Many famous names are associated with the 1956 drama Lust for Life: Vincente Minnelli, who directed the film; Vincent Van Gogh, the 19th-century Dutch painter whose life the movie is based on; Kirk Douglas, who played the artist; and Anthony Quinn, who won an Oscar for his role as Paul Gauguin. But we tend to overlook another important contributor to the film's success, screenwriter Norman Corwin, whom the Aero will be honoring at this special screening the night before his 100th birthday. Dubbed the Poet Laureate of Radio, Corwin started working in radio dramas in the late 1930s and has explored every medium since, winning an Emmy, Golden Globe and two Peabody awards along the way. Currently serving as a “Writer in Residence” at USC's Annenberg School of Journalism, Corwin teaches the same way he writes, offering inspiration and encouragement while displaying a sharp wit that keeps mawkishness at bay. His hallmarks — intelligence, a gift for language, a grand sense of drama — are all present in his Lust for Life script, based on Irving Stone's novel, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. Though certainly weighed down by biopic conventions, Lust for Life manages to avoid many of the pitfalls of its genre by balancing obligatory biographical details with resonant emotional insights, detailing how Van Gogh's passion for art and his close bonds with his brother Theo (James Donald) and Gauguin couldn't stem the loneliness and mental illness that eventually doomed him. To be sure, Minnelli, Douglas and Quinn all deserve credit for the film's achievement, but so too does Corwin, who will be participating in a Q&A after the screening. One hopes that they'll bring out a cake for the occasion.
Sun., May 2, 5 p.m., 2010
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