Thomas Jefferson

Panel Discussion

Thursday, May 10, 2000 (12:00 noon)

Panel discussion on Thomas Jefferson with Gerry Gawalt (Manuscripts Division) curator of the Thomas Jefferson exhibition and John Cole (Center for the Book).

Film Series

RESERVATIONS may be made by phone, beginning one week before any given show. Call (202) 707-5677 during business hours (Monday-Friday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm). Reserved seats must be claimed at least 10 minutes before showtime, after which standbys will be admitted to unclaimed seats. All programs are free, but seating is limited to 64 seats. The Mary Pickford Theater is located on the third floor of the Library of Congress Madison building.

If you would like to subscribe to our program guide you can submit your name and mailing address either by calling the Pickford Theater reservation line at (202) 707-5677 (24 hours a day) or by sending e-mail to

Thursday, April 27, 2000 (6:30 pm) The Spirit of '76

  • Spirit of '76 (Biograph, 1905). (ca. 2 min., si., b/w, 16mm; LC Coll.)
  • A True Patriot (Lubin, 1909). (ca. 12 min., si., b/w, 16mm; LC Coll.)
  • When the Flag Falls (Lubin, 1909). (ca. 17 min., si., b/w, 16mm; LC Coll.)
  • The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (Edison, 1914). (ca. 17 min., si., b/w, 16mm; LC Coll.)
  • Scouting for Washington (Edison, 1917). (ca. 45 min., si., b/w, 16mm; LC Coll.)
  • Sons of Liberty (Warner Bros., 1939). Dir.: Michael Curtiz. Cast: Claude Rains, Gale Sondergaard. (20 min., sd., col., 35mm; LC Coll., courtesy Warner Bros.)
  • Williamsburg–The Story of a Patriot (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1957). Dir.: George Seaton. Cast: Jack Lord, Richard Striker. (36 min., sd., col., 16mm; LC Coll., courtesy Colonial Williamsburg Foundation).

  • Our Spirit of '76 series begins with a number of early films and short films on various aspects of the American Revolution, as introduced by MBRS staff member Brian Taves. While the Civil War has been a popular theme from the beginning of the American cinema to the present, movies about our nation's other great formative conflict, the Revolution, have not achieved a similar success. For instance, a decade after D.W. Griffith made his still-famous and controversial Birth of a Nation, set during the the Civil War and Reconstruction, the director decided to create a parallel cinematic epic of the Revolution, entitled simply America (July 18). Although seldom seen and little known today, America is regarded by historians as the best movie ever made about the Revolution, covering events from Paul Revere to Yorktown. Janice Meredith (July 7) followed America into theaters, and unlike its predecessor's portrayal of the British as villains, opted for a softer tone as Tory coquette Marion Davies falls in love with a patriot. 1776 (June 30) was based on the hit play that combined the old Broadway musical-comedy stage format with a strikingly accurate portrayal of the motivations, personalities, and events of the Continental Congress. The film version of 1776 did not find the appreciative audiences who had seen it on stage, but moviegoers saw a truncated version; the restoration of 1776 presented here runs more than a half-hour longer than the theatrical release.

Friday, April 28, 2000 (6:30 pm) Thomas Jefferson

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Columbia, 1939). Dir.: Frank Capra. Cast: James Stewart, Jean Arthur. (130 min., sd., b/w, 35mm; LC Coll., courtesy Columbia).

The spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln pervades this classic tale of innocence triumphant. Restored by the Library's Motion Picture Conservation Center.

Thursday, May 4, 2000 (7:00 pm) Thomas Jefferson

The Far Horizons (Paramount, 1955). Dir.: Rudolph Maté. Cast: Fred MacMurray, Charlton Heston. (108 min., sd., col., 35mm; LC Coll., courtesy Paramount).

Leslie Halliwell calls it "flabbily-handled historical hokum," but at least it's beautiful VistaVision hokum. This Lewis and Clark dramatization makes up in grandeur what it lacks in narrative drive, and the off-beat pairing of MacMurray and Heston works somehow.

Thursday, May 11, 2000 (7:00 pm) Thomas Jefferson

  • Ben and Me (Disney, 1953). Dir.: Hamilton Luske. Narrator: Sterling Holloway. (18 min., sd., col., 35mm; LC Coll., courtesy Disney).
  • The Declaration of Independence (Vitaphone, 1938). Dir.: Crane Wilbur. (19 min., sd., col., 35mm; LC Coll., courtesy Warner Bros.)
  • The Farmer from Monticello (NBC, 1955). Dir.: Albert McCleery. Cast: Rhodes Reason, Julie Bennett. (30 min., sd., b/w, 16mm; LC Coll., courtesy NBC).
  • Experiment at Monticello (Screen Gems, 1953). Dir.: Jules Bricken. Cast: Grandon Rhodes, Raymond Greenleaf. (42 min., sd., b/w, 16mm; LC Coll., courtesy Columbia).

Four short films tonight touching on various aspects of Thomas Jefferson's career, beginning with the cartoon Ben and Me, in which Amos the church mouse provides guidance to Jefferson and Ben Franklin. This is followed by a Vitaphone short dramatizing the debate over the Declaration of Independence. The series finishes with The Farmer from Monticello , a Hallmark Hall of Fame teleplay in which a young Jefferson decides to devote his life to the law after representing an unfairly accused friend, and Experiment at Monticello, in which Jefferson the scientist facilitates public acceptance of the smallpox vaccine.

Friday, June 9, 2000 (7:00 pm) Thomas Jefferson

  • Jefferson in Paris (Touchstone, 1995). Dir.: James Ivory. Cast: Nick Nolte, Greta Scacchi, Thandie Newton. (136 min., sd., col., 35mm; LC Coll., courtesy Buena Vista).

Lush even by Merchant-Ivory standards, Jefferson in Paris posits a bewildered man torn between a married woman, his strong-willed daughter, and Sally Hemmings. The film makes no claims for historical accuracy, but as melodrama it is better than its critical drubbing suggested.

Friday, June 30, 2000 (6:00 pm) The Spirit of '76

  • 1776(Warner Bros., 1972). Dir.: Peter H. Hunt. Cast: William Daniels, Howard DaSilva, Ken Howard. (176 min., sd., col., videodisc; LC Coll., courtesy Columbia/Tristar Home Video).

Thursday, July 6, 2000 (7:00 pm) Thomas Jefferson

  • The Chronicles of America: The Declaration of Independence (Chronicles of America Picture Corp., 1924). Dir.: Kenneth Webb. (36 min., si., b/w, 35mm; LC Coll.)
  • Independent Mr. Jefferson (NBC, 1953). (30 min., sd., b/w, 16mm; LC Coll., courtesy NBC).
  • Discovery: The Declaration of Independence (ABC, 1968). Dir.: Jack Ofield. (30 min, sd., col., 16mm; LC Coll., courtesy ABC).

Three different takes on the writing and adoption of the Declaration of Independence, and Jefferson's role therein.

Friday, July 7, 2000 (7:00 pm) The Spirit of '76

  • Janice Meredith (Cosmopolitan Pictures, 1924). Dir.: E. Mason Hopper. Cast: Marion Davies, Harrison Ford. (ca. 120. min., si., b/w, 35mm; LC Coll.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2000 (7:00 pm) The Spirit of '76

  • America (United Artists, 1924). Dir.: D.W. Griffith. Cast: Lionel Barrymore, Neil Hamilton, Carol Dempster. (ca. 120 min., si., b/w, 16mm; LC Coll.)

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