The following is a post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus.
Thursday, July 27 (7:30 p.m.)
Rio Bravo (Warner Bros., 1959)
As legend goes, this Western, directed by Howard Hawks, was produced in part as a riposte to Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon. The film trades in the wide-open spaces of High Noon for the confines of a small jail where a sheriff and his deputies are waiting for the anticipated attempt by his equally unlawful brother’s hired gunmen to help the prisoner escape. John Wayne stars as Sheriff John T. Chance and is aided in his efforts to keep the law by Walter Brennan, Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson. Angie Dickinson is the love interest and Western regulars Claude Akins, Ward Bond and Pedro Gonzalez are also featured. A smart Western where gunplay is matched by wordplay, Rio Bravo is a terrific ensemble piece and director Hawks’ last great film. It was named to the National Film Registry in 2014.
Friday, July 28 (7:30 p.m.)
The Searchers (Warner Bros., 1956)
Considered by many to be John Ford’s best film, this film is equal parts majestic spectacle and soul-searching moral examination that anticipated the complex themes and characters that would dominate films of the 1970s. John Wayne, a Confederate soldier, returns after the war to find his niece has been kidnapped by Comanches and sets out to find her – not to rescue her, but to destroy what he sees as a creature no longer human. Is the film intended to endorse the racist attitudes of the main character (John Wayne), or to dramatize and regret them? Today we see it through enlightened eyes, but in 1956 many audiences accepted its harsh view of Indians. New York magazine called it the most influential movie in American history. The film was added to the National Film Registry in its inaugural year of 1989.
Saturday, July 29 (2 p.m.) Silent Western Double Feature
The Last of the Line (Mutual Film, 1914)
Sioux leader Chief Gray Otter (Joe Goodboy) sends his son, Tiah (Sessue Hayakawa), off to a “white man’s school” so that he can become a great leader. But the son returns home as a worthless drunk and soon joins a group of renegades, forcing the father to make a decision. This Thomas Ince produced short drama features Sioux actors in most of the parts.
Tumbleweeds (United Artists, 1925)
Famed silent Western actor William S. Hart stars as cowboy Don Carver, who decides to get in on the Cherokee Strip Land Run in Oklahoma of 1893 and stake a claim as a homesteader. Directed by King Baggot, and produced by Hart in what was his final starring role, Tumbleweeds has been lauded as a seminal film of the silent era, unique in its depiction of Native Americans, not as villains but as Hart’s friends and for including African Americans among the land boomers. Noted film historian William K. Everson praised the land rush scene as “a superbly constructed piece of mass action, with overall excitement brilliantly welded to the individual vignette of sheer poetry –as in the wonderful shot of Hart seeming to fly through the sky as he races his pony over the crest of a hill.” Live musical accompaniment for the program will be performed by Ben Model.
Saturday, July 29 (7:30 p.m.)
Once Upon a Time in the West (Paramount, 1968)
Disdained as “Spaghetti Westerns” when they first appeared in American movie theaters, the best of these films, such as Once Upon a Time in the West, are now recognized as among the greatest achievements of the Western movie genre. Director Sergio Leone’s operatic visual homage to the American Western legend is a chilling tale of vengeance set against the backdrop of the coming of the railroad. Ennio Morricone’s magnificent score is likewise recognized for its brilliance. The film stars Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale and Woody Strode. It was chosen for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2009.
For more information on our programs, please visit the website at: www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/.