The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus.
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. The Busby Berkeley dance number comes as somewhat of a surprise, but 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. Berkeley’s 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.
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.
For more information on our programs, please visit the website at: //www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/