“I’ve always liked movies; movies have always been a kick for me.”
A nebbishy projectionist (Chuck McCann) escapes from the tyranny of his scolding boss (Rodney Dangerfield) by living vicariously through films, and imagining himself as a superhero named Captain Flash.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Character Studies
The Projectionist is a movie made both for and about film fanatics. Character actor Chuck McCann — best known for his voiceover work, though fans of 1968’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter will immediately recognize him as the mute Spiros Antonapoulos — is perfectly cast in the lead role as an undistinguished projectionist whose passion for movies bleeds through into every facet of his waking life. At first, it seems that the projectionist’s fascination with cinema is one of simple homage to Hollywood: an early scene in which he gazes at a wall full of headshots and mimics the voices of Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Oliver Hardy, and other cinematic icons is a treat. Eventually, however, we become privy to the darker thoughts in the projectionist’s mind — including concerns about racism, tyranny, and the general state of the world — and the film becomes an increasingly surreal, postmodern pastiche of rapidly edited clips and images.
Interwoven throughout the mostly dialogue-free film are fantasy sequences in which the projectionist’s pudgy alter-ego — a superhero named Captain Flash — romances a beautiful damsel (Ina Balin) while escaping from the clutches of “The Bat” (Dangerfield); unfortunately, these silent sequences are oddly uninspired, and not nearly as humorous as writer/director Harry Hurwitz seems to want them to be. Much more impressive is Hurwitz’s seamless editing of McCann into classic movie clips — most notably Casablanca (viewers will doubtless be reminded of Woody Allen’s Play it Again, Sam). Note that fans of Rodney Dangerfield may be disappointed — or at the very least surprised — by his decidedly dark and non-comedic debut role here (though his performance is spot-on).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- McCann’s impressive imitation of a host of movie stars
- A plethora of cleverly edited and integrated classic film clips
Yes, simply for its oddball cult status. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book — though it recently gained some acclaim by being placed in the archives of the Museum Of Modern Art in New York