Leading Ladies of Hollywood's Golden Age
February 6–April 16
Glamour. Sophistication. Spirit. Style. In its prime, the Hollywood dream factory took in actresses from all over the world and made them into stars. Whether larger-than-life personalities whose powerful images incarnated desire, or plucky moderns who rolled with the punches of Depression-era America, the leading ladies of classic Hollywood still cast a long shadow on screen history. They don't make 'em like they used to.
AFI Member passes accepted at all screenings in the series.
AFTER THE THIN MAN
"This is a fine way to start the New Year," Nick Charles says as he bails his wife Nora out of jail. But it's Nora's cousin who's really in trouble, having been found standing over the body of her cheating husband with a smoking gun in her hand. Did she do it? Featuring James Stewart, in one of his earliest roles, as Nora's younger cousin. After the climactic reveal, Nora has one more surprise for unsuspecting Nick.
DIR W. S. Van Dyke; SCR Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich; PROD Hunt Stromberg. US, 1936, b&w, 113 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Fri, Feb 6, 5:00; Sun, Feb 8, 5:30
Margit Agnew (Myrna Loy) is the no-nonsense owner of a successful dress shop, and the guardian of her younger sister Irene (Florence Rice), whom she intends to marry off to Waldo Beaver (John Beal). But unruly passions are released after the two kids take acting lessons from bohemian free spirit and would-be Hollywood director Charlie Lodge (William Powell). Irene is infatuated with Charlie, Margit is infuriated with Charlie and Charlie is inspired by Margit's verve — a solid formula for comic hijinks and sparkling repartee in this underrated screwball comedy.
DIR Richard Thorpe; SCR Jo Swerling, from the play "Great Love" by Ferenc Molnár; PROD Joseph L. Mankiewicz. US, 1937, b&w, 87 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sun, Feb 8, 1:00; Tue, Feb 10, 9:30
THE PALM BEACH STORY
Claudette Colbert intends to leave her husband, Joel McCrea, a struggling New York architect, and move to Palm Beach in a matter-of-fact search for a wealthy husband — to help fund the work of her true love, McCrea. Not willing to give her up, McCrea pursues her, arriving to find filthy rich Rudy Vallee in the picture. Passed off as Colbert's brother while he hangs around in hopes of wooing her back, McCrea catches the eye of Vallee's vivacious sister, Mary Astor. Many comic couplings and escapes ensue in Preston Sturges' delirious screwball comedy, one of film historian Stanley Cavell's quintessential "comedies of remarriage."
DIR/SCR Preston Sturges; PROD Buddy G. DeSylva. US, 1942, b&w, 88 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
IMITATION OF LIFE (1934)
Fri, Feb 6, 7:20; Sun, Feb 8, 7:45
Struggling to run her household after her husband's death, Bea (Claudette Colbert) hires Delilah (Louise Beavers) as a live-in housekeeper. Over time, the two women — one white, one black — become friends, raising their two daughters, Jessie and Peola, alongside each other, and building a successful business selling Delilah's family pancake recipe. But the two women's good fortune is taxed by great heartache: able to pass as white, the light-skinned Peola rejects her mother and her race. Jessie falls hard for her mother's beau (Warren William), forcing Bea to choose between her daughter and the man she loves. One of the all-time great tearjerkers.
DIR John M. Stahl; SCR William Hurlbut, from the novel by Fannie Hurst; PROD Carl Laemmle, Jr. US, 1934, b&w, 111 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
Nominated for six Academy Awards® and James Stewart's sole Oscar® win, this sparkling comedy marked Katharine Hepburn's return to the top of the Hollywood food chain. Hepburn plays a demanding socialite about to put her first marriage to arrogant playboy Cary Grant behind her with an impending marriage to boring but reliable self-made man John Howard. When Grant learns that Spy Magazine intends to scandalize her philandering father, he promises the editor the scoop of a lifetime on the wedding instead. Enter journalist James Stewart who also falls head over heels for Hepburn as the three men vie for her affections.
DIR George Cukor; SCR Donald Ogden Stewart, from the play by Phillip Barry; PROD Joseph Mankiewicz. US, 1940, b&w, 112 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
BRINGING UP BABY
Sat, Feb 14, 1:15; Sun, Feb 15, 1:15
Put-upon paleontologist Cary Grant is feeling the pressure: his brontosaurus is just one intercostal clavicle away from completion, he has an important meeting coming up with donor prospect May Robson, and his wedding to straitlaced Virginia Walker looms. Then he meets kooky free spirit Katharine Hepburn. Before he knows what hit him, he's searching for her escaped pet leopard, Baby, through the wilds of Connecticut and the missing dinosaur bone that her dog has buried — and falling in love. A legendary flop when first released, Howard Hawks' energetic masterpiece has come to be seen as the definitive screwball comedy.
DIR/PROD Howard Hawks; SCR Dudley Nichols, Hagar Wilde. US, 1938, b&w, 102 min, 16mm. NOT RATED
Sat, Feb 14, 5:45; Sun, Feb 15, 11:00 a.m.; Tue, Feb 17, 7:20
THE LADY EVE
"I need him like the axe needs the turkey." In Preston Sturges' masterpiece of amour fou, boyish herpetologist/brewery heir Henry Fonda seems like an easy mark for father-and-daughter con artists Charles Coburn and Barbara Stanwyck. But Stanwyck wasn't supposed to fall in love with Fonda after fleecing him. Now spurned by the burned Fonda, Stanwyck takes on the persona of "Lady Eve Sidwich" to win his heart again.
DIR/SCR Preston Sturges; PROD Paul Jones. US, 1941, b&w, 94 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sat, Feb 14, 8:00; Mon, Feb 16, 5:15
Film noir at its black-hearted best, as jaded insurance man Fred MacMurray and bored housewife Barbara Stanwyck team up to murder her husband and collect on the policy. They fool ace insurance inspector Edward G. Robinson, but getting away with murder turns out to be a full-time job. Director Billy Wilder co-authored the Oscar®-nominated script with detective fiction great Raymond Chandler, adapted from James M. Cain’s hardboiled novel. Seven Academy Award® nominations, including Best Actress, Picture and Director.
DIR/SCR Billy Wilder; SCR Raymond Chandler, from the novel by James M. Cain. US, 1944, b&w, 107 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sun, Feb 15, 8:00; Mon, Feb 16, 7:15;
Wed, Feb 18, 6:30 (Montgomery College @ AFI Silver show)
A FOREIGN AFFAIR (1948)
Iowa Congresswoman Jean Arthur leads a fact-finding mission to Berlin in the aftermath of WWII to inspect rebuilding efforts and root out the corrupting influences of the black market and vice. Fellow Iowan and Army Captain John Lund, assigned to escort the inquisitive Congresswoman, winds up wooing her in a desperate bid to distract her from his own thriving black market dealings, not to mention his girlfriend, Marlene Dietrich, a nightclub singer whose alleged relationship to a prominent Nazi makes her a person of interest. A triumph of black comedy from director Billy Wilder.
DIR/SCR Billy Wilder; SCR Richard Breen; PROD/SCR Charles Brackett. US, 1948, b&w, 116 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
EASY LIVING (1937)
Fri, Feb 20, 5:15; Sun, Feb 22, 7:00
A fur coat drops out of the Manhattan sky onto the head of working girl Jean Arthur, setting in motion a series of events that will rain further riches down upon her, thanks to a series of comic misunderstandings and endless angle-playing by hustlers high and low. Mitchell Leisen's splendorous screwball comedy combines witty wordplay with inventive, energetic slapstick. Arthur is a delight as the woman who finds herself the center of attention and perplexed by her good fortune; the ensemble cast includes Edward Arnold as the banker who tossed the coat, Ray Milland as his son, Winchell-like William Demarest and seen-it-all secretary Esther Dale.
DIR Mitchell Leisen; SCR Preston Sturges, from a story by Vera Caspary; PROD Arthur Hornblow, Jr. US, 1937, b&w, 88 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sat, Feb 21, 11:45 a.m.; Mon, Feb 23, 5:15;
Wed, Feb 25, 5:15; Thu, Feb 26, 9:30
BEGGARS OF LIFE
Silent film with live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin
A boy on the road meets a girl in trouble — William Wellman works elemental magic in this railroad-riding romantic adventure, set during the Great Depression. Richard Arlen and Louise Brooks hop a freight train — he seeking his fortune, she escaping a bad home life and the knife she used on her lecherous stepfather. Hoping to remain incognito, Brooks dresses as a boy and the two keep a low profile among the hobo hordes riding the cars. But the promise of a reward leads to them being found out, with their fate now decided by the fearsome king of the tramps, Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery).
DIR William A. Wellman; SCR Benjamin Glazer, Jim Tully, from the novel “Apache Rising” by Julian Johnson; PROD Jesse L. Lasky, Adolph Zukor. US, 1928, b&w, 100 min, Digibeta. NOT RATED
THE PATSY (1928)
Silent film with live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin
Good girl Pat Harrington (Marion Davies) always rates second best to her vivacious older sister, Grace (Jane Winton), the favorite of their stern, social-climbing mother (Marie Dressler). But Pat is smitten by Grace's latest beau, Tony (Orville Caldwell), and determined to make her move. Hoping to impress Tony, Pat mimics screen divas Mae Murray, Lillian Gish and Pola Negri in this madcap romantic farce directed by King Vidor.
DIR/PROD King Vidor; SCR Barry Conners, Agnes Christine Johnston, from the play by Conners; PROD Marion Davies, William Randolph Hearst. US, 1928, b&w, 77 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
I REMEMBER MAMA
Barbara Bel Geddes looks back at growing up in turn-of-the-century San Francisco with her Norwegian mama Irene Dunne (in a bravura performance that earned her a fifth and final Oscar® nomination). George Stevens’ adaptation of the Broadway hit was the first film after his life-changing war experiences, and the first flowering of his later, more expansive style. Featuring San Francisco location shooting and a death scene by Oskar Homolka as Uncle Chris.
DIR/PROD George Stevens; SCR DeWitt Bodeen from the play by John Van Druten and the book "Mama’s Bank Account" by Kathryn Forbes. US, 1948, b&w, 138 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sat, Feb 28, 11:05 a.m.; Sun, Mar 1, 11:05 a.m.
THE AWFUL TRUTH (1937)
Divorcing couple Cary Grant and Irene Dunne are both guilty of wandering ways, and the divorce becomes final if they are not reconciled within the year. As Grant dallies with showgirl Joyce Compton and Dunne goes a-courtin' with Ralph Bellamy, will the two realize they're made for each other, before it's too late? Director Leo McCarey's improv-oriented approach created great comic spontaneity on set, and the zany results still zing on screen. Great support work from wisecracking Cecil Cunningham, meddlesome Esther Dale, unctuous Alexander D'Arcy and the antics of THE THIN MAN's dog, Asta (here “Mr. Smith”)! Six Oscar® nominations, with McCarey winning Best Director.
DIR/PROD Leo McCarey; SCR Viña Delmar, from the play by Arthur Richman. US, 1937, b&w, 92 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Mon, Mar 2, 7:15; Wed, Mar 4, 9:30
Why is he in Casablanca? "I was misinformed," explains nightclub owner/war refugee Humphrey Bogart, who won't "stick his neck out for nobody" — until Ingrid Bergman walks in. The film evolved from an unproduced play to a Warner Bros. "B" melodrama to a Bogart/Bergman star vehicle to a multiple Oscar® winner — and finally, to the cultural icon it remains today. Dialogue was often handed to the cast minutes before shooting, and "As Time Goes By" almost didn't make it in. Just another movie — until the Allied invasion of North Africa right before the premiere made CASABLANCA a prequel to history. An American classic.
DIR Michael Curtiz; SCR Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch from the play by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison; PROD Hal B. Wallis. US, 1942, b&w, 102 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Fri, Mar 6, 5:15; Sat, Mar 7, 7:30; Sun, Mar 8, 6:45;
Mon, Mar 9, 12:45; Tue, Mar 10, 12:45;
Wed, Mar 11, 6:30 (Montgomery College @ AFI Silver show)
Miami, 1946: After her Nazi-sympathizing father is sent to prison for seditious activity, Ingrid Bergman gets recruited by OSS man Cary Grant to work as an American agent and infiltrate a Nazi cell in Rio de Janeiro. Bergman must seduce Nazi industrialist Claude Rains, which means the love affair in bloom between Grant and Bergman must be nipped in the bud. Bergman does so well at her job that Rains proposes marriage — good for spying, bad for romance and increasingly dangerous to Bergman's health. Ted Tetzlaff's inventive cinematography deserves star billing alongside Grant and Bergman. "My favorite Hitchcock." –François Truffaut.
DIR/ PROD Alfred Hitchcock; SCR Ben Hecht. US, 1946, b&w, 101 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Fri, Mar 6, 7:30; Tue, Mar 10, 7:00
SHANGHAI EXPRESS (1932)
"It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily." Befeathered Marlene Dietrich meets stoic Army man and ex-lover Clive Brook on the titular train, but their wistful reminiscing is interrupted when bandit Warner Oland demands an unscheduled stop, barking, "The white woman stays with me." Legendary cameraman Lee Garmes won an Oscar® for his striking cinematography.
DIR Josef von Sternberg; SCR Jules Furthman, from a story by Harry Hervey; PROD Adolph Zukor. US, 1932, b&w, 82 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sat, Mar 7, 11:10 a.m.; Mon, Mar 9, 3:00
American Herbert Marshall and German Marlene Dietrich's marital bliss is derailed by Marshall's grave illness, requiring ex-cabaret singer Dietrich first to return to the stage, and then to become the mistress of wealthy playboy Cary Grant — all to save her marriage. Among the highlights is Dietrich singing "Hot Voodoo" in an ape suit. The only Dietrich-Sternberg collaboration set in the U.S. "allows a woman to make a mockery of sacrifice and to demonstrate that sacrifice can, after all, be a positive and liberating choice." –Jeanine Basinger.
DIR/ PROD Josef von Sternberg; SCR Jules Furthman, S. K. Lauren. US, 1932, b&w, 93 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sun, Mar 8, 11:10 a.m.; Tue, Mar 10, 3:00; Thu, Mar 12, 3:00
Carole Lombard ascended to comedic stardom opposite an exquisitely hammy John Barrymore in this fast-paced screwball comedy. Broadway impresario Oscar Jaffe (Barrymore) recasts lingerie model Mildred Plotka (Lombard) as “Lily Garland,” making her the star in a hit play and soon his love interest. But the tempestuous relationship between svengali and star leads to an acrimonious split, with Garland cashing in out in Hollywood while Jaffe suffers a string of expensive flops minus his leading lady. A chance meeting on the Twentieth Century Limited train offers Jaffe a chance to woo her for a comeback. Histrionic hilarity ensues!
DIR/PROD Howard Hawks; SCR Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, from the play “Napoleon of Broadway” by Charles Bruce Millholland. US, 1934, b&w, 91 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sat, Mar 7, 1:00; Mon, Mar 9, 7:00
Former ace reporter Wally Cook (Fredric March), recently demoted after falling for a fraudulent story, thinks he's found his way back to the top: a profile of small-town Vermont beauty Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard), doomed to die young from radiation poisoning. Hazel accepts Wally's offer to fly her to the Big Apple for the trip of her dwindling lifetime, where she becomes the toast of the town and a media sensation. The problem, in addition to the pair's growing infatuation with one another, is that Hazel hasn't been telling the truth — she's as healthy as a horse. A wicked romp from William Wellman, directing a sharp-witted script by former newsman Ben Hecht.
DIR William A. Wellman; SCR Ben Hecht; PROD David O. Selznick. US, 1937, color, 77 min, Blu-ray. NOT RATED
Sun, Mar 8, 5:00; Wed Mar 11, 7:00
SHE DONE HIM WRONG
"Haven't you ever met a man that could make you happy?" "Sure, lots of times." In Gay '90s New York, nightclub singer Mae West plies her trade at the Bowery saloon of Noah Beery, one of her many man friends. West uses her wiles to collect diamonds from her gentlemen callers, but Beery is involved in even shadier rackets. Can the upright Cary Grant from the city mission save West's soul? West's bawdy numbers include "Frankie and Johnny," "I Like a Man Who Takes His Time" and "I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone."
DIR Lowell Sherman; SCR Harvey F. Thew, John Bright, from Mae West's play "Diamond Lil." US, 1933, b&w, 66 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
I’M NO ANGEL
Fri, Mar 13, 4:00; Sat, Mar 14, 11:10 a.m.; Tue, Mar 17, 9:40
Mae West stars as the sideshow singer — and occasional lion tamer — for crooked circus boss Edward Arnold. Their show hits the big time and West attracts a higher class of sucker in the person of New York socialite Kent Taylor, causing Kirk's cousin Cary Grant to intervene on behalf of the family:
Grant: You were wonderful tonight.
West: Yeah, I'm always wonderful at night.
Grant: Tonight, you were especially good.
West: Well ... When I'm good, I'm very good. But, when I'm bad ... I'm better.
DIR Wesley Ruggles; SCR Mae West, Harlan Thompson; PROD William LeBaron. US, 1933, b&w, 87 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sun, Mar 15, 11:10 a.m.; Mon, Mar 16, 9:40;
Wed, Mar 18, 9:40
THE DIVORCEE (1930)
Norma Shearer won the Best Actress Oscar® for this scandalous pre-Code drama, playing a recently divorced society wife who, heartbroken by her cheating husband Chester Morris, discovers she has no shortage of admirers once back on the dating scene.
DIR/PROD Robert Z. Leonard; SCR John Meehan, Zelda Sears, Nick Grinde, from the novel “Ex-Wife” by Ursula Parrott. US, 1930, b&w, 84 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE WOMEN (1939)
Fri, Mar 20, 5:15; Sun, Mar 22, 11:00 a.m.;
Mon, Mar 23, 5:15, 9:15
Hounded by gossip, Manhattan society woman Norma Shearer resolves not to give up her straying husband without a fight; egged on by her madcap friend Rosalind Russell, she screws up the courage to confront that home-wrecking shopgirl Joan Crawford. Director George Cukor nimbly guides the sprawling, all-female cast, featuring memorable turns by Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine and Marjorie Main (in a proto-Ma Kettle role) in this wicked and witty satire of what women want. Cedric Gibbons' stylish backdrops set the scenes.
DIR George Cukor; SCR Anita Loos, Jane Murfin, from the play by Clare Boothe Luce; PROD Hunt Stromberg. US, 1939, b&w/color, 133 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Olivia de Havilland won the Best Actress Oscar® for her portrayal of Catherine Sloper, a painfully shy young woman from a wealthy, unhappy family in Gilded Age New York City. When Catherine’s aunt (Miriam Hopkins) is charged with helping her navigate New York’s high society, Catherine catches the eye of handsome Morris Townsend (Montgomery Clift), and a whirlwind romance leads to a proposal of marriage. But her father (Ralph Richardson) suspects the penniless suitor is a fortune hunter. Eight Oscar® nominations and four wins, including Best Art Direction, Costumes and Original Score for Aaron Copland.
DIR/PROD William Wyler; SCR Ruth Goetz, Augustus Goetz, from their play and the novel “Washington Square” by Henry James. US, 1949, b&w, 115 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE DARK MIRROR (1946)
Sat, Mar 21, 11:10 a.m.; Mon, Mar 23, 7:00
Witnesses place Ruth Collins (Olivia de Havilland) at the scene of a grisly murder. When it's discovered she has a twin, Dr. Elliott (Lew Ayres) is brought in to psychologically evaluate them both. When the doc falls for one of them, the other becomes murderously jealous. Noir master Robert Siodmak deftly directs this Oscar®-nominated original story, guiding de Havilland through two sensational performances, as the sisters both sweet and sinister. Preservation funded by the Film Foundation. (Note courtesy of Film Noir Foundation.)
DIR Robert Siodmak; SCR/PROD Nunnally Johnson. US, 1946, b&w, 85 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
35mm preservation print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Preservation funded by The Film Foundation, Paramount Pictures and the Packard Humanities Institute.
Tue, Mar 24, 9:30; Thu, Mar 26, 9:30
LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN
“By the time you read this letter I may be dead.” Having longed for Viennese concert pianist Louis Jourdan from afar for many years, headstrong young Joan Fontaine enjoys one night of passion with her idol, followed by a lifetime of melancholic remembrances and heartbreaking missed connections. As recounted in her letter, their paths crossed many more times than the callow young maestro ever knew. One of Max Ophüls’ true masterpieces: hypnotically constructed, achingly romantic and impressively tragic.
DIR Max Ophüls; SCR Howard Koch; PROD John Houseman. US, 1948, b&w, 86 min, 35mm. RATED PG
35mm restored print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Restoration funding provided by The Film Foundation.
Sun, Mar 22, 11:10 a.m.; Tue, Mar 24, 5:10;
Wed, Mar 25, 9:30; Thu, Mar 26, 5:10
While he was working on GONE WITH THE WIND, producer David O. Selznick hired Alfred Hitchcock to begin work on an adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier novel "Rebecca." Joan Fontaine stars as the "second Mrs. de Winter," who, after a happy honeymoon with husband Laurence Olivier, has difficulty settling in at his gothic manor, and is not helped by the creepy housekeeper Judith Anderson, whose devotion to the departed Mrs. de Winter borders on madness. Eleven Oscar® nominations and two wins: Best Picture (Selznick's second in a row) and Cinematography.
DIR Alfred Hitchcock; SCR Robert E. Sherwood, Joan Harrison, Philip MacDonald, Michael Hogan, from the novel by Daphne du Maurier; PROD David O. Selznick. US, 1940, b&w, 130 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sun, Mar 22, 8:30; Tue, Mar 24, 7:00
THE LETTER (1940)
"With all my heart, I still love the man I killed." Romantic intrigue leads to murder in exotic Malaysia, in one of William Wyler's best movies, featuring one of Bette Davis' greatest performances. The bravura opening sequence has shots ringing out in the tropical night, Davis with gun in hand, and her former lover dead on the ground. We know she did it, but will nobly suffering husband Herbert Marshall help her beat the rap? Seven Oscar® nominations, including Best Picture, Director and Actress for Davis.
DIR William Wyler; SCR Howard Koch, from the play by W. Somerset Maugham; PROD Jack L. Warner, Hal B. Wallis. US, 1940, b&w, 95 min, digital presentations Mar 27 & 29; 35mm Mar 31. NOT RATED
Fri, Mar 27, 5:15; Sun, Mar 29, 3:00; Tue, Mar 31, 7:15
ALL ABOUT EVE
"Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!" zings Bette Davis, in her most iconic role, first lady of the theater Margo Channing. But it's Margo who gets bumped off, by her duplicitous protégée, the ambitious Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), a young starlet who models herself on Davis only to supplant her in a win-at-all-costs rise to stardom. George Sanders is the sardonic theater critic who's seen it all; Marilyn Monroe shines in a small but head-turning role as his on-the-make date. Fourteen Oscar® nominations (a record not matched until TITANIC, 47 years later) and six wins, including Best Picture, Director and Screenplay for Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
DIR/SCR Joseph L. Mankiewicz; PROD Darryl F. Zanuck. US, 1950, b&w, 138 min, DCP. NOT RATED.
Sat, Mar 28, 7:15; Thu, Apr 2, 7:10
Spiritual discipline vs. the pleasures of the flesh in exotic Pago Pago: missionary man Alfred Davidson (Walter Huston) preaches repentance to high-living prostitute Sadie Thompson (Joan Crawford), and when that doesn’t work, coerces her conversion under the threat of exposure to the law. But the good reverend isn’t immune to temptation himself. Previously adapted for the silent screen with Gloria Swanson as SADIE THOMPSON, this sound version bears the same title as the scandalously successful Broadway play, based on W. Somerset Maugham's short story, "Miss Thompson."
DIR/PROD Lewis Milestone; SCR Maxwell Anderson, from the play by John Colton and Clemence Randolph, from a story by W. Somerset Maugham. US, 1932, b&w, 94 min, 16mm. NOT RATED
Sat, Mar 28, 11:05 a.m.; Mon, Mar 30, 5:15; Thu, Apr 2, 5:15
MILDRED PIERCE (1945)
A hybrid between film noir and the women's picture, MILDRED PIERCE allowed Joan Crawford, no longer an ingénue, to reinvent herself for the 1940s as the independent, career- oriented woman suffering in great luxury. It worked best here, winning her an Academy Award for Best Actress (which the "ill" Crawford accepted in bed). This remarkable story — about a housewife who turns waitress and later becomes a successful restaurant owner, but earns the enmity of her spiteful daughter when the two compete for the love of a playboy — was beautifully adapted for the screen by Ranald MacDougall and Catherine Turney, capturing the intensity of James M. Cain's novel.
DIR Michael Curtiz; SCR Ranald MacDougall, Catherine Turney, based on a novel by James M. Cain; PROD Jerry Wald. US, 1945, b&w, 111 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sun, Mar 29, 11:00 a.m.; Mon, Mar 30, 7:10
THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
Blending the mythological power of the Brothers Grimm fable with Southern Gothic creepiness, this is the story of two children guarding their dead father's stash of stolen money from a seemingly benevolent but secretly malicious preacher, played with unhinged gusto by Robert Mitchum. With expressionistic lighting effects and memorably stylized art design; Mitchum, usually the paragon of cool, here gives a flamboyantly over-the-top performance as the psychotic villain. Shelley Winters is heart-breaking as the children’s weak-minded and ill-fated mother, while the indomitable Lillian Gish is an inspiration as their lion-hearted protectress.
DIR Charles Laughton; SCR James Agee, from the novel by Davis Grubb; PROD Paul Gregory. US, 1955, b&w, 93 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE WIND (1928)
Silent film with live musical accompaniment by Andrew Simpson
Fri, Mar 27, 7:15;
Wed, Apr 1, 6:30 (Montgomery College @ AFI Silver show); Thu, Apr 2, 9:50
Best remembered for his lead performance in Ingmar Bergman's WILD STRAWBERRIES, Swedish director Victor Sjöström was one of silent cinema's greatest filmmakers. THE WIND is the best of several excellent films he made during his sojourn in Hollywood, as "Victor Seastrom." Lillian Gish gives a haunting performance as a Southern belle from Virginia, living with family in the West Texas desert, where the harsh wind never stops blowing, shifting the sands and threatening to erase those brave or foolish enough to live there. Gish must choose between two suitors, courtly Lars Hanson and roughhewn Montagu Love, whose dueling attentions unleash surprising depths of passion from within her.
DIR Victor Sjöström; SCR Frances Marion, from the novel by Dorothy Scarborough. US, 1928, b&w, 75 min, 35mm. Silent with live accompaniment. NOT RATED
About Andrew Simpson
Andrew Earle Simpson, composer, pianist and organist, is ordinary professor and head of the division of Theory and Composition at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music of The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. A composer of opera, silent film, orchestral, chamber, vocal and choral music, he explores how music interacts with other arts, in concert and on stage. Both his concert and theatrical works make multifaceted connections with literature, visual art or film, reflecting his fundamental interest in linking music intimately with the wider world (an approach which Simpson calls “humanistic” music). His creative work follows four principal threads of interest: humanistic music (with a particular interest in Greco-Roman antiquity and modern Greece); silent film music; theatrical music (including opera); and folk music (with emphasis on American folk styles).
Silent film, as a nexus of drama, visual art and music, is an ideal genre for Simpson’s multi-disciplinary explorations. An increasingly active silent film musician, Simpson is Resident Film Accompanist for the National Gallery of Art and regularly featured accompanist for the Library of Congress’ Mt. Pony Theater. He has performed original film scores at the Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone, Italy, Sala Cecelia Meireles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, AFI Silver Theatre, New York Public Library at Lincoln Center, New York, the J. Paul Getty Villa in Los Angeles, and many other venues. He is also co-founder of the Snark Ensemble, a group devoted to creating and performing new scores for silent film, theater and dance. andrewesimpson.com
"The unsung prototype of the screwball comedy and one of the funniest inside-Hollywood movies ever." –Michael Sragow. Hollywood star Jean Harlow is surrounded by a personal entourage of hangers-on and deadbeat relations; her manic publicist, Lee Tracy, keeps making up crazy stories for the press; and if would-be paramour Franchot Tone seems too good to be true, he probably is. This pre-Code gem had some real-life resonance with Harlow's own life story, but even more so with the silent era's great sex symbol Clara Bow (Fleming's former fiancée) — with Harlow's nickname here, "The If Girl," a wink at Bow's famous sobriquet, "The It Girl."
DIR Victor Fleming; SCR John Lee Mahin, Jules Furthman, from the play by Caroline Francke and Mack Crane; PROD Hunt Stromberg. US, 1933, b&w, 96 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
RED DUST (1932)
Sat, Mar 28, 1:10; Tue, Mar 31, 5:15
Hard-working rubber plantation owner Clark Gable initially doesn't take a shine to Saigon hooker Jean Harlow, who's hitched a ride upriver with Gable's shiftless employee Donald Crisp. But just as he starts to warm to her wisecracking charm, surveyor Gene Raymond arrives with his society wife, Mary Astor, in tow. Gable falls hard for Astor, but Harlow's not
giving up so easily. Shot on jungle sets previously used for TARZAN, this racy, pre-Code romp became the smash hit that propelled Clark Gable to stardom. "Harlow [delivers] her zingy wisecracks with a wonderful dirty humor. Directed by Fleming in a racy, action-packed style." –Pauline Kael.
DIR Victor Fleming; SCR John Lee Mahin, from the play by Wilson Collison; PROD Hunt Stromberg, Irving Thalberg. US, 1932, b&w, 83 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sun, Mar 29, 1:00; Tue, Mar 31, 9:15
THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR
Fed up with New York and nearly broke, working girl Ginger Rogers resolves to head home to Iowa. She masquerades as a 12-year-old to get a child's fare on the train, until a whistle-stop mishap maroons her at a Midwestern military school. The cadets are a little too fond of the new "girl," but Rogers keeps up the charade long enough to get to know schoolmaster Ray Milland. Billy Wilder's directorial debut features inspired comedic work from Rogers and Milland.
DIR Billy Wilder; SCR Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder; PROD Arthur Hornblow, Jr. US, 1942, b&w, 100 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Restored print courtesy of UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Sun, Apr 5, 8:45; Mon, Apr 6, 7:20
Fred Astaire is hard at work on some new dance steps in his hotel room. The racket disturbs Ginger Rogers in the room below, and when she charges upstairs to confront him, it's love at first fight. Though it features a record five dance numbers between the two, one of the real stars of this film is the original score, composed by Irving Berlin. Rogers insisted on wearing an elaborately feathered gown for their "Cheek to Cheek" dance, which Astaire hated (it shed profusely), and, in a rare instance, the two fought. A few days later, Rogers received a feather-shaped gold charm (and a new nickname), along with this apology note: "Dear Feathers, I love ya! Fred."
DIR Mark Sandrich; SCR Allan Scott, Dwight Taylor, from the play by Sándor Faragó and Aladar Laszlo. PROD Pandro S. Berman. US, 1935, b&w, 101 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Fri, Apr 3, 5:15; Sat, Apr 4, 1:00; Mon, Apr 6, 5:15;
Tue, Apr 7, 5:15
Garbo laughs! And so will you, in Ernst Lubitsch’s sparkling and mirthful romance, as stern Soviet special envoy Nina Ivanovna Yakushova (Garbo) — call her Ninotchka — travels to Paris to sort out wayward emissaries Iranoff (Sig Rumann), Buljanoff (Felix Bressart) and Kopalski (Alexander Granach), who’ve bungled the sale of some confiscated White Russian jewelry and become corrupted by the decadent West. Suave Count Leon d’Algout (Melvyn Douglas) tries his darnedest to have the same effect on stone-faced Ninotchka, but fails to crack her defenses — until he stumbles upon her funny-bone.
DIR/PROD Ernst Lubitsch; SCR Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Walter Reisch, from a story by Melchior Lengyel. US, 1939, b&w, 110 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
FLESH AND THE DEVIL
Silent film with live musical accompaniment by Michael Britt
Fri, Apr 3, 7:20; Tue, Apr 7, 9:30
The first of seven Greta Garbo films directed by Clarence Brown, as well as the first to pair her with "The Great Lover," John Gilbert. Army cadets John Gilbert and Lars Hanson are sworn blood brothers. Gilbert falls madly in love with the seductive Garbo, and, after killing her husband in a duel, is dispatched to Africa to avoid further scandal. He returns years later to find that Hanson, unaware of his friend's illicit romance with Garbo, has married her himself. William Daniels' masterly cinematography dazzles, most memorably during the climactic confrontation in the snow.
DIR Clarence Brown; SCR Benjamin Glazer, from the play "The Undying Past" by Hermann Sudermann; PROD Irving Thalberg. US, 1926, b&w, 112 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
About Michael Britt
Michael Britt is the house organist at the Wineberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, MD and the Minister of Music for the Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in downtown Baltimore.
A STAR IS BORN (1937)
“Maybe I’ll be that one!” Small-town girl Esther Blodgett dreams of screen stardom, despite the chorus of naysayers in her family. Backed only by grandmother Lettie (May Robson), who applauds her “pioneer spirit,” Esther moves to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams. She can’t catch a break with central casting, but a chance encounter with matinee idol Norman Maine (Fredric March) while waitressing at a fancy industry party leads to a bit part, then a big break and soon romance and marriage with Maine. Rechristened “Vicky Lester,” Esther becomes America’s sweetheart, even as her husband and mentor descends into alcoholic ruin. The original and best version of Hollywood’s classic cautionary tale, twice remade.
DIR William A. Wellman; SCR Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Robert Carson, from a story by Wellman and Carson; PROD David O. Selznick. US, 1937, color, 111 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
7TH HEAVEN (1927)
Silent film with live musical accompaniment by Michael Britt
Sat, Apr 4, 6:00; Tue, Apr 7, 7:15
Janet Gaynor was awarded the first-ever Oscar® for Best Actress in 1929 (in combination with SUNRISE and 1928’s STREET ANGEL) for this box-office smash hit, directed by romance master Frank Borzage. Parisian sewer worker Charles Farrell woos street waif Gaynor, until the storm clouds of the First World War threaten their bliss. A big winner at the inaugural Oscars®, with five nominations and three wins, including Best Director and Best Writing (Adaptation).
DIR Frank Borzage; SCR Benjamin Glazer, from a play by Austin Strong; PROD William Fox. US, 1927, b&w, 110 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
About Michael Britt
Michael Britt is the house organist at the Wineberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, MD and the Minister of Music for the Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in downtown Baltimore.
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (1929)
The first screen pairing of silent-era superstars and real-life couple Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks was this early sound version of Shakespeare’s farcical battle of the sexes, here pared down to barely an hour and with a notably higher quotient of slapstick.
DIR/SCR Sam Taylor, from the play by William Shakespeare; PROD Mary Pickford. US, 1929, b&w, 63 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Silent film with live musical accompaniment by Don Kinnier
Clara Bow, forever after “The IT Girl,” plays a shopgirl, a wise-cracking flapper who sets her sights on her wealthy employer Antonio Moreno. Moreno has lots of class, but Bow has lots of sass — or “it,” helpfully explained by Cosmopolitan writer Elinor Glyn, playing herself, as, "self-confidence and indifference as to whether you are pleasing or not."
DIR Clarence G. Badger, Josef von Sternberg; SCR Hope Loring, Louis D. Lighton, from a story by Elinor Glyn. US, 1927, b&w, 72 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE POWER AND THE GLORY (1933)
Preston Sturges’ first original screenplay, often cited as the first feature to employ flashback narrative technique, and a major, inadequately acknowledged influence on Orson Welles’ CITIZEN KANE. Following the funeral of famed railroad tycoon Spencer Tracy, his best friend Ralph Morgan recounts how Tracy worked his way up from nothing, only to lose his happiness with first wife Colleen Moore in pursuit of ever-larger dreams. Moore is especially good in one of her few sound pictures — her first part in four years, following a decade-plus of silent stardom. She would retire following 1934’s THE SCARLET LETTER.
DIR William K. Howard; SCR Preston Sturges; PROD Jesse L. Lasky. US, 1933, b&w, 76 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
WHY BE GOOD?
Restored DCP! Silent film with Vitaphone jazz soundtrack
Sat, Apr 11, 11:10 a.m.; Sun, Apr 12, 11:10 a.m.
Does it pay to be good or is it better to be bad? Long considered lost, Colleen Moore’s final silent film has recently been restored. Moore plays Pert Kelly, a fun-loving flapper
with a reputation as a party girl who’s in fact quite down-to- earth and respectable. Late for her department store job after a wild night out, Pert gets fired — by the very man she was cavorting with the previous night, Winthrop Peabody, Jr. (Neil Hamilton)! This puts a wrinkle in the date they had made for the following night — but love finds a way. The original Vitaphone soundtrack features tracks by hot jazz greats Jimmy Dorsey, Phil Napoleon, Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang.
DIR William A. Seiter; SCR Paul Perez, Carey Wilson; PROD John McCormick. US, 1929, b&w, 84 min, DCP. NOT RATED
Sun, Apr 12, 3:15; Thu, Apr 16, 7:00
Silent film with live musical accompaniment by Don Kinnier
Gloria Swanson called Allan Dwan her favorite director, and he called her “a clown if there ever was one.” This silent film puts the actress’s comedic gifts on abundant display. Squeezed between burly men on a NYC subway car, the diminutive actress wriggles, tumbles and mugs her way through a Chaplinesque tour-de-force of physical comedy. At work in a department store’s discount basement, shopgirl Swanson does battle with hordes of rabid shoppers, employing ingenuity reminiscent of Harold Lloyd’s in SAFETY LAST! And she’s a real cut-up at parties with her zany impressions — antecedents for her memorable turn as Chaplin in SUNSET BLVD.
DIR/PROD Allan Dwan; SCR Frank Tuttle, from a story by Arthur Stringer and Sidney R. Kent. US, 1924, b&w, 75 min. NOT RATED
"I am big! It's the pictures that got small!" Regarded by many as the best film ever made about Hollywood — and by others as audacious treachery. In flashback, recently deceased screenwriter/kept man Joe Gillis (William Holden) narrates his tormented, mutually exploitative affair with has-been star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). Erich von Stroheim (Desmond's devoted valet in the film, and himself a former star/director familiar with the vicissitudes of Hollywood fame) came up with the memorable idea of having his character write the star’s fan mail. Director Billy Wilder rejected his other suggestion: von Stroheim washing and ironing her panties. Nominated for 11 Oscars®, winning three including Best Screenplay.
DIR/SCR Billy Wilder; SCR/PROD Charles Brackett; SCR D. M. Marshman, Jr. US, 1950, b&w, 110 min, DCP. NOT RATED
Sun, Apr 12, 1:00; Mon, Apr 13, 4:45; Tue, Apr 14, 4:45;
Wed, Apr 15, 6:30 (Montgomery College @ AFI Silver show);
Thu, Apr 16, 4:45, 9:00