Arts Desk

This Week in Repertory Film: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Mildred Pierce, Bigger Than Life

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Tonight: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at NoMa Summer Screen
Sure, Robert Redford's been milking the role for four decades, but why shouldn't he? In a series of so-called "train movies" playing this summer at the NoMa Business Improvement District's outdoor film series, it's difficult to top the best train robberies ever attempted on screen. According to the bonus features on a recent Blu-ray release, the 1969 film was originally titled The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy and intended to star Paul Newman as the Kid and Steve McQueen as Cassidy, though McQueen quit over money. His stubbornness, and a realization of the title's proper cadence, saved the American Western.
Screens at 9 p.m. at the NoMa Summer Screen, L Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets NE. Free. (202) 289-0111

Thursday: Mildred Pierce at the American Art Museum
Todd Haynes' recent HBO miniseries may be swimming in plaudits for its stately cast (Kate Winslet, Evan Rachel Wood, Guy Pearce) and spot-on period look, and for good measure—it was a far more authentic adaptation of James M. Cain's 1941 novel of a social-climbing mother and her scheming harlot of a daughter. But the 1945 film by Michael Curtiz is still a pleasure, and at the very least an important study in the ruthlessness of the Hays Code's grip over 40 years of movies. Though it lacks the moral ambiguity of Cain's novel, the film managed become even more of a noir tale of generational lust and jealousy. And, it's one of the best early examples of a film passing the Bechdel Test.
Screens at 6:30 p.m. at the American Art Museum,  G and 8th Streets NW. Free. (202) 633-7970

Sunday: Bigger Than Life at the National Gallery of Art
In a decade full of Rockwellian stereotypes and constant celebration of the nuclear family, Nicholas Ray's follow-up to Rebel Without a Cause premiered with a thud when it opened in 1956. Based on a New Yorker article about cortisone, an experimental drug back then, Ray deconstructs Eisenhower-era suburban bliss with a mild-mannered husband and father's descent into addiction, psychosis, and violence. When the ordeal is over, the real casualty is cookie-cutter Americana. Father knows best, at least until father goes nuts.
Screens at 2 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art East Wing, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799

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