I came across an old calendar for the UC Theatre repertory cinema house, listing the films they would show from June 13 through September 1, 1993. Like many Berkeley filmgoers in the days before big-screen TVs, we spent a lot of time at the UC, particularly on Thursday nights when they had a Festival Hong Kong where I first saw many of my favorites. The theatre opened back in 1917, and never became a multiplex. In 1974 it was one of the first two theatres bought and run for Landmark Theatres. (Landmark went national over the years, and was eventually bought by Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner.) Landmark used the UC as a revival house. It had 1300 seats (i.e., it was huge).
Always looking for new projects to fill space on this blog, I decided to revisit the UC via the newly-found calendar. Which is why I watched The Speed Racer Show, which appears to be something which was released in 1993 as Speed Racer the Movie. The calendar blurb says it’s a PREMIERE, and they showed the film for two days (they usually changed the bill daily), June 13th-14th. The show/movie contained three episodes of the 1967 TV series, “The Car Hater” and “Race Against the Mammoth Car” (a two-parter). There was also a Colonel Bleep short, which I’m assuming was “The Treacherous Pirate”.
I wasn’t a fan of the anime version when it turned up on American TV in the 60s, but I gave it a try for this new experimental project. Speed Racer was better than I expected, although I wouldn’t go much farther than that. The plots moved right along (although the two-parter was a bit too long), the music gave a nice drive to the action, no pun intended, and I appreciated that it was not made for little kids. Colonel Bleep was an oddity, and I’m not sure why it was included. Colonel Bleep, from the late 1950s, was the first color cartoon made for TV. Bleep was an alien from another planet, there was a caveman named Scratch, and most of the episodes are apparently lost. It was an interesting five minutes, nothing more.
Obviously, this stuff would have played better among an enthusiastic crowd, something I could probably say for everything on the calendar. But then, in 1993, I wouldn’t have gone to see this in the first place (although, in fairness, I don’t recall too many specific trips to the UC, so I might have attended some of the films at the time).
Meanwhile, at the time, the UC had what they called “Shakespeare Sundays”. On June 13th they showed Orson Welles’ Macbeth.
Next up: two “Classics of World Cinema”, Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries.
And here’s a public service announcement that often played before films at the UC: