November 24, 2014 Packard Campus Theater Features Holiday Classics, Douglas Fairbanks
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The work of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and a series of holiday classics will be featured in the December film series at the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virginia.
Douglas Fairbanks Jr., one of the earliest and most successful second-generation Hollywood stars, will be remembered with films spanning three decades of his career. A recent restoration print of the 1928 part-talkie “The Barker”; “Union Depot,” a pre-Code drama with intersecting story lines; and a historical drama about England’s King Charles II, “The Exile,” which Fairbanks also wrote and produced, will be screened the first week of December to commemorate the 105th anniversary of his birth.
Holiday films include the comedy “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” starring Monty Woolley and Bette Davis; “Holiday Affair,” starring Janet Leigh, Robert Mitchum and Gordon Gebert; and “Remember the Night,” starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in evening showings. The lineup will also include a matinee of the 2003 family comedy “Elf.”
The film schedule in December will also feature two comedies: the 1997 Australian film “The Castle” and Preston Sturges’ screwball comedy “The Palm Beach Story.” In addition, the Academy Award-winning “Amadeus” will be featured.
Short subject films 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
Thursday, Dec. 4 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Barker” (Warner Bros., 1928)
Wanting a better life for his son Chris and in an effort to get him to go away to law school, sideshow barker Nifty Miller tries to break up the boy’s romance with a tough carnival girl. George Fitzmaurice directed this romantic pre-Code drama, produced before the enforcement of production-code moral guidelines. It also stars Milton Sills, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Dorothy Mackaill and Betty Compson. Completed as a silent picture in the summer of 1928, “The Barker” was put back into production in November so that Vitaphone talking sequences could be added one month before the film’s New York premiere. Despite the short deadline, the interchange of soundtrack and picture in the part-talking version was unusually sophisticated for 1928. This rare screening of “The Barker” is made possible by UCLA Film and Television Archive, which provided the recent restoration print.
Friday, Dec. 5 (7:30 p.m.)
“Union Depot” (Warner Bros., 1932)
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., then one of Warner Bros.’ top male stars, gives one of his best performances as homeless jailbird Chick Miller in this pre-Code drama set in a bustling train station. When Chick stumbles upon some lost cash, he helps out a stranded and penniless chorus girl, played by Joan Blondell, who is being pursued by a sinister man. The tale of crisscrossing fates set in real time brings to mind MGM’s glossier “Grand Hotel,” which beat “Union Depot” to the screen by only three months. Directed by Alfred E. Green, the fast-paced story showcases a number of Warner Bros. contract players, including Guy Kibbee, Frank McHugh and Alan Hale. The astoundingly elaborate “Union Depot” set was used in Warner Bros.' films for years to come.
Saturday, Dec. 6 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Exile” (Universal, 1947)
Masterful German-born filmmaker Max Ophuls made his American directorial debut with this historical drama, written and produced by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Fairbanks also stars as England’s King Charles II, who was exiled to Holland during the period known as the English Commonwealth, led by Oliver Cromwell. In this fictional account, Paule Croset plays a young farm girl who captures Charles’ heart, with Maria Montez in the role of a former paramour, the French Countess Anbella de Courteuil. A swashbuckler in the manner of Douglas Fairbanks Sr., the younger Fairbanks in the film gets to show off some dashing swordplay and acrobatics. In fact, Fairbanks even uses a sword in “The Exile” that his father had used in the making of “The Iron Mask” (1929). Also featured in the cast are Henry Daniell, Nigel Bruce and Robert Coote.
Thursday, Dec. 11 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Castle” (Miramax, 1997)
This charming Australian comedy was the biggest cinematic hit in 1997 in its native land. After it played at the Sundance Film Festival, Roger Ebert called it “one of those comic treasures like ‘The Full Monty’ that shows its characters in full bloom of glorious eccentricity.” Working-class tow-truck driver and father of four, Darryl Kerrigan’s only distinguishing feature is his beaming reverence for his home and family. Although his kids appear to be underachievers and his home is located on the edge of a major international airport, his family is his pride and joy and his home is his castle. When government officials demand that Kerrigan sell his house for an expansion of the airport, he fights back through the legal system—all the way to the Supreme Court. The Kerrigans’ optimism is inspirational and their belief in themselves—and the creative spin on what some perceive as negative—is both hilarious and touching. Directed by Rob Sitch, the film stars Michael Caton, Anne Tenney and Eric Bana in his screen debut.
Friday, Dec. 12 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Palm Beach Story” (Paramount, 1942)
Preston Sturges wrote and directed this romantic screwball comedy, starring Joel McCrea as struggling inventor Tom Jeffers. His wife Gerry (Claudette Colbert), frustrated with their penniless existence, decides to get a divorce and marry a millionaire to get her hands on the cash to finance her soon-to-be ex-husband’s career. Gerry hops a train to Palm Beach where she meets wealthy and eccentric bachelor J.D. Hackensacker III (Rudy Vallée) and later his wacky man-hungry sister (Mary Astor). Theatergoers should pay close attention to the fast-paced prologue during the opening credits, which is revisited at the end of the movie.
Saturday, Dec. 13 (7:30 p.m.)
“Amadeus” (Orion, 1984)
In this Academy Award-winning film based on Peter Shaffer’s 1979 play, the lives of genius composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, the once respected but long since forgotten court composer of Emperor Joseph II, are the starting point for a highly fictionalized drama of envy and audacity. Directed by Miloš Forman, the lush production stars Tom Hulce as loutish Mozart and F. Murray Abraham as the refined Salieri. Nominated for 11 Academy Awards, the film won eight top awards, including best picture, best director, best actor for Abraham and best adapted screenplay for Shaffer. The original soundtrack recording of Mozart’s music, performed by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and conducted by Sir Neville Marriner, won a Grammy Award and became one of the best-selling classical albums of all time.
Thursday, Dec. 18 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Man Who Came to Dinner” (Warner Bros., 1942)
When the acerbic and nationally popular radio personality Sheridan Whiteside slips on the icy front steps of a provincial Ohio businessman’s home at Christmastime and ends up in a wheelchair, he and his entourage take over the house indefinitely. Monty Woolley recreates his Broadway role as Whiteside in this delightful adaptation of the George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart play. Bette Davis gives a sympathetic and likeable performance as Whiteside’s assistant Maggie, in one of her rare appearances in a comedy. Directed by William Keighley, the film also features Richard Travis, Ann Sheridan, Jimmy Durante and Mary Wickes as nurse Preen in her hilarious film debut.
Friday, Dec. 19 (7:30 p.m.)
“Holiday Affair” (RKO, 1949)
Janet Leigh stars in this Christmas gem as war widow Connie Ennis, who lives in a New York apartment with her precocious young son Timmy. While working undercover as a holiday comparison shopper, she inadvertently gets laid-back toy salesman Steve Mason (Robert Mitchum) fired from his job. Though Connie is engaged to a nice respectable lawyer (Wendell Corey), Steve’s appearance in her world shakes up her well-structured life. Don Hartman produced and directed this charming romantic comedy. Gordon Gebert, who charmed critics and audiences alike as Timmy, will make a special appearance for a Q&A after the film.
Saturday, Dec. 20 (2 p.m.)
“Elf” (New Line, 2003)
In this family fantasy, one of Santa’s elves, who is much taller than his colleagues, learns that he is actually a human being and heads off to New York to meet his father, who is as un-Christmas-like a character as ever lived. Will Ferrell is a delight as the elf who has the gift for spreading good cheer, even in a world of cynics. Directed by Jon Favreau, it also stars James Caan, Bob Newhart, Mary Steenburgen, Ed Asner and Zooey Deschanel.
Saturday, Dec. 20 (7:30 p.m.)
“Remember the Night” (Paramount, 1940)
New York assistant district attorney John Sargent feels sorry for Lee Leander, a cynical shoplifter, who Sargent is scheduled to prosecute after the Christmas holidays. He pays her bail and after discovering they are from neighboring Midwest towns, takes her along on his trip back home to Indiana. Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck star in this romantic comedy-drama, with Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson and Sterling Holloway in supporting roles as Sargent’s family. This rediscovered Christmas classic was directed by Mitchell Leisen and written by Preston Sturges. The Library of Congress Film Lab provided the new film print.