This Weekend: Debbie Reynolds double feature at the Stanford

Jan. 5, 2017, 2:00 p.m.

A double feature of Debbie Reynolds movies plays at the Stanford Theatre this weekend — Friday through Sunday, January 6 – 8.

“The Pleasure of His Company” (1961) plays at 7:30 p.m. on all three days, and 3:40 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. “The Catered Affair” (1956) plays at 5:45 p.m. and 9:35 p.m. on all three days.

“The Pleasure of His Company,” a rare-to-find comedy film, is directed by George Seaton. It teams up Reynolds with Fred Astaire, for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.

“The Catered Affair” is a classic 50s adaptation from a TV drama to film (like “Marty,” “12 Angry Men,” or “Days of Wine and Roses”). This punchy, brooding, kitchen-sink melodrama is adapted by Gore Vidal from a Paddy Chayefsky teleplay. It is directed by Richard Brooks, who made “Blackboard Jungle,” “Elmer Gantry” and “In Cold Blood.” It also stars Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Barry Fitzgerald (“Going My Way”) and Rod Taylor (“The Birds”).

The Stanford’s weekend program is in tribute to and memory of Ms. Reynolds, who passed away last Wednesday, December 28, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. The death of Ms. Reynolds, 84, came a day after the death of her daughter, the actress and writer Carrie Fisher (“Star Wars”, “Postcards from the Edge”).

Reynolds is perhaps best known for her performance in “Singin’ in the Rain,” the 1952 MGM musical masterpiece directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly. At MGM during the 1950s, Reynolds tap-danced and sliced her way across the screen in some of the studio’s most delirious musical triumphs, including “Singin’ in the Rain,” Donen’s “Give the Girl a Break” (1953), and “I Love Melvin” (1953).

Reynolds was also an adroit comedianne, as seen in two of her most transgressive triumphs: Frank Tashlin’s “Susan Slept Here” (1954) and Vincente Minnelli’s “Goodbye Charlie” (1964). The former features Reynolds as a 17-year-old juvenile delinquent who marries a 35-year-old Hollywood screenwriter (50-year-old Dick Powell) to evade jailtime. The latter deals with a cheating screenwriter who is killed by the man he’s cuckolded — who is then reincarnated as a woman (Reynolds, in a performance of butch bravado).  The AV Club calls “Susan Slept Here” “an overlooked Christmas classic” and “Lolita re-imagined as a frothy romantic comedy.” And film critic Armond White recently hailed “Goodbye Charlie” as “Hollywood’s first transgender screwball farce” in which Debbie Reynolds “may have given her strongest film performance.”

Reynolds’ most memorable post-studio-era work includes the title roles of “Charlotte’s Web” (1973) and Albert Brooks’ “Mother” (1996).

Contact Carlos Valladares at [email protected].

Carlos Valladares is a senior double-majoring in Film and American Studies. He loves the Beatles and jazz, dogs and dance. Were he stranded on a desert island, he'd be sure to take some food— and also, copies of "A Hard Day's Night," "The Young Girls of Rochefort," "Nashville," "Killer of Sheep," and anything by Studio Ghibli. You can follow his film writings at He was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles.

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