consists of John Huston’s self-parodying adventure movie Beat the Devil (1953) and Otto Preminger’s first great noir, Laura (1944). On Sunday 8/10 it’s Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street (1945), followed by Dark City. The Portage website doesn’t specify whether they’re showing the 1950 Charlton Heston noir or the 1998 sci-fi puzzle movie with the same name. I’m guessing it’s the former, but either would go well with the Lang. Admission is $6 for all the double features, which has got to be one of the better moviegoing deals of the summer (along with the annual free series of international films that the Chicago International Film Festival presents at the Cultural Center). This year’s lineup is the best in recent memory, drawing from the last three decades of CIFF selections. Some of the high-profile titles include Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Millennium Mambo, Catherine Breillat’s Fat Girl, and Ryszard Bugajski’s Interrogation, one of the most controversial Polish films of the 1980s.