Skip Navigation Links  The Library of Congress >> Researchers
Motion Picture and Television Reading Room (Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division)
  Home>> Mary Pickford Theater

Mary Pickford Theater

Archive of past screenings: 2003 Schedule

Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Second Chorus (Paramount, 1941). Dir H.C. Potter. With Fred Astaire, Paulette Goddard, Burgess Meredith, Artie Shaw and His Orchestra. (83 min, 35mm).

Astaire's dancing and Shaw's band take the spotlight in this musical, which follows the exploits of musicians Astaire and Meredith as they try to win the hand of Goddard by joining Shaw's band.

Thursday, January 9, 2003

Matt Helm

The Wrecking Crew (Columbia, 1969). Dir Phil Karlson. With Sharon Tate, Ursula Andress. (102 min. 35mm).

The Wrecking Crew finds Dean Martin literally stumbling through his role in this, the fourth and final episode of the Matt Helm series. America's gold supply is in danger of being stolen by yet another evil mastermind and it's up to Matt to save the day, romancing luscious Tina Louise and beating up karate kings Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris along the way.

Friday, January 10, 2003

The Train (United Artists, 1964). Dir John Frankenheimer. With Burt Lancaster, Jeanne Moreau. (133 min, 35mm).

Of American film directors who came to prominence during the 60s, the late John Frankenheimer (a veteran of live TV drama), was among the most prolific and ambitious. The tense WWII drama The Train, his first foray into action/adventure, was shot entirely on French locations in moody black and white. Cited as one of the last full-scale thrillers, there are no trick-shots, just the real thing. A Nazi colonel (Paul Scofield) loads up a train bound for Germany with looted French art treasures. Lancaster (intensely physical and performing his own stunts) is a French railway supervisor entrusted by the Resistance to stop the train--but at what cost?

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

50s Bad Girls

Girls Town (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1959). Dir Charles Haas. With Elinor Donahue, Mel Torme. (92 min, 35mm).

In an era that favored buxom towheads, Mamie Van Doren was arguably the brassiest, slangiest, and hip-swingingest of the Hollywood blondes. Unlike her classier counterparts, she never collaborated with an Arthur Miller or an Alfred Hitchcock, but she was exploitation movie king Albert Zugsmith's muse and together they churned out a series of outrageously fun pictures for the youth market. The cult favorite Girls Town finds Mamie cracking wise and dodging nuns while doing time in an all-female reformatory.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Blues for Lovers (Alsa, 1966). Dir Paul Henried. With Tom Bell, Mary Peach, Dawn Addams. (89 min, 35mm).

In an attempt to cash in on Ray Charles' universal popularity as a musician and entertainer, Twentieth Century-Fox decided to give him a starring role to test his star potential. Naturally, he was cast as a blind musician who helps a recently-blinded boy to get an operation to possibly regain his sight. Ray's performances of "What'd I Say" and "I Got a Woman" highlight this forgotten film.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Winter Kills (1979). Dir William Richert. With Jeff Bridges, John Huston, Anthony Perkins, Belinda Bauer, and Sterling Hayden. (97 min).

Nick Kegan (Bridges), the younger brother of a President shot down 19 years earlier, sets out to discover the truth behind the assassination in this unlikely black comedy. Nick's wealthy father, played by John Huston, and his father's bizarre staff are both help and hindrance with the oddball survivors of the era Nick meets in his quest. Elizabeth Taylor has a cameo role as the late President's procuress.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Conrad Hall

The Outer Limits: The Mice (ABC, 1964). (52 min, 16mm).
Wild Seed (Universal, 1965). Dir Brian Hutton. With Celia Kaye, Ross Elliott. (99 min, 35mm).

Two examples of Conrad Hall's early work in black and white. On The Outer Limits, Conrad Hall pushed the visual envelope of TV noir in this moody creepout of a sci-fi series. He earned his first director of cinematography credit on this show, and his striking camerawork best exemplified the show's distinctive look and feel. In The Mice, an interplanetary inhabitant exchange program goes horribly wrong. In the rarely shown Wild Seed, a teenage girl hooks up with a young drifter (Michael Parks in a James Dean mode) while searching for her biological father. This low-budget drama, produced by Universal in an attempt to emulate the French New Wave, was Hall's feature debut, for which he provided delicate, beautiful photography.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Conrad Hall

In Cold Blood (Columbia, 1967). Dir Richard Brooks. With Paul Stewart, Will Geer. (134 min, 35mm).

Shot in six states and using non-professional "locals" as extras, Brooks tried to create a film faithful to Truman Capote's dramatic account of the Clutter family slaying. For the roles of murderers Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, Robert Blake and Scott Wilson were chosen carefully, in part because of their resemblance to the pair. John Forsythe plays Alvin Dewey, the detective responsible for their arrest and eventual confessions. Quincy Jones' haunting score complements Conrad Hall's black-and-white Panavision cinematography.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

National Film Registry

The Reckless Moment (Columbia, 1949). Dir Max Ophuls. With James Mason, Geraldine Brooks. (82 min, 35mm).

Max Ophuls (1902-1957) found his way to Hollywood in 1941 where he languished until he made Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948). Perhaps his most successful American-made film is The Reckless Moment. Working in a film noir subtext on a B picture budget, Ophuls gave Joan Bennett the best role of her career playing a protective parent caught up in murder and blackmail.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Random Harvest rescheduled to Monday, March 10, due to inclement weather.

Friday, February 28, 2003

70s/80s Musicals

Xanadu (Universal, 1980). Dir Robert Greenwald. With Gene Kelly, Olivia Newton-John, Michael Beck. (93 min, 35mm).

When did the Golden Age of the Movie Musical end? With My Fair Lady? West Side Story? Cabaret? Connoisseurs may argue, but most would agree that by 1974 it was dead and stinking. Or was it? This series offers Unsung Musicals from a less precious age when song and dance had a dangerously, daringly tenuous hold on the harmonic, terpsichorean, and celluloid aesthetic. We begin with Xanadu. The word appeared to Samuel Taylor Coleridge in an opium vision: Xanadu. It evokes exotic, faraway lands; a rich man's folly; a masterpiece of cinema. Come see what the fuss is all about, then come back for Phantom of the Paradise (April 1), Get Crazy (June 5), and Popeye (June 26).

Monday, March 3, 2003

Conrad Hall

Cool Hand Luke (Warner Bros., 1967). Dir Stuart Rosenberg. With George Kennedy, Strother Martin. (126 min, 35mm).

One of the treasures of the Library's motion picture holdings is the impressive number of original Technicolor release prints from the 50s, 60s, and early 70s. Movies made in the Technicolor dye transfer process do not suffer from the catastrophic fading that plagues other kinds of color films–these dye transfer prints are still vibrant decades later. Moviegoers often associate Technicolor with musicals, but the dye transfer process was highly adaptable, enhancing even the most virile stars and genres. This series presents a few examples from Technicolor's tough guy canon. Other titles in this series include Rio Bravo (March 6), Dirty Harry (March 28, and We're No Angels (April 17).

The prison movie, one of the grittiest and most venerable of Hollywood genres, gets the widescreen Technicolor treatment from ace cinematographer Conrad Hall (1926-2003), whose distinguished career we celebrate this week. The result was an Oscar-winning smash and a work that retains its power and eloquence three and a half decades later. Paul Newman enacts one of his choicest loner roles; the cast also includes Dennis Hopper, Joe Don Baker, Wayne Rogers, and a folk-singing Harry Dean Stanton.

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

James Coburn

Hard Times (Columbia, 1975). Dir Walter Hill. With Jill Ireland, Strother Martin. (97 min, 35mm).

We pay tribute to the late James Coburn (1928-2002) with three films, starting with Hard Times. Coburn was an actor whose style allowed him to comfortably embrace drama, action, and comedy roles, and many of his best-known performances found him blending elements of all these styles. His tall, wiry frame and his flashing smile and deep robust voice made him perfect for tough guy roles, his wry sense of humor also aided him to be the foil of the serious lead which would give much needed relief during heavy dramatic scenes. Also showing are In Like Flint (March 7) and Cross of Iron (April 24). In the New Orleans setting of this Great Depression melodrama, Coburn plays a gambler "whose compulsive smart talk gets him in trouble" (Pauline Kael's description). Charles Bronson looks as though he stepped out of an Farm Security Administration photograph. Hard Times was the first film directed by Walter Hill and it's still one of his best.

Thursday, March 6, 2003

National Film Registry

Rio Bravo (Warner Bros., 1959). Dir Howard Hawks. With John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson. (140 min, 35mm).

He-man auteur Howard Hawks' riposte to Fred Zinnemann's acclaimed western High Noon quickly became a classic in its own right. The offbeat casting, the screenplay by veteran wordsmiths Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, and the unmistakable comic tone of it all make this a definitive desert island movie for film buffs around the globe. An added pleasure is Angie Dickinson's star turn as Feathers, a role that critic David Thomson deems "one of the truest female characters in modern cinema."

Friday, March 7, 2003

James Coburn

In Like Flint (Fox,1967). Dir Gordon Douglas. With Lee J. Cobb, Jean Hale, Andrew Duggan, Anna Lee (114 min, 35mm).

This hippy trippy and colorful campy spy thriller from the 1960s just get' better with age. James Coburn plays secret agent Derick Flint who must stop a band of women who plan to take over the world through the control of a nuclear bomb. The sexual innuendo and comic touches really show the comic side of Coburn's acting talents and showed his versatility as an actor. The Flint movies greatly influenced Austin Powers which has brought 60s kitsch back into the forefront.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Greer Garson

Random Harvest (MGM, 1942). Dir Mervyn LeRoy. With Greer Garson, Ronald Colman. (128 min, 35mm).

Smithy, an amnesiac shell-shocked officer living in a county asylum in Melbridge, England wanders into town for the first time, attracted by the sounds of celebration at the end of World War I. There he is befriended by a woman, whom he runs away with and eventually marries. Beginning a new life as a writer, Smithy travels to Liverpool to discuss a permanent position working for the local newspaper, the Mercury. On the way to the interview Smithy is struck by a car and knocked unconscious. When he comes to, the only memories he recalls are from his life as the aristocrat Charles Rainer.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

National Film Registry

The Red House (Thalia Productions Inc., 1947). Dir Delmer Daves. With Judith Anderson, Lon McCallister, Allene Roberts. (100 min, 35 mm).

A chilling little noirish thriller with Edward G. Robinson playing farmer Pete Morgan, who is very nervous about a certain mysterious red farmhouse hidden in the woods on his property. His young ward's curiosity gets the better of her and slowly she unravels the house's tightly guarded secrets of lost love, murder, and the identity of her real parents. Features young heart-throbs Rory Calhoun and Julie London. Miklos Rozsa delivers a tense score prominently featuring the theremin.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

National Film Registry

The Suspect (Universal, 1945). Dir Robert Siodmak. With Ella Raines, Henry Daniell. (85 min, 35mm).

Robert Siodmak, whose best-known film is The Killers (1946), made a string of low-budget thrillers at Universal between 1944 and 1950. In 1959 he told Sight and Sound "The best story I have told is, I think, The Suspect. It has happy memories for me, not the least of them my friendship with Charles Laughton." Laughton's restrained portrayal of a decent man driven to commit murder is one of his finest screen performances.

Friday, March 14, 2003

National Film Registry

Bedlam (RKO Pictures, Inc., 1946). Dir Mark Robson. With Billy House, Anna Lee. (79 min, 35 mm).
The Leopard Man (RKO Radio Pictures, Inc., 1943). Dir Jacques Tourneur. With Dennis O'Keefe, Margo. (66 min, 35 mm).

A suspenseful double feature tonight. Shocked by the brutality witnessed upon visiting the infamous Bedlam Asylum, a young women is determined to reform the system in Bedlam. Another flawlessly sadistic performance by Boris Karloff as Master Sims who schemes to have her committed. The screenplay was inspired by an engraving in William Hogarth's series The Rake's Progress. In a New Mexican town a quarrel breaks out in The Leopard Man between two rival nightclub entertainers resulting in an escaped leopard. Killing and mauling ensues, but when the leopard is found the terror continues. Classic noir tale shot in menacing b&w photography with a truly unforgettable stalking scene. Based on Cornell Woolrich's novel Black Alibi.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Environmental Film Festival

Animals Are Beautiful People (Warner Bros., 1974). Dir Jamie Uys. (92 min, 35mm).

Comedic documentary on the wildlife of the Namib Desert, from the director of The Gods Must Be Crazy.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Environmental Film Festival

The Living Desert (Disney, 1953). Dir James Algar. (69 min, 35mm).
Perri (Disney, 1957). Dir Paul Kenworthy, Jr and Ralph Wright. (75 min, 35mm).

Classic Disney Tru-Life documentaries. The Living Desert won the 1953 Oscar for Best Documentary, and was named to the National Film Registry in 2000.

Friday, March 21, 2003

National Film Registry

Queen Bee (Columbia, 1955). Dir Ranald MacDougall. With Barry Sullivan, Betsy Palmer, John Ireland, Lucy Marlow. (95 min, 35mm).

Based on the novel of the same name by Edna Lee, with Joan Crawford as a neurotic, insincere southern woman who brings unhappiness to her husband, family, and friends in an attempt to insure her own security and position of dominance.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Charley Chase

Dog Shy (Hal Roach, 1926). Dir Leo McCarey. With Charley Chase, Mildred June. (21 min, 35mm).
Pip From Pittsburgh (Hal Roach, 1931). Dir James Parrott. With Dorothy Granger, Kay Deslys. (21 min, 35mm).
Sons of the Desert (MGM, 1933). Dir William A. Seiter. With Mae Busch, Dorothy Christy. (68 min, 35mm).

By 1926, Charley Chase was considered by critics, and proven by box office receipts, to be the most popular comedian in short comedies. Tonight's program features three classic films of this master director, gagman, and comedian. In Dog Shy, a girl is being forced by her parents to marry a stuffy aristocrat. Charley agrees to help the girl after which he is mistakenly hired as a butler in her family's home. Complications? You bet! Charley is set up on a blind date but tries to get out of it in Pip From Pittsburgh. A similar date turned out to be a disaster and he assumes Thelma Todd will be another "pip." Desperate to end the date, Charley dresses shabbily and eats garlic, but meeting Thelma, of course, changes his mind. Finally, Sons of the Desert is the Laurel and Hardy classic in which Stan and Ollie fool their wives into thinking they've gone on a cruise for Ollie's health, when in actually they are attending a lodge convention in Chicago. Chase appears as Ollie's brother-in-law. For more Charley, we're offering another program of shorts from the Hal Roach Studios on April 29.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

National Film Registry

The Girl of the Golden West (Paramount, 1915). Dir Cecil B DeMIlle. With House Peters, Theodore Roberts. (70 min, 35mm).

Giacomo Puccini's opera, The Girl of the Golden West, created a sensation to equal that of Disney's The Lion King when it premiered at New York's Metropolitan Opera House in 1910. The first attempt by a serious composer to write an opera with a Western theme, interest was so great that on opening night scalpers were charging $150 for $10 tickets. Puccini had based his opera on David Belasco's Broadway hit play of three years earlier, and like many later musical successes, The Girl of the Golden West had yet one more transition to make: to the silent movie screen. In 1915, Cecil B DeMille, already displaying his talent for the epic, chose the story as the subject of one of his earliest and finest features, which we present tonight in a beatutifully tinted 35mm print. Paul Fryer (whose previous programs at the Pickford have included Caruso, Farrar, Wagner and Ivan the Terrible) tells the story of "The Girl's" journey from Broadway to the Metropolitan and on to the movies.

Friday, March 28, 2003

National Film Registry

Dirty Harry (Warner Bros., 1971). Dir Don Siegel. With Clint Eastwood, Andy Robinson. (102 min, 35 mm).

A fearless San Francisco police officer relentlessly pursues a killer in this hard-hitting action picture. Critics called the movie reactionary, but audiences everywhere responded to the lean, mean, laconic hero. One of the most controversial and influential big studio releases of its era, Dirty Harry helped start the cottage industry of iconoclastic supercop films that thrives to this day.

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

70s/80s Musicals

Phantom of the Paradise (Harbor Productions, 1974). Dir Brian DePalma. With Paul Williams, Jessica Harper, William Finley. (92 min, 35mm).

Brian DePalma's glitter-rock opera. The Pickford Theater staff would like to dedicate this screening to the memory of Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith (1955-2002). From pom-poms (Revenge of the Cheerleaders) to revisionist fairy tales (Cinderella) to the ur-slacker classic Massacre at Central High, her light shone on many a B-picture, and sometimes an A–if this counts.

Thursday, April 3, 2003

Greer Garson

Pride and Prejudice (MGM, 1940). Dir Robert Z. Leonard. With Greer Garson, Lawrence Olivier. (117 min, 35mm).
Television Time. Revenge (Hal Roach, 1957). Hal Roach Studios, 1957). Dir Lewis Allen. (24 min, 16mm).

Based on the novel by Jane Austen, with Greer Garson as the witty and independent young woman Elizabeth Bennett, living with her mother and four unmarried sisters in the rural village of Meryton, England, during the early eighteenth century. When Mrs. Bennett stands to lose the family farm unless a male heir is produced, she presents her five eligible daughters to the newly arrived Mr. Darcy (Lawrence Olivier), a wealthy bachelor who voices his prejudices against the middle class. While Elizabeth initially finds Darcy to be arrogant and supercilious, his vulnerability gradually forces her to realize she has fallen in love with him.

Friday, April 4, 2003

National Film Registry

Bedazzled (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1967). Dir Stanley Donen. With Eleanor Bron, Robert Rusell, Alba. (104 min, 35mm).

This "swinging London" version of the Faust legend is a much beloved, brilliant achievement in film comedy. Peter Cook (who also wrote the screenplay) is George Spiggot, aka the Devil, who befriends the hapless Stanley (Dudley Moore), a short order cook in love with his waitress Margaret. In exchange for his soul, George grants Stanley seven wishes, and then proceeds to screw each one of them up. The series of hilarious throwaway gags, puns and allusions are textured with bits of theology and hints of underlying pathos. Appearing respectively as Lust and Envy, Raquel Welch and a pre-Dame Edna Barry Humphries add to the inspired lunacy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2003

National Film Registry

Trail of the Octopus, Part 1 (Chapters1-7) (Hallmark, 1919). Dir Duke Worne. With Marie Pavis. (139 min, 35mm).

One of the nine silent serials that Ben Wilson and Neva Gerber made together from 1917 to 1926, this is an action-packed chapterplay about a master criminologist trying to beat the sinister Octopus gang to a series of daggers necessary to open a certain treasure vault. The Library of Congress holds 35mm copies of all but one episode (#9). For the latter, a written summary will be provided to facilitate the viewing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

National Film Registry

Trail of the Octopus, Part 2 (Chapters 8-15) (Hallmark, 1919). Dir Duke Worne. With Ben Wilson, Neva Gerber, Marie Pavis (141 min, 35mm).

Friday, April 11, 2003

National Film Registry

The French Connection (Fox,1971). Dir William Friedkin. With Fernando Rey, Roy Scheider, Tony LoBianco Marcel Bozzuffi. (110min, 35mm).

Gritty New York cop film about the largest heroin drug bust in American history at the time. Based on a true story, Gene Hackman's performance as Popeye Doyle earned him a best actor Oscar for adding great depth to an atypical movie cop character. The great car chase scene and the gun fight scene at films end are classic scenes of American cinema. This film won an Oscar for best picture and is a true classic of its time.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

National Film Registry

Bitter Victory (Columbia, 1957). Dir Nicholas Ray. With Richard Burton, Curt Jurgens. (83 min, 35mm).

In Nicholas Ray's WWII drama, a successful raid on Rommel's headquarters leads to personal disaster for a British major and his captain. The European version of the film astonished young critic turned filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, who wrote: "Bitter Victory is not a reflection of life, it is life itself turned into a film, seen from behind the mirror where the cinema intercepts it. It is at once the most direct and the most secret of films, the most subtle and the crudest. It is not cinema, it is more than cinema...Bitter Victory, like the sun, makes you close your eyes. Truth is blinding."

Thursday, April 17, 2003

National Film Registry

We're No Angels (Paramount, 1955). Dir Michael Curtiz. With Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, Peter Ustinov. (103 min, 35mm).

A gruff but articulate trio of convicts escapes from Devil's Island. With Christmas approaching, they use their impeccable criminal skills to bring holiday cheer to a deserving family. This droll black comedy is based on a French play, which may explain the convicts' predilection for clever repartee.

Friday, April 18, 2003

National Film Registry

Rosemary's Baby (Paramount, 1968). Dir Roman Polanski. With Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon. (138 min, 35mm).

When newlyweds Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse move into a gothic apartment building on New York's Upper West Side, Rosemary starts to suspect that her elderly neighbors might have malevolent designs on her unborn child. Ira Levin's cunning updating of "Faust" is visualized to perfection by Polanski who subtly invests the most commonplace objects and events with a secret sinister significance. Graced with a sublimely melancholy score by Krzysztof Komeda, Rosemary's Baby is, at once, a taut psychological thriller, a biting comedy of manners, and an iconoclastic inversion of the Christian Nativity. And Sigmund Freud would have enjoyed the depictions of Rosemary's dreams which illustrate with startling accuracy how wish-fulfilment mechanisms operating deep in the unconscious seem obliged to transform and disguise threatening and traumatic information. A masterpiece.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

National Film Registry

Crime Doctor's Manhunt (Columbia, 1946). Dir William Castle. With Warner Baxter, Ellen Drew, William Frawley. (61 min, 16mm).
Pillow of Death (Universal, 1945). Dir Wallace Fox. With Brenda Joyce, J. Edward Bromberg. (66 min, 16mm).
The Inner Sanctum: No. 1, The Yellow Parakeet (NBC-Galahad, 1953). (25 min, 16mm).

Rarely-screened samples of two radio series that were brought to the screen at different studios are shown in tonight's triple feature. "Crime Doctor" inspired a detecting series at Columbia, while "Inner Sanctum" resulted in an anthology of six thrillers at Universal all starring Lon Chaney, Jr., including Pillow of Death. Also included is an example of how "Inner Sanctum" was brought to the small screen in the early days of television.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

James Coburn

Cross of Iron (EMI, 1977). Dir Sam Peckinpah. With Maximillian Schell, James Mason. (120 min, 35mm).

This is Sam Peckinpah's anti-war film in which the sometimes excessive violence was misunderstood by critics and viewers. It is a film which attempts to show the true horrors of war and does so in a realistic and graphic sense. This film focuses on the most brutal fighting during WWII and concentrates on the eastern front from a German viewpoint using a mostly German cast. James Coburn plays a platoon sergeant who is tied to his duty but also ready for the war to end and it is those two conflicts that are keys to the film.

Friday, April 25, 2003

National Film Registry

Grand Hotel (MGM, 1932). Dir Edmund Goulding. With Joan Crawford, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore. (112 min, 35mm).

The film that truly confirms MGM's credo of "More Stars Than There Are in Heaven." Dr. Otternschlag, a resident at the Grand Hotel, Berlin's most expensive hotel, observes that life is "always the same." People come and go and nothing ever happens, until the beautiful Russian ballet dancer Grusinskaya (Greta Garbo) arrives. Aware that her popularity is waning, Grusinskaya complains that everything in her life has become "threadbare" and she begins to contemplate suicide. When she becomes acquainted with Baron Felix Benvenuto Frihern Von Gaigern, a charming hotel thief who plans to steal her pearls, Grusinskaya becomes greatly affected by his sentiments, unaware that a scandal is about to unfold.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Hal Roach

High C's (Hal Roach, 1930). Dir James W. Horne. With Thelma Todd. (25 minutes, 35mm).
The Flivver (Hal Roach , 1924). Dir Jay A. Howe. With Jobyna Ralston. (10 minutes, 35mm).
Jus Passin Through (Hal Roach, 1923). Dir Charley Chase. (20 minutes, 35mm).
Big Moments from Little Pictures (Hal Roach, 1924). Dir Ray Clements. With Charlie Hall. (10 minutes, 35mm).
Limousine Love (Hal Roach, 1928). Dir Fred L. Guiol. With Edgar Kennedy, Edna Marion, Viola Richard. (20 minutes, 35mm).

More films featuring Charley Chase in his heyday at the Hal Roach Studios. In High C's, Charley's a soldier stationed in France during World War I but he'd rather sing than fight. The Flivver stars Charley's brother James Parrott, who bears a startling resemblance to his older brother. Parrott is best known for his talents as a director but he began his career at Hal Roach Studios in his own series, the Paul Parrott Comedies. Charley was responsible for developing the Will Rogers series of silent comedies at Hal Roach Studios, of which Jus Passin Through was first entry. Big Moments from Little Pictures features Rogers poking fun at Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, weepy melodramas, and the Keystone comedies. We close with Limousine Love, one of Charley Chase's finest silent films. On his wedding day, Charley innocently ends up with a naked woman in the back of the car that is taking him to the ceremony. Confusion abounds as he and the men in his party try to rid Charley of the unwanted guest.

Thursday, May 1, 2003

Pre-Code Cinema

The Black Cat (Universal, 1934). Dir Edgar G. Ulmer. With David Manners, Julie Bishop. (65 min, 35mm).

"Pre-Code Hollywood" has come to be understood in film history almost as a genre unto itself. Specifically, it refers to the 1934 inauguration of the Production Code Administration, a studio-supported body responsible for regulating the content of motion pictures, but in narrative terms it practically means most any early Thirties film featuring dollops of sex, violence, or pungent political comment. Of course, American cinema during this period was also impacted by the country's dramatic political and economic upheaval–likely even more so than by the relative laxity or enforcement of a Code–but nonetheless, the mythic power of the era is undiminished.

We celebrate an entire month of pre-Code cinema, starting tonight with The Black Cat. Variety claimed Universal's desire to make The Black Cat "proceeded on the theory that if Frankenstein was a monster and Dracula a nightmare, the two in combination would constitute the final gasp in cinematic delirium." The two eerie characters–Karloff, the head of an evil cult, and Lugosi, a crazed doctor who was just released from jail–are longtime rivals bent on destroying the other. A pair of newlyweds become unwittingly entwined in their dark schemes. Named for the Edgar Allan Poe story (although the narrative has been completely changed), the gruesome film faced harsh censorship in the form of re-edits in many states and countries, and was banned in Finland, Austria and Italy.

Friday, May 2, 2003

Pre-Code Cinema

Night Nurse (Warner Bros., 1931). Dir William A. Wellman. With Ben Lyon, Blanche Federici. (75 min, 35 mm).
Forbidden (Columbia, 1932). Dir Frank Capra. With Ralph Bellamy, Dorothy Peterson. (92 min, 35mm).
Barbara Stanwyck's sass made her a perfect star for the pre-Code era, a talent recognized by both the Columbia and Warner Bros. studios, both of whom had her under contract. Night Nurse is an unsentimental drama/comedy about a night nurse who discovers a plot to murder her two young charges. Clark Gable presents a truly nasty villain as the family chauffeur who plans to marry the dissolute mother and make off with the children's trust fund. Spunky Stanwyck, her bootlegger beau, and a wisecracking Joan Blondell come to the rescue. Forbidden was Stanwyck's third film with Frank Capra, in which she plays a prim librarian in love with suave--but married--Adolphe Menjou. They have a child, complications naturally ensue, providing Stanwyck with opportunity for some pretty spectacular dramatics. The previously scheduled screening of Ten Cents a Dance has been canceled.

Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Pre-Code Musicals

It's a Great Life (MGM, 1929). Dir Sam Wood. With Rosetta Duncan, Vivian Duncan, Lawrence Gray (95 min, 35mm).

Quintessential pre-code tale of two sisters who enter vaudeville after being fired from their jobs in the sheet-music section of a large department store. The Duncan Sisters came to prominence on stage in Gus Edwards' Kiddies' Revue, and by the mid-1920s were headlining on Broadway and touring Europe. Walter Winchell supposedly paid them $1,000 a minute to sing on his radio show, and Charlotte Greenwood called Rosetta Duncan "the greatest clown on the American stage." It's a Great Life undeservedly bombed at the box-office and helped cut short the sisters' movie career.

Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Special Screening

The Man Who Laughs (Universal, 1927). Dir Paul Leni. With Mary Philbin, Olga Baclanova, Josephine Crowell, George Siegmann. (115 min, 35mm).

Brilliant, UFA-inspired gothic drama of a man deliberately disfigured in childhood who finds love with a blind girl. Conrad Veidt shines in a role one might otherwise think would be a perfect Lon Chaney vehicle. Directed by German expatriate Paul Leni (who died not long after completing the film), and shot by Gilbert Warrenton in the Expressionist style, The Man Who Laughs is a striking blend of Teutonic sensibility and Hollywood panache. Tonight's print was preserved by the Library's Motion Picture Conservation Center from the original camera negative in the AFI/Universal Collection.

The Man Who Laughs will be accompanied by special guest Jon C. Mirsalis, who has been providing piano accompaniment for silent film screenings for over 25 years. He is currently the house pianist at Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, CA, and performs annually at the Cinecon in Hollywood, CA and the Cinefest in Syracuse, NY, as well as many other venues across the United States. Dr. Mirsalis has recorded scores for many video releases for Kino International, Milestone Films, LSVideo, and other distributors. He has recorded the scores for DVD releases of Othello, The Mark of Zorro, Don Q, Son of Zorro, A Little Princess, and upcoming releases of Woman in the Moon and The Phantom of the Opera.

Thursday, May 8, 2003

Pre-Code Cinema

A House Divided (Universal, 1931). Dir William Wyler. With Walter Huston, Kent Douglas, Helen Chandler. (70 min, 35mm).
Tensions between a macho father and his sensitive son reach a fevered pitch with the arrival of the elder man's young mail order bride.

The Purchase Price (Warner Bros., 1932). Dir William Wellman. With Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Lyle Talbot. (70 min, 35mm).
A sexy showgirl tries to escape her old lover by becoming a mail order bride to a naïve farmer.

Friday, May 9, 2003

Pre-Code Musicals

Applause (Paramount, 1929). Dir Rouben Mamoulian. With Joan Peers, Fuller Mellish, Jr., Jack Cameron, Henry Wadsworth. (80 min, 35mm).

Generally acknowledged as one of the first sound features to get away from static shots and a stodgy soundtrack, Rouben Mamoulian's 1929 breakthrough talker features flexible camera work, creative use of street sounds and a bawdy 1910s style Burlesque show with a hefty chorus line! Helen Morgan's Kitty Darling turns from tough to pathetic as she tries to do right by her young daughter only to continually sob the classic "What Wouldn't I Do for That Man," by Jay Gorney and E. Y. Harburg.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Pre-Code Cinema

Hotel Continental (Tiffany Productions, 1932). Dir Christy Cabanne. With Theodore von Eltz, Alan Mowbray. (67 min, 35mm).
The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (Warner Bros., 1932). Dir Michael Curtiz. With Lee Tracy, Richard Cromwell, Guy Kibbee. (70 min, 35mm).

In Tiffany Productions' extremely low-budget precursor to Grand Hotel (showing April 25), the Hotel Continental is about to close permanently, and a recently paroled thief must find a way to retrieve his stash from room 707. But uh-oh--that room's already taken! And gangsters have hired the lovely Peggy Shannon (and put her up in room 708) to further foil his plan. In our second feature, Ann Dvorak gives a very honest portrayal of Molly Louvain, a young woman who has an affair, gets pregnant, runs off with a "bad boy," leaves him, and then takes up with a reporter. Based on the 1931 play Tinsel Girl, the story, considered quite racy for its time, is chock full of pre-code sexual innuendo.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Wiser Sex (Paramount, 1932). Dir Berthold Viertel. With Lilyan Tashman, Melvyn Douglas. (90 min, 35mm).

A society girl (Claudette Colbert) decides to go undercover as a "kept woman" to prove the innocence of her boyfriend when he is railroaded into a murder charge by a gangster and his moll.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Pre-Code Musicals

Blondie of the Follies (MGM, 1932). Dir Edmund Goulding. With Robert Montgomery, Billie Dove (90 min, 35mm).

A routine backstage story about a chorus's girl romance with a debonair playboy greatly benefits from a witty screenplay by Frances Marion and an exuberant performance by Marion Davies. The film's highlight is Marion Davies and Jimmy Durante impersonating John Barrymore and Greta Garbo in MGM's then current hit, Grand Hotel (which plays April 25).

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Pre-Code Cinema

Her First Mate (Universal, 1933). Dir William Wyler. With Una Merkel, Warren Hymer. (67 min, 35mm).
Blessed Event (Warner Bros., 1932). Dir Roy Del Ruth. With Lee Tracy, Mary Brian. (84 min, 35 mm).

Both Her First Mate and Blessed Event are full of the sorts of sly innuendo the Production Code eventually limited, and make for a delightful double bill. Her First Mate is a charming William Wyler comedy of a lowly seaman on a night ferry who dreams of sailing the high seas on his own schooner, starring ZaSu Pitts and Slim Summerville. In Blessed Event, Al Roberts is a glib-tongued reporter who delights in exposing Broadway notables in their brief marriage-to-maternity spans. He has a particular disdain for crooners and is merciless toward Bunny Harmon (Dick Powell in his film debut). Al's column soon gets him in hot water with a gangster and he finds himself entangled in murderous intrigue. A fast-paced, funny film-especially when parodying the era's radio jingles-with great performances. One of several early films inspired by the famed gossip columnist Walter Winchell. The previously scheduled screening of Age of Consent has been cancelled.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Pre-Code Cinema

Cocktail Hour (Columbia, 1933). Dir Victor Schertzinger. With Randolph Scott, Sidney Blackmer. (80 min, 35mm).
A successful artist (Bebe Daniels) sets out to prove to her male chauvinist boss that she can have it all. Her pursuit of love, free of possession and inequality, goes astray when she falls for a deceptive man.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Pre-Code Musicals

Love Me Tonight (Paramount, 1932). Dir Rouben Mamoulian. With Charlie Ruggles, Charles Butterworth, Myrna Loy. (90 min, 35mm).

Jeanette MacDonald's buggy collides with Maurice Chevalier's automobile and the fun begins. Although the PCA trimmed away 14 minutes of objectionable footage for the re-issue version (shown here), the naughtiness and vibrancy remain, along with MacDonald's negligee. A marvelous score by Rodgers and Hart adds to the depth and beauty of this pre-Code masterpiece.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Pre-Code Musicals

Dames (Warner Bros., 1934). (Warner Bros., 1934). Dir Ray Enright. With ZaSu Pitts, Guy Kibbee, Hugh Herbert. (90 min, 35mm).

This classic story of a chorus girl backing a Broadway musical by squeezing money out of an elderly would-be millionaire, features some of Busby Berkeley's most imaginative production numbers. Among them is the dazzling "Girl at the Ironing Board," in which Joan Blondell serenades a pile of pajamas and men's underwear, and Al Dubin's and Harry Warren's "I Only Have Eyes For You," with Dick Powell dreaming of his sweetheart Ruby Keeler on the New York subway. For the record, Warner's publicity department coined the term "cinematerpsichorean" to describe Berkeley's choreography.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Pre-Code Cinema

The Mad Parade (Paramount, 1931). Dir William Beaudine. With Evelyn Brent, Lilyan Tashman, Louise Fazenda, Irene Rich. (70 min, 35mm).

Professional jealousy and romantic rivalry turns deadly when a group of disillusioned women canteen workers are stranded in a bunker on the allied front line in France during WWI. The film, reissued as Nine Girls and Hell was promoted as the first all-female cast motion picture.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Pre-Code Musicals

The Show of Shows (Warner Bros., 1929). Dir John G. Adolfi. With Myrna Loy, Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Frank Fay. (128 min, 35mm).

A sumptuous all-star picture made to rival MGM's The Hollywood Revue of 1929, and billed by the studio as "a connoisseur's collection of the supreme examples of almost every form of stage and screen entertainment." The revue items include Noah Beery leading the screen's best known heavies in "The Execution Number," eight sets of real-life sisters wearing national dresses of different countries and singing "Meet My Sister," John Barrymore in a scene from Shakespeare's Henry VI, and comedy sketches by Beatrice Lillie, Louise Fazenda and Lloyd Hamilton.

Thursday, June 2, 2003

The Jackie Robinson Story (Jewel Pictures, 1950). Dir Alfred E. Green. With Louise Beavers, Minor Watson, Richard Lane. (75 min, 16mm).

Baseball immortal Jackie Robinson plays himself in this interesting curio, filmed not long after he won the National League Most Valuable Player award for 1949. It's a decidedly low budget affair, capably directed by old Hollywood hand Alfred Green. Robinson does a fine job for a non-actor, and he's surrounded by professionals -- including Ruby Dee as wife Rachel -- which makes the film solidly entertaining even as it addresses the racial issues Robinson faced in a straightforward manner.

The Jackie Robinson Story is part of a triple threat series of LC programs for baseball enthusiasts. On Thursday, June 5th at 10am in the Coolidge Auditorium there will be a live performance of "Black Diamond: Satchel Paige and the Negro Baseball Leagues," presented in partnership with Discovery Theater of the Smithsonian Associates. This musical was written and directed by local playwright, Raquis Petree. Advanced reservations for school groups required. Free limited public seating, first come first served.

Also on Thursday, June 5th at noon in the Coolidge Auditorium there will be a panel discussion featuring former Negro League Players Wilmer Fields, Mamie "Peanut" Johnson, and Ernest Burke, as well as noted baseball historians including Brad Snyder. Free and open to the public.

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Tribute to Women's History

Forgotten Frontier (Frontier Nursing Service, 1931). Dir Marvin Breckinridge. (34 min, 16mm)
All My Babies (Georgia Department of Health, 1953). Dir George Stoney. (55 min, 16mm)
Julia (20th Century-Fox TV, 1968). With Lloyd Nolan, Marc Copage. (30 min, 16mm).

The Pickford Theater presents a five night series in conjunction with Resourceful Women, a Library of Congress symposium (June 19-20, 2003),which celebrates the richness of current research in women's history and women's history sources throughout the Library's collections. We start with a program about nursing: two documentaries about the extraordinary work of women providing health care in rural areas, and an episode of Julia, the landmark television series starring Diahann Carroll, the first such time an African-American had been cast in the lead role of a television series playing a professional role.

Thursday, June 5, 2003

70s/80s Musical

Get Crazy (Rosebud, 1983). Dir Allan Arkush. With Daniel Stern, Bobby Sherman (92 min, 35mm).

Allan Arkush first left his mark on the musical form with Rock ‘n Roll High School. He surpassed even that accomplishment with this unjustly forgotten comedy. Malcolm McDowell's rock star turn is overshadowed by the stellar cameos, particularly Lou Reed's walking and strumming commentary on taxicabs and mortality. Stay for the credits, under which Reed performs the lovely and little-known ballad "Little Sister."

Friday, June 6, 2003

Greer Garson

Mrs. Miniver (MGM, 1942). Dir William Wyler. With Greer Garson, Walter Pigeon. (133 min, 35mm)

During the summer of 1939, an average middle-class English family's lifestyle is disrupted when Britain decides to go to war with Germany. As the frequency of air raids, destruction, and death intensifies, the cruel effects of total war find the Miniver's courageously fighting not only for their way of life, but for life itself.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Tribute to Women's History

Girls Winding Armatures (AM&B, 1904). (2 min, 35mm).
Passaic Textile Strike
(International Workers Aid, 1926). (excerpt, video).
Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice
(William Greaves, 1989). (excerpt, video).
Two Dollars and a Dream: The Story of Madame C.J. Walker.
Dir Stanley Nelson. (56 min, video).
Freedom Bags
(Elizabeth Clark-Lewis, 1990). (32 min, video).

In the first decades of the 20th century, thousands of black women migrated North seeking wage-work and greater independence. Many found employment as household workers (as seen in Elizabeth Clark-Lewis' documentary Freedom Bags); others in the beauty industry. They had before them the true-life rags-to-riches story of Mme. C.J. Walker, the beauty culture entrepreneur who parlayed her marketing wits and gumption into a million-dollar business and became the toast of Harlem, and whose life is celebrated in Two Dollars and a Dream. Dreams of a different sort were manifested in the work of journalist and lecturer Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who electrified the nation by confronting Jim-Crow racism through her anti-lynching campaign, and by the women and men of Passaic, N.J., many of them immigrants, who went out on strike to protest working conditions in the textile industry. We'll show excerpts from two documentaries examining those legacies.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

National Film Registry

Seven Women (MGM,1965). Dir John Ford. With Anne Bancroft, Sue Lyons, Margaret Leighton, Flora Robson. (87 min, 35mm).

Based on a short story "Chinese Finale," by Norah Lofts, Seven Women is a drama about seven women in a isolated American mission on the Chinese-Mongolian border who's lives are ripped apart by the incursion of a despotic Mongolian and his band of cutthroats. The power of this film is the inner strength of the female characters.

Friday, June 13, 2003

National Film Registry

The Breaking Point (Warner Bros., 1950). Dir Michael Curtiz. With Patricia Neal, Phyliis Thaxter, Juano Hernandez. (97 min, 35mm).

This version of Hemingway's 1937 novel To Have and Have Not is a lot closer to the original than the Howard Hawks treatment. According to Bosley Crowther's New York Times review, "All of the character, color and cynicism of Mr. Hemingways's lean and hungry tale are wrapped up in this realistic picture, and John Garfield is tops in the principal role." Script by Ranald MacDougall; photography by Ted McCord.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Sessue Hayakawa

The Death Mask (Ince, 1914). Dir Jay Hunt. With Tsuru Aoki, One Feather, Robert Crazy Thunder, Peter Red Elk. (41 min, 35mm).
The Secret Sin (Paramount, 1915). Dir Frank Reicher. With Blanche Sweet, Hal Clements, Alice Knowland, Thomas Meighan. (50 min, 35mm).
The Secret Game (Paramount, 1915). Dir William C. de Mille. With Jack Holt, Florence Vidor, Mayme Kelso, Raymond Hatton, Charles Ogle. (51 min, 35mm).

The Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa (1889-1930) was the first Asian player to become a star of the Hollywood screen, during the 1910s and early 1920s. While best remembered for his menacing peril in The Cheat (1915), the screenings over these three evenings (tonight, June 24, and early in July with the next Pickford calendar) reveal that he played a far greater range of roles. This included portraying different races, and his box-office popularity even allowed him to have his own production company for a brief time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Tribute to Women's History

The Blot (Lois Weber Productions, 1921). Dir Lois Weber. With Philip Hubbard, Claire Windsor, Louis Calhern. (70 min, 35mm).

Lois Weber was, in Anthony Slide's memorable phrase, the "Director Who Lost Her Way in History," but renewed attention to her films is rescuing her from undeserved obscurity. She was something of a social realist whose explorations of the human condition were rooted in her religious upbringing, her films full of what in another age were called "moral uplift." She tackled abortion, birth control, capital punishment, racism, and a host of other topics while avoiding lapses into sheer exploitation. The Blot--recently restored by the Library's Motion Picture Conservation Center--is a drama of class distinction, told mainly through the perspective of its female protagonists. Tonight's program will also include some surprise shorts, and will be accompanied by pianist Ray Brubacher.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Tribute to Women's History

For You...Black Woman (TWG, 1976). (30 min, 16mm).
Miss America (Orchard Films, 2002). Dir Lisa Ades. (98 min, video).

From Beauty Queen to Black is Beautiful, American women's visions of themselves have been shaped through time by the standards of the culture, and by their own re-definitions. Lisa Ades' history of the changing face of the Miss America Pageant premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Ms. Ades will be on hand to dicuss her work.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Sessue Hayakawa

The Victoria Cross (Paramount, 1916). Dir E. J. Le Saint. With Lou-Tellegen, Cleo Ridgely, Ernest Joy. (47 min, 35mm).
Forbidden Paths (Paramount, 1917). Dir Robert T. Thornby. With Vivian Martin, Tom Forman, Carmen Phillips, James Neill. (48 min, 35mm).

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Tribute to Women's History

Salt of the Earth (International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, 1954). Dir Herbert J Biberman. With Will Geer, Rosaura Revueltas, Juan Chacón, David Wolfe. (96 min, 35mm).

An independent production by people on Hollywood's blacklist, this film is a drama based on an actual miners' strike in New Mexico, conceived as a radical political statement on working conditions and union organizing. Salt of the Earth makes a strong feminist statement as well, for it is the wives of the striking miners who spur their reluctant husbands to collective action.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

70s/80s Musicals

Popeye (Paramount, 1980). Dir Robert Altman. With Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Ray Walston (114 min, 35mm).

Universally dismissed as a failure, but even Robert Altman's missteps bear watching. And really, wouldn't you rather watch this than Nashville? Listen for Shelly Duvall warbling "He Needs Me," which last year was a central theme in Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love.

Friday, June 27, 2003

National Film Registry

The Party (UA, 1968).Dir Blake Edwards. With Peter Sellers, Claudine Longet, Marge Champion. (99 min, 35mm).

Edwards' and Sellers' only collaboration outside the Pink Panther series displays the influence of Jacques Tati, both in its structure and elaborate visual gags. Accident prone Indian actor Bakshi (Sellers) has come to Hollywood to appear in a remake of Gunga Din. Wreaking major havoc on the set, he is put on a "Do Not Hire" list which gets mixed up with a list of invitations to a swank party at the film producer's house. Edwards gives Sellers free reign to improvise, resulting in what many believe to be one of the funniest films ever made.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Sessue Hayakawa

The Victoria Cross (Paramount, 1916). Dir E. J. Le Saint. With Lou-Tellegen, Cleo Ridgely, Ernest Joy. (47 min, 35mm).
Forbidden Paths (Paramount, 1917). Dir Robert T. Thornby. With Vivian Martin, Tom Forman, Carmen Phillips, James Neill. (48 min, 35mm).

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Tribute to Women's History

Salt of the Earth (International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, 1954). Dir Herbert J Biberman. With Will Geer, Rosaura Revueltas, Juan Chacón, David Wolfe. (96 min, 35mm).

An independent production by people on Hollywood's blacklist, this film is a drama based on an actual miners' strike in New Mexico, conceived as a radical political statement on working conditions and union organizing. Salt of the Earth makes a strong feminist statement as well, for it is the wives of the striking miners who spur their reluctant husbands to collective action.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

70s/80s Musicals

Popeye (Paramount, 1980). Dir Robert Altman. With Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Ray Walston (114 min, 35mm).

Universally dismissed as a failure, but even Robert Altman's missteps bear watching. And really, wouldn't you rather watch this than Nashville? Listen for Shelly Duvall warbling "He Needs Me," which last year was a central theme in Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love.

Friday, June 27, 2003

National Film Registry

The Party (UA, 1968).Dir Blake Edwards. With Peter Sellers, Claudine Longet, Marge Champion. (99 min, 35mm).

Edwards' and Sellers' only collaboration outside the Pink Panther series displays the influence of Jacques Tati, both in its structure and elaborate visual gags. Accident prone Indian actor Bakshi (Sellers) has come to Hollywood to appear in a remake of Gunga Din. Wreaking major havoc on the set, he is put on a "Do Not Hire" list which gets mixed up with a list of invitations to a swank party at the film producer's house. Edwards gives Sellers free reign to improvise, resulting in what many believe to be one of the funniest films ever made.

Tuesday, July 8, 2003

National Film Registry

Banzai (Haworth, 1918, 3 min)
The Tong Man (Haworth, 1919, 42 min)
An Arabian Night (Hayakawa Feature Play Co., 1920, 50 min)

The Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa (1889-1930) was the first Asian player to become a star of the Hollywood screen, during the 1910s and early 1920s. While best remembered for his menacing peril in The Cheat (1915), tonight's show–the second of two–reveals that he played a far greater range of roles. This included portraying different races, and his box-office popularity even allowed him to have his own production company for a brief time.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

National Film Registry

The Show of Shows (Warner Bros., 1929, 128 min)

Friday, July 11, 2003

National Film Registry

The Sundowners (Warner Bros., 1960, 133 min)

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

National Film Registry

The Enchanted Cottage (RKO, 1945, 91 min. 35mm). Dir John Cromwell. With Dorothy McGuire, Robert Young, Herbert Marshall.

Ah, the transformative power of love. A young GI returns home from the war, his face disfigured from battle wounds. Believing that no one could ever love him, he retreats in despair to the small cottage where he and his fiancee were to have their honeymoon. He meets a plain young woman who works as a maid and they decide to marry out of loneliness. But the cottage works its magic and they fall in love. Others still see them pityingly, but whenever they look at one another the camera perspective changes and they become beautiful.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

National Film Registry

Adventure in Manhattan (Columbia, 1936, 73 min)

Friday, July 18, 2003

National Film Registry

The Incredible Shrinking Man (Universal, 1957, 81 min, 35mm) Dir Jack Arnold. With Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, April Kent.

Existential angst meets Zen-like transcendence in this seminal, forward-looking 50's classic. A young ad exec's life is forever altered after his exposure to a radioactive mist causes him to progressively shrink. Losing his job, he becomes a media figure to pay the bills, dates a midget after his marriage collapses, and ends up in a fateful fight with his cat. Totally riveting, from the mournful trumpet theme music, to the stunningly grandiose and poignant finale. Unarguably the finest work in the careers of Jack Arnold and Grant Williams.

Preceded by:

Science Fiction Theater: Time Is Just a Place (ZIV Television, 1955, 27 min, 35mm). Dir Jack Arnold. .

In this anthology series, host Truman Bradley introduced stories that revolved around basic scientific principles. In Time..., from a story by Jack Finney(Invasion of the Body Snatchers), a couple wonders about the mysterious goings on at their new neighbors' house.

Trilogy of Terror: Amelia (ABC, 1975, 27 min, 35mm). Dir Dan Curtis.

The final chapter in a trio of stories by Richard Matheson (The Shrinking Man), Amelia caused a sensation when it aired on ABC in 1975, terrifying even network executives. In a tour de force, Karen Black portrays a woman battling a demonic Zuni fetish doll.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Thomas H. Ince: Colonial Melodrama

The Price Mark (1917). (1917) Dir R. William Neill. With Dorothy Dalton. (60 min, 35mm).
The Bronze Bell (1921). Dir James Horne. With Courtenay Foote, Doris May. (63 min, 16 mm)

In 1998, the Library opened a collection of the papers of Thomas Harper Ince (1882-1924), whose life has remained unchronicled largely because major archives had only very fragmentary collections on him. This is especially true of the last years of Ince's life, from 1917 until his death, which is the focus of the Library's papers and hence of this series. The renowned silent film producer created one of the earliest Hollywood firms centered around a specific individual overseeing a wide range of product. Ince played an important role in the transformation of filmmaking into an industry, utilizing the factory-style system to maximize efficiency for which the studio system became known. The programs will be introduced by Brian Taves, who was given the 2002-2003 Kluge staff fellowship to research the Ince papers.
"Orientalist" filmmaking reaches a peak in The Price Mark and The Bronze Bell, two displays of the supposed decadence of two colonial lands, Egypt and India, respectively. Their narrative opposes them to the United States and the type of love they engender, but reveal the desire for a discourse with the "other" even while trying to contain its difference. And the question remains, by the conclusion, whether such movies have indeed changed for the better today.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Thomas H. Ince: Women on the Frontier

Tyrant Fear (1918). Dir R. William Neill. With Dorothy Dalton. (10 min, 35mm, r1 only).
Keys of the Righteous (1918). Dir Jerome Storm. With Enid Bennett. (48 min, 35mm).
Partners Three (1919). Dir Fred Niblo. With Enid Bennett. (55 min, 16 mm).

Usually Thomas Ince's westerns are connected to the silent cowboy perfomer William S. Hart, or to cowboy-and-Indian plots, but just as significant if not more so are those featuring women on the frontier. In these years, Ince turned out a regular series of "women's" melodramas featuring Dalton or Bennett. All three of tonight's films center on questions of the abuse of women on the frontier; although only reel 1 survives of Tyrant Fear, it is an amazing expose of the brutality of a forced marriage.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

The Far Horizons (Paramount, 1955, 108 min)

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Chronicles Of America: The Frontier Woman (Yale University, 1926, 40 min)
Across The Wide Missouri (MGM, 1951, 78 min)

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

The Rifleman: The Deadeye Kid (ABC, 1959, 30 min)
Rachel and the Stranger (RKO, 1948, 79 min) Dir Norman Foster. With: Gary Gray, Tom Tully. (80 min, 35mm).

Widower David Harvey (William Holden) buys bondswoman Rachel (Loretta Young) to take care of his son. Robert Mitchum sings. Manifest destiny rocks. It happened in 19th century Ohio, but it could happen now, anywhere!

Friday, August 1, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Jeremiah Johnson (Warner Bros., 1972, 116 min)

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Colorado Territory (Warner Bros., 1949, 94 min, 35mm) Dir Raoul Walsh. With Virginia Mayo, Dorothy Malone.

Raoul Walsh remakes his own famed gangster film High Sierra, transposing it to the Old West, where its story of an outlaw on the run becomes not only logical, but poignant. In the leading role, the ever-stalwart Joel McCrea is an affecting anti-hero. The rugged beauty of the locales makes this a memorable entry in the Warner Bros.' western cycle of the '40's.

Thursday, August 7, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

The Hallelujah Trail (UA, 1965, 165 min, 35mm) Dir John Sturges. With Burt Lancaster, Lee Remick, Jim Hutton. (168 min, 35mm).

"See How The West Was Fun!" is the tagline of this star-studded western comedy. You should surmise that it is not a politically correct film. On the other hand it is extremely funny. In 1867, the miners in Denver realize that winter is setting in and there isn't enough whiskey, so they hire the Irish Teamsters to haul in a wagon train. But the Temperance Movement catches wind of it and then the Sioux. Add Calvary to the mix and all chaos ensues. Donald Pleasence is a hoot as the perennially drunken Oracle Jones and Martin Landau as Chief Walks-Stooped-Over. Great score by Elmer Bernstein.

Friday, August 8, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

The Big Sky (Winchester Pictures, 1952, 122 min, 35mm) Dir Howard Hawks. With Dewey Martin, Elizabeth Threatt.

Jim Deakins is a Kentucky frontiersman and Indian trader who casts his lot in with a group of fur traders embarking upon a perilous journey up the Missouri river. The plan is to return a kidnaped Blackfoot princess, Teal Eye, to her people and thus win their gratitude and trade. Guided by Teal Eye and a crazy warrior named Poordevil, they encounter hostile tribes, bandits, and wicked waters. Kirk Douglas gives a strong performance in this grand frontier tale based on the novel by A.B. Guthrie. Rousing music by Dimitri Tiomkin.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Thomas H. Ince: Politics and Psychology

Dangerous Hours (1919). Dir Fred Niblo. With Lloyd Hughes. (50 min, 16mm).
The Dark Mirror (1920). Dir Charles Giblyn. With Dorothy Dalton. (58 min, 16mm).

Two films that look forward to times far beyond the years in which they were produced. The Dark Mirror is an astonishing look toward "film noir" significantly before the European influences that supposedly gave rise to the movement were in place. Dangerous Hours examines the threat of Bolshevik terrorism and the response in ways that have many parallels with post-9/11 America.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

The Frisco Kid (Warner Bros., 1979, 122 min, 35mm) Dir Robert Aldrich. With Harrison Ford, Val Bisoglio.

This endearing Gene Wilder vehicle is a sterling example of that all-too-rare genre-the Jewish western! Our hero is a Polish rabbi who travels from the old country to his new home in San Francisco. His journey becomes a picaresque trek across the continental United States, a land of pristine scenic beauty and eccentric inhabitants. A bittersweet comedy with Wilder in top form.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

The Oklahoma Kid (Warner Bros., 1939, 85 min, 3mm) Dir Lloyd Bacon. With Donald Crisp, Rosemary Lane.

Cagney and Bogart trade in their fedoras for ten-gallon hats in one of their more offbeat outings. The setting is Tulsa in its boomtown days. The frontier turns out to be as sin-soaked as Gotham, making it a haven for two tough-guy screen icons. A true curio of the western movie tradition.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Thomas H. Ince: The Forgotten Star, Douglas MacLean

The Home Stretch (1921). Dir Jack Nelson. With Douglas MacLean. (51 min, 16 mm).
One A Minute (1921). Dir Jack Nelson. With Douglas MacLean. (50 min, 35mm).

While probably Charles Ray is the male star best remembered in conjunction with Ince, in fact the most interesting figure is the largely forgotten Douglas MacLean, who played a far greater range of roles, portraying tonight two types of businessman. One a Minute is a satire of Barnum-style hucksterism at its best, while The Home Stretch is a more melodramatic and harsh account of the dark side of the racetrack and small town America.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Kit Carson (Edward Small Productions, 1940, 102 min)

Friday, August 22, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Warner Bros., 1971, 120 min, 35mm) Dir Robert Altman. With Rene Auberjonois, William Devane, Shelley Duvall.

This poetic, contemplative, and lushly atmospheric western is one of Altman's greatest works. Warren Beatty's McCabe is a mumbling-to-himself businessman who comes to a Pacific Northwest town with the idea of opening a high class bordello. Julie Christie's Mrs. Miller is the opium-addicted madame with whom he joins forces. Accompanied by the wistful songs of Leonard Cohen, Altman shows McCabe naively taking on an encroaching big corporation, leading to an ending both inevitable and unforgettable.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Thomas H. Ince: The Late Films

Bell Boy 13 (1923). Dir William Seiter. With Douglas MacLean. (44 min, 16mm).
Wandering Husbands (1924). Dir William Beaudine. With James Kirkwood, Lila Lee. (70 min, 35mm).

Sadly, while during the last four years of his life, Ince produced some three dozen films, only a very few survive. Bell Boy 13 is a clever comedy guaranteed to amuse, while Wandering Husbands is one of a series of melodramas which research in the Ince papers has revealed to be his product, although he is not credited on screen. A full explanation for this contract provision will be provided in the introduction to the program.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

The Way West (UA, 1967, 122 min, 35mm) Dir Andrew McLaglen. With Kirk Douglas, Sally Fields, Richard Widmark..

Hot off the Maurice Chevalier-Dean Jones vehicle Monkeys, Go Home, director McLaglen sheds dreams of Yvette Mimieux for this rugged tale of settlers driving through Indian territories. With Robert Mitchum in a non-singing role.

Thursday, August 29, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Bend of the River (Universal, 1952, 91 min, 35mm) Dir Anthony Mann. With Arthur Kennedy, Harry Morgan.

Glyn McLyntock was once a vicious outlaw, but he's trying his best to turn things around. In this performance, James Stewart shows us what a tough guy he can be. He guides a wagon train of settlers to the Oregon territory facing numerous perils along the way - Indians, harsh elements, hijackers, and gold rush madness. He rescues a former partner-in-crime from a lynching only to have to confront his wicked ways later on. It's a fight to the death and a plunge into the icy river. With beautiful scenery - Julie Adams and Rock Hudson vie for prettiest - this story adapted from the novel Bend of the Snake by Borden Chase holds an unwavering tension.

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Death Valley Days: How Death Valley Got Its Name (United States Borax, 1952, 30 min)
Cheyenne Dual at Judas Basin (ABC, 1960, 60 min)

Thursday, September 4, 2003

Wright Bros.

Flight (Columbia, 1929, 110 min, 35mm) Dir Frank Capra. With Jack Holt, Lila Lee.

Before he attained screen immortality as a creator of winsome comedies, Frank Capra won wide acclaim for his vigorous action pictures. This accomplished early talkie exploited the public's fascination with all things airborne. D. W. Griffith veteran Ralph Graves plays one of the leading roles and contributed the original story, a paean to male bonding, danger, and derring-do that foreshadowed Dirigible (December 9).

Friday, September 5, 2003

National Film Registry

Carrie (Paramount, 1952, 118 min, 35mm). Dir William Wyler. With Miriam Hopkins, Eddie Albert.

This screen adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's novel Sister Carrie follows the life and loves of an ambitious country girl (Jennifer Jones) who moves to Chicago in the 1890s. She finds city life difficult for a woman without family connections or money, but more complications and heartbreak arise when she becomes the mistress of an unhappily married businessman (Laurence Olivier).

Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Wright Bros.

Twelve O'Clock High (Fox, 1950, 133 min)

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Wright Bros.

Tarnished Angels (Universal, 1958, 91 min, 35mm). Dir Douglas Sirk. With Rock Hudson, Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone.

When a newspaper man finds himself drawn into the daredevil world of stunt flying and barnstorming, he quickly becomes entangled in a web of uncertain consequences. Based on William Faulkner's novel Pylon and featuring the stars of Sirk's acclaimed melodrama Written on the Wind, this trashy guilty pleasure is - according to its own publicity - "the picture they said could never be made because it dares to reflect life with complete frankness."

Friday, September 12, 2003

National Film Registry

The Gong Show Movie (Universal, 1980, 89 min, 35 mm) Dir Chuck Barris. With Robin Altman, Mabel King.

Chuck Barris's peculiarly American brand of sadomasochism developed from incendiary satire of courtship rituals (The Dating Game) to a stunning treatise of isolationism (The Newlywed Game) - a chilling harbinger of things to come. The Gong Show Movie documents the culmination of the Barris aesthetic. Like Christians to lions, so were homely-grown acts thrown to Jamie Farr, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Jaye P. Morgan. If you could be judged by any three historical figures, would you choose any but this unloyal order? What other secret societies are harbored in the bowels of Hollywood? Why isn't there a Rip Taylor screensaver? There are no answers, only questions.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Westward Ho The Wagons! (Walt Disney, 1957, 86 min)

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Wright Bros.

The Dawn Patrol (Warner Bros., 1938, 103 min)

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Wright Bros.

Wings And The Woman (RKO, 1942, 94 min)

Friday, September 26, 2003

Wright Bros.

Only Angels Have Wings (Columbia, 1939, 128 min)

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

The Donner Party (PBS, 1992, 90 min). Dir Ric Burns.

Ric Burns' acclaimed documentary chronicles the harrowing tale of the ill-fated emigrant group who set out for the promised land of California in the spring of 1846, only to meet with disaster in the snows of the Sierra Nevada the following winter. Narrated by David McCullough.

Thursday, October 2, 2003

Wright Bros.

Ceiling Zero (Warner Bros., 1936, 95 min). Dir Howard Hawks. With Pat O'Brien, June Travis.

Based on the play of the same name, Hawks chose James Cagney to portray Dizzy Davis, a wild daredevil airmail pilot whose ways with the women are as well-known as his in-flight antics. When he returns to work for his old boss, the skies and the girls are fare game for Davis, even at the expense of his fellow pilots.

Friday, October 3, 2003

Wright Bros.

The Great Santini (Orion, 1979, 115 min, 35mm). Dir Lewis John Carlino. With Michael O'Keefe, Blythe Danner.

The Wright Brothers legacy, like so many technological advancements, created unexpected ripples. What would modern machismo do without the seductive elixir of speed and escape afforded by the iron bird? With new solutions come new anxieties: with geographical distance a now minor obstacle, is the distance between human beings any easier to traverse? Robert Duvall, the hero of the repressed, was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Bull Meechum, a proud fighter pilot who drinks these questions till drunk. Has any other actor expressed so much emotion with so few histrionics?

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

You Are There: Lewis and Clark at the Great Divide (CBS, 1971, 30 min)
Wagon Train: The Charles Avery Story (Revue, 1957, 60 min)

Thursday, October 9, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Stories of the Century: Sam Bass (Republic, 1954, 25 min)
Bonanza: The Pursued (NBC, 1966, 100 min)

Friday, October 10, 2003

Wright Bros.

Sky King: The Porcelain Lion (NBC, 1952, 30 min)
Whirlybirds: Black Maria (CBS, 1959, 30 min)
The Twilight Zone: The Last Flight (CBS, 1959, 30 min)
Wings: Das Plane (NBC, 1992, 30 min)

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Fort Apache (Argosy, 1948, 127 min, 35mm) Dir John Ford. With Henry Fonda, Pedro Armendáriz.

This film has long been both a critics' favorite and a crowd pleaser due to its gorgeous scenery, Archie Stout's matchless cinematography, Richard Hageman's tremendous musical score, and a stellar cast headed by the Duke himself. Primarily, it is a display of John Ford's directorial gifts at their peak. Works like Fort Apache made Ford the supreme mythmaker and film poet of the American West.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

They Died With Their Boots On (Warner Bros., 1941, 140 min, 35mm) With Olivia de Havilland, Arthur Kennedy.

Warner Bros.' take on the George Armstrong Custer story was never noted for its sensitivity or its historical accuracy. Its raison d'être was big-budget, slam-bang excitement. Impressive locations, a suspenseful story, plus extras and horsemen galore enliven one of the most effective spectacles released during Errol Flynn's reign as king of the action film.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Wright Bros.

Wings (Paramount, 1927, 145 min)

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Shalako (UK, 1968, 113 min)

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Man In The Wilderness (Warner Bros., 1971, 104 min). Dir Richard C. Sarafian. With John Huston, Henry Wilcoxon, James Doohan.

In the 1820's Northwest territories, frontier scout Zachary Bass(the late, great Richard Harris) is left for dead by his captain and crew after being gruesomely mauled by a bear. Vowing revenge on his deserters, Bass travels many miles to find them; but in the process of his long journey he undergoes a transformation. A mystical, fantastic yet true story, including the hauling of Lewis and Clark's original ship across dry land.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Westward The Women (MGM, 1951, 116 min, 35mm) . Dir William Wellman. With Denise Darcel, Hope Emerson.

In 1851, the ranch hands in California were lonely and cold at night owing to a scarcity of women. So ranch-owner John McIntyre devises a harebrained scheme to find wives for his men. He heads to Chicago with a photo of each man in his pocket and then advertises for 100 good women who then pick their feller and sign up for the long haul. Robert Taylor tries his best to dissuade his boss, but fails, and reluctantly signs on to guide them. So with a wagon load of 150 prospective wives (they expect casualties) they head 2,000 miles across country only to be set upon by Indians, floods, hunger and thirst. They bury their dead, birth their babies, and shoot the rapists. And when the men desert, the women take over showing their mettle. With Frank Capra as the story writer you can expect plenty of noble and comic moments.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Wright Bros.

No Highway In The Sky (20th Century Fox., 1951, 98 min). Dir Henry Koster. With Jack Hawkins, Janette Scott.

After the 1950 success of Harvey, Henry Koster and James Stewart team up again for this UK-made vehicle. When Stewart realizes the airplane he's riding in -- manufactured by his employers -- could fall apart at any minute, he goes to great lengths to help his stewardess love (Glynis Johns) and actress friend (Marlene Dietrich). The two believe him, but everyone else treats him like he's seen a six-foot bunny on the wing. A must-see for frequent flyers!

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Calamity Jane (Warner Bros., 1953, 101 min) Dir David Butler. With Howard Keel, Allyn McLerie. (100 min, 35mm).

Welcome to Deadwood, Dakota Territory, where civilization is still unknown and gender roles are as mutable as the prairie breeze. An androgynous Doris Day gives her most dynamic performance as the legendary frontierswoman. The infectious songs are by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster; the vivid cinematography (in Technicolor, natch) by Wilfrid M. Cline.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Rock Island Trail (Republic, 1950, 90 min)

Friday, October 31, 2003

Wright Bros..

The Dawn Patrol (Warner Bros., 1930, 105 min,). Dir Howard Hawks. With Frank McHugh, James Finlayson.

Neil Hamilton plays Major Brand, whose World War I air squadron seems to be increasingly made up of teenagers. Brand begins to feel the emotional effects of sending so many young men to their deaths. Richard Barthelmess and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., portray Courtney and Scott, rebellious fighter pilots whose friendship is tested when Courtney replaces Major Brand as squadron commander, and Scott's younger brother joins the team. The original John Monk Saunders story won an Oscar.

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Sergeant Rutledge (Warner Bros., 1960, 111 min, 35mm) Dir John Ford. With Jeffrey Hunter, Juano Hernandez.

Woody Strode stars as an African-American soldier standing trial at a frontier outpost. He is one of a group of black recruits helping the predominantly white community subdue the local Native American population. James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck's screenplay explores the always timely theme of race relations in America.

Thursday, November 6, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Along The Oregon Trail (Republic, 1947, 64 min)

Friday, November 7, 2003

National Film Registry

Gypsy (Warner Bros., 1962, 145 min, 35mm). Dir Mervyn Leroy. With Rosalind Russell, Natalie Wood, Faith Dane, Karl Malden, Paul Wallace.

The famous Broadway show made famous by Ethyl Merman is recreated for the big screen in big, bold Technicolor Cinemascope. Natalie Wood recreates the Gypsy Rose Lee role with a wonderful supporting cast. Tonight's screening will be introduced by Faith Dane, who co-starred in the film.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Suds (United Artists, 1920). Dir John Francis Dillon. With Albert Austin, Harold Goodwin. (75 min, 35mm).

Mary Pickford, one of silent cinema's biggest stars, is mostly remembered for her star-power and business acumen. At twenty-four she began producing her own pictures, and at twenty-seven she co-founded United Artists, the first independent distribution company. Suds was Mary Pickford second release at United Artists, the distribution company she co-founded in 1919 with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith. Pickford's slapstick talents are shown in this dark comedy about a laundress living and working in a London slum. Two shorts, Behind the Scenes Footage of Mary Pickford on the Set of Little Annie Rooney (1925) and The Birth of United Artists (1919), will also be screened.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Silverado (Columbia, 1985, 127 min, 35mm) Dir Lawrence Kasdan. With Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, Kevin Klein, Danny Glover, Linda Hunt, and Rosanna Arquette.

This film is one of Hollywood's big attempts in the 1980s at bringing back the popularity of the classic American Western. Big budget, all star cast, and hot director were all thrown together to try to score a big hit for Columbia Pictures, but alas, the film only was modestly successful at the box office. This film is worth a second look for the beautiful visuals of big sky country and its charming attempt to re-create the classic western.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Wright Bros.

Destination Moon (George Pal Productions, 1950, 92 min)

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Heartland (Filmhaus, 1979, 96 min)

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

River Of No Return (20th Century-Fox, 1954, 91 min, 35mm) Dir Otto Preminger, Jean Negulesco. With Robert Mitchum, Rory Calhoun.

Following an unjust prison term, Matt Calder returns to the wilderness to be reunited with his son and plans for his farm. But one day a troublesome couple arrives on a raft seeking help, the gambler Weston and his wife Kay - a saloon singer, no less. Weston is eager to get down river and file a claim on a gold mine that he has won in a poker game. So he steals Calder's gun and his horse and abandons the wife (Marilyn Monroe!), leaving the three helpless to face hostile Indians. They flee to the unruly river and it becomes a journey where angers are purged and love rediscovered. Absolutely gorgeous scenery shot in Alberta and the songs are sweet.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Days of Heaven (Paramount, 1978, 95 min)

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Wright Bros.

The Spirit of St. Louis
(Warner Bros., 1957, 138 min). Dir Billy Wilder. With James Stewart, Murray Hamilton.

With the recent May 30th retirement of the Concorde fleet of planes, this retelling of Charles Lindbergh's 1927 New York to Paris flight takes on a special significance. Filmed in Cinemascope, the film follows Lindbergh from his younger days as an airmail pilot and barnstormer, through his landing in Paris. The Warner Bros. budget allowed for authentic-looking 1927 costumes and settings, and great "from the air" shots.

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

National Film Registry

The Bad One (United Artists, 1930, 64 min)
Daughter of Shanghai (Paramount, 1937, 67 min)

Thursday, December 4, 2003

National Film Registry

The Fair Co-ed (MGM, 1927, 71 min)
The Duchess of Buffalo (First National, 1926, 70 min)

Friday, December 5, 2003

Wright Bros.

Airplane! (Paramount, 1980, 88 min)

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Wright Bros.

Dirigible (Columbia, 1931, 100 min, 35mm) Dir Frank Capra. With Fay Wray, Hobart Bosworth.

This gripping airship saga set the standard for aviation movies of its era. Jack Holt and Ralph Graves, the brawny stars of Flight (September 4), battle Antarctica this time around. The adventures of explorer Richard E. Byrd inspired what became Columbia's most expensive production up to that date, and the film has remained an anomalous classic in the Capra canon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Rivers, Edens, Empires

Once Upon A Time In The West (Paramount, 1971, 159 min, 35mm) Dir Sergio Leone. With Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards.

Man. Woman. Blood. Guns. Revenge. Eyeballs bigger than pancakes. If this movie had a smell it would stink of all of these and you'd like it. See it in widescreen ecstasy, buzz to Ennio Morricone's fuzz-guitar score, and you just might get a hint of that phantom smell.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Wright Bros.

The Hindenberg (Universal, 1975, 126 min, 35mm) Dir Robert Wise. With Anne Bancroft, Gig Young, Burgess Meredith, Charles Durning.

Real life events blend with fiction in this blockbuster disaster film released in the summer of 1975 from the big budget director Robert Wise. Conspiracy theory is explored in the plot believing the Hindenburg explosion was caused by foul play. George C. Scott plays our hero who is somewhat of an anti-hero when he uncovers the plot but fails to prevent the Zeppelin's tragic end.

Friday, December 12, 2003 (6:00 pm)

Wright Bros.

The Right Stuff (Ladd Company, 1983, 191 min)

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Wright Bros.

The Flying Ace (Norman Studios, 1928, 55 min, 35mm) Dir Howard Norman. With Lawrence
Criner, Kathryn Boyd.

Producer Richard E. Norman would be a rarity even today: a white man who made films for black audiences and who gave black actors roles of dignity and heroism. This picture traded on tales of black pilots like Bessie Coleman, the first African-American to earn a pilot's license. In fact ,Norman was asked to make a picture about Coleman's daredevil stunts. But Coleman was killed in a plane crash before The Flying Ace was even released. Norman never made a talking picture, but continued to distribute his own and other black films until his death in 1960.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Wright Bros.

More Than A Miracle (C'Era una Volta) (Compagnia Cinematografica/MGM, 1967, 105 min, 35mm)
Dir Francesco Rosi. With Sophia Loren, Omar Sharif, Dolores del Rio.

Francesco Rosi (Eboli, Salvatore Giuliano), took a break from Italian political history with this Carlo Ponti-produced flight of fancy. Flying monks a la St. Joseph of Cupertino, witches out of Macbeth, and a dishwashing contest figure in this tale of a prince and a peasant girl. Loren and Sharif's chemistry, the Italian countryside and Piero Piccioni's astounding soundtrack all make for a pleasurable cinematic experience.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Wright Bros.

The Great Waldo Pepper (Universal, 1975, 108 min, 35mm) Dir George Roy Hill. With Bo Svenson, Susan Sarandon, Edward Herrmann.

This film rode the star power of Robert Redford fresh off the big hit film The Sting and is very much a vehicle for his charm and charisma. Redford plays a World War I flying ace who was the only pilot who survived a dog fight with the legendary German flyer Ernst Kessler and follows his charismatic life as a stunt pilot after the War. The biggest thrill of this film is the World War I dog fights and the stunt aerial acrobatics re-enacted for the film.

Top of Page Top of Page
  Home >> Mary Pickford Theater
  The Library of Congress >> Researchers
  August 31, 2010
Legal | External Link Disclaimer

Contact Us:  
Ask a Librarian