The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus.
Thursday, December 14 (7:30 p.m.)
Double Feature: 1930s Leading Ladies – Ginger Rogers and Claudette Colbert
The Thirteenth Guest (Monogram, 1932)
Ginger Rogers stars as Marie Morgan, one of the guests who are reassembled from a dinner party that took place 13 years earlier, at which the host fell dead, in order to solve the mystery of an unnamed 13th guest to whom the deceased bequeathed his estate. This comedy mystery chiller directed by Albert Ray also stars Lyle Talbot and J. Farrell MacDonald. Although Rogers had made more than a dozen films prior to this one, she was still a year away from her breakthrough role in Flying Down to Rio with Fred Astaire.
I Cover the Waterfront (United Artists, 1933)
In this frank, pre-code drama, San Diego newspaper reporter H. Joseph Miller (Ben Lyon) investigates fisherman Eli Kirk (Ernest Torrence in his final screen appearance), certain that he is smuggling illegal Chinese immigrants into the country. Miller romances Kirk’s free-spirited daughter, Julie (Claudette Colbert), while trying to find proof of the crime. Born in France, Colbert became a Broadway star before breaking into films with the advent of talking pictures. By 1933, she had already appeared in 20 films and would win an Oscar the following year for her work in Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night.
Friday, December 15 (7:30 p.m.)
Double Feature: 1930s Romance
Love Affair (RKO Radio, 1939)
Leo McCarey directed this shipboard romance classic about two strangers who meet aboard an ocean liner and fall in love despite the fact that they are both engaged to marry other people. As a test of their relationship, the couple agrees to meet in six months on top of the Empire State Building after they have sorted out their lives. With Charles Boyer as the French playboy Michael Marnet and Irene Dunne as the American former nightclub singer Terry McKay, the lovers reunite on Christmas Eve. Though perhaps less well known than McCarey’s 1957 color and CinemaScope remake, An Affair to Remember starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, this original version received six Oscar nominations to Affair’s three, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Dunne, and Best Supporting Actress for Maria Ouspenskaya who plays Boyer’s mother.
Romance and Riches (a.k.a. The Amazing Adventure) (Grand National, 1936)
Cary Grant stars as Ernest Bliss, a bored millionaire who wagers his doctor that he can support himself at a working class job for year without touching his inheritance. The first picture Grant made as a freelance actor, this brisk and endearing romantic comedy is perfectly paced and a rare treat to see. Based on a novel by E. Phillips Oppenheim, the film was directed by Alfred Zeisler and costars Mary Brian as Grant’s love interest.
Saturday, December 16 (2 p.m.)
It’s a Wonderful Life (RKO, 1946)
Director Frank Capra created a holiday favorite with this story of a once ambitious young man George Bailey (James Stewart) who sacrifices personal adventure to stand up against the despot Mr. Potter who tyrannizes his small hometown (Lionel Barrymore). When it looks like Potter has finally beaten him, George wishes he’d never been born and an apprentice angel (Henry Travers) grants his wish by showing him the bleak parallel universe that might have been. Suggested by a short story written as a Christmas card by author and historian Philip Van Doren Stern, Capra and writers Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett crafted the screenplay for this film which has become synonymous with Christmas. The film—named to the National Film Registry in 1990 – also stars Donna Reed, Thomas Mitchell and Beulah Bondi.
Saturday, December 16 (7:30 p.m.)
Swing High, Swing Low (Paramount, 1937)
Fred MacMurray and Carole Lombard star in this second film adaptation of the prestigious Broadway hit Burlesque. (The first being 1929’s Dance of Life which is playing at the Packard Campus Theater on December 2.) This time, MacMurray’s character, Skid, is a trumpet player instead of a dancer, with Lombard as Maggie, his long-suffering girlfriend. Though Maggie helps to bolster his career, Skip’s degenerate ways ultimately lead to his downfall. As directed by the stylish and meticulous Mitchell Leisen, Swing High, Swing Low showcases Lombard and MacMurray’s natural chemistry in this, the third of four films they made together. The film was one of Paramount’s most profitable entries for 1937.
For more information on our programs, please visit the website at: www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/.