October 14, 2014 (REVISED October 31, 2014) Packard Campus to Showcase Silent Films and Hollywood's Greatest Year
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Three evenings devoted to silent films—from comedy to swashbuckling adventure—will feature internationally known accompanists at the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia, throughout the month of November as London-based Stephen Horne, New York’s Ben Model and Andrew Earle Simpson from the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. all make return engagements at the keyboard.
On the 75th anniversary of what is considered the most celebrated year in American film history, a few of the lesser-adulated but still-magnificent films from 1939 will be screened on three consecutive Saturdays. The tribute will include Charles Laughton’s remarkable performance in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”; the Academy Award nominee for best picture, “Dark Victory,” starring Bette Davis; and a matinee of the Shirley Temple classic “Susannah of the Mounties.”
Television will be recognized with an evening featuring the comedy talents of Edie Adams and a night of electric blues performances from the Library’s vast video collections, dating from 1955-1989.
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 www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/. In case of inclement weather, call the theater information line no more than three hours before showtime to confirm cancellations.
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 (www.culpepertheatre.org External) or by visiting the State Theatre ticket office at 305 S. Main St. 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 (www.loc.gov/avconservation/). 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 (www.loc.gov/film), the National Recording Preservation Board (www.loc.gov/rr/record/nrpb) 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 www.loc.gov.
Library of Congress Packard Campus Theater Schedule
Saturday, Nov. 1 (7:30 p.m.)
“Scaramouche” (Metro, 1923)
Rex Ingram directed this captivating adaptation of the romantic adventure novel by Rafael Sabatini, set during the French Revolution. Ramon Novarro stars as Andre, a law student who joins the revolutionaries after his friend is killed by a nobleman. In his adventures, Andre hides out with a troupe of actors while playing the role of the clown Scaramouche. He later becomes a famous swordsman and a member of the new government. The film also stars Alice Terry as the woman Andre loves and Lewis Stone as his nemesis, the Marquis. Andrew Earle Simpson will provide live musical accompaniment.
Thursday, Nov. 6 (7:30 p.m.)
“La Traviata” (Universal Classics, 1982)
Legendary tenor Plácido Domingo and world-famous soprano Teresa Stratas star in director Franco Zeffirelli’s lushly cinematic version of Verdi’s beloved opera “La Traviata,” a story of doomed love in 1840s Paris. Nominated for an Oscar for best art direction and best costumes, the extraordinary score is performed by the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. In his review in the New York Times, Vincent Canby called the film “triumph” and “dazzling” and wrote “La Traviata” benefits from Mr. Zeffirelli’s talents as a designer as much as from his gifts as a director. …It’s not to be missed.”
Friday, Nov. 7 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (RKO, 1939)
Charles Laughton, in a haunting and unforgettable performance, plays the misshapen bell-ringer Quasimodo who rescues a gypsy girl (Maureen O’Hara), falsely accused of witchcraft and murder. William Dieterle directed this moving adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel. The film was praised for its massive production design of 15th-century Paris, Alfred Newman’s rousing score, beautiful camerawork, and outstanding performances, which also include Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Edmond O’Brien in his film debut.
Saturday, Nov. 8 (7:30 p.m.)
“The 78 Project: Documenting Historic Sound in the Contemporary World”
Since August 2011, Alex Steyermark and Lavinia Jones Wright—The 78 Project’s creators—have been traveling across the U.S., recording contemporary musicians on a 1930s Presto disc recorder, and filming their journey for an ongoing web series and a recently completed feature film. The filmmakers will introduce the film and answer questions about the project and their experiences.
Thursday, Nov. 13 (7:30 p.m.)
“Here’s Edie: The Best of Edie Adams on Television” (1960s)
Edie Adams (1927-2008) may be best known as the Muriel Cigar girl, for her movie roles in “The Apartment” and “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” or for being the widow of actor and comedian Ernie Kovacs. Her work as creator-producer-star of her own variety series on ABC or as a pioneer television conservationist is often overlooked. Adams’ tireless efforts going back to the 1960s to locate, acquire and save the television programs of her late husband won Kovacs a new generation of fans in the 1970s, and two recent DVD box sets have done even more to boost his reputation as “television’s original genius.” Ben Model, archivist for the Kovacs/Adams collection, will present this program of highlights from Adams’ successful and inventive variety series “Here’s Edie” (ABC, 1962-64). Due to the efforts of Adams’ son Josh Mills, 21 episodes of the show were released in a DVD box set last year, which had been unseen since they first aired. Sammy Davis, Jr., Terry-Thomas, Rowan & Martin and Soupy Sales are among the celebrities who appear in the songs and sketches.
Friday, Nov. 14 (7:30 p.m.)
“Marcel Perez: International Silent Comedian Rediscovered” (1912-1925)
Probably the greatest silent film comedian the world has never heard of is Spanish-born Marcel Perez. Part of the first generation of screen clowns, his career began in Paris in 1900 and flourished until 1928. During that time Perez helped create the ground rules for the genre in Europe and continued to refine the basics in the United States. An international favorite, Perez was, along with Max Linder, one of the few direct links between European and American silent comedy, and made more than 200 starring shorts. The obscurity that he has fallen into today is due to the scarcity of his surviving work combined with the gypsy-like way he traveled through early screen comedy, constantly renaming himself and his screen character. Fortunately, several of his films survive and have been preserved by the Library of Congress. This evening of rare Marcel Perez comedies will be introduced by film historian Steve Massa, who is largely responsible for Perez’ recent discovery by classic film fans, and accompanied by Ben Model who, in cooperation with the Library of Congress, is producing a new DVD, “The Marcel Perez Collection,” which will be released by the end of this year.
Saturday, Nov. 15 (7:30 p.m.)
1939 Double Feature
“In Name Only” (RKO, 1939)
In this romantic melodrama, Carole Lombard plays widow Julie Eden, who meets and falls in love with unhappily married Alec Walker (Cary Grant). Alec’s manipulative wife Maida (Kay Francis), who married him only for his wealth and family prestige, refuses to give Alec a divorce. She convinces everyone, including Alec’s parents, that she is the victim and that he is an irresponsible philanderer. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther wrote, “The story, while obvious, is thoroughly convincing, thanks to the ‘natural’ attack which director John Cromwell has taken upon it and to some delightfully pleasing dialogue. …And a generally excellent cast contribute in making this one of the most adult and enjoyable pictures of the season.”
“Bachelor Mother” (RKO, 1939)
Ginger Rogers shines in one of her best comic roles as Polly Parrish, a salesgirl at a large New York City department store. The unattached Polly leads a quiet life until she surprisingly finds herself the caretaker of an abandoned infant, while everyone believes that she is the actual mother. New York Times critic Frank Nugent wrote, “Although the theme of mistaken maternity is one of the venerables of farce, this treatment of it—written by Norman Krasna, directed by Garson Kanin and played by so many pleasant people—is too logical, too human, too humorous for outright farce. It is comedy, simple if not always pure, and we must call it one of the season’s gayest shows.” This sparkling farce, which also stars David Niven and Charles Coburn, became one of RKO’s biggest box-office champions, in that championship year of 1939.
Thursday, Nov. 20 (7:30 p.m.)
“A Night of Electric Blues: Great Blues Performances on TV” (1955-1989)
Selected from the Library’s video collections and digitally restored by video preservation specialists at the Packard Campus, this memorable evening features legendary blues artists in rare performances, most of which have not been seen since their original airings. Included on the program are Bo Diddley on “The Ed Sullivan Show”; The Rolling Stones on “Hollywood Palace”; Muddy Waters on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; Howlin’ Wolf on the BBC; Freddie King and Lightnin’ Hopkins on the PBS series “Boboquivari”; Albert King and Van Morrison on the PBS Series “Fanfare”; Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Bonnie Raitt, Muddy Waters and Johnny Winter on “Soundstage”; Etta James on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson; and John Lee Hooker from the Lomax Collection, which has never been broadcast.
Friday, Nov. 21 (7:30 p.m.)
“So This is Paris” (Warner Bros., 1926)
Ernst Lubitsch directed this charming and sophisticated romantic comedy starring Monte Blue as the dull Dr. Giraud and Patsy Ruth Miller as his restless but faithful wife. Their humdrum lives are shaken when they become involved in a flirtation with a husband-and-wife dance team. All manner of craziness follows, culminating in a Charleston contest set in a montage of Paris jazz clubs. Andre Beranger and Lilyan Tashman co-star with Myrna Loy in a supporting role. The New York Times voted “So This is Paris” as one of the 10 best films of 1926. London-based Stephen Horne will provide live musical accompaniment for this new print from the Library of Congress’ film preservation lab.
Saturday, Nov. 22 (2 p.m.)
“Susannah of the Mounties” (20th Century Fox, 1939)
Iconic child star Shirley Temple stars as Susannah Sheldon, the only survivor of an Indian attack on a wagon train crossing the Canadian frontier. Befriended by Canadian Mountie Angus Montague (Randolph Scott) and his friend Pat O’Hannegan (J. Farrell MacDonald) who take Susannah under their wing, the orphan makes friends with a chief’s son and helps to negotiate peace when attacks resume. William A. Seiter and Walter Lang directed the family drama, which also stars Margaret Lockwood and Victor Jory.
Saturday, Nov. 22 (7:30 p.m.)
“Dark Victory” (Warner Bros., 1939)
Bette Davis was Oscar-nominated for her portrayal of Judith Traherne, a wealthy Long Island heiress whose pleasure-seeking lifestyle is put on hold when she begins suffering from headaches and dizzy spells. Dr. Frederick Steele (George Brent) informs Judith that she has a brain tumor that could threaten her life if not treated immediately. Edmund Goulding directed this romantic drama that also features Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Ronald Reagan. The film also received Oscar nominations for best picture and best original score by Max Steiner, who was also nominated for scoring “Gone With the Wind” the same year.