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Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater — December 13 – 15, 2018

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The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus.

Star Witness (Warner Bros., 1931)

Thursday, December 13 (7:30 p.m.)
Pre-Code Double Feature
The Star Witness (Warner Bros.,1931)
William A. Wellman directed this gritty tale of a family who witnesses a gangland battle and is terrorized to prevent them from testifying in court. Walter Huston has star billing as the hard driving district attorney threatening the family with perjury if they don’t back up their identification of the killer at the trial, while Chic Sale is a standout as the Civil War veteran grandfather who insists upon doing his civic duty and fighting back against the criminals, no matter the cost. The film, which was Oscar nominated for Best Writing, Original Story by Lucien Hubbard, was inspired by a real life incident of a gang shooting in Harlem in which several children were shot and police were unable to convince witnesses to talk in the case. Warner Bros. rushed the film into theatres while agreeing to turn over all proceeds from the first two screenings of The Star Witness to the families of five children injured by gang bullets. 35mm film print produced by the Library of Congress Film Preservation lab in 2013. 68 min.

Those Who Dance (Warner Bros.,1930)
Nora Brady (Lila Lee) comes up with a scheme to prove that her brother, accused of murder, is innocent. She is helped by a cop, Daniel (Monte Blue), who poses as a gangster in order to get the goods on the real killer. William Beaudine directed this rarely-seen crime drama that also features William “Stage” Boyd, William Janney and Betty Compson in the cast. The story, written by George Kibbe Turner, was based on events which actually took place among gangsters in Chicago and was previously filmed as a silent picture in 1924. 35mm film print produced by the Library of Congress Film Preservation lab in 2014. 75 min.

Friday, December 14 (7:30 p.m.)
The Seventh Seal (Janus, 1957)
Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight (Max von Sydow) encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges the Grim Reaper to a fateful game of chess. Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, Ingmar Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning, The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet), was one of the benchmark foreign imports of America’s 1950s art-house heyday, pushing cinema’s boundaries and ushering in a new era of moviegoing. The Seventh Seal won the Special Jury Prize at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival. In Swedish with English subtitles. 35mm film print on loan from Janus Films. 96 min.

Polar Express (Warner Bros, 2004)

Saturday, December 15 (2 p.m.)
The Polar Express (Warner Bros., 2004)
A young boy’s faith in the holiday spirit is revived after he makes his way by a magical train to the North Pole on Christmas Eve in this warm-hearted fantasy based on Chris Van Allsburg’s award-winning 1985 children’s book. Written, produced, and directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film features human characters animated by live action-motion capture including Tom Hanks as the Conductor and in five other roles. The soundtrack features a mix of old standard Christmas songs including Bing Crosby’s rendition of “White Christmas,” and new ones written by Alan Silvestri who also composed the score for the film. The song “Believe,” written by Silvestri and Glen Ballard and performed by Josh Groban, was Oscar nominated for Best Original Song. Rated G. 35mm archival film print. 100 min.

Last Holiday (Paramount, 2006)

Saturday, December 15 (7:30 p.m.)
Last Holiday (Paramount, 2006)
Queen Latifah, in one of her best roles, stars in this romantic comedy-drama set during the Christmas holidays as the reticent Georgia Byrd, who just manages to get by on her department store clerk salary. At home alone in the evenings, she prepares elaborate gourmet dishes, while watching TV cooking shows and training herself to be a great chef, but eats lonely frozen dinners because she’s on a diet. When Georgia is told she has only a few weeks to live, she cashes in her 401K and travels to a luxury resort near Prague where her idol, Chef Didier (Gerard Depardieu), rules the kitchen. Directed by Wayne Wang, the film, which also stars LL Cool J, was loosely adapted from the 1950 British film of the same name starring Alec Guinness. Latifah’s performance was universally praised with critic Roger Ebert writing, “The film takes advantage of the great good nature and warmth of Queen Latifah, and uses it to transform a creaky old formula into a comedy that is just plain lovable.” Rated PG. 35mm archival film print, 112 min.

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