March 13, 2017 World War I, Art House and Comedy Films Featured in April

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The Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, VA will commemorate the centenary of the U.S. entry into the First World War with three films set during the “War to End All Wars.” Titles include Howard Hawks' biographical film “Sergeant York,” which was added to the National Film Registry in 2008. Screenings are part of a series of Library events commemorating World War I.

 The schedule also includes a selection of rarely seen, critically acclaimed  "art-house film" features from Ashley Judd’s big-screen debut in the character study “Ruby in Paradise” (1993) to the Spanish sci-fi dark comedy “Timecrimes” (2007). Comedy screenings range from silent clowns, to every appearance of the legendary Richard Pryor on the Ed Sullivan Show to the screwball classic and National Film Registry title “My Man Godfrey” (1936).

 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-served basis. For general Packard Campus Theater information, call (540) 827-1079 ext. 79994 or (202) 707-9994. 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.  

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.

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Library of Congress Packard Campus Theater Schedule

Saturday, April 1 (7:30 p.m.)
“Open the Door Richard… Richard Pryor’s Complete Appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show” (Not Rated, 1965-1970)

Hailing from Peoria, Illinois, Richard Pryor is often considered the greatest stand-up comedian of all time. His early years as a fledgling comic are little known and even lesser seen. Ed Sullivan, the King of Sunday Night, initially dismissed Pryor. Thanks to mutual friend comedian Alan King’s strong recommendation, Pryor charmed Sullivan and appeared 14 times on his show from 1965 to 1970.  You will see the very early stages of the comedian trying on his many faces:  the Samurai warrior, children in a Rumpelstiltskin play, the Signifier and the Weightlifter. This perhaps is the first time there will be a presentation of all 14 appearances of Richard Pryor on the Ed Sullivan Show. Dan Blazek, Packard Campus Recorded Sound Technician, will introduce the screening.  Blazek has given presentations about Richard Pryor at two Association for Recorded Sound Collections conferences in the past year.

 Thursday, April 6 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Fighting 69th” (Warner Bros., 1940)

Two years after they appeared together in “Angels with Dirty Faces” (1938), James Cagney and Pat O’Brien were again cast, respectively, as a cocky troublemaker and the clergyman who tries to bring him back into the fold.  In “The Fighting 69th,” directed by William Keighley, the two go head to head on the battlefields of France during World War I, where Jerry Plunkett (Cagney), an arrogant braggart who refuses to follow orders, is court-martialed when his cowardice in battle causes the deaths of his fellow soldiers. 

 Friday, April 7 (7:30 p.m.)
“Sergeant York” (Warner Bros., 1941)

Gary Cooper, in one of his favorite roles, won his first Oscar for his portrayal of Tennessee pacifist Sgt. Alvin York who, in an Argonne Forest World War I battle, single-handedly captured more than 130 German soldiers. A stirring bit of Americana, which appeared six months before America entered World War II as a nation and inspired Americans through the later conflict. The film was added to The National Film Registry in 2008.

 Saturday, April 8 (7:30 p.m.)
“What Price Glory?” (20th Century-Fox, 1952)

James Cagney stars as Capt. Flagg alongside Dan Dailey as his nemesis Sgt. Quirt, American doughboys in France who both fall in love with the innkeeper's daughter (Corinne Calvet). John Ford directed this Technicolor World War I comedy-drama based on the Broadway play by Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stallings. The play was previously adapted for film in 1926 with Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe in the leading roles. The supporting cast includes William Demarest and Robert Wagner. 

 Thursday, April 13 (7:30 p.m.)
“Ruby in Paradise” (October Films, 1993, R-rated *)

Ashley Judd made her big-screen debut as Ruby Lee Gissing, a despondent young Tennessee housewife who escapes to Panama City, FL in search of freedom, independence and a better life. This leisurely paced character study was directed by Victor Nuñez, who also wrote the screenplay, loosely based on Jane Austen’s novel “Northanger Abbey.” “Ruby in Paradise” won the 1993 Grand Jury Prize for Drama at the Sundance Film Festival and Judd won an Independent Spirit Award as best female lead actress.  *No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.

 Thursday, April 20 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Ninth Configuration” (Warner Bros., 1980 R-rated *)

William Peter Blatty (“The Exorcist”) wrote, produced and directed this comedy-horror thriller based on his novel “Twinkle, Twinkle, ‘Killer’ Kane.” A new commanding officer (Stacy Keach) arrives at a remote castle serving as a facility for U.S. soldiers who have mental problems or have gone AWOL. He attempts to rehabilitate them by allowing them to live out their crazy fantasies while combating his own long-suppressed insanity. *No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian. 

 Friday, April 21 (7:30 p.m.)
“Cruel & Unusual Comedy - the Best of the MoMA Series” (Not Rated, 1910-1920s)

Since 2009, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has presented five editions of “Cruel and Unusual Comedy,” a series that explores the vast subconscious of American silent slapstick comedy. These unruly and unpretentious shorts explore a wide range of discomforting social, cultural, political, and aesthetic topics that include ethnic stereotypes, domestic abuse, sexual identity, violence, and even the plague of Chaplin imitators. Film historians Ben Model and Steve Massa, working with MoMA curators Dave Kehr and Ron Magliozzi, have drawn from the museum’s extensive holdings of hundreds of silent comedies. The majority of films to be screened are archival rarities, many preserved from the only known copies. Among the featured comics are enduring favorites like Harold Lloyd in his early “Lonesome Luke’s Wild Women” (1917) and lesser-known figures such as Al St. John in “Red Pepper” (1925).  

 Saturday, April 22 (7:30 p.m.)
“Silent Comedians Talk!” (Not Rated, 1930 -1940s)

By the late 1920s, silent film comedy had evolved to a high art, reaching its peak in the features of American icons such as Chaplin, Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Harry Langdon; in addition to shorts with Laurel and Hardy, Charley Chase, and Max Davidson. Overnight the wide-spread adoption of sound made their hard-earned artistry obsolete and left them to scramble to adapt their comedic styles to the talking pictures’ new technology and pacing. Chaplin was able to ignore the change and continue making silent films, while others such as Harold Lloyd eagerly jumped into the new medium. Steve Massa and Ben Model will present the program which will include clips of popular favorites like Laurel & Hardy and Charley Chase. 

 Thursday, April 27 (7:30 p.m.)
“My Man Godfrey” (Universal Pictures, 1936)

In one of her greatest roles, Carole Lombard sparkles as a dizzy but good-hearted heiress in Gregory La Cava's comedic, sometimes caustic commentary on the Great Depression. William Powell portrays Godfrey with knife-edged delivery, the forgotten man whom Lombard has turned into the family butler. Ditsy mother Alice Brady, beleaguered father Eugene Pallette, and snarky sister Gail Patrick round out the cast of one of the most exemplary screwball comedies of the 1930s.  “My Man Godfrey” was added to the National Film Registry in 1999.

 Friday, April 28 (7:30 p.m.)
“The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” (20th Century-Fox, 1984)

“A state-of-the-art spaceship flying at the speed of light without narrative coordinates, ‘Buckaroo Banzai' is the very oddest good movie in many a full moon,” is how Time magazine film critic Roger Corliss described this sci-fi adventure comedy, produced and directed by W. D. Richter. Peter Weller stars as the multi-talented Buckaroo Banzai – a neurosurgeon, a nuclear scientist, and a rock 'n' roller, who's called upon save the world from a hostile extraterrestrial invasion. The plot serves as the backdrop for a series of bizarrely humorous set pieces, parodying both classic and contemporary sci-fi films. The cast of this cult favorite includes John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin and Jeff Goldblum.

 Saturday, April 29 (2 p.m.)
“Peter Pan” (Universal Pictures, 2003)

Australian director P. J. Hogan (“My Best Friend’s Wedding”) co-wrote and directed this adaptation of the classic play and novel by J. M. Barrie. Film critic Roger Ebert praised the American-British-Australian production, writing “[Hogan] stays closer to the J.M. Barrie book and also closer to the book's buried themes, which are sidestepped by most versions of ‘Peter Pan.’ Jeremy Sumpter stars as Peter Pan, Rachel Hurd-Wood as Wendy and Jason Isaacs and Olivia Williams as Mr. and Mrs. Darling.

 Saturday, April 29 (7:30 p.m.)
“Timecrimes” (Magnolia Pictures, 2007 R-rated *)

Everyman Héctor (Karra Elejalde) is tricked by a scientist into entering a large mechanical device that turns out to be an experimental time machine, setting in motion a horrifying chain of events when he inadvertently runs into himself. Spanish filmmaker and Academy Award nominee Nacho Vigalondo (for the 2003 short film “7:35 in the Morning”) wrote, directed and costars as the scientist. This low-budget science fiction thriller is his feature film debut. Well-crafted with dark humor and bizarre twists, the film is in Spanish with English subtitles.  *No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.


PR 17-030
ISSN 0731-3527