WHAT: What Ulmer & his crew (including actor Tom Neal and director of photography Benjamin H. Kline) did during a few of the 51 weeks in 1945 that they weren't making Detour. Or so mythology might have us believe; there's a good deal of evidence tearing down some of the legend of the latter's six-day shoot and ultra-low budget.
No matter. Club Havana is still the film Ulmer made just prior to his minimalist masterpiece, and thus of great interest to any fan of the versatile director. Before he died he told Peter Bogdanovich that he made it without a script- that he "did a Rossellini again"- surely a hindsight comparison, as Open City had not been seen even in Italy yet when this film was being made during the first half of 1945.
I haven't seen Club Havana- yet. But Doug Bonner has, so here's an excerpt from his piece on the picture:
Club Havana is a masterpiece, in that it is one of the most intensely gratifying low budget features of all time. Most Poverty Row fare leaves you wishing for more: better visuals, smoother performances, etc. Club Havana leaves you with a sense of abundance. It’s a sixty-three minute mashup of half a dozen plot lines with pauses for Latin music performed by a big band and a hip-swaying singer.
But within this near-chaos, like all good film work, the movie sustains and completes itself inside the universe it manufactured: rhumbas, rackets and all.WHERE/WHEN: Tonight at the Roxie, only at 6:40 and 9:30.
WHY: Everything I said about 16mm programming yesterday goes for today too. In fact it goes double, because Club Havana, despite having a far more famous director than Fall Guy's Reginald Le Borg, is probably an even more rarely-seen film.
HOW: 16mm print on a double-bill with the Peter Lorre vehicle Island of Doomed Men.