LADYBUG LADYBUG
1963, Park Circus/MGM, 82 min, USA, Dir: Frank Perry

From Frank and Eleanor Perry, the husband-wife filmmaking duo behind such acclaimed films as DAVID AND LISA and THE SWIMMER, comes this anxiety-inducing Cold War drama based on a real incident that occurred in a rural elementary school. The film follows a group of schoolchildren and staff who react to a nuclear attack alarm bell; unsure whether or not the threat is legitimate, they make their way to a bomb shelter as they contemplate their possible destruction. Shot in a naturalistic documentary style that adds to the frightening reality of the scenario, LADYBUG LADYBUG is both a document of 1960s Middle America and a reflection of today’s ever-present fear of nuclear holocaust. Jane Connell, William Daniels, James Frawley and Estelle Parsons lead the ensemble cast.


LAST SUMMER
1969, Warner Bros., 95 min, USA, Dir: Frank Perry

Bruce Davison, Barbara Hershey, Richard Thomas and Catherine Burns star in this aggressively unsentimental coming of age story. Director Frank Perry charts the behavior (and misbehavior) of a group of teens on Fire Island whose tastes for sex, drugs, and rock and roll devolve into more sinister interests as the summer progresses. Ultimately the characters' loss of innocence mirrors that of America in the decade during which the film was made and takes place.


MOMMIE DEAREST
1981, Paramount, 129 min, USA, Dir: Frank Perry

“Don’t fuck with me, fellas. This ain’t my first time at the rodeo!” Faye Dunaway scorches as Joan Crawford in this blistering exposé of the icon’s troubled and abusive relationship with her adopted daughter, Christina Crawford (who penned the memoir on which the film is based). As told from the perspective of grown-up Christina (Diana Scarwid) remembering her traumatic upbringing, “Mommie” Joan crumples under the pressures of alcohol, men and show business, and turns into an emotionally manipulative domestic monster. Though a critical disaster on its initial release, earning an abundance of Razzie Award wins and nominations, the film has since become a cult touchstone, thanks to a ferocious performance by Dunaway and no-holds-barred direction by Frank Perry (THE SWIMMER, PLAY IT AS IT LAYS). With Mara Hobel as young Christina, Steve Forrest as Joan’s Hollywood lawyer boyfriend, hopelessly loyal to MGM, and Howard Da Silva as the screaming studio titan himself, Louis B. Mayer.


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