***San Francisco Bay Guardian: Best of the Bay 2008***
Dead Channels - the San Francisco Festival of Fantastic Film

Happy Birthday Wanda June

Directed by Mark Robson
Cast: Rod Steiger, Susannah York, William Hickey
USA, 1971, 105 mins. 35mm print - never released on video or DVD!
One show only!


Thursday, August 9 - 5:15pm at the Castro Theatre


Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 1922 - 2007. Thanks for countless hours of thought-provoking entertainment, insight from the monkeyhouse - and a barrel of laughs. So it goes.

Our curtain rises on the only (as far as we can tell) 35mm print of Happy Birthday, Wanda June starring Rod Steiger, Susannah York and William Hickey. Newly re-discovered in the vault at Sony Pictures; this is an historic occasion for fans of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., and particularly for aficionados of unseen cinematic treasures.

Directed by Mark (Earthquake) Robson and adapted by Vonnegut from his stage play, Happy Birthday Wanda June is the work of a master storyteller spinning the mythical yarn of adventurer Harold Ryan (Rod Steiger), who bears a striking similarity to the hard-living, animal killing, hyper-macho Ernest Hemingway of literary legend, and the fate that befell him after he led a disasterous expedition into the jungles of the Amazon.

After eight years, Harold Ryan still hasn't returned, but his hmespun wife Penelope (Susannah York) has learned to accept her husband's death. She moved on, got an education, changed her consciousness, raised their son as a single mother and is now engaged to a new man.

Everything is right in the world, until the day that Harold returns with his A-Bomb dropping sidekick Looseleaf Harper (brilliantly portrayed by William Hickey), and the anachronistic pair discovers that everything they knew has changed in their absence. In Heaven above, Wanda June plays shuffleboard with Jesus and a Nazi officer.

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