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Thursday, June 1, 2023, 6:00pm - 9:30pm at 7:00 p.m.

Live! At The Library: "The Making of the Best Years of Our Lives" (1946)

Alison Macor, author of "Making The Best Years of Our Lives: The Hollywood Classic That Inspired a Nation", will introduce a screening of the 1946 Academy Award-winning masterpiece included among the first 25 films named to the Library’s National Film Registry.

Macor will discuss the film’s tumultuous journey from script to screen against the backdrop of a nation struggling to deal with its walking wounded. An award-winning author and former film professor, Macor received a Public Scholars grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to write "Making Best Years", which "ineaste" recently praised as giving "the certified masterpiece…the treatment it deserves—intelligent, sensitive, and respectful."

This film earned the producer Samuel Goldwyn his only Best Picture Academy Award. It offered the injured director, William Wyler, a triumphant postwar return to Hollywood. And for Harold Russell, a double amputee who shared the screen with movie stars Fredric March and Dana Andrews, the film provided a surprising second act.

The event is free, but tickets are required, and there may be special restrictions. Click here for more information and to secure your ticket.

Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or [email protected]ov.

Image of Alison Macor

Alison Macor

Thursday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m.

THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET (MGM, 1934). Directed by Sidney Franklin. Screenplay by Ernest Vajda, Claudine West, and David Ogden Stewart, from the play of the same name by Rudolf Besier. With Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Sullivan, Katharine Alexander, Ralph Forbes. (110 min, black & white, 35mm, archival print from the Turner Entertainment Co. Collection).

Endpapers from tie-in book 'Miss Barrett's Elopement'

Endpapers from tie-in book "Miss Barrett's Elopement" by C. Lenathon (Henry Holt and Company, Inc., ca.1930)

MGM’s customary lush treatment of the real-life romance between poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning was based on a popular play which premiered in England in 1930 before moving to Broadway a year later. Marion Davies was initially considered for the female lead at the urging of her husband William Randolph Hearst, but the role eventually went to Norma Shearer, the wife of the studio’s head of production Irving Thalberg. Charles Laughton was borrowed from Paramount for the role of Barrett’s tyrannical father, and his brilliant performance belies the fact that he was only 35 years old when he made the film. Laughton’s character’s incestuous fascination with his daughter, overtly suggested in the original play, was inevitably removed in the screen adaptation, although Laughton famously told Thalberg, "They cannot censor the gleam in my eye."

Seating is on a first-come first-serve basis.  Doors open at 6:30 pm.

Lemmon - Matthau

Thursday, July 20 at 7:00 p.m.

THE FORTUNE COOKIE (Phalanx – Jalem / United Artists, 1966). Directed by Billy Wilder. Screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond. With Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ron Rich, Cliff Osmond, Judi West. (125 min, black & white, 35mm, archival print from the Copyright Collection).

Poster for The Fortune Cookie

Poster from"The Fortune Cookie" (Phalanx – Jalem / United Artists, 1966)

After he is injured when a football player runs into him during a game, a TV cameraman is persuaded by a shyster lawyer, who is also his brother-in-law, to make a bundle of money by suing everyone involved in the incident. The film that launched Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon as a comedy duo, "The Fortune Cookie" was the first of eight features the two would make together over the next twenty-two years. For Billy Wilder, it was a return to the morality of "Double Indemnity" and "Ace in the Hole," albeit in comedic form, with characters who are either enablers or victims of a society riddled with avarice and corruption.

Seating is on a first-come first-serve basis.  Doors open at 6:30 pm.

Thursday, August 17 at 7:00 p.m.

THE FRONT PAGE (Universal, 1974). Directed by Billy Wilder. Screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, from the play of the same name by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. With Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Susan Sarandon, Vincent Gardenia, David Wayne, Allen Garfield, Austin Pendleton, Charles Durning, Carol Burnett. (105 min, Technicolor, Panavision, 35mm, archival print from the Copyright Collection)

Poster for The Front Page

Poster for "The Front Page" (Universal, 1974)

A newspaper editor tricks his ace reporter into covering one more story before he quits to get married. Hecht and MacArthur’s play opened on Broadway in 1928 and received its first film adaptation three years later under the helm of Lewis Milestone. Following Howard Hawks’ gender swapping version (His Girl Friday), it took nearly 35 years for "The Front Page" to return to the big screen. It is not difficult to see Billy Wilder and the pairing of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as the ideal combination to bring the play’s feverish pace and its wisecracking, rapid-fire dialogue to life, and the film, full of witty retorts and memorable supporting characters, goes a long way to prove that. Unfortunately, “The Front Page” was neither a critical nor commercial success, having been released at a time when American cinema was rapidly moving away from Wilder’s character and dialogue driven style harking back to the screwball comedies of the 1930s.

Seating is on a first-come first-serve basis.  Doors open at 6:30 pm.

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