The late Arthur Penn was one of the greatest movie directors of all time, yet the Philly-born maverick was a self-proclaimed “outsider to American film” known for character-driven, relatively low-budget masterpieces. A short list of his finest includes eccentric Westerns (The Left Handed Gun and The Missouri Breaks), countercultural paeans (Alice's Restaurant), subversive reexaminations of American history (Little Big Man and Bonnie and Clyde), noirish thrillers (Night Moves) and flat-out experimentation (Mickey One). Penn was an actor's director, eliciting phenomenal performances from his casts, most memorably in 1962's The Miracle Worker. In a twistory of history that's been resonating a lot lately here in the Twenty-Worst Century, he was hipper than most younger filmmakers and committed to ensuring that intelligence and humanism outweigh special effects. He once complained about “the height of Hollywood at its most dysfunctional: You throw money at things.” Renaissance man and film historian Nat Segaloff has written an excellent biography, Arthur Penn: American Director, that focuses on Penn-as-artist. The author will be reading and rapping all things Arthur tonight.

Tue., April 12, 7 p.m., 2011

LA Weekly