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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Arthur Hiller In Person at the Aero Theatre

Known for a broad array of comedies, including incisive satires, stage adaptations, and action-filled farces with brilliant casts, director Arthur Hiller has proven to be one of Hollywood’s most reliable entertainers. Come join The American Cinematheque for a special two-night tribute featuring Hiller’s best known comedies.

First up, this Thursday, February 4th at 7:30 PM, the Aero is presenting a double feature starting with the 1979 version of “The In-Laws”. One of the laugh-out-loud funniest movies of the past 25 years stars Alan Arkin (a personal favorite) as a middle-class dentist who finds himself thrown together with delusional CIA agent Peter Falk (another favorite) when their children become engaged to each other. This is Arkin and Falk at their absolute best as they deliver the most ridiculous lines with absolute aplomb. The two are so great together it will make you wonder why they were never paired up again.

The second feature of this brilliant lineup is “Silver Streak”, the first of four team-ups by comedy giants Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder (one of the all time greatest match-ups in cinema history). Wilder is a bored book publisher who finds romance and murder with Jill Clayburgh on a cross-country bullet train from Los Angeles to Chicago. Hiller gives some playful nods to the master of suspense (Hitchock) as mystique turns to mystery in this thoroughly satisfying thriller. And Pryor is an added bonus as a wayward conman who befriends Wilder in his hour of need. There will be a discussion between films with director Arthur Hiller.

The next day, Friday, February 5th at 7:30 PM, there is another double feature starting with the 1970 version of “The Out of Towners”. Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis star as likable Midwesterners who get more than they bargain for when they take a trip to New York, experiencing an unending string of catastrophes over the course of three days. Hiller (with the help of screenwriter Neil Simon) manages to make lost luggage, diverted flights, missed trains, and even muggings surprisingly amusing.

This delightful comedy is followed by the Walter Matthau showcase, “Plaza Suite”. Arthur Hiller’s second Neil Simon adaptation is a hilarious collection of three stories, each set in New York’s Plaza Hotel, and each starring Walter Matthau in a different role! The episodes follow Matthau as a man cheating on his wife (Maureen Stapleton), then as a sleazy Hollywood producer reconnecting with an old friend (Barbara Harris), and finally as the father of a nervous bride with mother-of-the-bride (Lee Grant). Each episode is priceless Matthau paired with some amazingly talented women who are equal to the match. There will be another discussion in between films with director Arthur Hiller.

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