Thursday, April 2nd, 2018, at 7:00 p.m.
Every month, films from the Library’s collection are shown at the Mary Pickford Theater in the James Madison building, ranging from titles newly preserved by the National Audio Visual Conservation Center film lab, classics from the National Film Registry, and lesser known titles worthy of discovery.
ATOMIC CINEMA: The two features we are presenting this month provide a glimpse into American cinema’s engagement with the atomic age, which not surprisingly reached its heyday during the 1950’s when the simultaneous fear and fascination with the “bomb,” combined with the threat of the Cold War, provided fertile ground for filmmakers to explore and/or exploit the subject in a wide variety of genres.
SPLIT SECOND (RKO, 1953). Directed by Dick Powell. Screenplay by William Bowers and Irving Wallace from a story by Chester Erskine and Wallace. With Stephen McNally, Alexis Smith, Jan Sterling, Keith Andes, Arthur Hunnicutt, Richard Egan. (84 min, black & white, 35mm).
An escaped convict holds a group of people hostage in a Nevada ghost town which is about to be leveled by an atomic bomb test. One of the few film noirs to deal with the nuclear threat, “Split Second” marked the directorial debut of actor Dick Powell, opening another chapter in a remarkable career that had already seen him successfully transition from heartthrob crooner in 1930’s musicals to hardboiled tough guy in 1940’s thrillers. Noir stalwart Stephen McNally creates what is arguably the most memorable of his many screen thugs, and Richard Egan and Alexis Smith are surprisingly effective as a divorced couple wearily resigned to the end of their relationship. Preserved in 2015 from original negatives in the AFI/RKO Collection.
Preceded by a 1953 Universal newsreel with “Aftermath of Atomic Blast” as the lead story.
Seating is on a first-come first-serve basis. Doors open at 6:30 pm.
For more information on our programs, please visit the Mary Pickford Theater website.
The Mary Pickford Theater is located on the 3rd floor of the Library of Congress James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. SE, Washington, DC, 20540.