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Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (June 4-6, 2015)

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The following was co-written with Larry Smith, a Processing Technician at the Packard Campus.

Larry Smith with a Cinerama reel

Larry Smith, a Processing Technician who has worked with nitrate film at the Library of Congress for the past 15 years, is the guest programmer for June. Prior to working at the Library, Larry was a theater manager-owner and projectionist at the New Neon Movies in Dayton, Ohio, where he started a classic film series in addition to screening independent and foreign films. In 1996, Larry persuaded and worked alongside master projectionist John Harvey to install Harvey’s Cinerama projectors and a giant deeply curved screen at the Neon to share the 3-projector prints he had collected with the public, making it the first U.S. theater to show true three-panel Cinerama films in over 35 years. Larry also screened two-projector 3D movies on a special flip-down silver screen and 70mm films including Baraka, which he programmed for this month, thanks to a special loan from the film’s producer Mark Magidson.

Like most people I grew up enjoying American films. In fact, my family back in Ohio used trips to the drive-in and walk-in movies as a reward for good grades in school. I connected success, enjoyment and the fascinating art of cinema with the wonder of life…in convenient two-hour blocks of time. It was my grandparents that helped introduced me to old classic black-and-white films, and over five decades I’ve seen around 10,000. My wife Jenny Paxson and I met at a cinema, and even got engaged at a film festival!

Working here I am fortunate to be part of a dedicated team made up of lots of diverse tastes, backgrounds and education. As regular theater programmer and Moving Image Curator Rob Stone is generous about taking employee suggestions, the screenings at the Packard Campus Theater reflect a variety of interests. But for me, it’s the classics, films that stand the test of time again and again, that I want to see and recommend. I believe these titles are so enjoyable that audiences will see to it they are preserved–by talking about them, sharing them and insisting they survive for future generations.

It is an honor for me to program the month of June. I feel like a kid in a candy store. Many of my favorites have already played here, but I wanted to select from some of the best that have not yet screened here. As other guest programmers have experienced, not every film I hoped to show is part of the Library’s collection and not all the titles I had hoped to present have been preserved, at least not yet. But happily, prints for some of the screenings are being loaned to us from UCLA, Universal, Sony and even the producer of Baraka. I hope everyone will join me in celebrating these films the way they were meant to be shared–on a big screen with a big audience of like-minded film buffs.

Janet Leigh with Larry

I picked Psycho to kick off the month as a tribute to star Janet Leigh who was a personal friend and a big supporter of the National Film Registry. Tootsie is just so much fun–an original story with a delightful message about compassion and better understanding between the sexes. Random Harvest is classic Hollywood romance with two great stars, and we’re showing a brand new print!

Animal Crackers is my top Marx Brothers film and has the most quoted lines. It was the last film based one of their hit Broadway plays and to me it’s a prefect pre-Code laugh-filled romp. Double Indemnity is the classic film noir to which all others are compared. Mad About Music: I discovered Deanna Durbin later in life, but her on-screen magic, and peerless lyric soprano voice makes feel-good movie buffs blush with joy.

Baraka is a landmark documentary that is so visually lush, it took 5 years to make. Shot in 70MM in over 40 countries and set to world music, it’s a feast for your eyes and ears that will blow you away. My favorite director is Frank Capra and his Meet John Doe closes his “Mister” trilogy (along with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town) and is one of his seven masterpieces. Shall We Dance? Of course! My wife and I watch all the Astaire-Rogers films annually. This is the best of what we have not yet played at the theater, and the music is by my favorite composer George Gershwin.

Stairway to Heaven, the final film on the program film, has haunted me from childhood. Made by the team who produced The Red Shoes, and starring David Niven and Kim Hunter, it is a stunning British fantasy where love defeats death. I hope to add personal stories and fun insights during the introductions and my wife Jenny will, as always, provide fascinating slide shows that run on screen before the films begin, so grab the kids and grandma because they are all family-friendly this month… except maybe Psycho!

Thursday, June 4 (7:30 p.m.)
Psycho (Paramount, 1960)
Considered one of Hitchcock’s best films, this thriller shocked audiences on its original release when theater marques warned “No One … BUT NO ONE … Will Be Admitted To the Theatre After The Start Of Each Performance of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.” More than 50 years later, it still manages to terrify viewers. Based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch, the story begins as secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), impulsively embezzles money from her employer and flees, hoping to start a new life. Fate intervenes when she ends up at the secluded Bates Motel and encounters its disturbed proprietor Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). The cast also features Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam and John McIntire. Added to the National Film Registry in 1992, the film earned four Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Leigh and Best Director for Hitchcock. The Bernard Herrmann score, rich with discordant strings, is spine-tinglingly unforgettable.

Tootsie (Columbia, 1982)

Friday, June 5 (7:30 p.m.)
Tootsie (Columbia, 1982)
Dustin Hoffman stars as New York actor Michael Dorsey who finds himself virtually unemployable due to his reputation for being difficult. Dorsey transforms himself into a woman to prove he can get hired on a soap opera and soon his alter ego, Dorothy, becomes daytime television’s darling. Universally acclaimed and a box-office hit, the film was nominated for ten Academy Awards including best picture, best director and best actor for Dustin Hoffman. Jessica Lange was the only winner–for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. BBC critic William Gallagher wrote: “It’s jaunty, witty, and somehow satisfying despite being simple. Perhaps its strength comes from how it isn’t just a star vehicle for Hoffman, but more of a true ensemble comedy with Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, and particularly Dabney Coleman doing very well. Even director Sydney Pollack, in a brief appearance as Dorsey’s agent, is funny and makes the role more than just a cameo.” Tootsie was named to the National Film Registry in 1998.


Random Harvest (MGM, 1942)

Saturday, June 6 (7:30 p.m.)
Random Harvest (MGM, 1942)
Due to the great success of MGM’s 1939 film Goodbye, Mr. Chips based on the novel by James Hilton, the studio bought the rights the author’s “Random Harvest” as soon as the book appeared. Ronald Colman was tapped to star as a shell-shocked, amnesiac World War I soldier. He is saved from life in a mental institution by a vibrant music-hall entertainer played by Greer Garson. In his autobiography, director “Mervyn LeRoy: Take One,” said of the stars, “Between the two of them, the English language was never spoken more beautifully on film.” A major box-office hit, audiences during the desperate first days of World War II were drawn to its story of the effects of war on the home front and its affirmation of the importance of love and family life. The film was also a critical success and was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Colman, and Best Screenplay.

For more information on our programs, please visit the web site at

Comments (2)

  1. How may I find out if your library has a few films I am looking for? If you do have them how may I purchase them? I would LOVE to get a print of the newly redone picture of Random Harvest yoj ar3 showing in June? Thanks.
    Marilyn Ward

    • Thanks for your inquiry. You can find information about our holdings in many ways. You can search the Library of Congress online catalog at, use Ask-a-Librarian at or contact the Moving Image Research Center at 202-707-8572. Most of our items in our collections are unavailable for duplication due to copyright restrictions. There is a lot of information about obtaining copies at

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