Mary Pickford Theater
2018 Archive of Screened Films
Thursday, January 11th at 7:00 p.m.
AUTUMN LEAVES (Columbia – William Goetz Productions, 1956). Directed by Robert Aldrich. Story and Screenplay by Jean Rouverol, Hugo Butler, Jack Jevne, Lewis Meltzer and Robert Blees. With Joan Crawford, Cliff Robertson, Vera Miles, Lorne Greene, Ruth Donnelly. (107 min, black & white, 35mm)
Six years before "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" director Robert Aldrich and Joan Crawford collaborated on this edgy melodrama about a middle-aged woman who falls for and marries a young man with a disturbing past. Although Crawford’s presence has inevitably led to it being regarded, and often unfairly dismissed, as camp, the film is a fascinating example of a woman’s picture made by a director primarily known for his unflinching, cynical male-centered dramas. The husband and wife writing team of Hugo Butler and Jean Rouverol were blacklisted at the time of the film’s release and did not receive billing in the onscreen credits. Archival print from the Library’s Copyright Collection.
Thursday, January 25th at 7:00 p.m.
SO DARK THE NIGHT (Darmour / Columbia, 1946). Directed by Joseph H. Lewis. Screenplay by Martin Berkeley and Dwight Babcock, based upon a story by Aubrey Wisberg. With Steven Geray, Micheline Cheirel, Eugene Borden, Ann Codee, Egon Brecher. (71 min, black & white, 35mm)
While on a long overdue vacation, a Parisian detective finds himself investigating the murder of his fiancée. A stylish "B" picture, this rarely seen thriller was directed by noir specialist Joseph H. Lewis (Gun Crazy, The Big Combo), who employed an array of strange camera angles and other deft touches to turn the bucolic French countryside into a menacing backdrop for what is in essence a study in schizophrenia. Screenwriter Aubrey Wisberg’s story had been purchased by Columbia with the intention of making it the fifth entry in the studio’s mystery series "The Whistler," but was eventually produced as a stand-alone picture. Preserved by the Library of Congress from the original nitrate negatives in the AFI/Columbia Collection.
A DAY AT C. B. S. (Columbia, 1948). Directed by Ralph Staub. Narrated by Art Baker. (10 min, black & white, 35mm).
A short from Columbia’s long-running celebrity magazine series "Screen Snapshots" featuring the stars of CBS Radio, including Gene Autry, Harry James, Dinah Shore, the Andrews Sisters, Howard Duff and others.
Wednesday, February 21st at 7:00 p.m.
SCHOOL DAZE (Forty Acres and a Mule / Columbia, 1988). Directed and Written by Spike Lee. With Laurence Fishburne, Giancarlo Esposito, Tisha Campbell, Kyme, Joe Seneca, Art Evans, Ossie Davis. (120 min, color, 35mm) **R-rated
Following the success of his breakthrough feature, the independently made "She’s Gotta Have It," Spike Lee secured the backing of Columbia Pictures for his next film, "School Daze." Billed as a "comedy with music" and set at a historically black college in Atlanta, Georgia, the film is an ambitious exploration of class relations and politics of skin color within the African-American community. Its representation of black college culture and, in particular, Greek letter organizations, is as unique now as it was thirty years ago. Despite mixed reviews, "School Daze" turned out to be one of Columbia’s most profitable releases of the year, producing a best-selling soundtrack album along the way with hits by Tisha Campbell and the DC-based band E.U. Archival print from the Library’s Copyright Collection.
In 2015, the Library of Congress acquired the Jerry Lewis Collection, a trove of moving image materials and manuscripts providing a unique window into the world of a man who spent more than 70 years making people laugh. Lewis passed away in August 2017, and in honor of his remarkable career and in celebration of what would have been his 92nd birthday (March 16), we present two classic comedies from both halves of his film career, his partnership with Dean Martin and his success as a solo actor and director.
Tuesday, March 13th at 7:00 p.m.
THE CADDY (York Pictures / Paramount, 1953). Dir Norman Taurog. Written by Edmund Hartmann (screenplay) and Danny Arnold (story and screenplay). With Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Donna Reed, Barbara Bates, Joseph Calleia. (95 min, black & white, 35mm)
Too shy and afraid of crowds, a gifted golfer persuades his fiancée’s brother to enter a tournament while he acts as his coach and caddy. Arguably Martin & Lewis’s funniest comedy presents Jerry, in his usual state of arrested development, as a cross between a devoted servant and a doting spouse to Dean’s womanizing pleasure seeker. The film includes guest appearances by a number of golf pros and features the song "That’s Amore," which would become one of Martin’s biggest hits. Archival print from the Library’s Copyright Collection.
Tuesday, March 27th at 7:00 p.m.
THE LADIES' MAN (York Pictures / Paramount, 1961). Directed and Written by Jerry Lewis. With Jerry Lewis, Helen Traubel, Pat Stanley, Kathleen Freeman, George Raft, Henry James. (106 min, Technicolor, 35mm)
After his girlfriend jilts him, a young man vows to abstain from romance, but is tested when he takes a job at a women-only boarding house. Typical of Lewis’s solo work, the film consists of a series of vignettes constructed around a specific profession and/or location. Martin Scorsese singled out "The Ladies’ Man" as his favorite Jerry Lewis film, and the film’s massive set of the boarding house cross-sectioned to allow the crane-mounted camera to move between floors was copied on a smaller scale by Jean-Luc Godard in "Tout Va Bien" (1972). Archival print from the Library’s Copyright Collection.
Thursday, April 19th at 7:00 p.m.
IN CALIENTE (First National, 1935). Directed by Lloyd Bacon. Written by Jerry Wald & Julius Epstein (screenplay), Ralph Block & Warren Duff (story and adaptation). With Dolores Del Rio, Pat O’Brien, Leo Carrillo, Edward Everett Horton, Glenda Farrell, Phil Regan, Winifred Shaw. (89 min, black & white, 35mm)
CHECK YOUR SOMBRERO (Vitaphone, 1935). Series: Broadway Brevities. Dir Roy Mack. With Armida, Tito Coral, Claire Harris, Sunny O’Shea, The Three Marshalls. (19 min, black & white, 35mm)
A New York theater critic falls in love with a Mexican dancer and incurs the wrath of his gold-digging fiancée. Filmed at the Mexican resort of Agua Caliente, at the time Hollywood’s favorite vacation destination, this breezy musical comedy is a typical product of the "South-of-the-Border craze," initiated with the success of the 1929 film "Rio Rita." The popularity of movie musicals with Latin settings held steady throughout the 1930’s and really took off when Carmen Miranda burst onto the scene in "Down Argentine Way" (1940). The musical numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley include the memorable "The Lady in Red." Preserved in 2016 by the Packard Campus Film Preservation Lab from the original negatives in the United Artists Collection.
Thursday, May 10th at 7:00 p.m.
711 OCEAN DRIVE (Essaness Pictures / Columbia, 1950). Directed by Joseph M. Newman. Written by Richard English and Francis Swann. With Edmond O’Brien, Joanne Dru, Otto Kruger, Barry Kelley, Dorothy Patrick, Donald Porter, Howard St. John. (102 min, black & white, 35mm).
A telephone company lineman and electronics expert is recruited by the mob to create a vast illegal wire service for betting on horses. A first-rate gangster picture which cleverly utilizes the rags-to-riches narrative popular during the genre’s heyday in the 1930’s, while at the same time maintaining an up-to-date realistic framework with extensive location shooting and a "ripped from the headlines" angle involving the filmmakers themselves – the producers received anonymous threats before the filming had begun and producer Frank Seltzer testified before Estes Kefauver’s U.S. Senate committee on organized crime. Edmond O’Brien provides another superb characterization following his star turn as a man investigating his own murder in the classic "D.O.A." (1949), and Otto Kruger is the standout among the mobsters as the sinister head of the crime syndicate. "711 Ocean Drive" also had the distinction of being one of the first films to be advertised on television, an experiment jointly undertaken by Columbia Pictures and seven TV stations in Southern California. Preserved by the Library of Congress from original negatives in the AFI/Columbia Collection.
Thursday, June 21st at 7:00 p.m.
Screened in conjunction with the Library of Congress exhibition "Baseball Americana."
EIGHT MEN OUT (Sanford/Pillsbury Productions / Orion Pictures, 1988). Directed by John Sayles. Screenplay by John Sayles, from the book Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series by Eliot Asinof. With John Cusack, Clifton James, Michael Lerner, Christopher Lloyd, John Mahoney, Charlie Sheen, David Strathairn. (120 min, color, 35mm).
A dramatization of one of the most infamous scandals in baseball’s history when the talented but underpaid Chicago White Sox accepted bribes to deliberately lose the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Redlegs. "Eight Men Out" was the realization of a project director John Sayles had been contemplating since the mid-1970’s, when he first wrote a script based on Eliot Asinof’s book (originally published in 1963). The film is as much about baseball as it is about the American society of the late 1910’s, with athletes portrayed as exploited workers falling prey to economic, criminal and legal forces they cannot control. Archival print from the Library’s Copyright Collection.
Thursday, July 19th at 7:00 p.m.
JONATHAN DEMME (1944-2017)
LAST EMBRACE (Taylor-Wigutow Productions / United Artists, 1979). Directed by Jonathan Demme. Screenplay by David Shaber, from the novel The 13th Man by Murray Teigh Bloom. With Roy Scheider, Janet Margolin, John Glover, Sam Levene, Charles Napier. (101 min, color, 35mm, rated R).
As a tribute to the late director Jonathan Demme, who created some of the most intelligent and socially conscious American movies of the 1980’s and ‘90’s, the Pickford Theater presents one of his lesser known works, a Hitchcockian thriller about a government agent who suffers a nervous breakdown following his wife’s murder, and then himself becomes the target of a conspiracy which seemingly involves the agency he works for. Despite Demme’s claim to the contrary ("there are no noticeable homages to anybody in this movie"), "Last Embrace" is a veritable compendium of Hitchcock’s tropes and practices, complete with the obligatory McGuffin, a music score modeled on Bernard Herrmann’s memorable scores for "Psycho," "Vertigo" et al., and even a director’s cameo (as "a man on the train"). Roy Scheider, who later that same year starred in "All That Jazz," does well to conform to the role of a vulnerable man buffeted by events he is struggling to comprehend, and Christopher Walken is terrific as the spymaster with a twinkle in his eye. Archival print from the Library’s Copyright Collection.