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June Allyson and Jimmy Stewart embrace in a scene from "The Glenn Miller Story"
"The Glenn Miller Story" (1954)

This Month at the Packard Campus Theater — September 2023

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 All About the Biopics

Biopic?  The basic definition is “a film dramatizing the life of a famous person” and in the case of this month it’s films that depict the lives of famous musical artists.  Broadway is represented with the story of Fanny Brice (Funny Girl) and George M. Cohan (Yankee Doodle Dandy).  Rock & Roll appears via Ritchie Valens (La Bamba) and The Doors.  The Blues with Billie Holliday (Lady Sings the Blues) and Big Bands (The Glenn Miller Story) are featured too.  A wide variety of musical genres is represented this month and, as if often the true with biopics, there’s sometimes a rather wide variance been reel life and real life.

Also this month:  Two special silent film screenings, September 15 with Ben Model and the September 29 with Andrew Simpson.

Actor Lou Diamond Phillips in front of microphone as Ritchie Valens
“La Bamba” (1987)

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7  @ 7:30 p.m.

La Bamba  (Columbia. 1987)  – Ritchie Valens

Ritchie Valens passed away in the same plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.  He was only 17 years old and, like Holly, was on his way to becoming a major rock and roll star.  Lou Diamond Phillips admirably portrays Valens in the film.   Ritchie Valens’ recording of “La Bamba” was added to the National Recording Registry in 2019. Color, 108 minutes.

Diana Ross in profile against deep purple background
“Lady Sings the Blues” (1972)

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8  @ 7:30 p.m.

Lady Sings The Blues (Paramount, 1972) – Billie Holiday

Diana Ross was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of singer Billie Holiday. A competitor and friend of Ella Fitzgerald, Holiday was a major influence for a generation of singers, including the likes of Frank Sinatra. Her skill in singing was never quite matched with an ability to live life.  Her recording of “Strange Fruit” was added to the National Recording Registry in 2002. Color, 144 minutes.

Jimmy Stewart as trombone-playing Miller in film poster for biopic
“The Glenn Miller Story” (1954)

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14  @ 7:30 p.m.

The Glenn Miller Story (Universal-International, 1954) – Glenn Miller

Nobody was bigger on the music scene in the late 1930s -early 1940s than Glenn Miller. But a thing called World War II came along and Miller enlisted his band in the Army for the war effort.  He would end up being one of the millions of US war deaths.  Jimmy Stewart, a WWII veteran himself, portrays the bandleader and June Allyson portrays Miller’s wife Helen.   One of the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s best known tunes, “In the Mood,” was added to the National Recording Registry in 2004. Black & White, 116 minutes.

Laurel and Hardy, each in black bowler, give the "Shhh" sign
Laurel & Hardy

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 @ 7:30 p.m

Laurel & Hardy Silents  (Pathe and MGM 1927) – SILENT FILM SCREENING with BEN MODEL

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy became a comedy team in 1927 and almost immediately established themselves as the best of all time.  This program will feature four of their shorts from that landmark year:  Duck Soup, Putting Pants on Philip, The Second 100 Hundred Years and Do Detectives Think? Black & White, 90 minutes.

James Cagney in red, white and blue top hat as George M. Cohan promoting film
“Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942)

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 @ 7:30 p.m.

Yankee Doodle Dandy (Warner Bros, 1942) – George M. Cohan

For the first two decades of the 20th Century, no one was bigger on Broadway than George M. Cohan. Performer, songwriter, producer, and theater owner, Cohan did it all.  He even wrote the Great White Way’s theme song “Give My Regards to Broadway.”  Usual tough guy James Cagney showed his song and dance chops in his masterful portrayal of Cohan. The film was added to the National Film Registry in 1993. Black & White, 126 minutes.

Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison in close-up with literally flaming hair
“The Doors” (1985)

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22  @ 7:30 p.m.

The Doors  (TriStar, 1985) – The Doors

Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore formed one of the great rock bands of the sixties. It was chiefly Morrison’s charisma and then his death that account for the rise and fall of the group.  Val Kilmer received almost universal praise for his portrayal of the charismatic yet troubled Morrison. The band’s debut album The Doors was added to the National Recording Registry in 2014.  Rated R. Color, 141 minutes.

Yellow backdrop and black graphics promote the 1968 Fanny Brice biopic
“Funny Girl” (1968)

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 28  @ 7:30 p.m.

Funny Girl (Columbia, 1968) – Fanny Brice

Teenager Fanny Brice started in burlesque than graduated to Flo Ziegfeld’s Follies. Soon she was also a recording star and a radio personality. Barbra Streisand also started performing as a teenager and found decent success as an actress and recording artist.  Superstardom came with her portrayal of Fanny Brice in the original Broadway production of Funny Girl.  The album People (which included the song from the play) was added to the National Recording Registry and film was added to the National Film Registry both in 2016. Color, 149 minutes.

Three moody black and white images from the silent film "The Lady"
“The Lady” (1925)

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 @ 7:30 p.m.

The Lady (First National, 1925) – SILENT FILM SCREENING with ANDREW SIMPSON

Director Frank Borzage tells the story of a young woman (Norma Talmadge) who finds love and happiness with a husband and son.  But then loses both.  The film was written by Frances Marion, one  of the highest regarded  film writers of the Silent Era (or any era). Plus a selected short subject. Black & White, 100 minutes.



Please note:  Due to necessary electrical maintenance to the NAVCC facility, the film screening schedule for the next few months will be altered. The Packard Campus Theater will be screening films on Thursday and Friday nights only. Programs are free and the matinee shows will be family friendly. 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.

Wearing face masks is recommended as the theater is open to 100% capacity. Patrons must go through an “airport style” security check, and no large parcels, purses or backpacks are permitted.

Federal law (18 U.S.C. 930) prohibits the possession of any firearm or other dangerous weapon into this Federal facility.  This includes in the parking lot, all roads, trails, and grounds as well as the building. This also applies to off-duty law enforcement officers (LEO) and concealed-carry permit holders.

The Packard Campus is located at 19053 Mount Pony Road in Culpeper, Virginia. Access to the campus parking lot begins one hour before show time; entrance into the building begins 45 minutes before the show, and the theater opens for seating 30 minutes before the curtain. Please do not arrive early and queue at the Packard Campus gate.

The Library of Congress Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center oversees one of the largest collections of motion pictures in the world. Acquired primarily through copyright deposit, exchange, gift and purchase, the Collection spans the entire history of the cinema. Since 2008, the art deco theater located at the Packard Campus has shown films each week and screened more than 2,500 titles. The programs will again highlight the best in cinema, including silent films, Hollywood classics, kids’ cartoons and foreign films.


For more information on LC screenings, see this link.


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