Packard Campus Theater Schedule for December 2019
As a follow-up to the November video presentation of musical highlights from David Letterman’s late night program on NBC (from 1982-1993), the Packard Campus Theater kicks off the month with musical performers seen on Letterman’s CBS series, Late Show with David Letterman (1993-2015).
Two films depicting the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front during World War II, will be shown at the Packard Campus Theater the first week of December to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the event.
The 1945 French epic romantic drama Children of Paradise is this month’s foreign film and a number of movies that take place during the Christmas holidays ranging from Christmas in Connecticut to Trading Places round out the schedule for the month.
Thursday, December 5 (7:30 p.m.)
Late Show with David Letterman (CBS, 1993-2015)
Following an 11-year run of a highly popular late night variety show on NBC, David Letterman moved to CBS with “Late Show with David Letterman” which debuted on August 30, 1993. Letterman’s music director Paul Shaffer came along to lead the CBS Orchestra. The final episode of “Late Show” aired on May 20, 2015 after Letterman announced his retirement. The show hosted hundreds of top musical acts during its 22 years on the air. Featured artists on this exclusive program curated from the video collections of the Library of Congress include Billy Joel, Jerry Garcia & David Grisman, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Richard Thompson, Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash, Green Day, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Prince, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Joni Mitchell, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Allman Brothers Band, Oasis, Steely Dan, D’Angelo, Eddie Vedder, Aimee Mann, Van Morrison, Pete Townshend, Beck, Radiohead and Rage Against the Machine. Digital presentation, 90 min.
Friday, December 6 (7:30 p.m.)
Battleground (MGM, 1949)
William Wellman directed this World War II epic that follows a company in the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, as they cope with the Siege of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944. The film is notable for portraying American soldiers as vulnerable and human while remaining steadfast. Battleground is considered to be the first significant American film about World War II to be made and released after the end of the war. Twenty veterans of the 101st were hired to train the actors and appeared in the film as extras. The all-star cast includes Van Johnson, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalbán, George Murphy and James Whitmore. Robert Pirosh, who based his screenplay on his own experiences during the Battle of the Bulge, was awarded an Oscar as was Paul C. Vogel for his cinematography. The film received four additional Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Director for Wellman. Digital presentation, 118 min.
Saturday, December 7 (7:30 p.m.)
Battle of the Bulge (Warner Bros., 1965)
Set during the historic event for which the film was named that took place in December 1944, this World War II drama directed by Ken Annakin is known for its exciting battle scenes. Unlike many earlier Hollywood war epics, the fictional plot of Battle of the Bulge attempts to present a more balanced look at the last great German offensive in the war. On one side of the city of Bastogne, Belgium is the American military headed by Robert Ryan, his intelligence chief, Dana Andrews, and the latter’s assistant, Henry Fonda, who is convinced the Germans are building toward a winter offensive but can’t convince his superiors. On the other side is Robert Shaw as a master strategist, leading his German tank corps through a cunning game of cat-and-mouse with the enemy. Criticized for its lack of historical accuracy, the filmmakers state in the end credits that they had “re-organized” the chronological order of events to maximize the dramatic story. Digital presentation, 167 min.
Thursday, December 12 (7:30 p.m.)
Trading Places (Paramount, 1983 – rated R*)
Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy star as a stuffy upper-class commodities broker and a homeless street hustler whose lives cross paths when they are unknowingly made part of an elaborate bet in this comedy set during the Christmas holidays. Veteran actors Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche play the Duke brothers, owners of a successful commodities brokerage firm, who hold opposing views on the issue of nature versus nurture and make the wager that sets the story in motion. John Landis directed the hit film that was inspired by Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. Trading Places was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy or Musical and supporting players Denholm Elliott and Jamie Lee Curtis each won Best Supporting acting BAFTA awards. Author and critic Richard Schickel of Time magazine called the film “one of the most emotionally satisfying and morally gratifying comedies of recent times.” 35mm archival film print. 116 min.* No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.
Friday, December 13 (7:30 p.m.)
Children of Paradise (Tricolore, 1945)
With its poetic realism, “Children of Paradise” is widely considered to be one of the greatest French films of all time. This nimble depiction of nineteenth-century Paris’s flamboyant theatrical world, filmed during World War II, follows a mysterious woman (Arletty) loved by four different men (all based on historical figures): an actor, a criminal, a count, and, most poignantly, a mime (Jean-Louis Barrault). With sensitivity and dramatic élan, director Marcel Carné and screenwriter Jacques Prévert resurrect a world teeming with hucksters and aristocrats, thieves and courtesans, pimps and seers. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Thanks to a major new restoration, this iconic classic looks and sounds richer and more detailed than ever. 35mm film print courtesy of Janus Films 190 min.
Saturday, December 14 (2 p.m.)
Christmas in Connecticut (Warner Bros., 1945)
Barbara Stanwyck stars as Elizabeth Lane, columnist for Smart Housekeeping, THE magazine for aspiring homemakers. Lane touts herself as a blissful wife, mother and expert homemaker living on an idyllic Connecticut farm. Trouble is, it’s all a sham. When her publisher (Sydney Greenstreet) cooks up a scheme to boost circulation by having Elizabeth entertain a war veteran (Dennis Morgan) on Christmas Eve, comic entanglements ensue. Directed by Peter Godfrey, this romantic comedy also stars Reginald Gardiner, S.Z. Sakall, Una O’Connor and Joyce Compton. Curiously released in August, Christmas in Connecticut was nonetheless a box office hit and remains a treasured holiday classic today. 35mm archival film print. 101 min.
Saturday, December 14 (7:30 p.m.)
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (MGM, 1925)
Adapted from General Lew Wallace’s popular novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ published in 1880, this epic production featured one of the most exciting spectacles in silent film: the chariot race that was shot with 40 cameras on a Circus Maximus set costing a staggering (for the day) $300,000. In addition to the grandeur of the chariot scene, a number of sequences shot in Technicolor also contributed to the extraordinary status of Ben-Hur,” which was directed by Fred Niblo and starred Ramon Novarro as Judah Ben-Hur and Francis X. Bushman as Messala, and literally a cast of thousands. While this lavish film did not initially recoup its investment, it did help to establish its studio, MGM, as one of the major players in the industry. Andrew Simpson will provide musical accompaniment for this silent film that was selected for the National Film Registry in 1997. 35mm archival film print. 143 min.
Thursday, December 19 (7:30 p.m.)
Pocketful of Miracles (United Artists, 1961)
Legendary director Frank Capra’s final feature, Pocketful of Miracles was a remake of his 1933 film Lady for a Day, which itself was based on a Damon Runyon short story. No exception to the pervading sense of optimism and sentiment that were his signature, Pocketful of Miracles tells the heartwarming story of Apple Annie (Bette Davis), a New York bag lady who is transformed into high society by gangster Dave the Dude (Glenn Ford) to impress her daughter Louise (Ann-Margret in her screen debut), about to come home for Christmas after many years at a European boarding school. The film garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Costume Design, Best Song, and Best Supporting Actor for Peter Falk as Dave the Dude’s sarcastic bodyguard Joy Boy. While it disappointed at the box office the year of its release, Miracles has since become a Christmastime favorite. 35mm archival film print. 136 min.
Friday, December 20 (7:30 p.m.)
Lethal Weapon (Warner Bros., 1987 – rated R*)
Widely considered one of the best buddy cop films ever made and a major influence on many of the genre to follow, Lethal Weapon paired Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as mismatched LAPD detectives – Martin Riggs (Gibson), a former Green Beret who has become suicidal following the death of his wife, and Roger Murtaugh (Glover), a 50-year-old veteran of the force and family man, who are assigned to work together as partners. At Christmastime, as Riggs gets to know Murtaugh and his family, he begins to mellow, though his insistence on using guerilla tactics to catch criminals is still (put mildly) above and beyond the call of duty. This action comedy directed by Richard Donner and written by Shane Black also features Gary Busey, Tom Atkins, Darlene Love, and Mitchell Ryan in the cast. Lethal Weapon was a big hit and spawned a franchise that includes three sequels and a television series. 35mm archival film print. 109 min. No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.
Saturday, December 21 (2 p.m.)
Frozen (Disney, 2013)
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen, this animated musical adventure tells the story of a fearless princess who sets off on a journey alongside a rugged iceman, his loyal reindeer, and a naive snowman to find her estranged sister, whose icy powers have inadvertently trapped their kingdom in eternal winter. Kristen Bell provides the voice of Anna, the 18-year-old Princess of Arendelle with Idina Menzel as Elsa, the 21-year-old Queen of Arendelle who possesses magical ice powers and is Anna’s elder sister. Directed by Chris Buck and produced by John Lasseter and Peter Del Vecho. Frozen won two Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (Let It Go). A sequel, Frozen 2, is scheduled for release on November 22. Rated PG. 35mm archival film print. 102 min.
Saturday, December 21 (7:30 p.m.)
White Christmas (Paramount, 1954)
Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye star as a top song-and-dance act who accompanies Betty and Judy Haynes, a pair of sister entertainers (played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen) to the Columbia Inn in Vermont where the women are scheduled to perform during the Christmas holidays. They arrive to discover that the inn is run by the boys’ former WWII commanding officer who is about to go out of business due to a lack of snow. The foursome decides to put on a show to save the establishment. Michael Curtiz directed this Technicolor Christmas classic that features Irving Berlin songs Sisters, Snow, Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me, the Oscar-nominated Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep and of course White Christmas. 35mm archival film print. 120 min.