The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus.
Thursday, January 23 (7:30 p.m.)
The Roaring Twenties (Warner Bros., 1939)
Prohibition became the law of the land at the stroke of midnight on January 17, 1920, and lasted until December 1933. This period of failed social experimentation provided the inspiration for a great many Hollywood films both during and after its implementation, and to commemorate Prohibition’s centenary we’re showing three films this week starting with The Roaring Twenties from 1939 which serves to frame an overview of the tumultuous decade. James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart star as former WWI Army buddies who become prohibition racketeers in this hard-hitting gangster film, directed by Raoul Walsh. The voice-over narration by journalist-turned-producer Mark Hellinger–assuring audiences that “what they are about to see is based upon real people and events” he covered as a newsman during the 1920s–and the use of actual newsreel footage give the crime drama a documentary feel. The film also stars Priscilla Lane, Jeffrey Lynn, Gladys George, Frank McHugh and Paul Kelly. 35mm film print. 104 minutes.
Friday, January 24 (7:30 p.m.)
Little Caesar (Warner Bros., 1931)
No studio released more Prohibition-themed films than Warner Bros., for whom “stories torn from today’s headlines” was both an advertising slogan and a production strategy. That was especially evident in a brilliant cycle of early 1930s gangster films, starting with Little Caesar in 1931. Edward G. Robinson’s breakout role of Rico Bandello was loosely based on Al Capone and the film proved enormously influential in establishing the gangster drama that Warner Bros. and other studios would return to repeatedly throughout the decade. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., costars as Robinson’s sidekick and the film was directed with great verve by Mervyn LeRoy. Little Caesar was added to the National Film Registry in 2000. 35mm film print. 79 minutes.
Saturday, January 25 (7:30 p.m.)
The Untouchables (Paramount, 1987 – rated R*)
Incorruptible federal agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and his Irish cop partner Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery) take on crime king Al Capone (Robert DeNiro) in this crime thriller directed by Brian DePalma from a script by David Mamet based on Ness’ book. Violent, yes, but a tremendous amount of fun capped by a brilliant homage to the Odessa Steps sequence from The Battleship Potemkin that foregrounds the film’s sly, winking visuals. Sean Connery won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the film received Oscar nominations for Best Production Design, Best Costume Design and Best Original Score for Ennio Morricone. *No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian. 35mm film print. 119 minutes.
For more information on our programs, please visit the website at: //www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/