The following is a guest post by Film Preservation Specialist Carol Galbraith, who programmed the Packard Campus Theater September schedule.
It’s not as easy as you’d think to program a theater schedule, even for just one month. I wanted to please a lot of people. Everyone had an idea of what to show, and all the advice could get rather overwhelming. So when a friend and co-worker said, “program what you want and what has meaning for you,” I realized that some of that pressure had lifted and things became a little bit easier. However, difficulties still remained. Several of the films I wanted to include could not be shown due to color fade, scratches, physical damage, or because our print was on loan to another venue. I learned that to program movies for the theater I needed to be flexible. However, once I got the program set I felt relieved and excited.
I am, for the most part, a science fiction, action/adventure, historical, thriller, comedy movie lover at heart. I am also a sentimental person who wants the good guys to win, the girl to get the guy, and everything tied up in a nice little bow at the end. One friend says I have the same taste in movies as a 13 year old boy. If I’m being totally honest, he’s partly right (though I don’t think a 13 year old boy is going to like any Jane Austen movies), and I’ve come to terms with it.
So, the September calendar reflects my personal tastes. The pseudo-cold war spy comedy Jumping Jack Flash made me fall in love with the British accent and is probably why I swoon and want a cup of tea when I hear it. The Hunt for Red October is a straightforward cold war thriller with a very young Alec Baldwin and an older (but always handsome) Sean Connery. Gattaca and Unbreakable are under-appreciated sci-fi movies. Gattaca imagines a future that could become a reality in our not-too-distant future, and it does so in a very stylish way without a lot of explosions or rip-roaring action. I find Unbreakable fascinating because it features a hero with super powers, but he’s really not a “superhero” in the comic book sense of the word; he’s an ordinary, realistic, and relatable person with some extraordinary abilities…plus the film includes a fantastic Samuel L. Jackson (with the best hair ever) as his nemesis. An Ideal Husband illustrates my love of British period pieces; I especially like the film for its wit and Rupert Everett, who is, indeed, “ideal.” Everyone knows the Star Wars trilogy, and by this I mean Episodes IV, V, and VI. I was nine when Star Wars was released and the only movie I can remember seeing prior to it was The Sound of Music with my mom. Star Wars made me want to go see more films, and when I think of my childhood moviegoing, the trilogy stands out.
Programming the theater was not as easy as I thought it would be, but I really enjoyed the process. We all have our favorite films we rattle off when asked, but to actually have to look deeper than my absolute favorites was refreshing. I started researching one title which led me to another and then another, snowballing until I was thinking about movies I hadn’t considered in years. And in a very real sense, it has renewed my appreciation for my job. I have one of the best jobs in the world, working to preserve films at the Packard Campus. For 22 years I have been privileged to work with a lot of talented, dedicated and extraordinary people, seeing new–and sometimes very odd–things on a daily basis, and have been lucky to do it all while preserving movies.
I hope you enjoy the September calendar as much as I enjoyed programming it.
Thursday, Sept. 11 (7:30 p.m.)
Jumpin ‘Jack Flash (20th Century-Fox, 1986, R-rated *)
Terry (Whoopi Goldberg), a bank employee who transfers funds for a large financial institution in Manhattan, gets a cryptic computer message from an unknown source. After decoding the missive, she finds herself in the middle of an international espionage ring. Penny Marshall directed this lively comedy that also stars Jim Belushi, Carol Kane, Annie Potts and Jonathan Pryce. The film was one of the first to feature online communications as a key part of the plot.
* No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.
Friday, Sept. 12 (7:30 p.m.)
The Hunt for Red October (Paramount, 1990)
Set during the Cold War era, a Soviet submarine captain (Sean Connery) is suspected by an American CIA analyst (Alec Baldwin) of wanting to defect to the U.S. during the maiden voyage of a super-secret nuclear sub. John McTiernan directed this complex thriller based on Tom Clancy’s novel of the same name.
Saturday, Sept. 13 (7:30 p.m.)
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (20th Century-Fox, 1977)
This first film in the epic American space opera created by George Lucas continues to be one of the most popular movies of all time. Film critic Leonard Maltin called it an “elaborate imaginative update of Flash Gordon” and “a hip homage to B-movie ethics and heroism in the space age.” Young Luke Skywalker is aided by a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee and two droids to save the universe from the Empire’s world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader. Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Alec Guiness, the film received 10 Academy Award nominations including best picture, winning six. The original-release version of Star Wars was named to the National Film Registry in its inaugural year in 1989. The 1997 special edition will be screened.
For more information on our programs, please visit the web site at www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/.