The Library of Congress’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (MBRS) is proud to partner with AFI Silver Theatre for a Film Preservation Showcase of recently preserved titles from the Library’s vast collection of films, the largest in the world. The lineup includes rarities dating from a 1915 silent film directed by pioneering filmmaker Lois Weber, to several pre-Code features, to a restoration of the 1977 Albanian film Tomka and His Friends. Nearly all of the programs will be shown from 35mm prints that were preserved at the Film Preservation Lab at the LoC National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, VA. The series will screen at both the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD and at the Packard Campus Theater. Check the AFI Silver Theatre’s web site (afi.com/silver) for more information and additional titles that are not playing at the Packard Campus.
On April 6, the Metropolitan Washington Old Time Radio Club will return for their fourth appearance at the Packard Campus Theater for an evening of recreations of programs from radio’s Golden Age. Tickets are free, but required for this program and can be reserved at packardcampusotr.eventbrite.com beginning on March 18.
Programs are free and open to the public, but children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Seating at the screenings is on a first-come, first-served basis unless otherwise noted. Short films may be shown before some features. For general Packard Campus Theater information, call (540) 827-1079 ext. 79994 or (202) 707-9994. For further information on the theater and film series, visit http://www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/schedule.html
The theater schedule is posted monthly with weekly updates on Now See Hear!, the National Audio Visual Conservation Center blog https://blogs.loc.gov/now-see-hear/. You can subscribe to regular updates from the Now See Hear! blog by RSS and e-mail so you’ll get the news first. In case of inclement weather, call the theater information line no more than three hours before showtime to see if the screening has been cancelled.
Request ADA accommodations at least five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or [email protected].
Thursday, April 4 (7:30 p.m.)
Pre-Code Double Feature
Finishing School (RKO, 1934)
The scandalous goings-on in an upper-crust private school for young women is the setting for this pre-Code school girl dramedy, co-directed (with George Nichols Jr.) by screenwriter Wanda Tuchock (Hallelujah!, Bed of Roses, Susan Lenox Her Fall and Rise). When socialite Virginia Radcliffe (Frances Dee) arrives at Crockett Hall, she’s ready to follow the institution’s stringent code of ladylike conduct. But her worldly new roommate, Pony Ferris (Ginger Rogers), has other ideas. Before Virginia knows it, Pony is leading her new friend along a perilous path towards smoking, drinking, boys and nights out in New York. Tuchock was only the second woman, together with Dorothy Arzner, to be credited as a director on a Hollywood movie in the 1930s. 35mm film print preserved in 2017 by the Packard Campus Film Preservation Lab. 73 min.
Fashions of 1934 (Warner Bros., 1934)
Most notable for mischievously riding the edge of the Motion Picture Production Code, Fashions of 1934, directed by William Dieterle, features a lot of naughtiness and a trio of lovably unethical lead characters. William Powell plays Sherwood Nash, a charming rascal who ropes Bette Davis’ amateur dress designer into a scheme for bootlegging top Parisian fashions for high prices. In fact, the Busby Berkeley dance number comes as somewhat of a surprise, but when it does appear as an elaborate cog in Nash’s complex ostrich-feather racket, “Spin a Little Web of Dreams” twists into delectable Berkeley decadence, with dancers wearing feather fans, playing living harps and sailing atop an undulating, glistening faux sea. His most astonishing flourish: overhead shots of the plumed dancers forming a beautiful, feathery flower, which opens and closes as if photographed in time-lapse. 35mm film print preserved in 2016 by the Packard Campus Film Preservation Lab. 78 min.
Friday, April 5 (7:30 p.m.)
Hypocrites (Paramount, 1915)
Following the parallel stories of an early Christian ascetic and a modern minister, with most actors in dual roles, Hypocrites is an amazingly complex film in both narrative and technique. Gabriel (Courtenay Foote) is a medieval monk who devotes himself to completing a statue of “Truth,” only to be murdered by a mob when his work turns out to be an image of a naked woman. The contemporary Gabriel is the pastor of a large urban congregation for whom religion is a matter of appearances, not beliefs. The hypocrisy of the congregation is exposed by a series of vignettes in which the Naked Truth, literally portrayed by a nude woman, reveals their appetites for money, sex, and power. As one of the most important and prolific American directors of the silent era, Lois Weber was able to get the film released after months of delay to widespread acclaim propelling her stature among the ranks of her contemporaries. 54 min. Two short films directed by Lois Weber will also be on the program: On the Brink (1911) and From Death to Life. Digital presentation from the recently released Kino Lorber DVD and Blu-ray box set Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers that was co-produced by the Library of Congress. Ben Model will provide live musical accompaniment for.
Saturday, April 6 (7:30 p.m.)
An Evening of Old Time Radio with the Metropolitan Washington Old Time Radio Club
The Metropolitan Washington Old Time Radio Club makes its fourth appearance on the Packard Campus Theater stage with an evening of recreations of programs from radio’s Golden Age. Complete with sound effects, costumes and live organ music by Ben Model, this production will include The White Legion episode of The Shadow which was originally broadcast on March 20, 1938 and starred Orson Welles and Agnes Moorehead. One of the most popular radio shows in history, The Shadow was the wealthy Lamont Cranston, “… known to the underworld as the Shadow – never seen, only heard, as a haunting to superstitious minds, as a ghost, as inevitable as a guilty conscience…” Also on the program is Fibber Is House Sitting, an episode of the husband and wife comedy Fibber McGee and Molly that starred Jim and Marian Jordan. A recording of this broadcast, that originally aired on April 2, 1940, is not known to exist. An episode of Fibber McGee and Molly from the same year was added to the National Recording Registry in 2007. After the intermission, the MWOTRC will invite the audience to participate in a brief commercial jingle sing-along. Tickets are free, but required for this program and can be reserved at packardcampusotr.eventbrite.com beginning on March 18. Any unclaimed seats will be released to standbys 15 minutes before the show.
Friday, April 12 (7:30 p.m.)
Nothing But a Man (Cinema V, 1964)
A groundbreaking work filmed during the tumult of the mounting civil rights movement, this independent film tells the story of Duff Anderson (Ivan Dixon), a proud railroad worker from the wrong side of the tracks who marries a preacher’s genteel schoolteacher daughter Josie (Abbey Lincoln). Duff commands respect, a stand that angers his white employers and frightens his father-in-law. Directed by Michael Roemer, the drama features a largely black cast in a story that transcends race and looks at issues of class and gender. In 1964, Nothing But a Man won the San Giorgio Prize at the Venice Film Festival, awarded to films considered especially important for the progress of civilization. The film was named to the National Film Registry in 1993. 35mm film print preserved by the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab in 2012 from original elements donated to us by director Michael Roemer. 95 min.
Saturday, April 13 (7:30 p.m.)
M (Columbia, 1951)
Joseph Losey stylishly reinterprets Fritz Lang’s disturbing 1931 masterpiece about a child killer whose crimes forge an unlikely alliance between the underworld and police. Although Lang and Thea von Harbou’s script remains largely untouched, the shadowy claustrophobia of the first film’s German city is replaced by the sun-bleached sidewalks, faded Victorian buildings (including the oft-filmed Bradbury) and underground garages of post-war Los Angeles – the final location being where the murderer (David Wayne) faces the blunt force of a vigilante mob. Ironically, members of the film’s left-leaning production team were themselves the target of anti-Communist protests, with the movie picketed and even banned in many cities. Despite this backlash, critics admired the film’s realistic locations, with The Hollywood Reporter praising “the unidentified but hugely effective backgrounds of Los Angeles.” 35mm film print preserved by the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab in 2012. 88 min.
Thursday, April 18 (7:30 p.m.)
Time Out for Rhythm (Columbia, 1955)
Narcissistic nightclub singer Rosemary Lane nearly succeeds in breaking up the successful talent agency of Rudy Vallee and Richard Lane, who eventually reteam to promote their hot new discovery as the headliner in a new variety show: Rosemary’s former maid, tap-dancing prodigy Ann Miller. Sidney Salkow directed this eager-to-please Columbia Studios B musical that features a bevy of musical numbers by Vallee, Joan Merrill, Six Hits and a Miss, Glen Gray & the Casa Loma Orchestra, and Eduardo Durant’s Rhumba Band. Plus Miller’s dynamite dancing and scene-stealing comedy bits by The Three Stooges! 35mm film print preserved by the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab in 2015. 75 min.
Thursday, April 25 (7:30 p.m.)
Tomka and His Friends (Shqipëria e Re, 1977)
The shorts and features of director Xhanfise Keko, all of which center on children’s themes and preoccupations, occupy a pivotal yet controversial place in Albanian cinema. These films were among the most popular of Albania’s Communist era, and remain widely loved. But this affection is now tempered with ambivalence about their association with an era many Albanians would prefer to forget. Keko was the only female Albanian feature film director in the Kinostudio era, which ended in 1996. When she died in 2007, she left behind a remarkable legacy of nearly a dozen features virtually unknown to outside audiences. This English-subtitled restoration of Tomka and His Friends is a rare chance to look at moving images from a society that was closed off from the rest of the world for decades. It tells a compelling story of a group of young boys working to defend their homeland from the occupying German army in the town of Berat around 1943. Preserved by the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab in 2015 in coordination with the Albanian National Film Archive and the Albanian Cinema Project. 74 min.
Friday, April 26 (7:30 p.m.)
Pre-Code Double Feature
Night Nurse (Warner Bros., 1931)
In one of her best early roles, sassy Barbara Stanwyck and wisecracking Joan Blondell play a pair of private nurses, hired to look after two sick children at the mansion of their alcoholic socialite mother. They come to discover a fiendish plot afoot involving an unscrupulous doctor and the brutish family chauffeur (a young Clark Gable in one of his most impressive early roles). William A. Wellman directed this crime drama, the first of five films he made with Stanwyck. 35mm film print produced by the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab in 2017 from original negatives. 72 min.
Big Business Girl (Warner Bros., 1931)
Loretta Young was all of 18 years old when she starred in this zesty pre-Code farce directed by comedy stalwart William Seiter. Recently graduated and newly married, Young insists that husband/jazz band leader Frank Albertson take a promising job in Paris while she pursues a business career in New York. The separation strains their marriage, much to the delight of Young’s boss Ricardo Cortez, who has his own designs on his lovely protégé. Will Young’s ambition get the better of her or will she get the better of the men in her life? Featuring Joan Blondell in a scene-stealing supporting role. 35mm film print preserved by the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab in 2016 from original negatives. 75 min.
Saturday, April 27 (2 p.m.)
National Velvet (MGM, 1944)
This enduring family classic based on the novel by Enid Bagnold was directed by Clarence Brown and stars Elizabeth Taylor as a young girl whose sole ambition to run her horse in the Grand National Steeplechase. Although National Velvet was the first starring role for 11-year-old Taylor, the early part of the film belongs to Mickey Rooney in the showier role of Mi Taylor, a headstrong English ex-jockey soured on life by a serious accident. Anne Revere, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance, co-stars as Velvet’s mother and veteran actor Donald Crisp plays her father. National Velvet was added to the National Film Registry in 2003. 35mm archival film print. 123 min.
Saturday, April 27 (7:30 p.m.)
The Road Back (Universal, 1937)
The Road Back was the sequel to Erich Maria Remarque’s famous novel All Quiet on the Western Front. Director James Whale, himself a WWI veteran, intended his film to equal the success of the earlier novel’s celebrated 1930 film adaptation, directed by Lewis Milestone and produced by Carl Laemmle, Jr. for Universal. But before he could produce Whale’s film, Laemmle, Jr. was forced out of Universal in 1936; this 1937 release was severely altered by the new studio regime under Charles R. Rogers, bowing to pressure from the German market to remove “anti-German” material (the Nazis had banned Remarque’s novel) and padding out the comedic content. The Library of Congress has restored the uncut version that represents Whale’s original vision, a powerful film of German soldiers returning home from the Great War to a shattered country, and their struggles to re-adjust to society. The film stars John King, Richard Cromwell, Slim Summerville, Spring Byington and Andy Devine. 35mm print preserved by the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab in 2016 with funding from the Film Foundation. 100 min.