The Packard Campus Theater celebrates Black History Month with a number of films featuring an all or nearly all black cast, including the best foreign language film Oscar winner for 1959, Black Orpheus, and the critically acclaimed and inspirational family film from 2006, Akeelah and the Bee.
Romantic movies for Valentine’s Day and beyond include the Best Picture Oscar winner for 1998, Shakespeare in Love, the rom-com Music and Lyrics starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, and the 1932 pre-Code musical Love Me Tonight which was added to the National Film Registry in 1990.
Other highlights for the month include Lincoln starring Daniel Day-Lewis in commemoration of President’s Day, and two classics from the National Film Registry, Singin’ in the Rain and Shane.
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 may 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 //www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/schedule.html
Friday, February 1 (7:30 p.m.)
Black Orpheus (Lopert Films, 1959)
Winner of both the Academy Award for best foreign language film and the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or, Marcel Camus’ Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) brings the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to the twentieth-century madness of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. With its eye-popping photography and ravishing, epochal soundtrack, Black Orpheus was an international cultural event, and it kicked off the bossa nova craze that set hi-fis across America spinning. The romantic drama was made in Brazil by French director Marcel Camus and stars Marpessa Dawn and Breno Mello. It was an international co-production among production companies in Brazil, France and Italy. 35mm film print courtesy of Janus Films, 107 min.
Saturday, February 2 (7:30 p.m.)
Singin’ in the Rain (MGM, 1952)
This rollicking musical satire of Hollywood in the 1920s when film transitioned from silent to sound features outstanding performances by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Jean Hagen and Gene Kelly, who co-directed the film with Stanley Donen. Now considered one of the greatest musicals ever filmed, it’s filled with memorable songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, lavish routines and Kelly’s fabulous song-and-dance number performed in the rain. Although Debbie Reynolds had made a few movies prior to her role as Kathy Selden, this is the film that made her a star and one of the films for which she is best remembered. The film was one of the first to be selected for the National Film Registry in its first year – 1989. 35mm archival print, 103 min.
Thursday, February 7 (7:30 p.m.)
Bright Road (MGM, 1953)
A year before Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte made the Cinemascope color musical “Carmen Jones,” they starred together in this low-budget but sincere drama about a rural teacher in a southern school trying to reach a problem child. Directed by Gerald Mayer and adapted from a Christopher Award-winning story by West Indian schoolteacher Mary Elizabeth Vroman, Bright Road was an anomaly for an African American film of the period in that it was neither a musical nor a treatment of racial issues. Vroman helped write the screenplay and in so doing, becoming the first black member of the Screen Writers Guild. 35mm archival print, 68 min.
Friday, February 8 (7:30 p.m.)
The Unsuspected (Warner Bros., 1947)
Michael Curtiz directed this film noir murder mystery starring Claude Rains as Victor Grandison, the well-known host of a true-crime radio program. Following the mysterious death of an employee at his mansion, Grandison becomes embroiled in an elaborate plot involving impersonation, blackmail and murder. With Curtiz’s skilled direction, Woody Bredell’s evocative cinematography, sharp dialogue, and a first-rate cast including Audrey Totter, Constance Bennett and Joan Caulfield, The Unsuspected has been singled out as an underrated example of the genre, loaded with quintessential noir scenes. Film noir historian Eddie Muller wrote, “This is what you want – it’s a locked room mystery story with incredibly well-dressed people beautifully photographed; it’s absolutely spectacular.” 35mm film print produced by the Library of Congress Film Preservation lab in 2014. 103 min.
Saturday, February 9 (7:30 p.m.)
Lincoln (Touchstone Pictures, 2012)
Daniel Day-Lewis portrays the 16th President of the United States in this critically acclaimed historical drama set during the final four months of Lincoln’s life. Tony Kushner’s screenplay was loosely based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biographical portrait “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” and focuses on Lincoln’s efforts to have the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed by the House of Representatives. Filming took place at several historic structures in Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Petersburg, Virginia. Directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, the film also features Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook and Tommy Lee Jones in supporting roles. More than 30 national critics named Lincoln to their Top Ten Films of the Year list and it received multiple nominations and awards, including twelve Oscar nominations. Rated PG-13. 35mm archival film print. 149 min.
Thursday, February 14 (7:30 p.m.)
Shakespeare in Love (Miramax, 1998 – rated R*)
This historical romantic comedy speculates about where the young William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes), who is short on cash and ideas, finds inspiration for one of his best-known works, “Romeo and Juliet.” Much credit is given to the playwright’s growing love for the fictional Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow), a woman of means striving to find her place in a world governed by men. Directed by John Madden and written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, Shakespeare in Love was a hit with audiences and critics alike. Janet Maslin wrote in her New York Times review, “Galvanized by the near-total absence of biographical data, it soars freely into the realm of invention, wittily weaving Shakespearean language and emotion into an intoxicatingly glamorous romance.” Among its many accolades, the film won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth I), and Best Original Screenplay. * No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian. 35mm archival film print. 123 min.
Thursday, February 21 (7:30 p.m.)
Music and Lyrics (Warner Bros., 2007)
Hugh Grant stars in this romantic comedy as Alex Fletcher, a washed-up eighties pop star who was part of the fictional band PoP!, (inspired by Wham! and Duran Duran). He gets a chance to make a comeback when a reigning pop diva (Haley Bennett) asks him to write a song for her. Stuck on the song’s lyrics, he finds assistance from Sophie (Drew Barrymore), a house plant technician he has just met, and the two find they are in sync in more ways than just music. The film features Grant performing “PoP! Goes My Heart” in a hilarious parody of 1980s-MTV style videos. Film critics remarked on the “surprisingly easy chemistry between Grant and Barrymore” (Jack Matthews, New York Daily News) and “undeniable adorability factor of each of the performers” (Stephen Hunter, Washington Post). More recently, Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday called “Music and Lyrics” a “scandalously overlooked rom-com” in her write-up for the year 2007 in the Post’s article “The best year in movie history was” (Dec. 30, 2018). Rated PG-13. 35mm archival film print, 96 min.
Friday, February 22 (7:30 p.m.)
Love Me Tonight (Paramount, 1932)
According to director Rouben Mamoulian, Paramount executive Adolph Zukor hurried Love Me Tonight into production to keep two of his more expensive contract players, Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald, from sitting idle. If Mamoulian rushed, it doesn’t show in what film historians consider one of the best and most original of 1930s musicals. By pre-recording the entire score, Mamoulian, who was influenced by the work of Ernst Lubitsch and Rene Clair, combined sound and image with more fluidity than most early musicals achieved. Songs by Rodgers and Hart – including Isn’t It Romantic and Mimi – and an effervescent script filled with risqué innuendo are brought to life by Chevalier’s saucy charm and MacDonald’s angelic voice and beauty. Added to the National Film Registry in 1990, the film features an outstanding supporting cast including Myrna Loy, Charles Ruggles, Charles Butterworth and C. Aubrey Smith. 35mm archival film print. 95 min.
Saturday, February 23 (2 p.m.)
Akeelah and the Bee (Lionsgate, 2006)
In this family-friendly inspirational underdog story, eleven-year-old Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer) is determined to spell her way out of South Los Angeles and make it to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. With a supportive tutor coaching her, Akeelah may even show her pessimistic mother (Angela Bassett) she has what it takes to win. Written and directed by Doug Atchison the cast also features Laurence Fishburne and Curtis Armstrong. The National Board of Review elected Akeelah and the Bee one of the top ten independent films produced in 2006. Among the many awards and nominations the film received were five NAACP Image Awards nominations, winning Outstanding Writing for a Feature Film and Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for Keke Palmer. Rated PG. 35mm archival film print, 112 min.
Saturday, February 23 (7:30 p.m.)
Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (Miramax, 1992 – rated R*)
Chantel (Ariyan Johnson) is an outspoken high school student who wants to get out of Brooklyn and into medical school; she is determined to be seen as more than just another girl on the train that takes her to Manhattan. Writer, director, and producer Leslie Harris shot her debut film Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. on 16mm film in 17 days with a shoestring budget of $130,000. The film was made with grants from the American Film Institute, National Endowment for the Arts, the Brooklyn Arts Council, and the Jerome Foundation, and went on to win the Special Jury Prize at Sundance. Harris described her independent feature as “a film Hollywood dared not to do” and as a coming of age film from a young black woman’s point of view. The film also stars Kevin Thigpen and Ebony Jerido. * No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian. 35mm archival film print. 92 min.
Thursday, February 28 (7:30 p.m.)
Shane (Paramount, 1953)
George Stevens directed this adaptation of Jack Schaefer’s novel in which Shane, a former gunfighter fighter (Alan Ladd), comes to the defense of homesteaders who are being terrorized by a cattle baron who wants their land. Van Heflin, Jean Arthur (in her last screen appearance) and Brandon de Wilde portray the Starrett family who befriends Shane. Loyal Griggs lush color cinematography won an Academy Award for this western drama. Shane was tapped for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1993. 35mm archival print, 118 min.