Friday, Dec. 29
Ready for 2017 to be over and done? There are worse ways to finish out a grim and grueling year than to indulge in some of the funniest films America ever produced. To that end, the American Cinematheque has programmed four consecutive evenings of screwball comedy, the genre that defined the "battle of the sexes" for a generation. On Friday it's His Girl Friday (in a crisp 4K scan), a mile-a-minute farce about a newspaperman (Cary Grant) who connives to keep his ex-wife and colleague (Rosalind Russell) from marrying again. Chasing its tail is Ball of Fire, in which Barbara Stanwyck plays a nightclub singer fleeing the mob and finding sanctuary among a group of stuffy academics. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., Dec. 29, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.
Saturday, Dec. 30
Italian B-movie maestro Mario Bava contributed some of the most outlandishly stylish films of the 1960s, among which Danger: Diabolik stands apart. A cheerfully amoral comic adaptation about a master thief (John Phillip Law, garbed in black body stocking and hood) with a villainous laugh, an underground lair and an assemblage of gadgets that would make Bruce Wayne blanch. The New Beverly Cinema is showing a 35mm print (what else?), which will showcase this swinging period piece in all its gaudy glory. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sat., Dec. 30, 11:59 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com.
Monday, Jan. 1
In keeping with tradition, the American Cinematheque has programmed a Marx Brothers matinee to ring in the new year. The anarchic fun starts with Horse Feathers — the one in which Groucho plays the unscrupulous president of a college bent on winning the big football game. Spiked with a dizzying array of verbal gags, the film also features several musical interludes, including the classic "I'm Against It." The double feature concludes with Animal Crackers, in which the foursome play thieves attempting to infiltrate a high society party held by the matronly Mrs. Rittenhouse (the always delightful Margaret Dumont). Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Mon., Jan. 1, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.
Tuesday, Jan. 2
LACMA's Tuesday Matinees is serving up a generous four-week tribute to Dorothy Arzner, who for the better part of the 1930s and '40s was the sole female director in Hollywood. First up is Working Girls, a nearly forgotten pre-Code drama about two sisters (Judith Wood and Dorothy Hall) who move from the Midwest to NYC. Romantic complications ensue, giving a sharp-edged impression of the times. Written by Zoe Akins from a play by Vera Caspary and Winifred Lenihan, the film brings a strong feminine sensibility to a male-dominated market. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Jan. 2, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.
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Thursday, Jan. 4
The Skirball Cultural Center offers a free kids matinee as part of its ongoing family program. This time it's Up, Pixar's fanciful heart-tugger about a man who flies to South America in his balloon-powered bungalow. Once you get past the aggressively sentimental montage calculated to wring tears from every grown-up in the audience, the movie settles into an agreeably daft piece of whimsy — the kind that allows dogs to be dressed as WWI flying aces. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; Thu., Jan. 13, 12:30 & 2:30 p.m.; free. (310) 440-4500, skirball.org. —Nathaniel Bell