The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus.
Thursday, January 26 (7:30 p.m.)
Ball of Fire (RKO, 1941)
When independent producer Samuel Goldwyn wanted to put together a top-notch film for his number one contract star Gary Cooper, he worked out a deal with Paramount to borrow their hottest screenwriting team–Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett. Wilder based the plot on his original story about a Burlesque dancer who moves in with eight fusty professors (headed by Cooper) to explain “slang” for their new encyclopedia. Cooper suggested Howard Hawks to direct and Barbara Stanwyck (his co-star in “Meet John Doe”) as the leading lady. The result was screwball comedy gold and one of Goldwyn’s biggest hits. This delightful take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs perfectly captures one of Hawks favorite themes–the way conflicting characters can change each other for the better. Ball of Fire was added to the National Film Registry on December 14, 2016. The 1928 Vitaphone comedy short The Beau Brummels will precede the feature.
Friday, January 27 (7:30 p.m.)
Cabaret (Allied Artists, 1972)
Bob Fosse, who earned a Best Director Oscar, translated a highly successful Broadway musical into a film that maintains the vivacity of the stage version while creating an intimacy seldom found in such stage-to-cinema adaptations. Liza Minnelli won an Oscar as Best Actress for her portrayal of the unabashedly amoral, disarmingly mercurial cabaret performer Sally Boles living it up in 1930s Berlin. Her co-star Joel Grey, who played the worldly wise master of ceremonies, took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The film was also recognized for its score, cinematography and art direction. Cabaret was added to the National Film Registry in 1995.
Saturday, January 28 (2 p.m.)
Pinocchio (Disney, 1940)
Based on stories by 19th century Italian author Carlo Collodi, this animated Disney classic tells the tale of gentle woodcarver Geppetto (Christian Rub), who builds a marionette to be his substitute son. The puppet, Pinocchio (Dick Jones), must earn the right to be made human by proving that he is brave, truthful, and unselfish. On his journey to becoming a real boy, Pinocchio encounters Jiminy (Cliff Edwards), a cricket assigned to be Pinocchio’s conscience, eventually mastering his lying and truancy, and selflessly risking his life to save Geppetto, proving himself worthy of becoming human. One of the film’s most lasting contributions is Edwards’ singing of Leigh Harline and Ned Washington’s “When You Wish Upon a Star,” a tune that would become the Disney anthem and was added to the National Recording Registry in 2009. Pinocchio was selected for the National Film Registry in 1994. Also on the program are The Three Stooges in Punch Drunks (Columbia, 1937).
Saturday, January 28 (7:30 p.m.)
The Terminator (Orion, 1984 – *R-rated)
In 1984, few expected much from the upcoming film The Terminator. Director James Cameron, a protégé of legendary independent filmmaker Roger Corman, had made only two films previously: the modest sci-fi short Xenogenesis in 1978 and Piranha Part Two: The Spawning in 1981. However, The Terminator became one of the sleeper hits of 1984, blending an ingenious, thoughtful script—clearly influenced by the works of sci-fi legend Harlan Ellison—and relentless, non-stop action moved along by an outstanding synthesizer and early techno soundtrack. Most notable was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s star-making performance as the mass-killing cyborg with a laconic sense of humor (“I’ll be back”). Low-budget, but made with heart, verve, imagination, and superb Stan Winston special effects, Terminator remains among the finest science-fiction films in many decades. The film was selected for the National Film Registry in 2008. * No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian
Sunday, January 29 (2 p.m.)
The Prisoner of Zenda (United Artists, 1937)
A romantic adventure from David O. Selznick, The Prisoner of Zenda harkens back to a time of chivalry and swordplay. Anthony Hope’s 1894 novel served as the basis for this and as many as five other filmed interpretations. When an Englishman (Ronald Colman) tours a small kingdom, he is discovered to bear a striking resemblance to that country’s royal family, placing Colman in a dual role amid a tangled tale of mistaken identity. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. brilliantly portrays the scoundrel bent on exposing the charade. Madeleine Carroll is the king’s regal fiancé, and Raymond Massey plays the king’s evil brother. Selznick banked on the film’s escapist charm and capitalized on the world’s fascination with the 1936 abdication of Edward VIII of England, who gave up his throne to marry a commoner. His instinct proved right and the production was a box-office success. The film was selected to the National Film Registry in 1991.
For more information on our programs, please visit the website at: www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/.