November 13, 2017 Double Features, Musicals and Hollywood Stars on Screen at Packard Campus Theater

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During double feature December, the Library’s Packard Campus will showcase pairs of films from the 1930s that feature great directors, Western cinematography, leading ladies and iconic romances. Titles include King Vidor’s New York City drama “Street Scene” paired with William A. Wellman’s rarely seen “Stingaree” and “Love Affair,” starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer, paired with Cary Grant in the British romantic comedy “Romance and Riches.” 

Among the musicals on tap are two versions of the hit Broadway play “Burlesque” —1929’s “The Dance of Life” and the 1937 “Swing High, Swing Low” remake starring Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray — plus Fred Astaire and Artie Shaw in “Second Chorus.” 

Other major Hollywood stars that will be featured include John Wayne in “McLintock!,” Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in “Road to Bali,” Claudette Colbert in “I Cover the Waterfront” and Ginger Rogers in the comedy-mystery “The Thirteenth Guest.”

Perennial Christmas favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which was added to the National Film Registry in 1990, will be shown twice, in both matinee and evening screenings. 

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 unless otherwise noted. 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.

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Library of Congress Packard Campus Theater Schedule

Friday, Dec. 1 (7:30 p.m.) 
Double Feature: 1930s Great Directors – King Vidor and William Wellman
“Street Scene” (United Artists, 1931)
When Hollywood’s major independent producer, Samuel Goldwyn, set out to make a motion picture of Elmer Rice's Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Street Scene,” he chose noted director King Vidor to helm the production. Vidor was known for his skill at handling social issues in such films as “The Big Parade” (1925), “The Crowd” (1928) and “Hallelujah” (1929). He had been one of the first directors to move the camera after the arrival of talking pictures, which was excellent preparation for adapting the one-set play. Depicting the events of two days in a New York tenement, this pre-code drama stars Sylvia Sidney in one of her first roles as leading lady. Goldwyn hired eight actors from the original stage cast, including Beulah Bondi and John Qualen, who would go on to notable careers as character actors.

“Stingaree” (RKO Radio, 1934)
Oscar-winning screenwriter-director William A. Wellman, considered one of the premier directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age, had a career spanning four decades and multiple genres. This atypical mix of musical comedy and Australian outback adventure stars Richard Dix as the title character, a dashing Robin Hood-type bandit who also happens to be a songwriter. Stingaree falls in love with Hilda Bouverie (Irene Dunne), a servant to the wealthy Clarkson family who has a beautiful voice, and helps her to become a great opera star. “Stingaree” is one of six RKO films of the 1930s previously thought “lost” but rediscovered and restored by Turner Classic Movies. The films were sold out of the RKO library to producer Merian C. Cooper in 1946. Extensive legal negotiations and a search of the world's film archives allowed TCM to claim the films and create new 35mm prints in association with the Library of Congress and the BYU Motion Picture Archive.

Saturday, Dec. 2 (7:30 p.m.) 
“The Dance of Life”
(Paramount, 1929) 
In this first film adaptation of the 1927 hit Broadway play “Burlesque” (which starred Hal Skelly and Barbara Stanwyck), Skelly repeats his role of a struggling burlesque entertainer who marries a dancer, played by Nancy Carroll, and makes it big on Broadway only to find he can’t handle success. Directed by A. Edward Sutherland and John Cromwell, this early talking film captures the backstage environment and features a number of songs by the team of Richard A. Whiting, Sam Coslow and Leo Robin. “Burlesque” was remade in 1937 as “Swing High, Swing Low,” showing at the Packard Campus Theater on Dec. 16, and “When My Baby Smiles at Me” in 1948. 

Thursday, Dec. 7 (7:30 p.m.) 
“Road to Bali” (Paramount, 1952)
Bob Hope and Bing Crosby play a pair of vaudevillians on the run from a shotgun wedding who sign on to a deep-sea diving expedition in the South Pacific. There, they meet the lovely Princess Lala (Dorothy Lamour) and vie for her affections. The plot works as an excuse to introduce songs by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen and a number of in-jokes from Hope. This sixth of the seven “Road to …” movies features several surprise cameo appearances from well-known stars of the day and is the only one filmed in Technicolor.

Friday, Dec. 8 (7:30 p.m.) 
“McLintock!” (United Artists, 1963)
John Wayne made a big hit at the box office as George Washington McLintock, an aging, self-made, hard-drinking cattle and land baron in this raucous Western comedy, loosely based on William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” Maureen O'Hara, Wayne’s friend and co-star in “The Quiet Man” (1952), plays his estranged high-society wife Katherine, with his son Patrick Wayne, Stefanie Powers, Chill Wills and Yvonne De Carlo also highlighted in the cast. Michael Wayne, John’s eldest, earned his first credit as producer, while Andrew V. McLaglen, son of actor Victor McLaglen, handled the directing duties on his first major big-budget film. The project was filmed in Technicolor and Panavision and produced by Wayne’s company Batjac Productions.

Saturday, Dec. 9 (2 p.m.) 
Double Feature: 1930s Westerns
“Forlorn River” (Paramount, 1937) 
Based on the book by Zane Grey, “Forlorn River” stars Larry “Buster” Crabbe as a young cowboy named Nevada who takes a job on a ranch rounding up horses, but runs afoul of a former bank robber posing as a powerful cattleman who frames Nevada as a horse thief. Crabbe, a two-time Olympic swimmer before breaking into acting, is best known for playing Tarzan, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers in serials and features. After his first two books were adapted to the screen, Grey formed his own motion picture company, which he later sold to Paramount Pictures. Between 1911 and 1996, 112 films were adapted from the novels and stories of Grey.

“The Painted Desert” (RKO-Pathe, 1931) 
Clark Gable made his talking film debut in a supporting role in this Western about conflict and romance between the adopted son and daughter of two long-feuding Westerners. William Boyd, in his pre-Hopalong Cassidy days, and Helen Twelvetrees are the stars, as is the superior cinematography of the Arizona desert by Edward Snyder. Gable’s notable performance as an unrepentant former criminal opened the door for him to become “The King of Hollywood” during the 1930s.

Saturday, Dec. 9 (7:30 p.m.)
“Second Chorus” (Paramount, 1940)
In this jazzy musical comedy, Fred Astaire stars with Burgess Meredith as Danny O’Neill and Hank Taylor, a pair of friendly-enemy musicians whose careers have dead-ended after spending seven years in a college band. They sweet-talk pretty Ellen Miller, played by Paulette Goddard, into being their manager to help them get an audition with big band leader Artie Shaw, all the while competing for her affections. Among the highlights are Astaire and Goddard’s dance to “I Ain't Hep to That Step but I’ll Dig It.” “Second Chorus” received Oscar nominations for best music score for Shaw and for best original song for “Love of My Life,” lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Shaw.

Thursday, Dec. 14 (7:30 p.m.)
Double Feature: 1930s Leading Ladies – Ginger Rogers and Claudette Colbert
“The Thirteenth Guest” (Monogram, 1932) 
Ginger Rogers stars as Marie Morgan, one of the guests who are reassembled from a dinner party that took place 13 years earlier — at which the host fell dead — in order to solve the mystery of an unnamed 13th guest to whom the deceased bequeathed his estate. This comedy mystery directed by Albert Ray also stars Lyle Talbot and J. Farrell MacDonald. Although Rogers had made more than a dozen films prior to this one, she was still a year away from her breakthrough role in “Flying Down to Rio” with Fred Astaire.

“I Cover the Waterfront” (United Artists, 1933) 
In this pre-code drama, San Diego newspaper reporter H. Joseph Miller, played by Ben Lyon, investigates fisherman Eli Kirk, played by Ernest Torrence in his final screen appearance, certain that he is smuggling illegal Chinese immigrants into the country. Miller romances Kirk’s free-spirited daughter Julie (Claudette Colbert) while trying to find proof of the crime. Born in France, Colbert became a Broadway star before breaking into films with the advent of talking pictures. By 1933, she had already appeared in 20 films and would win an Oscar the following year for her work in Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night.”

Friday, Dec. 15 (7:30 p.m.)
Double Feature: 1930s Romance 
“Love Affair” (RKO Radio, 1939)
Leo McCarey directed this shipboard romance classic about two strangers who meet aboard an ocean liner and fall in love despite the fact that they are both engaged to marry other people. As a test of their relationship, the couple agrees to meet in six months on top of the Empire State Building after they have sorted out their lives. With Charles Boyer as the French playboy Michael Marnet and Irene Dunne as the American former nightclub singer Terry McKay, the lovers reunite on Christmas Eve. Though perhaps less well-known than McCarey’s 1957 color and CinemaScope remake, “An Affair to Remember” starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, this original version received six Oscar nominations, including best picture, best actress for Dunne, and best supporting actress for Maria Ouspenskaya, who plays Boyer’s mother.

“Romance and Riches” (a.k.a “The Amazing Adventure”) (Grand National, 1936)
Cary Grant stars as Ernest Bliss, a bored millionaire who wagers his doctor that he can support himself at a working class job — for a year without touching his inheritance. The first picture Grant made as a freelance actor, this brisk and endearing romantic comedy is perfectly paced and a rare treat to see. Based on a novel by E. Phillips Oppenheim, the film was directed by Alfred Zeisler and co-stars Mary Brian as Grant’s love interest.

Saturday, Dec. 16 (2 p.m.)
“It’s a Wonderful Life” (RKO, 1946)
Director Frank Capra created a holiday favorite with this story of a once ambitious young man George Bailey, played by James Stewart, who sacrifices personal adventure to stand up against the despot Potter, played by Lionel Barrymore, who tyrannizes his small hometown. When it looks like Potter has finally beaten him, George wishes he’d never been born and an apprentice angel, played by Henry Travers, grants his wish grants his wish by showing him the bleak parallel universe that might have been. Suggested by a short story written as a Christmas card by author and historian Philip Van Doren Stern, Capra and writers Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett crafted the screenplay for this film, which has become synonymous with Christmas. The film—named to the National Film Registry in 1990—also stars Donna Reed, Thomas Mitchell and Beulah Bondi.

Saturday, Dec. 16 (7:30 p.m.)
“Swing High, Swing Low” (Paramount, 1937) 
Fred MacMurray and Carole Lombard star in this second film adaptation of the prestigious Broadway hit “Burlesque.” The first was 1929’s “Dance of Life,” which is playing at the Packard Campus Theater on Dec. 2. This time, MacMurray’s character, Skid, is a trumpet player instead of a dancer, with Lombard as Maggie, his long-suffering girlfriend. Though Maggie helps bolster his career, Skip’s degenerate ways ultimately lead to his downfall. As directed by the stylish and meticulous Mitchell Leisen, “Swing High, Swing Low” showcases Lombard and MacMurray’s natural chemistry in this, the third of four films they made together. “Swing High, Swing Low” was one of Paramount’s most profitable entries for 1937.

Thursday, Dec. 21 (7:30 p.m.)
“It’s a Wonderful Life” (RKO, 1946)
Encore screening of director Frank Capra’s holiday favorite and National Film Registry 1990 inductee featuring James Stewart, Lionel Henry Travers, Donna Reed, Thomas Mitchell and Beulah Bondi.


PR 17-170
ISSN 0731-3527