The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus.
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)
A sassy Barbara Stanwyck and a 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. In the film, a 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? The film also features 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 and this 1937 release was severely altered by the new studio regime under Charles R. Rogers. In his role as the film’s over-seer, Rogers bowed to pressure from the German market to remove “anti-German” material (the Nazis had banned Remarque’s novel) and also padded out the film’s 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.
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