March 18, 2014 April Film Schedule Spotlights Comedy, Rare 70 mm Classics

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With a wink and a nod to April Fool’s Day, the Packard Campus Theater will pay tribute to screwball comedy with a month-long look at the popular genre that thrived in America in the 1930s and early ‘40s. From lesser-known early examples such as “The Matrimonial Bed” to classics on the National Film Registry starring The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields and Cary Grant, ending with Peter Bogdanovich’s reboot “What’s Up Doc?,” there will be plenty to laugh about. For more information on the National Film Registry, visit

Film Historian Bruce Lawton will introduce two rare screenings of writer-director Michael Cimino’s controversial epic Western “Heaven’s Gate.” They include a 35 mm film print of the 1981 theatrically released “director's cut,” running 149 minutes, and the original premiere version that was shown earlier in New York, in November 1980, for only a one-week run. The latter—a scarce 70 mm print—with a running time of 219 minutes, is the only known existing copy of this version, which will be the first time that the Packard Campus Theater has showcased the high-resolution 70 mm format. Cimino’s 1978 Academy Award-winning “The Deer Hunter” will be screened the same weekend, also in a rare 70 mm print.

A new print of the 1928 version of “Ramona,” preserved by the Library of Congress in association with the Národní Filmový Archiv in Prague, will be screened with live musical accompaniment by Andrew Simpson and preceded by a presentation detailing the work involved in the restoration of the film.

Short subjects will be presented before select programs. Titles are subject to change without notice. Screenings at the Packard Campus are preceded by an informative slide presentation about the film, with music selected by the Library’s Recorded Sound Section.

All Packard Campus programs are free and open to the public, but children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. For general Packard Campus Theater information, call (540) 827-1079 ext. 79994 or (202) 707-9994 during regular business hours. For further information on the theater and film series, visit In case of inclement weather, call the theater information line no more than three hours before showtime to confirm cancellations.

Admission to all programs in the “Library of Congress Presents” film series at the State Theatre is $6. For State Theatre information, visit its website ( External) or call 540-829-0292.

Seating at the Packard Campus Theater’s free screenings is on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, for a ticketing service charge, patrons can ensure admission to these shows by reserving tickets through the State Theatre website or by visiting the State Theatre ticket office at 305 S. Main Street in Culpeper, Va.

The Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation is a state-of-the-art facility funded as a gift to the nation by the Packard Humanities Institute. The Packard Campus is the site where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of motion pictures, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings ( The Packard Campus is home to more than 7 million collection items. It provides staff support for the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board (, the National Recording Preservation Board ( and the national registries for film and recorded sound.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at

Library of Congress Packard Campus Theater Schedule

Thursday, April 3 (7:30 p.m.)
Screwball Comedy Double Feature
“The Matrimonial Bed”
(Warner Bros., 1930)
One of future “Casablanca” director Michael Curtiz’s earlier efforts is a comedy based on a French farce. In the film, the remarried wife (Florence Eldridge) suddenly discovers that her late husband Adolphe (Frank Fay) is living as a married and philandering hairdresser with amnesia from a train crash that supposedly killed him. James Gleason and Liliyan Tashman co-star as the other spouses caught up in the ensuing complications.

“Two Heads on a Pillow” (Liberty Pictures, 1934)
Neil Hamilton and Miriam Jordan play a couple of young lawyers who fall in love, marry and divorce shortly thereafter, thanks in part to a meddling mother-in-law. Years later, the estranged couple find themselves opposing each other in court in an alienation-of-affections suit. William Nigh directed this comedy drama, often cited as a precursor to the more celebrated Tracy-Hepburn vehicle “Adam’s Rib.”

Friday, April 4 (7:30 p.m.)
“Babette’s Feast”
(Orion Classics, 1987)
Directed by Gabriel Axel and adapted from a story by Isak Dinesen (a.k.a. Karen Blixen), “Babette’s Feast” is the lovingly layered tale of a French housekeeper with a mysterious past who brings quiet revolution in the form of one exquisite meal to a circle of starkly pious villagers in late 19th-century Denmark. Starring Stephane Audran, Birgitte Federspiel and Bodil Kjer, “Babette’s Feast” was the first Danish film to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film is in Danish with English subtitles.

Saturday, April 5 (7:30 p.m.)
Screwball Comedy Double Feature
“Duck Soup”
(Paramount, 1933)
Thanks to the patronage of well-heeled widow Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont), Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) becomes dictator of the tiny country of Freedonia. However, when the ambassador of the bordering nation of Sylvania declares his love for Mrs. Teasdale, Firefly declares war. The Marx Brothers are at their best in this raucous political satire, in which Chico, Harpo and Zeppo co-star as spies and counterspies. Directed by Leo McCarey, the zany comedy was added to the National Film Registry in 1990.

“It’s a Gift” (Paramount, 1934)
W.C. Fields stars as a henpecked New Jersey grocer who must contend with an overbearing wife, annoying children, an incompetent assistant, customers and salesmen as he makes plans to move to California to grow oranges. Norman Z. McLeod directed the comedy, which was added to the National Film Registry in 2010.

Thursday, April 10 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Major and the Minor”
(Paramount, 1942)
Ginger Rogers stars as Susan Applegate, a young woman who’s fed up with New York and decides to go home to Iowa. Short on cash, the 20-something masquerades as a 12-year-old to qualify for a half-price train ticket. On the trip, she meets a handsome major (Ray Milland) who takes her under his wing, but can’t understand his growing attraction to this “child.” Billy Wilder made his American directorial debut with this comedy that he co-wrote with frequent collaborator Charles Brackett.

Friday, April 11 (7:30 p.m.)
(United Artists, 1928)
Ramona (Dolores Del Rio)—a young, half-native American ward of a tyrannical California sheep rancher—elopes with Indian chieftain Alessandro (Warner Baxter), hoping for a new life embracing her heritage. Edwin Carewe directed this adaptation of Helen Hunt Jackson’s popular 1884 novel. The Library of Congress preserved this new restoration print in association with the Národní Filmový Archiv in Prague. A presentation by Packard Campus staffer Valerie Cervantes about the restoration work will precede the screening. Andrew Simpson will provide live musical accompaniment for the Western drama.

Saturday, April 12 (7:30 p.m.)
“Gods and Generals”
(Warner Bros., 2003)
Director-producer Ron Maxwell mines America’s history in this epic movie chronicling the Civil War’s beginnings in 1861 to the tragic Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863, and the heroes who defended their honor on both fronts. Based on the novel by Jeffrey Shaara, the cast features Robert Duvall as Gen. Robert E. Lee, Stephen Lang as Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Jeff Daniels as Lt. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a college professor whose tactics change the outcome at Gettysburg.

Thursday, April 17 (7:30 p.m.)
“Heaven’s Gate”
– 149-minute, 35 mm version (United Artists, 1981, R-rated*)
On the heels and strength of his Academy Award winning breakthrough film “The Deer Hunter,” writer-director Michael Cimino began a three-year filmmaking odyssey that would become both infamous and legendary, hobbling his career. The 2012 retooled and re-tweaked digital resurrection of “Heaven’s Gate”—revisited by Cimino himself—makes it ripe to screen the initial celluloid incarnations of the film, in an effort to reveal the original intentions of a 40-year- old artistic visionary to will into being a cinematic masterpiece in the vein of the grand, intimate epics of David Lean. This rarely shown (and never available on home video in the U.S.) second cut by Cimino, which was released to theaters in April 1981, was a valiant attempt to appease and salvage one of the biggest onslaughts of derision and bad press an artist has ever endured. Not just shorter, this version differs significantly from its longer twin in its use of alternate footage, scene placement, selective added spoken narrative, a reworked sound mix and other details. Film historian Bruce Lawton will introduce the film and conduct a Q&A after the screening.
*No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.

Friday, April 18 (7:30 p.m.)
“Heaven’s Gate”
– 219-minute, 70 mm version (United Artists, 1980, R-rated*)
Research into the history of barbed wire led to stumbling upon a footnote of American history known as “The Johnson County War” from which writer-director Michael Cimino fashioned this tale of class war in the American West. Kris Kristofferson gives a sensitive performance as a Harvard-educated lawman in Wyoming, trying to serve and protect his immigrant community from powerful cattle barons (headed by Sam Waterston) hell-bent on eradicating them. He does this while involved in a love triangle with a successful madam (Isabelle Huppert) and mercenary (Christopher Walken). This 70 mm “show print,” which is part of the Library’s collections, premiered in New York City in November 1980 and played for just one week before being pulled in disgrace. It now stands as a unique artifact and record of how the film was originally prepared by its author. At 219 minutes and with its roadshow intermission intact, this is a unique opportunity to see the grand masterwork as it was first envisioned. Film historian Bruce Lawton will introduce the film and conduct a Q&A after the screening.
*No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.

Saturday, April 19 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Deer Hunter”
(Universal, 1978, R-rated*)
Michael Cimino won an Oscar for his direction of this in-depth examination of how the Vietnam War affected the lives of people in a small industrial town. Winning an Academy Award for Best Picture, the war drama stars Robert De Niro, John Cazale, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep. A rarely seen 70 mm print will be screened. The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1996.
*No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.

Thursday, April 24 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Awful Truth”
(Columbia, 1937)
Cary Grant and Irene Dunne star as Jerry and Lucy Warriner, a married couple who mistakenly suspect each other of infidelity. They file for divorce and then go to outlandish lengths to make each other jealous. This screwball comedy received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor for Ralph Bellamy as Dunne’s new suitor. Leo McCarey scored a win for his sprightly direction. The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1996.

Friday, April 25 (7:30 p.m.)
“What’s Up, Doc?”
(Warner Bros., 1972)
Barbra Streisand stars as a klutzy but brilliant college dropout who sets her sights on an absent-minded professor, played by Ryan O’Neal, in this homage to classic screwball comedies from director Peter Bogdanovich. The fast-paced action takes place at a musicologists’ convention held in a San Francisco hotel where four identical overnight bags are accidentally mixed up. The contents of the various pieces of luggage include stolen top-secret documents, pounds of diamonds, a lot of ordinary clothing and some igneous rocks. Madeline Kahn, in her feature film debut, received a Golden Globe nomination for playing O’Neal’s impossibly square fiancée.

Saturday, April 26 (2 p.m.)
(TriStar Pictures, 1996)
Danny DeVito directed this fantasy film based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl. Cursed with uncaring parents and a cruel school principal, six-year-old Matilda (Mara Wilson) escapes into books. With a kindly teacher on her side, however, Matilda discovers hidden powers within herself, which she uses to fight back against the bullies in her life. Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman and Embeth Davidtz are also featured in the cast.

State Theatre Schedule

Sunday, April 6 (2 p.m.)
“Field of Dreams”
(Universal, 1989)
Kevin Costner stars as an Iowa farmer who hears a mysterious voice telling him to turn his cornfield into a baseball diamond. He does, but the voice’s directions don’t stop—even after the spirits of deceased ballplayers turn up to play. James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster co-star as a reclusive writer and a former slugger-turned-doctor, respectively, with Ray Liotta turning in a pivotal performance as “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Phil Alden Robinson directed this Academy Award-nominated fantasy and also wrote the screenplay, adapted from W. P. Kinsella’s novel “Shoeless Joe.”

Sunday, April 13 (2 p.m.)
(Universal, 1993)
The fiercest battle fought on American soil is depicted in this engrossing and realistic production that painstakingly recreates the events of three fateful days in July 1863—from some actual battle locations to the uniforms and boots. The cast includes Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels, Martin Sheen and Richard Jordan. Ronald F. Maxwell, who directed the epic Civil War film and wrote the screenplay based on Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Killer Angels,” will introduce the film.

Sunday, April 27 (2 p.m.)
“Singin’ in the Rain”
(MGM, 1952)
Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds and Jean Hagen star in this beloved, sparkling musical comedy about the transition from silent films to talkies. Songs include “Good Morning,” “Make ‘Em Laugh” and the iconic title tune. Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen directed this National Film Registry selection, which was added to the registry in 1989, its inaugural year.


PR 14-048
ISSN 0731-3527