To coincide with “Baseball Americana,” a major new exhibit at the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building opening on June 29, the Great American Pastime will be celebrated at the Library of Congress Packard Campus Theater with screenings of ten baseball movies. The series will include film biographies of Grover Cleveland Alexander (“The Winning Team”), James A. Piersall (“Fear Strikes Out”) and the great Jackie Robinson (“The Jackie Robinson Story” on a double header with a program of clips of Jackie Robinson on television, and the 2013 feature “42”). The story of The Chicago White Sox and the 1919 World Series is the subject of “Eight Men Out” while some of the players involved in that scandal will be seen again in the “Field of Dreams,” recently added to the National Film Registry. Other favorites include Penny Marshall’s “A League of Their Own,” added to the National Film Registry in 1992, “The Natural” and the 1994 Disney version of “Angels in the Outfield.”
Rarely seen silent films will be featured at evening screenings open to the public as part of the Mostly Lost 7 Film Identification workshop, June 14-16. The roster includes a special presentation, Cunègonde, The Comedienne With Two Faces But No Name, by Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi of EYE Filmmuseum, the 1927 Bebe Daniels comedy Señorita, and the comedy-adventure Midnight Lovers (1926) featuring Lewis Stone (best known as wise Judge Hardy in the Andy Hardy series of the 1938-1947) as the romantic lead. All of these programs will feature live musical accompaniment by the likes of Philip Carli, Ben Model and Andrew Simpson. Due to the number of people attending the workshop, seating may be limited.
Friday, June 1 (7:30 p.m.)
Jackie Robinson Double Header
Jackie Robinson on Television
Selected from the video collections of the Library of Congress, this program will include appearances of Jackie Robinson on the Ed Sullivan’s “Toast of the Town” show from 1949, the WNET Black Journal public affairs program from 1970, and The Dick Cavett Show from 1972 which originally aired nine months before his passing. Approximately 30 min., digital.
Baseball Double Feature
The Jackie Robinson Story (Eagle-Lion Films, 1950)
Baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson plays himself in this inspiring biopic that was shot in the off-season following his third season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson’s signing by the Dodgers in 1947 signaled the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s. The film is a fascinating social history; unflinching in its depiction of the racial issues involved. Directed by Alfred E. Green, it also stars Ruby Dee in one of her first screen roles as Jackie’s wife Rachel and veteran character actress Louise Beavers as his doting mother. Hollywood Reporter praised the film stating, “There is no attempt to minimize the racial angle; yet this is not the essence of The Jackie Robinson Story. It happens to be an account of a great athlete and what must be a greater gentleman. The film is choppy, episodic, and sometimes its low budget shows at the seams. But director Alfred E. Green and his star maintain a serene dignity throughout it all.” This is a new 35mm print produced by the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab in 2016. 76 min.
Saturday, June 2 (7:30 p.m.)
Eight Men Out (Orion, 1988)
A dramatization of one of the most infamous scandals in baseball’s history when the talented but underpaid Chicago White Sox accepted bribes to deliberately lose the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Eight Men Out was the realization of a project director John Sayles had been contemplating since the mid-1970’s, when he first wrote a script based on Eliot Asinof’s book (originally published in 1963). The film is as much about baseball as it is about the American society of the late 1910’s, with athletes portrayed as exploited workers falling prey to economic, criminal and legal forces they cannot control. The film stars John Cusack, Clifton James, Michael Lerner, Christopher Lloyd, John Mahoney, Charlie Sheen, David Strathairn and D.B. Sweeney. Rated PG, 119 min. 35 mm archival print.
Thursday, June 7 (7:30 p.m.)
The Winning Team (Warner Bros., 1952)
Ronald Reagan stars as major league pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander (1887–1950) in this fictionalized biographical film directed by Lewis Seiler. Alexander struggled with illness and alcoholism, and was best known for leading the St. Louis Cardinals to victory in the 1926 World Series over a powerhouse New York Yankees team that included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The film focuses on Alexander’s relationship with his supportive wife (Doris Day) whose “teamwork” helps Alexander through problems with alcohol and a lack of confidence. Known at the time primarily for musicals, Day only had one song in The Winning Team, but turned in a strong dramatic performance. Reagan trained with major league pitchers for the role who taught him “the difference between throwing from the mound and just throwing.” 98 min. 35 mm archival print.
Friday, June 8 (7:30 p.m.)
A League of Their Own (Columbia, 1992)
Director Penny Marshall used the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1943-1954) as a backdrop for this heartfelt comedy-drama. A League of Their Own, featuring an ensemble cast that includes Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Lori Petty, Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell, not only illuminates this fascinating, under-reported aspect of American sports history, but also effectively examines women’s changing roles during wartime. Rich with period detail and equally complex performances – especially Davis as a team ringer and Hanks as the down-on-his-luck coach – Marshall and her company delivered an enjoyably nostalgic film about women’s choices and solidarity during World War II that was both funny and feminist. A League of Their Own was added to the National Film Registry in 1992. Rated PG, 128 min. 35 mm archival print.
Saturday, June 9 (7:30 p.m.)
Field of Dreams (Universal, 1989)
Iowa farmer Kevin Costner one day hears a voice telling him to turn a small corner of his land into a baseball diamond: “If you build it, he will come.” “He” appears to be legendary baseball great Shoeless Joe Jackson and his 1919 Chicago White Sox team. Although ostensibly about the great American pastime, baseball here serves as a metaphor for more profound issues. Leonard Maltin lauded Field of Dreams as “a story of redemption and faith, in the tradition of the best Hollywood fantasies with moments of pure magic.” Also featuring James Earl Jones, Amy Madigan, Ray Liotta and Burt Lancaster in his final screen appearance, the family drama received three Academy Award nominations: Best Film, Adapted Screenplay (Phil Alden Robinson who also directed), and Original Score (James Horner). It was added to the National Film Registry in 2017. Rated PG, 107 min. 35 mm archival print.
Thursday, June 14 (7:30 p.m.)
Silent Rarities Double Feature
Cunègonde, the Comedienne With Two Faces But No Name
Around 1912-1913, the French company Société Lux produced comedies featuring Cunégonde as the main character. The surviving films feature the same actress playing either an unruly maid or a ferocious wife. However, the true identity of the actress playing Cunégonde still remains a mystery. This presentation by Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi of EYE Filmmuseum will include Cunégonde films as well as what little material is known about the actress. Perhaps screening her films in this presentation will result in discovering more information about the unknown woman. Digital.
Lost and Won (Famous Players-Lasky, 1917)
A wealthy man (Elliot Dexter) makes a bet with his friends that within a year they will fall in love with a girl of his choosing from the slums. The girl (Marie Doro) is conveniently named Cinders for this Cinderella story with a newspaper twist. Directed by Frank Reicher, the cast of this melodrama also includes Mayme Kelso, Carl Stockdale, Mabel Van Buren, Bob Gray and Cleo Duveve. Musical accompaniment for both programs will be provided by Ben Model. 50 min. The 35mm print being screened comes from the AFI/Paramount collection at the Library of Congress and was struck in 2000.
Friday, June 15
Señorita (Paramount, 1927)
In this parody of “The Mark Zorro,” Señorita Francesca Hernández (Bebe Daniels) is as skillful at riding, shooting, and fencing as any man. She masquerades as a boy in order to protect her grandfather’s ranch. With William Powell as the villain, the cast of this rollicking adventure directed by Clarence G. Badger also features James Hall, Jerry Mandy, and Josef Swickard. The 35mm print is being loaned courtesy Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique and will be introduced by Bruno Mestdagh. Live musical accompaniment by Andrew Simpson. 70 min. The 35mm print being screened comes from the AFI/Paramount collection at the Library of Congress and was struck in 2000.
Saturday, June 16 (7:30 p.m.)
Midnight Lovers (First National, 1926)
While on furlough, a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps (Lewis Stone) marries a spirited woman (Anna Q. Nilsson) and the two have very different ideas on what a long distance relationship looks like. John Francis Dillon directed this romantic comedy that also stars John Roche, Chester Conklin, Dale Fuller, Purnell Pratt and Harvey Clark. This 35mm print comes from the United Artists collection at the Library of Congress and was struck in 1980. Live musical accompaniment by Philip Carli. 70 min. Preceding the feature will be the short film “The Great BK Mystery” (2017), digital. Join Cinematic Archeologist Johnny Sprocketts on a search for the truth about an obscure film in this soon to be classic film noir.
Thursday, June 21 (7:30 p.m.)
Fear Strikes Out (Paramount, 1957)
Anthony Perkins stars in this biographical drama based on the autobiography by James A. Piersall, the former outfielder and shortstop for the Boston Red Sox, and Albert S. Hirshberg. The film is less about Piersall’s brilliant though erratic career and more about his struggle against bipolar disorder. Fear Strikes Out was one of the first films to depict mental illness as something that could strike anyone and was unflinching in its portrayal of a father (Karl Malden) whose ambition was so great that he drove his own son to a mental collapse. The film is equally important as the feature directing debut of Robert Mulligan and the feature producing debut of Alan J. Pakula. It was a collaboration that led to their successful teaming on six more features together including To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) before they both went on to extremely successful solo careers. 100 min. 35 mm archival print.
Friday, June 22 (7:30 p.m.)
The Natural (Columbia, 1984)
Robert Redford stars as Roy Hobbs, a 35-year-old rookie with a mysterious past who soon becomes the star player of the 1939 New York Knights. Barry Levinson directed the baseball drama based on the novel by Bernard Malamud. “The Natural” was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress (Glenn Close as Hobb’s first love Iris Gaines), Best Cinematography (Caleb Deschanel) and Best Music Score (Randy Newman). Newman won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition for The Natural. Many of the baseball scenes were filmed in Buffalo, New York’s War Memorial Stadium, built in 1937 and demolished a few years after the film was produced. Rated PG, 138 min. 35 mm archival print.
Saturday, June 23 (2 p.m.)
Angels in the Outfield (Disney, 1994)
Roger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a foster child whose recently widowed and irresponsible father (Dermot Mulroney) sardonically promises that they can live as a family again when Roger’s favorite baseball team, the perpetually losing California Angels, wins the pennant. Roger’s prayers to turn the team around are answered when a real angel (Christopher Lloyd) and a band of his colleagues perform a few miracles on the field. Danny Glover plays the team’s skeptical manager with Tony Danza, Adrien Brody and Matthew McConaughey in the cast as members of the California Angels team. Also in supporting roles are Ben Johnson and Brenda Fricker. Updated from the 1951 film of the same name, “Angels in the Outfield” takes liberties with the original to bring the sentimental values to a modern setting. Rated PG, 102 min. 35 mm archival print.
Saturday, June 23 (7:30 p.m.)
42 (Warner Bros., 2013)
This critically acclaimed biopic focuses on the relationship between legendary baseball star Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) and Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), who signed Robinson to the team in 1947, breaking Major League Baseball’s infamous color line that had existed in professional baseball since the 1880s. The contract subjected both Robinson and Rickey to condemnation from the public, the press and even other players. Facing blatant racism from every side, Robinson was forced to demonstrate tremendous courage and restraint by not reacting in kind, knowing that any incident could destroy his and Rickey’s hopes. Instead, Number 42 let his talent on the field do the talking-ultimately winning over fans and his teammates, silencing his critics, and paving the way for others to follow. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. In 1997, baseball commissioner Bud Selig universally retired Jackie Robinson’s number, 42. Rated PG-13, 128 min. 35 mm archival print.
The Packard Campus Theater will be closed June 28 – June 30.