May 18, 2015 (REVISED June 2, 2015) Packard Campus Theater Celebrates Film Registry, Comedy, Musicals
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Three popular Hollywood features named to the National Film Registry—along with several possible future selections—will be screened at the Library of Congress Packard Campus Theater in Culpeper, Virginia, in June.
Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller “Psycho” and the touching comedy “Tootsie” open the month of free screenings. Billy Wilder’s classic film noir “Double Indemnity” will complete the National Film Registry trio on June 19th. For more information on the National Film Registry, visit www.loc.gov/film.
National Film Registry titles on a list of motion pictures identified as noteworthy for possible inclusion in the registry are also in the lineup. They include “Random Harvest,” the Marx Brothers’ “Animal Crackers,” “Meet John Doe,” and the musicals “Mad About Music” and “Shall We Dance.” A complete list of “Some Films Not Yet Named to the Registry” can be found at www.loc.gov/programs/national-film-preservation-board/film-registry/films-not-yet-named-to-the-registry/ .
Of special interest during the month is the showing of a rare 70 mm film of the visually stunning 1992 documentary “Baraka.” In addition, Michael Powell’s and Emeric Pressburger’s acclaimed romantic fantasy “Stairway to Heaven” will be featured.
As part of the “Mostly Lost” silent-film identification workshop, two events will take place at Culpeper’s State Theatre on June 12th and 13th. They are “History of 3-D Cinema,” presented by film preservationist and entertainer Serge Bromberg, and the East Coast premiere of the restored 1916 “Sherlock Holmes,” with musical accompaniment by Philip Carli. There is a $10 admission charge for these programs and tickets are available at the door.
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
Thursday, June 4 (7:30 p.m.)
“Psycho” (Paramount, 1960)
Considered one of Hitchcock’s best films, this thriller is still terrifying audiences after more than 50 years. Based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch, the story begins as secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) impulsively embezzles money from her employer and flees, hoping to start a new life. Fate intervenes when she ends up at the secluded Bates Motel and encounters its disturbed proprietor Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). The cast also features Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam and John McIntire. Added to the National Film Registry in 1992, the film earned four Academy Award nominations, including best actress in a supporting role for Leigh and best director for Hitchcock. The Bernard Herrmann score, rich with discordant strings, is spine-tingling.
Friday, June 5 (7:30 p.m.)
“Tootsie” (Columbia, 1982)
Dustin Hoffman stars as New York actor Michael Dorsey, who finds himself virtually unemployable due to his reputation for being difficult. He transforms himself into a woman to prove he can get hired on a soap opera and soon his alter ego, Dorothy, becomes daytime television’s darling. Universally acclaimed, the box-office hit was nominated for 10 Academy Awards including best picture, best director and best actor for Hoffman. Jessica Lange was the film’s only winner—for best actress in a supporting role. “Tootsie” was named to the National Film Registry in 1998.
Saturday, June 6 (7:30 p.m.)
“Random Harvest” (MGM, 1942)
Due to the great success of MGM’s 1939 film “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” based on James Hilton’s novel, the studio bought the rights to the author’s “Random Harvest” when it was published. Ronald Colman was tapped to star as a shell-shocked, amnesiac World War I soldier. A vibrant music-hall entertainer, played by Greer Garson, saves him from life in a mental institution. Released early during World War II, audiences were drawn to its story of the effects of war on the home front and its affirmation of the importance of love and family life. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, this major box-office hit was a critical success, nominated for seven Academy Awards including best picture, best director, best screenplay and best actor for Colman.
Thursday, June 11 (7:30 p.m.)
Norma Talmadge Double Feature
“The Moth” (Select Pictures, 1917)
Norma Talmadge stars as a confused young woman who marries too young, but realizing her life is empty, slowly (and somewhat fitfully) turns her life around. Directed by Edward Jose, the drama also stars Eugene O’Brien and Adolphe Menjou. The film survives only in an incomplete form because the last reels have been lost due to nitrate film-base deterioration. Ben Model will provide accompaniment on the Walker theater organ.
“The Only Woman” (First National, 1924)
In this rarely seen film, a father on the edge of dishonor forces his dutiful daughter (Norma Talmadge) into a marriage with the deadbeat drunken son of a wealthy banker. According to Talmadge historian Greta de Grote, “Norma plays a more assertive role than usual. … A shipwreck sequence is very exciting and well-staged and production values are overall high.” Directed by Sidney Olcott, the film features Eugene O’Brien and Edwards Davis in supporting roles. Andrew Simpson will provide musical accompaniment on the Walker theater organ.
Friday, June 12 (7:30 p.m.)
“Behind the Scenes: Restoring Chaplin’s Essanay Comedies” at the State Theater in Culpeper
Serge Bromberg, film preservationist and founder of Paris-based Lobster Films, will present a program detailing the efforts to return Charlie Chaplin’s second year of film work—when he left Mack Sennett’s Keystone Studios to produce comedies for the Essanay Film Company—back to original form. Comedy shorts on the program include “The Bank” and “A Night in the Show,” both from 1915, with live musical accompaniment by Bromberg. Open to the public, this event is part of the “Mostly Lost” film identification workshop. The screening will be held at the State Theatre in downtown Culpeper, Virginia (305 S. Main Street). There is a $10 admission charge at the door.
Saturday, June 13 (7:30 p.m.)
“Sherlock Holmes” (Essanay, 1916) at the State Theater in Culpeper
William Gillette, who created and established himself as the world’s foremost interpreter of Sherlock Holmes on stage, stars in one of the earliest American film adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective. Following its initial release in 1916, the film faded from view and had been counted among the “lost” films of the silent era. That changed in 2014 when a complete duplicate negative of the French edition of the film was identified in the vaults of the Cinémathèque Française. Since that monumental discovery, the Cinémathèque and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival have collaborated on a complete restoration of the historic film.
For this East Coast premiere of a long-lost treasure, San Francisco Silent Film Festival board president Robert Byrne will introduce and describe the meticulous process of reconstructing and restoring the film. Philip Carli will provide live musical accompaniment. Open to the public, this event is part of the “Mostly Lost” film identification workshop. The screening will be held at the State Theatre in downtown Culpeper, Virginia (305 S. Main Street). There is a $10 admission charge at the door.
Thursday, June 18 (7:30 p.m.)
“Animal Crackers” (Paramount, 1930)
A legendary family comedy act, the Marx Brothers were stars in vaudeville and on Broadway before making their first film, “The Cocoanuts,” based on the brothers’ stage hit in 1929. In fact, while they were shooting that screen adaptation at Paramount’s Astoria Studio in Queens, the brothers spent their evenings performing “Animal Crackers” on Broadway. The story, which has to do with a stolen painting, is loaded with numbers like “Hooray for Captain Spaulding,” comedy gags and countless hilarious one-liners. Victor Heerman directed Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo Marx, along with the stalwart Margaret Dumont and the pert Lillian Roth. The screening print is courtesy of UCLA Film and Television Archive.
Friday, June 19 (7:30 p.m.)
“Double Indemnity” (Paramount, 1944)
A seductive housewife (Barbara Stanwyck) lures an insurance salesman (Fred MacMurray) into murder while the salesman’s partner (Edward G. Robinson) tries to untangle their web of deception. Raymond Chandler adapted the script from a novella that was based on a 1927 murder in which Ruth Snyder persuaded her boyfriend, Judd Gray, to kill her husband Albert after having him take out a big insurance policy with a double-indemnity clause. Directed by Billy Wilder, “Double Indemnity” is often cited as a classic film noir that set the standard for the films that followed in that genre. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards including best picture, best director, best screenplay and best actress for Stanwyck. “Double Indemnity” was named to the National Film Registry in 1992.
Saturday, June 20 (7:30 p.m.)
“Mad About Music” (Universal, 1938)
Young Deanna Durbin saved Universal Studio from bankruptcy with a winning smile, an operatic singing voice and a can-do attitude. Produced when she was 14, her first motion picture, “Three Smart Girls” (1936), was an unexpected box-office smash. A string of subsequent hits made Durbin Hollywood’s highest-paid female star and an honorary Academy Award winner. In this, her third movie, Durbin plays Gloria—the daughter of a famous Hollywood movie star (Gail Patrick)—who is sent to an exclusive Swiss boarding school. Gloria invents an exciting father, but has to produce him when her schoolmates doubt his existence. “Mad About Music” received Academy Award nominations for art direction, cinematography, music and original story. Directed by Norman Taurog, the musical also stars Herbert Marshall. Songs by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson include the contagious “I Love to Whistle,” “Chapel Bells” and “A Serenade to the Stars.” The screening print is courtesy of Universal.
Thursday, June 25 (7:30 p.m.)
“Baraka” (The Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1992)
Shot on six continents and in 24 countries, this non-narrative documentary explores the formation and evolution of earth, the ascendance of man and the consequences of technology. Directed by Ron Fricke, “Baraka” was the first film in more than 20 years to be photographed in the 70 mm Todd-AO format and the first film ever to be restored and scanned at 8K resolution. Michael Stearns’ score features music by Dead Can Dance, Ciro Hurtado and Inkuyo. Roger Ebert included “Baraka” in his “Great Movies” list, writing that “If man sends another Voyager to the distant stars and it can carry only one film on board, that film might be ‘Baraka.’” The rarely screened 70 mm print is courtesy of Magidson Films.
Friday, June 26 (7:30 p.m.)
“Meet John Doe” (Warner Bros., 1941)
Frank Capra directed and independently produced this socially conscious story about a grassroots campaign to spearhead national goodwill created by a disgruntled newspaper columnist (Barbara Stanwyck) with the participation of a naive homeless man (Gary Cooper) and egged on by the paper’s wealthy owner. Considered the climax of a trilogy—“Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” (1936) and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939) in which Frank Capra dealt with American individualism—contemporary critics have hailed the film as one of Capra’s most personal. Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan, Spring Byington, James Gleason and Gene Lockhart are featured in this “hard-hitting, trenchant picture on the theme of democracy and a glowing tribute to the anonymous citizen,” noted New York Times’ Bosley Crowther.
Saturday, June 27 (2 p.m.)
“Shall We Dance” (RKO, 1937)
In their seventh movie together, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers star as a ballet master and a showgirl whose manager fakes their marriage for publicity purposes without telling them. Comedy and romance multiply as these two dance their way through a charming plot loaded with misunderstandings. Mark Sandrich directed the musical that features six classic songs by George and Ira Gershwin, including the Oscar-nominated “They Can't Take that Away From Me.” Supporting cast includes Eric Blore, Edward Everett Horton and Jerome Cowan.
Saturday, June 27 (7:30 p.m.)
“Stairway to Heaven” (Universal, 1946)
The brilliant British filmmaking team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (“The Red Shoes”) manage to combine fantasy and reality in a captivating manner in this romantic tale of British Royal Air Force pilot Peter Carter (David Niven) who survives a jump from a burning airplane—without a parachute. It seems the angel-guide sent to escort him to the “other world” made an error and comes to earth to reclaim the pilot, who has subsequently fallen in love with June (Kim Hunter). He must now plead for his life and his love in a dream-like heavenly court. Production for the film (released in Great Britain as “A Matter of Life and Death”) began on the day that Japan surrendered, ending the Pacific campaign. The timing was fortuitous because the resulting film captured the imaginations of World War II veterans and their fellow Americans through its magical blend of romance, comedy and tearful drama. The film’s bold use of Technicolor is still considered one of the peak achievements of that process. Also featured in the cast are Raymond Massey, Roger Livesey, Robert Coote, Marius Goring and Richard Attenborough. The screening print is courtesy of Sony Pictures.