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Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive

This summer, the Harvard Film Archive again pays homage to the art-house programs of a bygone era by assembling a season of double-feature screenings drawn from the Archive's extensive collection of 7,000 prints. This year, our alphabetical arrangement shifts from film titles to what the great American director Frank Capra called "The Name above the Title." Prior to Capra's contractual insistence, that space was typically the provenance of a film's producer and its stars. Capra held that a film's credits should reflect the "one-picture, one-director" ethos that guided the work of major practitioners. While most cinephiles trace the advent of such an auteurist approach to the early days of Cahiers du cinéma and the impassioned writings of the American film critic Andrew Sarris, we prefer to let the director be our guide.

Among the directors showcased this season are auteurs old and new, east and west, mainstream and independent. Included are such masters of the medium as Almodóvar, Antonioni, Bergman, Campion, Godard, Huston, Keaton, Kubrick, Lubitsch, Oshima, Vigo, and Wyler. Several of the pairings allow us to bring together directors with oddly similar names (Lee and Leigh, Roemer and Rohmer), to contrast films from the same year, or to trace the evolution of the literary adaptation. As well, we have included masterpieces of the movie musical (Singin' in the Rain and The Band Wagon), the best of the b-films (Detour and The Naked Kiss), and classic comedies (Some Like It Hot and The Producers). And the season would not be complete without the chanceto spotlight the director who placed his name above the title-Frank Capra, in a rarely revived, key early work, The Miracle Woman.


We again encourage your active participation by offering a single admission fee, which will gain you entry to all the features for a given evening.


July 1 (Sunday) 7 pm

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Directed by Woody Allen
US 1989, 35mm, color, 104 min.
With Martin Landau, Alan Alda, Mia Farrow

Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors is a thriller that poses a penetrating question: could you have a fulfilling life with the knowledge that you had committed murder? Ophthalmologist Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau) has the perfect life-good friends, a kind wife, a successful practice. His only difficulty is ending his brief affair with flight attendant Dolores Paley (Anjelica Huston), who is hell-bent on ruining his life. When his brother suggests using mob connections to have Dolores killed, Judah is forced to question his own upbringing and basic moral values. Allen's darkest comedy, Crimes and Misdemeanors proposes a world in which virtue is punished, evil-doing is rewarded, and laughter erupts at the most inappropriate times.

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July 1 (Sunday) 9 pm

Blow-Up

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
UK 1966, 35mm, color, 110 min.
With David Hemmings, Sarah Miles, Vanessa Redgrave

In Antonioni's first English-language film, a fashion photographer-social documentarian worries about the correlation between art and life and gets caught up in a murder plot with an intriguing stranger, forcing him to question life's most basic moral propositions and ask whether two human beings can ever truly communicate. A dazzling riddle of perception versus reality, laced with a sexual frankness never before seen in commercial cinema, Blow-Up continues to capture audiences with its depiction of the swinging London scene of the mid-1960s.

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July 2 (Monday) 7 pm

My Brilliant Career

Directed by Gillian Armstrong
Australia 1979, 35mm, color, 100 min.
With Judy Davis, Sam Neill, Wendy Hughes

Based on the true story of a resolute young woman who turns her back on social convention and follows her dream to become a writer, My Brilliant Career is a paean to turn-of-the-century Australia. Gillian Armstrong's feature debut is both stunning in its lyricism and utterly depressing; what makes it timeless is the feminist subtext of its heroine's commitment to creativity and indepen-dence. The film introduced audiences to Judy Davis, who is radiant in her star-making role as Sybylla Melvyn.


July 2 (Monday) 9 pm

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios)

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Spain 1988, 35mm, color, 89 min.
With Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Julieta Serrano
Spanish with English subtitles

Mix one part Doris Day-Technicolor frivolity with the melodrama of Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar, shake with an ample portion of screwball comedy, and update the film's location to Madrid circa 1988-the result is this farcical hit comedy by Pedro Almodóvar. Soap star Pepa (Almodóvar favorite Carmen Maura) is losing her mind because her lover Iván is leaving her. Iván's wife goes on a gun-toting rampage when she finds out. Meanwhile, Pepa's friend Candela needs a place to hide because she unwittingly fell for a Shiite terrorist. At Pepa's, she meets Iván's son Carlos (Antonio Banderas), whose fiancée has been drugged by Pepa's Valium-laced gazpacho. Confusing? Absolutely, but how can you resist a film where kindly grandmothers make the nightly news and the mother of a notorious killer endorses detergent?

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July 3 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Smiles of a Summer Night (Sommarnattens Leende)

Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Sweden 1955, 35mm, b/w, 105 min.
With Gunnar Björnstrand, Eva Dahlbeck, Ulla Jacobsson
Swedish with English subtitles

Possibly the finest romantic comedy ever made, Smiles of a Summer Night is Bergman's elegy to the transience of love. A tragicomic discourse on manners, morality, and sex, the film is set at a country estate during a fin-de-siècle weekend as eight characters evolve into four couples. The theatrical satire and sexual farce have long-standing roots in Shakespeare and burlesque, but the glimpses of despair and contempt reveal Bergman's distinctive touch. Bergman's opus, which inspired both a Broadway musical and film of the same title (not to mention Woody Allen's A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy), is a genuinely comic and superbly acted rondo of love.

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July 3 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Tender Mercies

Directed by Bruce Beresford
US 1983, 35mm, color, 92 min.
With Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, Betty Buckley

The often overlooked Tender Mercies is a winning, low-key film about a country singer who finds the inspiration to put his life back together when he meets an attractive young widow and her little boy. It features a tour-de-force, Oscar-winning performance by Robert Duvall as Mac Sledge, but the film's true strength comes from Horton Foote's sensitively written screenplay (which also won an Oscar). Foote refused to approach this material as soap opera or drama: the movie unfolds quietly and simply, and the big emotional moments sneak up on the audience as effects are indirectly achieved. The film's theme song, "It Hurts to Face Reality," was both written and performed by Duvall.

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July 5 (Thursday) 7 pm

The Producers

Directed by Mel Brooks
US 1968, 35mm, color, 88 min.
With Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars

The great Zero Mostel plays down-and-out Broadway producer Max Bialystock, a character of Ben Jonsonian magnitude reduced to making love to elderly widows in an effort to raise financial backing. Gene Wilder is his hyper-nervous accountant who unintentionally comes up with a dubious get-rich-quick scheme requiring a colossal flop. The two agree on the sure-fire disaster Springtime for Hitler, a kitschy musical tribute to Adolf written by a crazed, unassimilated Nazi (Kenneth Mars). Amazingly, the tasteless Busby Berkeley-meets-Leni Riefenstahl musical turns out to be a huge Broadway hit. The hilarious farce, a cult classic, earned Brooks an Oscar for best original screenplay and spawned the current Broadway production starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.

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July 5 (Thursday) 8:45 pm

Lost in America

Directed by Albert Brooks
US 1985, 35mm, color, 91 min.
With Albert Brooks, Julie Hagerty, Michael Greene

Often dismissed as a "yuppie film," Lost in America is really concerned with the universal subjects of greed, hedonism, and panic. Writer-director Brooks plays David Howard, a desperate man trapped by his own expectations. He makes a lot of money but not enough; lives in a big house but is outgrowing it; drives an expensive car but not a Mercedes; is a top executive but not a vice president. Unwilling to take a transfer, he quits his job, convinces his wife (Julie Hagerty) to do the same, and makes plans to go on the road indefinitely in their Winnebago. What unfolds is Brooks's attempt to satirize the upper middle class from within: its nagging terror and the complacency of settling for being less than perfect.

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July 6 (Friday) 7 pm

The Miracle Woman

Directed by Frank Capra
US 1932, 35mm, b/w, 90 min.
With Barbara Stanwyck, Sam Hardy, David Manners

Barbara Stanwyck gives a superlative early performance as a young evangelist who is transformed into a big-time religious phenomenon by a carnival promoter. Frank Capra based his film loosely on the life of scandal-prone preacher Aimee Semple McPherson, softening the hard edges of the story by redeeming the heroine through her unselfish love for a blind aviator. Handsomely lit by Capra regular Joseph Walker and crisply written by Jo Swerling (Lifeboat, Guys and Dolls), The Miracle Woman is arguably Capra’s first sound-film masterpiece.

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July 6 (Friday) 8:45 pm

Woman Under the Influence

Directed by John Cassavetes
US 1974, 35mm, color, 148 min.
With Peter Falk, Gena Rowlands, Seymour Cassel

John Cassavetes offered a new cine-matic vision to Americans, one centered on relationships and fueled by the raw performances of his extraordinary ensemble company. A Woman Under the Influence is perhaps his most fully realized work. Gena Rowland's performance earned her an Academy Award nomination for her riveting portrayal of the emotionally broken Mabel, who struggles to remain sane in a world where she is expected to "grin and bear it." Peter Falk is equally potent as Mabel's hard-hat husband, who cannot handle her slide into insanity.

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July 7 (Saturday) 7 pm

Sons and Lovers

Directed by Jack Cardiff
UK 1960, 35mm, b/w, 103 min.
With Dean Stockwell, Trevor Howard, Wendy Hiller

Set against the background of a grimy village near Nottingham, this story of a coal miner's son with promising artistic talents unfolds slowly in Jack Cardiff's adaptation of D. H. Lawrence's semi-autobiographical novel. Caught up in the constant bickering of his possessive mother and his tough but sensitive father, Paul Morel (Dean Stockwell) sacrifices his chance to study art in London, gives up the local girl he loves, and eventually becomes involved with a woman separated from her husband. A sensitive and intelligent interpretation of a difficult novel, the film boasts strong performances by Stockwell and Trevor Howard, who as the drunken miner father delivers possibly the best performance of his career.

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July 7 (Saturday) 9 pm

Sweetie

Directed by Jane Campion
Australia 1989, 35mm, color, 100 min.
With Geneviève Lemon, Karen Colston

Jane Campion garnered international attention for her eccentric tale of a Sydney girl who must stand by while her overweight, messy, delusional sister, Sweetie, moves into the apartment she shares with her boyfriend. The quirky constellation of characters and situations that spin around the rival sisters include a vaguely mad father, hints of incest, New Age spiritualism, and an auto trip into a surrealist vision of the Australian West. Campion's first feature has often been compared to the work of David Lynch, but her themes owe far more to the influence of her favorite director, Luis Buñuel. For purists, Sweetie remains Campion's masterpiece.

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July 8 (Sunday) 7 pm

Singin' in the Rain

Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly
US 1952, 35mm, color, 102 min.
Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds

The ultimate screen musical, Singin' in the Rain has it all-memorable songs, incomparable dancing, a razor-sharp story, and spot-on performances, all dizzyingly directed at a frantic pace that mirrors the era it profiles: the moment when silent films gained sound. Undervalued in its own time, through the work of critics like Pauline Kael the film has attained legendary status. An "integrated" musical in which the production numbers meld seamlessly with the story of Hollywood on the verge of a new era, Singin' in the Rain reprises the songs of its movie-musical ancestors while setting the stage for this stunning summation of Gene Kelly's career.

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July 8 (Sunday) 9 pm

The Young Girls of Rochefort (Les Demoiselles de Rochefort)

Directed by Jacques Demy
France 1967, 35mm scope, color, 126 min.
With Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Dorléac, Gene Kelly

The Young Girls of Rochefort is Jacques Demy's follow-up to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Filmed in Necco Wafer pastels by Umbrellas cinematog-rapher Ghislain Cloquet, the film follows two fraternal twins (real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac) as they pine for love and the excitement of Paris. From its use of American musical stars Gene Kelly (who even at 56 can dance everyone else under the table) and George Chakiris to its final musical number, "Chantez l'Amour! Dansez le Joie!" (with Deneuve and Dorléac decked out in red sequins à la Russell and Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) The Young Girls of Rochefort is a carefree tribute to the classic Hollywood musical.

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