‘TIS THE SEASON, and Houston film fanatics have reason to rejoice. On Saturday, Dec. 4, the MFAH begins screening films in its new Lynn Wyatt Theater, located on the lower level of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building for modern and contemporary art.
Named for the beloved Houston philanthropist and socialite superwoman, the 215-seat theater is equipped to show both digital and reel-to-reel 35 mm films, making it and the MFAH’s Brown Auditorium Theater the only two theaters in Houston with the technology to project classic flicks.
The December screenings kick off with two of Wyatt’s favorite films, both on 35 mm: Laura, directed by Otto Preminger and starring the magnetic and mysterious Gene Eliza Tierney, and Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 voyeuristic masterpiece, starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly. Wyatt was close friends with Kelly, and described her as “one of the most beautiful women in the world.”
The connection between Wyatt and the story of Laura, a woman surrounded by “luxury, mystery and scheming men,” may have to do with Tierney’s glamour and the relentless obsession of her many suitors. But Wyatt, a longtime patron of the MFAH and founding member of its Film Committee, knows her history, and as a seminal example of film noir — with its gothic tropes (including Tierney’s co-star, a pre-House of Wax Vincent Price) and enough latent sexual tension to pop a thousand champagne corks — Laura is essential viewing for anyone interested in great filmmaking.
Meanwhile in Rear Window, a film considered by scholars to be one of the best films ever made, Kelly pretty much steals every scene she appears in with leading man Stewart. In her role as fashionista-turned-investigator Lisa Fremont, Kelly gets to parade around Stewart’s cramped Greenwich Village apartment in a series of eye-popping ensembles, each designed by the legendary Edith Head, and mirroring the friskiness of her and Stewart’s relationship as they work together to bring a murderous neighbor to justice.
Laura screens Dec. 4 and 5. Rear Window screens Dec. 18 and 19. For tickets and more information, visit mfah.org/films.
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