Projectionist, The/ C+, C+
Image/1971/85/ANA 1.85

     Under the surface of The Projectionist is another movie that fails to come out. The title character, Chuck the projectionist, is a strange loner, a man finding fulfillment through his fantastic day dreams; but there's also a lonely man, finding solace from everyday boredom in those same dreams. The film only provides a hint of the complexity of Chuck. Instead, the chief focus is on Chuck's day dreams, a running black and white silent movie adventure in which he dons the ill-fitting uniform of Captain Flash, a superhero battling The Bat to preserve truth, freedom, and the American way.

Chuck's world. ŠImage

    The powerful opening mixes fantasy, mechanics of the projection room, humor, and the stark isolation of the projectionist. The balance between Chuck's real life and the silent film fantasy is loaded far too much in favor of the later. The silent film material is often funny, but it's repetitious, somewhat life seeing the rehash of a action serial before each chapter is presented. The integration with classic film clips is done very well using scenes featuring Bogart, Flynn, Cooper, Chaplin and even a moment of Mickey Rooney as Puck.
    The picture of 42nd Street in the late sixties presents a stark contrast to the Disneyfied street that exists today. It's Chuck's domain, lined with movie marquees, porno shops, the long past Automat serving up sandwiches through window compartments, and an assortment of seedy street figures. The classic movie posters displayed on the walls of Chuck's apartment could probably finance a small movie production today.
    Chuck McCann, the former children's' television performer, is very fine as Chuck. He has all the silent movie moves down pat, and there is a person hibernating under that bearish exterior. There's one scene where Chuck McCann does a fabulous medley of actor imitations to the star pictures on the projection room wall. The flow from star to star is quite brilliant. Rodney Dangerfield is a nasty theater manager and Ina Balin romps around effectively enough as the silent femme fatale.
     The source material is quite grainy and often explosions of white specs disturbing the image. Billed as "Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art," it does not appear that the statement infers any restoration work was done. There are also instances of element distortion for brief moments. The color is okay, only slightly pale. The black and white fantasy sequences stand up the best to time. Black levels are good and shadow detail is just fine. The image is reasonably sharp most of the time and the New York City night sequences have a gritty documentary feel.


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