This Week in Repertory Film: Bill Cunningham New York, Il Gattopardo
Hang around Midtown Manhattan long enough, and you might land yourself in a New York Times slideshow. Bill Cunningham, the 82-year-old fashion photographer, is out there, prowling the concrete jungle on his Schwinn bicycle. Cunningham, who since 1978 has contributed a pair of weekly photo essays to the Times is profiled in the documentary Bill Cunningham New York. Cunningham's influence in fashion journalism is legendary—even Anna Wintour speaks with reverence toward the shooter. He started as a style writer for the Chicago Tribune and Women's Wear Daily, but it was a candid shot of Greta Garbo in 1978 that caught then-Times editor Arthur Gelb's eye and landed Cunningham's livelier brand of society and fashion photography at the paper.
Since that shot of Garbo, Cunningham has compiled "Evening Hours," a Sunday Styles roundup of high society, and "On the Street," a collection of photos that captures what ordinary New Yorkers are wearing. Along with Wintour, Iris Apfel, Tom Wolfe, David Rockefeller, and other Manhattan big shots dote on Cunningham's work, though the photographer's own private life is the inverse of their elegant domains. Cunningham is an eternal loner, dwelling in a cabinet-stuffed studio above Carnegie Hall. He doesn't seem to mind though, and treats the elbow-rubbers at a Lincoln Center fundraiser with the same considered eye as he gives to kids on the street.
Thursday, 7:30 p.m. At the Hirshhorn Museum Ring Auditorium. Independence Avenue and Seventh Street SW. Free. (202) 633-2796
Luchino Visconti launched neorealism in 1943 with Ossessione, his Fascist-era take on The Postman Always Rings Twice. A generation later Visconti tackled the forging of modern Italy—Guiseppe Garibaldi's Risorgimento—in his epic-length adaptation of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's novel Il Gattopardo. Telling the decline of a Sicilian aristocrat as Garibaldi's partisans swept the countryside, Il Gattopardo is a gorgeous tale of the fall of nobility and the rise of populism. Burt Lancaster, who came to the lead role almost by accident, is the fading prince whose iron-fisted, womanizing control of his region slips away to newly empowered peasants and a forward-looking nephew, played by the French actor Alain Delon. Claudia Cardinale, a few years before her turn as Leone's heroine in Once Upon a Time in the West, is the nephew's object of affection.
Visconti's original cut of the film was over 200 minutes, the first release was shaved down to 185 minutes, and the English-dubbed version for American audiences was hacked down to 161. The cut playing this weekend is the first version, restored by a coalition of studios and film societies led by Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation. The capstone is a 45-minute ballroom sequence dotted with extras plucked from the descendants of Sicilian nobility—Visconti never lost his taste for real experience over pretending.
Sunday, 4:30 p.m. At the National Gallery of Art East Wing. 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799