Lean Times

And now for some good movies. Film Forum, in association with the British Film Institute, is launching a long overdue two-week, 16-film retrospective, Sept. 12 to Sept. 25, of David Lean’s lushly directed, written, and acted works. If you like British acting, as I always have, you’re in for a nonstop treat. The series begins with two of Lean’s Charles Dickens classics on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 12 and 13: Great Expectations (1946), with John Mills, Valerie Hobson, Bernard Miles, Francis L. Sullivan, Finaly Currie, Martita Hunt, Anthony Wager, Jean Simmons, Alec Guinness, Ivor Barnard, Freda Jackson, Torin Thatcher, Eileen Erskine, and Hay Petrie, at 1, 5:25, and 9:50; and Oliver Twist (1948), with Alec Guinness, Robert Newton, John Howard Davies, Kay Walsh, Francis L. Sullivan, Anthony Newley, and Henry Stephenson, at 3:15 and 7:40.

Screening Sunday and Monday, Sept. 14 and 15, is Brief Encounter (1945), with Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Cyril Raymond, Joyce Carey, and Valentine Dyall. Showtimes are 2:50, 6:20, and 9:50. Also showing: Blithe Spirit (1945), with Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, Kay Hammond, Margaret Rutherford, Hugh Wakefield, and Joyce Carey, at 1, 4:30, and 8.

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, The Passionate Friends (1949, released in America as One Woman’s Story), with Ann Todd, Trevor Howard, Claude Rains, Betty Ann Davies, Isabel Dean, and Wilfred Hyde-White, will show at 3:40 and 7:35. (It’s not to be missed if you’ve never seen it, and even if you have.) Madeleine (1950) with Ann Todd, Leslie Banks, Elizabeth Sellars, and Ivor Barnard, will also show, at 1:30, 5:25, and 9:20.

Wednesday, Sept. 17, brings Hobson’s Choice (1954), with Charles Laughton, John Mills, Brenda de Banzie, Daphne Anderson, Prunella Scales, Richard Wattis, and Helen Haye at 1:15, 5:30, and 9:45. Also showing: 1952’s The Sound Barrier (released in America as Breaking the Sound Barrier), with Ralph Richardson, Ann Todd, Nigel Patrick, John Justin, Dinah Sheridan, and Denholm Elliott, at 3:20 and 7:35.

On Thursday, Sept. 18, In Which We Serve (1942), with Noël Coward, John Mills, Bernard Miles, Celica Johnson, Kay Walsh, Joyce Carey, Michael Wilding, and Richard Attenborough, will show at 1, 5:15, and 9:30. This Happy Breed (1944), with Robert Newton, Celia Johnson, John Mills, Kay Walsh, and Stanley Holloway, screens as well, at 3:10 and 7:25. More Lean next week.

asarris@observer.com