Facets Cinémathèque

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July 15–21, 2016

Chicago Theatrical


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Film still: Nuts! Film still: Nuts! Film still: Nuts!
Best Editing (documentary)
Sundance Film Fest
Ashland Independent
Film Fest
Critics' Pick "A quintessentially American story—one that elicits both wonder and horror"
  —New York Times
"A ridiculously enjoyable gem of a documentary about a great historical footnote... director Penny Lane's biography has all the whimsy of a tall tale, until a late change in tone surprises with genuine emotion"
  —The Guardian
"Lane builds a grandly picaresque tale about the power of celebrity in the age of modern media, and she tells it with diabolical glee"
  —New Yorker
"A blend of cornpone commentary and tongue-in-cheek exposition, Nuts! is consistently very entertaining"
  —Hollywood Reporter
"The real skill in Lane's colorful that it revels in how fun it is to believe in the unbelievable, and how sinisterly effective the mixture of fact and fiction can be"
  —Chicago Tribune
Recommended "Lively, offbeat"
  —Chicago Reader

In 1917, John Romulus Brinkley, a small-town country doctor practicing in Milford, Kansas, begins treating his male patients for impotence by surgically implanting them with goat glands, a treatment that is so successful that Brinkley starts raising his own goats to meet an increasing demand. Brinkley amassed a fortune, was almost elected Governor of Kansas, invented junk mail and the infomercial, and built the world's most powerful radio station, while living in sumptuous splendor. By the time all of the twists and turns of Brinkley's story are revealed, Nuts! certainly earns its title.

Utilizing hilariously yet charming animated sequences and the writings of Brinkley himself (whose dubious memoir provides the narration for this true story), filmmaker Penny Lane injects her audacious tale with humor and empathy, who has noted that "Like my previous feature-length film Our Nixon, Nuts! is structured as classical tragedy with a complicated and deeply hubristic protagonist, rendered with equal parts comedy and pathos." We are reminded that our love of (and need for) compelling narratives is exactly what makes us so endlessly susceptible to being conned. Nuts! brings to life a man who saw himself as more Albert Schweitzer than P.T. Barnum, but who ultimately turns out to be an unholy mix of Bernie Madoff and Donald Trump.

Directed by Penny Lane, U.S.A., 2016, 79 mins.


  • Fri., July 15 at 7 & 9 pm
  • Sat., July 16 at 5, 7 & 9 pm
  • Sun., July 17 at 5 & 7 pm
  • Mon.–Thurs., July 18–21 at 7 & 9 pm
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$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation