THX for the Memories

The City Museum and Webster University screen George Lucas' early masterpiece

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Webster University's "Cine in the City" sponsors a screening of THX-1138

City Museum, near the intersection of 15th Street and Washington Avenue

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 8. Admission is $4. Call 314-968-7487 for more info.

George Lucas' deepest film was also his darkest and, it turns out, one of his very first. 1971's THX-1138 shows us a world where everybody shaves themselves bald, wears white pajamas all day and works at a dead-end, dangerous job. When their shifts are over, they shuffle home to the inescapable sound of piped-in Muzak.

Back in their underground apartments, they're bathed in obscenely bright fluorescent lighting. They open their medicine cabinets to take the heavy sedatives that keep their will in check, only to find Big Brother's video cameras supervising the drug intake. Sex and procreation are strictly regulated, but if they've got an itch, they can flip the TV on to one of the porn or violence channels. If they're troubled, they can hop into a street-corner confessional booth, decorated with a wall-sized image of their benevolent leader -- he comforts the disturbed with prerecorded electronic messages.

If a co-worker pisses them off, they can tattle by dropping a punch card into one of the conveniently located "Violation" boxes. Chances are, the offending party will never be heard from again. He'll probably be sent to a prison without walls, an endlessly vast white chamber that inmates can't quite find their way out of. If they try to escape, chrome-skinned robot police will push them back into line with eight-foot electric truncheons.

Robert Duvall stars as THX-1138, a defiant citizen who dares to make a baby with his lady friend. He's thrown into the clink but escapes; the second half of the flick is an extended chase scene as he tries to outpace the robot cops on his trail. The underappreciated Donald Pleasence is memorable in one of his typical madman roles.

Catch the movie at Beatnik Bob's Café in the City Museum, with smoking permitted, beer and candy for sale and vintage pinball machines to play.

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