The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus Theater.
Thursday, September 22 (7:30 p.m.)
“Rafter Romance” (RKO, 1933)
William Seiter directed this romantic comedy that stars Ginger Rogers as Mary, an underpaid New York working girl who is having trouble paying the rent on her Greenwich Village apartment. Her landlord comes up with a solution–that she share a loft in shifts with Jack (Norman Foster), a struggling artist who works as a night watchman. Though they never see each other, Mary develops a pronounced dislike for Jack–until she meets him. Matters get more complicated with the presence of Robert Benchley as H. Harrington Hubbell, Mary’s boss, a lecherous if bumbling executive. Benchley was known for writing and starring in a number of short subject comedies both at MGM and Paramount. Two of them, “The Witness” (1942) and “The Courtship of the Newt” (1938), will be shown before the feature.
Friday, September 23 (7:30 p.m.)
“Steamboat Bill, Jr.” (United Artists, 1928)
Buster Keaton plays the mild-mannered son of a steamboat captain caught in the middle of the bitter rivalry between his father and another Mississippi riverboat owner. This classic comedy contains one of most famous, eye-popping (and dangerously real) sight gags ever seen on the silent screen. Though uncredited, Keaton co-wrote and co-directed the film which was the last he made for his own independent company. Ernest Torrence, Tom McGuire and Marion Byron are featured in the cast. Three of Buster Keaton’s short comedies will be shown before the feature–“One Week” (1920), which was added to the National Film Registry in 2008; “The Boat” (1921), and “The Blacksmith” (1922). Enjoy live musical accompaniment by Ben Model.
Saturday, September 24 (2 p.m.)
“Kiki” (First National Pictures, 1926)
One of the most famous actresses of the silent era, the elegant and glamorous Norma Talmadge was known primarily for dramatic roles. Sadly, few of her films are available for viewing today, but this Library of Congress restoration of a sparkling French showbiz farce displays Talmadge’s talent for comedy. As the title character Kiki, a high-spirited Parisian gamine, she is determined to become a chorus girl and win the heart of the Follies manager Victor Renal (Ronald Colman)–even if it means performing some rather unladylike stunts. Two one-reel Vitagraph dramas also starring Norma Talmadge will precede the feature: “His Official Appointment” (1912) and “Under the Daisies; or, As a Tale That Is Told” (1913). Ben Model will provide live musical accompaniment for the program.
Saturday, September 24 (7:30 p.m.)
“Being There” (United Artists, 1979)
Peter Sellers stars as Chance, a simple-minded gardener whose only contact with the outside world is through television. When his millionaire employer dies, Chance is set adrift on the streets of Washington, D.C. where he soon becomes identified as “Chauncey Gardner,” whose simple adages are interpreted as profound insights. Hal Ashby (“Harold and Maude”) directed this provocative satire with an understatement to match the subtlety and precision of Sellers’ Academy Award-nominated performance. Shirley MacLaine and Melvyn Douglas (an Oscar winner for Best Actor in a Supporting Role), also star in the film. “Being There” was added to the National Film Registry in 2015. “The Case of the Mukkinese Battle-Horn” (1956), an outrageous 30 minute British comedy short starring Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, both veterans of “The Goon Show,” will precede the feature.
For more information on our programs, please visit the website at: www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/.