April 13, 2015 Packard Campus Theater Spotlights Bob Hope and Silent Films

Press Contact: Sheryl Cannady, Office of Communications (202) 707-6456
Public Contact: Rob Stone (202) 707-0851
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The Library of Congress Packard Campus Theater in Culpeper, Virginia, in May will feature a three-day tribute to Bob Hope, which will include guest speaker Richard Zoglin—author of a recent biography of Hope—an evening of excerpts of the comedian’s television appearances and two of his most highly rated feature films, “My Favorite Blonde” and “Road to Morocco.”

In addition, Ned Thanhouser, grandson of the Thanhouser Studio founders, will introduce a documentary covering the history of one of the first motion-picture studios. Two silent comedies—“Heart to Heart” starring Mary Astor and Buster Keaton’s “Battling Butler”—will be presented, with live musical accompaniment by Ben Model.

Among the other notable features appearing on the big screen in May are two films inspired by Douglas Sirk’s “All That Heaven Allows,” which played at the Packard Theater in April—Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1974 German feature “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” and Todd Haynes’ critically acclaimed 2002 remake “Far From Heaven.”

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. Seating at the screenings is on a first-come, first-serve basis. 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.

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

Friday, May 1 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Charge of the Light Brigade” (Warner Bros., 1936)
Errol Flynn stars as Major Geoffrey Vickers, an officer in the 27th Lancers stationed in India. When his regiment is drawn out on maneuvers, Indian potentate Surat Khan—who is angry that the British government has cut off his subsidies—attacks the barracks, killing women and children. Vickers and his fellow Light Brigade lancers seek revenge against Khan who is now ensconced with the Russians at Balaclava. Olivia de Havilland co-stars as Flynn’s longtime fianceé with Patric Knowles as his brother and fellow officer. Michael Curtiz directed this epic adventure based on Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s narrative poem. The film’s scheduled screening in March was cancelled due to inclement weather.

Saturday, May 2 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Thanhouser Studio and the Birth of American Cinema”
(Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc., 2014)
The Thanhouser Studio, based in New Rochelle, New York, released more than 1,000 films from 1910 to 1917. This documentary reconstructs the forgotten story of the studio as it entered the nascent motion picture industry, competing with Thomas Edison’s licensed Motion Pictures Patents Corporation (MPPC). It is a compelling account of bold entrepreneurship, financial successes, cinematic innovation, tragic events, careers launched and the transition of the movie industry to the west coast and Hollywood. Ned Thanhouser, grandson of studio founders Edwin and Gertrude Thanhouser, will introduce the feature. Three short films produced by the studio in 1913—“The Farmer’s Daughters,” “His Uncle’s Wives” and “The Seven Ages of an Alligator”—are also on the program.

Thursday, May 7 (7:30 p.m.)
“Bob Hope on Television”
Bob Hope—who entertainment historian and critic Leonard Maltin declared “may be the most popular entertainer in the history of Western civilization” —was one of the nation’s best-loved topical humorists during the 20th century. Hope’s road took him through vaudeville, the Broadway stage, radio, motion pictures, the USO and television. He truly was America’s “Entertainer of the Century,” as the subtitle of Richard Zoglin’s new biography proclaims. This program, the first of three scheduled during the weekend, focuses on landmark broadcasts in Hope’s television career. Included are excerpts from “The World of Bob Hope,” a 1961 “intimate profile,” called by one critic “a remarkable piece of work”; Hope’s first televised appearance as host of the Academy Awards in 1953; his 1958 special from Moscow, for which he received the coveted George Foster Peabody Award “for his Outstanding Contribution to International Understanding”; his groundbreaking three-hour special from China two decades later; and his Christmas shows entertaining troops in Vietnam, for which parents of soldiers movingly thanked him for bringing them glimpses of their sons overseas.

Friday, May 8 (7:30 p.m.)
“Hope: Entertainer of the Century” with author Richard Zoglin

Richard Zoglin is the author of “Hope: Entertainer of the Century.” Released in November 2014, it is the first definitive biography of Bob Hope. In his exhaustively researched and critically acclaimed book, Zoglin makes the persuasive case that Hope was the most important entertainer of the 20th century. He was the only show-business figure to achieve top-rated success in every major mass-entertainment medium of the century—vaudeville, Broadway, movies, radio, television and live concerts. He virtually invented stand-up comedy in the form we know it today. His tours to entertain U.S. troops and patriotic radio broadcasts, along with his all-American, brash-but-cowardly movie character, helped to ease the nation’s jitters during the stressful days of World War II. Zoglin will discuss Hope’s life and career, followed by a Q&A after the screening of “The Road to Morocco” (1942), the third of seven of the “Road” comedies that Hope made with Bing Crosby. The film was added to the National Film Registry in 1996.

Saturday, May 9 (7:30 p.m.)
“My Favorite Blonde”
(Paramount, 1942)
Bob Hope stars as a vaudevillian with a penguin act who gets involved with Nazi agents and a beautiful blonde British Secret Service agent (Madeleine Carroll) in this breezy comedy. According to Hope biographer Richard Zoglin, “‘My Favorite Blonde’ puts a comic twist on a familiar Hitchcock formula: the average Joe drawn unwittingly into life-or-death intrigue. Some of the scenes consciously echo ‘The 39 Steps,’ the 1935 Hitchcock film in which Carroll raced around the Scottish countryside with Robert Donat, trying to foil an enemy spy ring. Hope does an amusing parody of their stiff-upper-lipped derring-do. He’s a quavering, reluctant hero who wants no part of the adventure but is too moonstruck by Madeleine to avoid it.” This was the first of six Bob Hope vehicles directed by Sidney Lanfield.

Thursday, May 14 (7:30 p.m.)
“Heart to Heart”
(First National, 1928)
Mary Astor stars as Princess Delatorre, the young and beautiful widow of an Italian prince, who decides to pay a visit to the small American town she grew up in as Ellen Guthrie. Arriving by train a few days earlier than she planned, Ellen is mistaken for Mrs. Arden, a seamstress of doubtful repute from a neighboring town. She plays along with the deception for fun until her old flame (Lloyd Hughes) recognizes her. William Beaudine directed this romantic comedy, which features Louise Fazenda and Lucien Littlefield as Ellen’s aunt and uncle. Ben Model will provide live musical accompaniment.

Friday, May 15 (7:30 p.m.)
“Battling Butler”
(MGM, 1926)
Buster Keaton stars as a pampered rich kid who pretends to be a champion prizefighter to win the love of a girl. The gag backfires when he is forced into the ring with a boxer known as the “Alabama Murderer.” Keaton also directed the comedy, which was based on a British stage musical of the same name. As always in his pictures, Keaton did all of the stunts and rugged action himself, which closed down production for a few days so he could recover from a bad fall on his head. Sally O’Neil stands out as the sprightly girl he tries to impress. Ben Model will provide live musical accompaniment.

Saturday, May 16 (2 p.m.)
“The Absent-Minded Professor”
(Disney/Buena Vista, 1961)
Disney’s live-action films moved from historical adventures and fantasies to slapstick situation comedies following the surprising success of “The Shaggy Dog” in 1959. Two of the stars of that film, Fred MacMurray and Tommy Kirk, were recruited two years later for this like-minded romp, which proved to be an even bigger box-office bonanza for Disney. MacMurray plays Prof. Ned Brainard, who teaches science at small-town Medfield College. His experiments lead to a new discovery: a gooey substance that defies gravity, which he dubs “Flubber.” While Brainard attempts to interest the government by demonstrating its inventive uses, such as making his Model T car fly, a corrupt businessman tries to steal the invention to make a personal fortune. Robert Stevenson directed this Oscar-nominated film for best cinematography, best art direction and best special effects.

Thursday, May 21 (7:30 p.m.)
“Far From Heaven”
(Focus Features, 2002)
A 1950s suburban homemaker (Julianne Moore) is ostracized because of her friendship with an African-American man (Dennis Haysbert) while coping with her deeply closeted gay husband (Dennis Quaid) in Todd Haynes’ homage to Douglas Sirk’s “All That Heaven Allows” (1955) and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” (1974). Haynes liberally appropriated the look and feel of “All That Heaven Allows”—especially its color palette, lighting and music—while employing Ali’s more formally disruptive editing style. The result is a sensitive melodrama that invokes the genre’s tropes in a sincere, non-ironic manner, making explicit what Douglas Sirk could only hint at in his movies.

Thursday, May 28 (7:30 p.m.)
“Love, Betty: A Betty White Retrospective”
Considered the reigning Queen of TV, Betty White will be showcased in this evening-long retrospective that will include full episodes of such White-starring series as 1957’s “Date with the Angels”; 1974’s “Mary Tyler Moore”; 1986’s “The Golden Girls,” and the recent “Hot in Cleveland.” Also included will be a sampling of some of White’s best appearances on game shows, talk shows and commercials.

Friday, May 29 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Parallax View”
(Paramount, 1974, *R-rated)
Arguably the definitive conspiracy thriller of the ‘70s, director Alan J. Pakula’s “The Parallax View” bears an unmistakable resemblance to the Kennedy assassination. In the film, based on a novel by Loren Singer, Warren Beatty plays a reporter who uncovers a deadly plot behind a political assassination. The adaptation was not a hit when it was released, but its stature has only grown over the years. Pakula described the film as “sort of an American myth based on some things that have happened, some fantasies we may have had of what might have happened, and a lot of fears a lot of us have had.” William Daniels, Paula Prentiss and Hume Cronyn are featured in the cast.
* No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.

Saturday, May 30 (7:30 p.m.)
“Ali: Fear Eats the Soul”
(New Yorker Films, 1974)
An elderly German woman falls in love with a much younger Moroccan immigrant in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s powerful remake of Douglas Sirk’s masterful melodrama “All That Heaven Allows.” Like Sirk, the new German cinema wunderkind used melodrama as a means of cultural commentary, and never to such effect as in Ali. Emmi (Brigitte Mira) and Ali (El Hedi ben Salem) are drawn to each other out of a sense of isolation, horrifying Emmi’s family and friends who react with barely concealed loathing. Although the film stands as pointed critique of mid-‘70s West German society, the film has a universal and timeless quality, truly one of the highlights of Fassbinder’s astonishingly prolific career (40 features, two TV miniseries and many theatrical productions and acting gigs before his death at age 37). The film was produced in German and Arabic with English subtitles.


PR 15-066
ISSN 0731-3527