The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus.
Thursday, November 30 (7:30 p.m.)
Casablanca (Warner Bros., 1942)
One of the most beloved of American films, this captivating romantic adventure directed by Michael Curtiz is the story of world-weary ex-freedom fighter Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) who runs a nightclub in Casablanca during the early part of WWII. Despite pressure from the local authorities, led by the wily Capt. Renault (Claude Rains), Rick’s cafe has become a haven for refugees. One of those refugees is Rick’s true love (Ingrid Bergman), who deserted him when the Nazis invaded Paris, and her Resistance leader husband (Paul Henreid). How the triangle would resolve itself wasn’t known even to cast members until the last days of filming. The film’s dialog and the timeliness of world events swirling around Casablanca, Morocco, made the eventual Best Picture winner a favorite with wartime audiences. Casablanca was among the first movies added to the National Film Registry in its inaugural year, 1989. This month marks the 75th anniversary of the film’s premiere.
Friday, December 1 (7:30 p.m.)
Double Feature: Great Directors – King Vidor and William Wellman
Street Scene (United Artists, 1931)
When Hollywood’s major independent producer Samuel Goldwyn set out to make a motion picture of Elmer Rice’s Pulitzer Prizewinning play Street Scene, he chose noted director King Vidor to helm the production. Vidor was known for his skill at handling social issues in such films as The Big Parade (1925), The Crowd (1928) and Hallelujah (1929). He had been one of the first directors to move the camera after the arrival of talking pictures, which was excellent preparation for adapting the one-set play. Depicting the events of two days in a New York tenement, this Pre-code drama stars Sylvia Sidney in a role that established her as a notable leading lady. Goldwyn hired eight actors from the original stage cast including Beulah Bondi and John Qualen, who would go on to notable careers as character actors. The film had great box office success and brought Goldwyn some of the best reviews of his career.
Stingaree (RKO Radio, 1934)
Oscar winning screenwriter-director William A. Wellman, considered one of the premier directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age, had a career spanning four decades and multiple genres. This atypical mix of musical comedy and Australian outback adventure stars Richard Dix as the title character, a dashing Robin Hood-type bandit who also happens to be a songwriter. Stingaree falls in love with Hilda Bouverie (Irene Dunne), a servant to the wealthy Clarkson family, who has a beautiful voice and helps her to become a great opera star. Based on the novel by E.W. Hornung, author of Raffles, the film also features Mary Boland in a comic turn as Mrs. Clarkson and an outstanding roster of A-list character actors including Andy Devine, Henry Stephenson, and Una O’Connor. Stingaree is one of six RKO films of the 1930s previously thought “lost” but rediscovered and restored by Turner Classic Movies. The films were sold out of the RKO library to producer Merian C. Cooper in 1946. Extensive legal negotiations and a search of the world’s film archives allowed TCM to claim the films and create new 35mm prints in association with the Library of Congress and the BYU Motion Picture Archive.
Saturday, December 2 (7:30 p.m.)
The Dance of Life (Paramount, 1929)
In this first film adaptation of the 1927 hit Broadway play Burlesque (which starred Hal Skelly and Barbara Stanwyck), Skelly repeats his role of a struggling burlesque entertainer who marries a dancer (played by Nancy Carroll) and makes it big on Broadway, only to find he can’t handle success. Directed by A. Edward Sutherland and John Cromwell, this vivid early talkie expertly captures the backstage environment and features a number of songs by the team of Richard A. Whiting, Sam Coslow and Leo Robin. Burlesque was remade as in 1937 as Swing High, Swing Low (showing at the Packard Campus Theater on December 16) and When My Baby Smiles at Me in 1948.
For more information on our programs, please visit the website at: www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/.