Le Corbeau, Henri-Georges Clouzot's scathingly cynical thriller about a provincial town terrorized by a series of poison-pen letters, has outlived its initial controversy to become an era-defining classic. Shot in France during the German occupation, the film was criticized for its misanthropic depiction of French corruption at a moment when morale was already in the gutter. For Clouzot, who was temporarily barred from filmmaking in his home country as a result of his work on the production, it became the first significant film in a series of remarkable thrillers that earned him a reputation as “the French Hitchcock.” Laemmle's weeklong release of Rialto's new 4K restoration begins today. Laemmle Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., May 4-10 (showtimes vary); $12. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com.
Speaking of Hitchcock, Secret Movie Club continues its tribute to the Master of Suspense at the Vista with a midnight screening of The 39 Steps. The most famous film of Hitchcock's British period, this 1935 melodrama served as a template for numerous cross-country thrillers to come, including several of the master's own. Robert Donat stars as an ordinary citizen swept up in an international espionage plot. In a characteristically weird, fetishistic touch, the villain is a man with a missing pinkie, who bears a strong resemblance to FDR. Vista Theatre, 4473 Sunset Drive, Los Feliz; Fri., May 4, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (323) 660-6639, vintagecinemas.com/vista.
Sunday, May 6
Ingmar Bergman, whose heavy excursions into Kierkegaardian despair made him world-famous, wasn't all doom and gloom. A double feature at the Egyptian gives audiences a chance to experience the director's lighter side. In Waiting Women, four wives swap anecdotes about their marriages to pass the time in a remote cottage. In All These Women, conceived as a parody of Fellini's 8½, a critic collects dirt on a famous cellist by interviewing the females in his life. Thus far, neither of these films has been made available on home video in this country; both will receive a rare airing thanks to the Swedish Film Institute and the Ingmar Bergman Foundation. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., May 6, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.
Tuesday, May 8
Bergmania continues at LACMA with a screening of the director's most instantly recognizable classic, The Seventh Seal. Released in 1957 to a chorus of rapturous reviews, this medieval parable begins with a blond knight (Max von Sydow) challenging the personification of Death to a game of chess. Evidence of its cultural impact can be seen in the countless parodies that followed. For those unfamiliar with the director's work, this centennial screening provides an ideal entryway into the work of one of the most significant auteurs in the history of cinema. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., May 8, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.
Thursday, May 10
Upon leaving drive-in theaters in the early 1970s, Let's Scare Jessica to Death has slowly gained a cult following among horror connoisseurs. Zohra Lampert stars as the titular young woman, a fragile soul who moves with her husband and a mutual hippie friend into a New England farmhouse known in the real estate biz as a “fixer.” She soon gets wind of a local legend involving a drowned woman who came back as a vampire, and begins to notice that the hostile townsfolk all have weird scars on their necks. Director John Hancock's lyrical handling of the rural landscape and Lampert's sympathetic performance elevate this genre exercise above most of its era. The American Cinematheque will present a 16mm screening in the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian as part of its Cinematic Void series. Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Thu., May 10, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.