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At the Packard Campus — September 2019

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In September, the Packard Campus Theater celebrates the 80th anniversary of what film historians often rate as “the greatest year in the history of Hollywood” with eight films released in 1939, including two from the National Film Registry: Only Angels Have Wings and The Women. Two foreign films will be screened, The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978) by German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder and the 2009 Bollywood megahit 3 Idiots. Also in store is a new Library of Congress Film Lab preservation of the rarely seen 1947 film noir The Devil Thumbs a Ride, the 1955 James Stewart/Anthony Mann Western The Man from Laramie, and from the Library of Congress Video Lab, a compilation of highlights from the 1988-1990 late night television series Night Music which was hosted by David Sanborn.

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 September 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

The theater schedule is posted monthly with weekly updates on Now See Hear!, the National Audio Visual Conservation Center blog 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].

The Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation is a state-of-the-art facility funded as a gift to the nation by the Packard Humanities Institute. The Packard Campus is where the nation’s Library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of motion pictures, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings (

Thursday, September 5 (7:30 p.m.)
The Man from Laramie (Columbia, 1955)
James Stewart stars as a former Army scout who is out for revenge, tracking the person responsible for his brother’s death. He knows the guilty party sold guns to a tribe of Apaches who subsequently attacked a band of U.S. cavalry, but he must travel to New Mexico to learn more. Meanwhile, he’s pursued by the son of a half-blind cattle baron who suffers from premonitions. This psychological Western reminiscent of Shakespeare’s King Lear was the last of eight films Stewart made with director Anthony Mann. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther praised the film saying “Mr. Stewart is, as usual, atmospheric and incisive in his lean, heroic role,” and “Under the fierce and steady direction of veteran Anthony Mann, the considerable characters of a big ranch baron, his hysterical son and a cold, calculating foreman are played with authority and vividness by Donald Crisp, Alex Nichol and Arthur Kennedy, respectively.”  35mm archival print, 103 min.

Friday, September 6 (7:30 p.m.)
Dodge City (Warner Bros., 1939)
While 1939 is widely acknowledged as Hollywood’s golden year for classic films of every genre, the Western benefited in particular with Michael Curtiz’s Dodge City being a prime example. Confident that their swashbuckling superstar Errol Flynn could convincingly swap his sword for six-shooters, Warners cast him as Irish soldier of fortune Wade Hatton, who arrives in tough Dodge City, Kansas and promptly helps local lawmen round up some cattle rustlers. Hatton is soon made sheriff and sets out to make all outlaws “get out of Dodge.” Bruce Cabot co-stars as unscrupulous cattle baron Jeff Surrett and Olivia de Havilland appears as Flynn’s love interest Abbie Irving. The film’s highlight is a barroom brawl that is so exciting and fast-paced, it set the standard for western movie bar fights in countless films to come. Digital presentation. 104 min.

Saturday, September 7 (2 p.m.)
3 Idiots (Reliance Big Pictures, 2009)
In this entertaining comedy-drama from India, Farhan and Raju, former classmates at one of India’s premier colleges, embark on a quest for their lost buddy, the irrepressible free-thinker Rancho (Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan), who in his unique way, touched and changed their lives. On the journey, they encounter another student, Chatur, now a successful businessman, who reminds them of a bet they had undertaken ten years ago. The film is narrated through parallel dramas, one in the present and the other a decade c earlier when the friends were overworked and overstressed engineering students struggling to beat their school’s draconian system which unfairly valued grades over creativity. 3 Idiots received widespread critical and commercial success and was the highest-grossing Indian film worldwide at the time. Robert Abele of Los Angeles Times wrote that there’s an “unavoidable joie de vivre (symbolized by Rancho’s meditative mantra ‘All is well’) and a performance charm that make this one of the more naturally gregarious Bollywood imports.” In Hindi and English with English subtitles. Digital presentation, rated PG. 170 min.

Monday, September 16 (7:30 p.m.)
Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives – Live
Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and musician Marty Stuart returns to the Packard Campus for an evening of country music. For nearly twenty years The Fabulous Superatives have been Marty’s band. More compadres than backup band, the Superlatives are comprised of the best of the best. Guitarist Kenny Vaughan is considered one of the best players around regardless of genre, drummer Harry Stinson is also a much sought after vocalist, and Chris Scruggs fills out the band on bass, steel guitar and anything else that makes a sound. Tickets for this free event will be available at beginning August 21 at 9 a.m.

Saturday, September 7 (7:30 p.m.)
Smithereens (New Line Cinema, 1982 – rated R*)
Restless 19-year-old Wren (Susan Berman) exits the soul-sucking boredom of her blue-collar New Jersey roots, intent on becoming a punk rock star in New York City’s edgy clubs. But after losing her job and getting evicted from her shabby apartment, Wren’s prospects for stardom are dim at best. Ever the optimist, she refuses to abandon her dream in this quirky urban drama from director Susan Seidelman, making her feature-film debut. Seidelman’s next film was Desperately Seeking Susan, which shared themes with Smithereens of female identity and self-reinvention. 35mm archival print, 93 min. *No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.

 Thursday, September 12 (7:30 p.m.)
…One Third of a Nation… (Paramount, 1939)
Adapted from a controversial play originally produced by the Federal Theatre Project (part of the WPA), this Depression-era story contrasts the lifestyles of tenement dwellers with the existence of the upper class in New York City. Wealthy Peter Cortlant (Leif Erickson), learns that he has inherited a block of slum tenements. In one of these dwellings, a raging fire had crippled young Joey Rogers (future director Sidney Lumet). Cortlant meets the boy sometime after the fire and eventually falls in love with his older sister Mary (Sylvia Sidney). Producer-director Murphy shot the film in the New York slum district to give it the realism needed to convey its message. The title came from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second inaugural address in which he stated “I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.” 35mm film print from the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab in 1989. 79 min.

 Friday, September 13 (7:30 p.m.)
The Devil Thumbs a Ride (RKO, 1947)
Director Felix Feist’s first film noir is a reckless and startlingly subversive B-movie thrill-ride that, without warning, careens from silly comedy to scary psychopathy. The meager plot revolves around a slightly drunk Good Samaritan giving a ride to a guy who’s robbed and killed a cinema cashier. When they pick up two women along the way, things spin completely out of control. It’s merely a question of who will live through the night. Lawrence Tierney, a boozing and brawling demon with a police record longer than his list of film credits, stars as the psychopath killer and Feist fully captured Tierney’s dangerous combination of ribald humor, sinister charm and hair-trigger volatility and violence. (Adapted from the film notes by Eddie Muller from the ll Cinema Ritrovato Festival in June, 2019). 35mm film print from the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab in 2019, 62 min. Two short films will precede the feature, Floyd Gibbons the Headline Hunter in Your True Adventures: Defying Death (1938) and Take it or Leave It, No. 1 (1940), a film version of a popular CBS radio quiz show.

Saturday, September 14 (7:30 p.m.)
Only Angels Have Wings (Columbia, 1939)
Howard Hawks directed this drama that examines the relationships among pilots who fly cargo over the treacherous Andes Mountains in South American. Cary Grant stars as the tough-talking head of a cut-rate air freight company with Jean Arthur as an entertainer who finds herself stranded in the Peruvian port town and decides to stay on. Along with sparkling dialogue from Grant, Arthur and renowned character actor Thomas Mitchell, Only Angels Have Wings captivates with dazzling air sequences featuring landings on canyon rims, vertiginous ups and downs and perilous flights through foggy mountain passes. The supporting cast includes former silent film star Richard Barthlemess and Rita Hayworth in a breakthrough role. It was added to the National Film Registry in 2017. 35mm film print from the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab in 1987, 121 min.

Thursday, September 19 (7:30 p.m.)
The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (RKO, 1939)
The last, and least representative of the musicals Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made for RKO, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, based on the memoirs of Irene Castle, tells of her great love for her husband and ballroom dancing partner, Vernon. After achieving spectacular success in the days preceding World War I, the couple sees their happy, glamorous life torn apart when Vernon joins the Royal Flying Corps, while Irene makes patriotic movie serials to aid the war effort. Astaire and Rogers dance in the style of the Castles, demonstrating how the team launched a nationwide dance craze with the Tango, the Foxtrot and the Maxixe. Directed by H.C. Potter, the movie was adapted by Oscar Hammerstein II, Dorothy Yost and Richard Sherman. 35mm print from the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab in 1989, 93 min.

Friday, September 20 (7:30 p.m.)
Night Music
(NBC and syndication, 1988-1990)
Night Music, aka Sunday Night, was a late-night television show and an off-shoot of Saturday Night Live, that aired for two seasons between 1988 and 1990 as a showcase for Rock, Folk, Blues, Country, Soul, and Jazz musical artists. It was hosted by David Sanborn and Jools Holland.  The initial idea of the show was to get musicians from different genres, have them perform something individually, and then have a moment where everyone would get together and do something collectively. The musical combinations were often unique, exciting, and unlike anything in television history. Unfortunately only 44 episodes were made. Performers on this video compilation of highlights from the show include James Taylor, Dr. John & Mavis Staples, Boz Scaggs, NRBQ, Al Green, Jack Bruce & Joe Walsh, Curtis Mayfield, Lyle Lovett & Fontella Bass, Carlos Santana & Wayne Shorter, Leonard Cohen & Sonny Rollins, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Debbie Harry, Allen Toussaint, The Pixies, Miles Davis, Sonic Youth, Eric Clapton, Richard Thompson, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Conway Twitty & the Residents. Digital presentation, 90 min.

Saturday, September 21 (2 p.m.)
An Afternoon of Silent Comedy Shorts from the Hal Roach Studio (1923-1928)
Featuring Laurel and Hardy in The Finishing Touch (1928) and The Battle of the Century (1927) – including the latter’s long lost second reel, Charley Chase in The Uneasy Three (1925), the Our Gang Kids (Joe Cobb, Mickey Daniels, Allen “Farina” Hoskins, Mary Kornman and more) in The Big Show (1923), and the female comedy team of Anita Garvin and Marion Byron in A Pair of Tights (Hal Roach, 1928), this program of silent comedy shorts will delight young and old alike. Live musical accompaniment will be provided by Andrew Simpson. Digital presentation, 101 min.

Saturday, September 21 (7:30 p.m.)
Babes in Arms (MGM, 1939)
This fun-filled spin-off of the Rodgers and Hart Broadway musical features Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney as the children of vaudevillian parents. The kids aren’t included in their parent’s travels, so they set out to produce a show of their own. The third of eight movies Garland and Rooney starred in together, “Babes in Arms” would be the pair’s first picture under director Busby Berkeley, who would direct three more Mickey-Judy movies. It would also be the first film for MGM musical maestro Arthur Freed as producer and head of his own MGM unit. The movie retained only three of the show’s original songs, the title song, The Lady is a Tramp and Where or When, but Freed added some of his old tunes to the adaptation including You are My Lucky Star and I Cried For You. 35mm archival film print. 94 min.

Thursday, September 26 (7:30 p.m.)
They Made Me a Criminal
(Warner Bros., 1939)
John Garfield stars as Johnnie Bradfield, a world-champion boxer who goes on the lam after he is falsely accused of murder and ends up on an Arizona ranch run by an old lady as a work farm for teenaged boys. A remake of The Life of Jimmy Dolan starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr., the story had all the essential ingredients for a Depression era hit — boxing, murder, a dogged detective (Claude Rains) out to catch the suspected killer, the love of a good woman (Gloria Dickson), and a troop of good-hearted delinquents (the Dead End Kids) who need Garfield’s stern guidance to shape up. Director Busby Berkley’s experience as a dance director made him a natural for the realistic boxing scenes, shot by cameraman James Wong Howe. The film’s strong performance at the box office established Garfield as one of Warner’s top stars. 35mm print from the Library of Congress Film Preservation Lab in 1989, 92 min.

Friday, September 27 (7:30 p.m.)
The Marriage of Maria Braun
(United Artists, Criterion, 1979 – rated R*)
Maria (Hanna Schygulla) marries Hermann Braun in the last days of World War II, only to have him disappear in the war. Alone, Maria uses her beauty and ambition to prosper in Germany’s “economic miracle” of the 1950’s. German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s biggest international box-office success and the first part of his “postwar trilogy” (followed by Lola and Veronika Voss), The Marriage of Maria Braun is a heartbreaking study of a woman picking herself up from the ruins of her own life, as well as a pointed metaphorical attack on a society determined to forget its past. Hanna Schygulla won the Silver Bear Award for Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1979. In German, English and French with English subtitles. 35mm film print courtesy of Janus Films, 120 min.

Saturday, September 28 (7:30 p.m.)
The Women (MGM, 1939)
Probably no movie in history has combined more leading Hollywood ladies (Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland, Paulette Goddard and Joan Fontaine) without, as advertising noted, “a man in sight.” Yet “It’s all about men.” Based on the hit play by Clare Boothe Luce, “The Women” explores the new options open to women with the possibility of divorce, following several intertwining paths to the courts in Reno. The characters learn of the various affairs and entanglements of their husbands with others, and are forced to decide between “freedom” and surrendering pride for love. “See them with their hair down, and their claws out!” promised MGM, and they delivered. George Cukor secured his reputation as a women’s director with this movie. The Women was added to the National Film Registry in 2007. Digital presentation, 133 min.


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