The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus.
Friday, October 14 (7:30 p.m.)
The Mad Miss Manton (RKO, 1938)
Three years before Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda starred together in Preston Sturges’ screwball masterpiece The Lady Eve, they made this delightful and underappreciated entry in the comedy-mystery subgenre, called by some a dress rehearsal for that later classic. Stanwyck plays the vivacious Park Avenue socialite Melsa Manton who discovers a murdered body while walking her poodles. By the time the police arrive, the body has disappeared. When newspaper editor Peter Ames (Henry Fonda) reports it as yet another in a series of pranks that Manton and her debutante girlfriends pull to gain publicity, she threatens the paper with a libel suit and drags him into the investigation for the murderer. A cartoon and a comedy short will be shown before the feature: Porky in Egypt (1938) and the Vitaphone Technicolor musical comedy Swingtime in the Movies (1938).
Saturday, October 15 (7:30 p.m.)
The Missing Link (Warner Bros., 1927)
Sydney Chaplin, Charlie’s older half-brother, may be best known as Charlie’s business manager, but he was also a well-known stage and screen comedian in his own rite. In this zany comedy directed by Charles Reisner, he plays Arthur Wells, a penniless poet who has consented to impersonate a big-game hunter on an African exploration headed by Lord Dryden and Colonel Braden who are keen to discover “the missing link,” in spite of the fact that Wells has an aversion to animals. Along the way, he falls in love with the Colonel’s daughter, Beatrice, and befriends a pet chimpanzee. New York Times critic Mordaunt Hall enjoyed the film, writing “Mr. Chaplin, who was last seen in The Better ‘Ole, by his wheezes and antics in The Missing Link succeeded in arousing many a hilarious round of laughter. There are sequences in this comic contraption that are almost certain to appeal to anybody,” and added “Akka, a chimpanzee, gives a sterling account of himself, manifesting an uncanny talent for acting before the camera.” This was the fourth Vitaphone feature length film released with music and sound effects for theaters that were wired to play Vitaphone discs. We will be screening the silent version with live musical accompaniment by Ben Model. The 1915 Syd Chaplin comedy short No One to Guide Him will be shown before the feature.
For more information on our programs, please visit the website at: www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/.