May 20 - August 23, 2023

The Chelsea Theater is pleased to announce Chelsea Classics, a new repertory series of essential arthouse films. The initial 28-film selection includes vital American independents, underseen Hollywood classics, international favorites, and even a couple of brand-new restorations that will remain unavailable on home video or streaming. Only at the Chelsea Theater, all summer long!

Programmed by Jason Sudak, with assistance from Meghan Bowman/Balcony Booking




Night Nurse

(William A. Wellman, 1931, 72 min)

Sat May 20, 4:00 pm
Tue May 23, 7:00 pm

Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Blondell star as student nurses outwitting their overseers, goofing off, and - why not - changing into and out of their nursing uniforms. But things turn ominous after graduation when Barbara and Joan are assigned to care for two sick children and begin to suspect medical - and maternal - malpractice. A mustache-less Clark Gable, poured into knee-high black boots, is especially sinister.


Celine and Julie Go Boating

(Jacques Rivette, 1974, 192 min, in French with English subtitles)

Sun May 21, 4:00 pm
Wed May 24, 7:00 pm

Julie (Dominique Labourier), a daydreaming librarian, meets Céline (Juliet Berto), an enigmatic magician, and together they become the heroines of a time-warping adventure involving a haunted house, psychotropic candy, and a murder-mystery melodrama. Incorporating allusions to everything from Lewis Carroll to Louis Feuillade, Céline and Julie Go Boating is both one of the all-time-great hangout comedies and an enveloping cinematic dream of storytelling without end.




Johnny Guitar

(Nicholas Ray, 1954, 110 min)

Sat May 27, 4:00 pm
Tue May 30, 7:00 pm

Ray’s cracking-good, psychologically complex western stars Joan Crawford at her best as a saloon owner trying to protect her friend from the noose wielded by an out-of-control lynch mob, headed up by a diabolical Mercedes McCambridge. Sterling Hayden ably fills out the boots of the title character, who comes to help his former lover ward off the bad guys. This McCarthy-era allegory features stunning color photography and double entendres galore; it’s slowly come to be commonly identified as one of the great American films of the 1950s. (Metrograph)


Thomasine & Bushrod

(Gordon Parks Jr., 1974, 95 min)

Sun May 28, 4:00 pm
Wed May 31, 7:00 pm

In 1974, two years after making Super Fly, the director Gordon Parks, Jr., infused this picaresque Western with a similar blend of cool swagger and social acuity. The action starts in 1911, in Texas, where Thomasine (Vonetta McGee), a sharpshooting bounty hunter, and H. P. Bushrod (Max Julien), a most-wanted outlaw, team up to rob banks. Distributing their pelf to the poor and disposing of murderous racists, they become living legends throughout the South…radically revising Western conventions in light of the experience and the history of its Black protagonists. (Richard Brody, The New Yorker)




Days of Heaven

(Terrence Malick, 1978, 94 min)

Sat June 3, 4:00 pm
Tue June 6, 7:00 pm

In 1916, Chicagoans Richard Gere, kid sister Linda Manz, and lover Brooke Adams head to the Texas Panhandle to work the wheat fields of prosperous farmer Sam Shepard. Love triangles, locust plagues, and some of cinema’s most unforgettable imagery ensue. But Terrance Malick’s legendary Days of Heaven may never have hit the screen without an unheralded assist from teen actress Manz. Eighteen months into the edit, Malick was still struggling to find the shape of the film and invited Manz to improvise a voice-over. Her fantastic, apocalyptic imagery and deadpan storytelling, delivered in her trademark streetwise voice, proved an essential counterpoint to Malick’s magic-hour reveries.


Out of the Blue

(Dennis Hopper, 1980, 94 min)

Sun June 4, 4:00 pm
Wed June 7, 7:00 pm

“Subvert normality… Destroy… Kill all hippies.” Unlikely teen star Linda Manz gives one of the greatest adolescent performances in cinema as Cebe, a budding punk whose disastrous home life only gets more complicated when her ex-truck driver dad (Dennis Hopper, returning to the director’s chair after a decade in movie jail) gets sprung out of the can and comes home, dragging bad habits and repressed memories back with him. Hopper was deep into his various self-immolating addictions at this point in his career, but the unflappable Manz counters her director’s shambolic energy with an unforgettable performance of poise, wit, and swagger.




My Man Godfrey

(Gregory La Cava, 1936, 93 min)

Sat June 10, 4:00 pm
Tue June 13, 7:00 pm

Carole Lombard and William Powell dazzle in this definitive screwball comedy by Gregory La Cava—a potent cocktail of romantic repartee and social critique. Irene (Lombard), an eccentric, wealthy Manhattanite, wins a society-ball scavenger hunt after finding a “forgotten man” (Powell)—an apparent down-and-out drifter—at a dump. She gives him work as the family butler and soon falls head over heels for him. Her attempts to both woo Godfrey and indoctrinate him in the household’s dysfunction make for a string of madcap high jinks that has never been bested, and the film remains one of Hollywood’s greatest commentaries on class and the social unrest of the Depression era.


The Lady Eve

(Preston Sturges, 1941, 93 min)

Sun June 11, 4:00 pm
Wed June 14, 7:00 pm

Barbara Stanwyck sizzles, Henry Fonda bumbles, and Preston Sturges runs riot in one of the all-time great screwballs, a pitch-perfect blend of comic zing and swoonworthy romance. Aboard a cruise liner sailing up the coast of South America, Stanwyck’s conniving card sharp sets her sights on Fonda’s nerdy snake researcher, who happens to be the heir to a brewery fortune. But when the con artist falls for her mark, her grift becomes a game of hearts—and she is determined to win it all. This gender-flipped battle-of-wits farce is perhaps Sturges’ most emotionally satisfying work, tempering its sparkling humor with a streak of tender poignancy supplied by the sensational Stanwyck at her peak.




Love Streams

(John Cassavetes, 1984, 141 min)

Sat June 17, 4:00 pm
Tue June 20, 7:00 pm

John Cassavetes’s career of risk taking comes to a climax in this rich, original, emotionally magnificent 1984 film about a brother who is unable to love (Cassavetes) and a sister who loves too much (Gena Rowlands). For half its length the film follows their separate experiences—he as a celebrated novelist living a life of desperate dissolution in Los Angeles; she as a wife and mother undergoing a painful divorce in Chicago—and then brings them together for a rocky reunion. At the climax they trade roles, and each is alone again in a new way. Cassavetes follows his vision to the limit, a course that takes him through extravagance, indulgence, and hysteria—yet for all of his apparent disdain for classical construction, there isn’t a moment in the film that doesn’t find its place in a grand design. (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader)



(John Cassavetes, 1970, 142 min)

Sun June 18, 4:00 pm
Wed June 21, 7:00 pm

In the catalogue of films about platonic male love, few have the same sensitivity for its codes and complications as Husbands. This tale of a middle-aged, suburbanite trio (real life buddies Ben Gazzara, Peter Falk, and director John Cassavetes, all at the top of their game) mourning the recent death of their pal—and their youth—by going on an endless memorial bender suggests that, for many, the truest way to express one’s feelings is by throwing them up… That Cassavetes and his friends still managed to have such a blast making it gives this picture a bittersweet, Frank Capra-like tenderness which, for all its sometimes revolting messiness, feels pretty much classic. (Dylan Pasture, Screen Slate)




Losing Ground

(Kathleen Collins, 1982, 86 min)

Sat June 24, 4:00 pm
Tue June 27, 7:00 pm

The inimitable Kathleen Collins's second film tells the story of two remarkable people, married and hurtling toward a crossroads in their lives: Sara Rogers, a Black professor of philosophy, is embarking on an intellectual quest just as her painter husband Victor (Bill Gunn) sets off on an exploration of joy. Victor decides to rent a country house away from the city, but the couple’s summer idyll becomes complicated by his involvement with a younger model. One of the very first fictional features by an African-American woman, Losing Ground remains a stunning and powerful work of art for being a funny, brilliant, and personal member of indie cinema canon.


The Green Ray

(Éric Rohmer, 1986, 98 min, in French with English subtitles)

Sun June 25, 4:00 pm
Wed June 28, 7:00 pm

Éric Rohmer captures the ache of summertime sadness with exquisite poignancy in this luminous tale of self-exploration, the fifth film in his Comedies and Proverbs cycle. The Jules Verne novel of the same name provides the loose inspiration for the story of Delphine (Marie Rivière), a dreamy, introverted young secretary who, reeling from a breakup with her boyfriend, faces the prospect of spending her summer vacation alone. As she bounces from Cherbourg to the tourist-choked Alps to the sunny beaches of Biarritz, Delphine passes through a whirl of social activity—but remains profoundly alone, as true human connection continually eludes her. As honest a portrait of loneliness, depression, and the longing for understanding as has ever been committed to film, The Green Ray is one of the most piercingly perceptive works by French cinema’s keenest observer of human relationships.




Ace in the Hole

(Billy Wilder, 1951, 111 min)

Sat July 1, 4:00 pm
Wed July 5, 7:00 pm

Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole is one of the most scathing indictments of American culture ever produced by a Hollywood filmmaker. Kirk Douglas gives the fiercest performance of his career as Chuck Tatum, an amoral newspaper reporter who washes up in dead-end Albuquerque, happens upon the scoop of a lifetime, and will do anything to keep getting the lurid headlines. Wilder’s follow-up to Sunset Boulevard is an even darker vision, a no-holds-barred exposé of the American media’s appetite for sensation that has gotten only more relevant with time.


Starship Troopers

(Paul Verhoeven, 1997, 129 min)

Sun July 2, 4:00 pm
Thu July 6, 7:00 pm

Part comic book–style action adventure, part scathing satire of the military-industrial complex, Starship Troopers is one of the most subversive artistic acts ever perpetrated with a $100 million budget. Welcome to the 24th century, where fresh-faced, idealistic teens are encouraged to join up and become “citizens” by enlisting in the intergalactic army. They’ll grow up, see the universe, and, oh yeah, be slaughtered by the thousands as they battle giant, mutant insects threatening to wipe out mankind. Abetted by seamless special effects and impressively gory CGI carnage, Verhoeven delivers thrilling science fiction spectacle alongside a devastating takedown of jingoistic militarism.





(Cauleen Smith, 1998, 86 min)

Saturday July 8, 4:00 pm
Tuesday July 11, 7:00 pm

A lost treasure of 1990s DIY filmmaking, Cauleen Smith’s Drylongso embeds an incisive look at racial injustice within a lovingly handmade buddy movie/murder mystery/ romance. Alarmed by the rate at which the young Black men around her are dying—indeed, “becoming extinct,” as she sees it—brash Oakland art student Pica (Toby Smith) attempts to preserve their existence in Polaroid snapshots, along the way forging a friendship with a woman in an abusive relationship (April Barnett), experiencing love and loss, and being drawn into the search for a serial killer who is terrorizing the city. Capturing the vibrant community spirit of Oakland in the nineties, Smith crafts both a rare cinematic celebration of Black female creativity and a moving elegy for a generation of lost African American men.


Millennium Mambo

(Hou Hsiao Hsien, 2001, 107 min, in Mandarin with English subtitles)

Sun July 9, 4:00 pm
Wed July 12, 7:00 pm

A stylish and seductive submersion into the techno-scored neon nightlife of Taipei, Hou’s much-misunderstood marvel stars Shu Qi (The Assassin) as an aimless bar hostess drifting away from her blowhard boyfriend and towards Jack Kao’s suave, sensitive gangster. Structured as a flashback to the then-present from the then-future of 2011, it’s a transfixing trance-out of a movie, drenched in club lights, ecstatic endorphin-rush exhilaration, and a nagging undercurrent of ennui.




A New Leaf

(Elaine May, 1971, 102 min)

Sat July 15, 4:00 pm
Tue July 18, 7:00 pm

Writer-director-star Elaine May’s first feature concerns stunted manboy Henry (Walter Matthau) who, having squandered his inherited wealth, plots to marry and murder the very rich and very maladjusted Henrietta (May.) May’s savage take on her characters underscores their vanity and self-absorption, but also their tenderness. The Village Voice: “A film of such wit and comic invention that it belongs among the great American comedies.”


Young Adult

(Jason Reitman, 2011, 94 min)

Sun July 16, 4:00 pm July 19, 7:00 pm

If Lydia Tár traded classical music for YA literature and Berlin for Minnesota, she’d probably behave a lot like Young Adult’s Mavis. As in writer Diablo Cody’s previous feature, the lately re-appraised Jennifer’s Body, Young Adult centers a complicated, unlikeable female protagonist. Charlize Theron gives a pitch-perfect performance as a Young Adult author who delusionally exploits adolescent romance platitudes to try to break up the marriage of her long-lost high school boyfriend. Patton Oswalt delivers a delightful performance as her floundering sidekick torn between his conscience and his crush. One of the more astonishing - and corrosive - rom-coms one could ever hope to see.


JLG x2



(Jean-Luc Godard, 1963, 102 min, in French with English subtitles)

Sat July 22, 4:00 pm
Tue July 25, 7:00 pm

Jean-Luc Godard’s subversive foray into commercial filmmaking is a star-studded Cinemascope epic. Contempt (Le Mépris) stars Michel Piccoli as a screenwriter torn between the demands of a proud European director (played by legendary director Fritz Lang), a crude and arrogant American producer (Jack Palance), and his disillusioned wife, Camille (Brigitte Bardot), as he attempts to doctor the script for a new film version of The Odyssey. An inimitable riff on marital breakdown, artistic compromise, and the cinematic process.


2 or 3 Things I Know About Her

(Jean-Luc Godard, 1967, 87 min, in French with English subtitles)

Sun July 23, 4:00 pm
Wed July 26, 7:00 pm

The most intellectually heroic of Jean-Luc Godard’s early features was inspired by his reading an article about suburban housewives day-tripping into Paris to turn tricks for spending money. Marina Vlady plays one such woman, followed over a single day in a slender narrative with many documentary and documentary-like digressions. But the central figure is Godard himself, who whispers his poetic and provocative ruminations over monumentally composed color ‘Scope images and, like James Agee in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, continually interrogates his own methods and responses. Few features of the period capture the world with as much passion and insight. (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader)




Body Heat

(Lawrence Kasdan, 1981, 113 min)

Sat July 29, 4:00 pm
Tue Aug 1, 7:00 pm

“You’re not too smart, are you? I like that in a man.” White-clad Kathleen Turner inveigles sweatily lustful lawyer William Hurt into a definitely R-rated reworking of Double Indemnity. More than one critic at the time noted that it didn’t make a lot of sense for the film’s lead characters to speak in the kind of erotically charged innuendo that was once written to get around censorship, only to then show them actually having sex… The one and only Body Heat!


Y tu mamá también

(Alfonso Cuarón, 2001, 106 min, in Spanish with English subtitles)

Sun July 30, 4:00 pm
Wed August 2, 7:00 pm

This smash road comedy from Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón is that rare movie to combine raunchy subject matter and emotional warmth. Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna shot to international stardom as a pair of horny Mexico City teenagers from different classes who, after their girlfriends jet off to Italy for the summer, are bewitched by a gorgeous older Spanish woman (Maribel Verdú) they meet at a wedding. When she agrees to accompany them on a trip to a faraway beach, the three form an increasingly intense and sensual alliance that ultimately strips them both physically and emotionally bare.





All I Desire

(Douglas Sirk, 1953, 79 min)

Sat Aug 5, 4:00 pm
Tue Aug 8, 7:00 pm

A failed actress and mother of three (Barbara Stanwyck) returns to the husband (Richard Carlson) and family she deserted years before in this superior 1953 drama by Douglas Sirk, a very personal reworking of a standard soap-opera plot. True to form, Sirk transforms the material through a careful and ironic subversion of the conventions; what emerges is a biting assessment of the value of survival in the face of small-town meanness and prejudice, a neat use of a very bourgeois format to satirize its audience. (Don Drucker, Chicago Reader)


All That Heaven Allows

(Douglas Sirk, 1955, 89 min)

Sun Aug 6, 4:00 pm
Wed Aug 9, 7:00 pm

A masterpiece (1955) by one of the most inventive and recondite directors ever to work in Hollywood, Douglas Sirk. The story (which Rainer Werner Fassbinder remade as Ali: Fear Eats the Soul) concerns a romance between a middle-aged, middle-class widow (Jane Wyman) and a brawny young gardener (Rock Hudson)—the stuff of a standard weepie, you might think, until Sirk’s camera begins to draw a deeply disturbing, deeply compassionate portrait of a woman trapped by stifling moral and social codes. Sirk’s meaning is conveyed almost entirely by his mise-en-scene—a world of glistening, treacherous surfaces, of objects that take on a terrifying life of their own; he is one of those rare filmmakers who insist that you read the image. (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader)


There’s Always Tomorrow

(Douglas Sirk, 1955, 85 min)

Sat Aug 12, 4:00 pm
Tue Aug 15, 7:00 pm

Douglas Sirk is best known for his highly stylized Technicolor melodramas, but he also did superlative work in restrained black and white. There’s Always Tomorrow (1955) is a virtuoso study in tones, ranging from the blinding sunlight of a desert resort to the expressionist shadows of the suburban home where Fred MacMurray lives in unhappy union with Joan Bennett. Barbara Stanwyck is the old flame who turns up by accident, rekindling for MacMurray the dangerous illusion that happiness is still possible. With Pat Crowley and William Reynolds. (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader)


Written on the Wind

(Douglas Sirk, 1956, 99 min)

Sun Aug 13, 4:00 pm
Wed Aug 16, 7:00 pm

One of the most remarkable and unaccountable films ever made in Hollywood, Douglas Sirk’s 1957 masterpiece turns a lurid, melodramatic script into a screaming Brechtian essay on the shared impotence of American family and business life. Sirk’s highly imaginative use of color—to accent, undermine, and sometimes even nullify the drama—remains years ahead of contemporary technique. The degree of stylization is high and impeccable: one is made to understand the characters as icons as well as psychologically complex creations. With Dorothy Malone (in the performance of her career), Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack, and Rock Hudson. (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader)


The Tarnished Angels

(Douglas Sirk, 1958, 91 min)

Sat Aug 19, 4:00 pm
Tue Aug 22, 7:00 pm

Douglas Sirk took a vacation from Ross Hunter and Technicolor for this 1958 production, though he retained Rock Hudson, who turns in an astonishingly good performance as a journalist fascinated by the sordid lives of a trio of professional stunt fliers (Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, and Jack Carson). Based on a minor novel by William Faulkner (Pylon), the film betters the book in every way, from the quality of characterization to the development of the dark, searing imagery. Made in black-and-white CinemaScope, the film doesn’t survive on television; it should be seen in a theater or not at all. (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader)


Imitation of Life

(Douglas Sirk, 1959, 125 min)

Sun Aug 20, 4:00 pm
Wed Aug 23, 7:00 pm

Douglas Sirk’s 1959 film was the biggest grosser in Universal’s history until the release of Airport, yet it’s also one of the most intellectually demanding films ever made in Hollywood. The secret of Sirk’s double appeal is a broadly melodramatic plotline, played with perfect conviction yet constantly criticized and challenged by the film’s mise-en-scene, which adds levels of irony and analysis through a purely visual inflection. Lana Turner stars as a young widow and mother who will do anything to realize her dreams of Broadway stardom; her story is intertwined with that of Susan Kohner, the light-skinned daughter of Turner’s black maid, who is tempted to pass for white. By emphasizing brilliant surfaces, bold colors, and the spatial complexities of 50s modern architecture, Sirk creates a world of illusion, entrapment, and emotional desperation. (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader)