The Harvard Film Archive pays homage to the art-house programs of a bygone era by assembling a summer season of double-feature screenings drawn from its extensive collection of 7,000 prints. This year, our alphabetical arrangement shifts from film directors to film actors: incomparable legends of the silent cinema and contemporary screen icons, the actresses and leading men of Hollywood and their international counterparts, mainstream stars and independent talents. Included are such electrifying performers as the legendary German actor Emil Jannings; British legends John Gielgud, Alec Guiness, and Lawrence Olivier; and a host of leading ladies from Jean Arthur to Barbara Stanwyck, Julie Christie to Elizabeth Taylor. Some of the film pairings allow us to bring together performers from distinct traditions; others contrast films from the same year or trace the evolution of acting styles. As usual, we have included celebrated art films (Wild Strawberries, Red Desert), masterpieces of silent cinema (The Last Laugh and The Passion of Joan of Arc), and classic comedies (Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Philadelphia Story).
We again encourage your active participation by offering a single admission fee that provides entry to all the features for a given evening.
Actors A to Z: Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive is supported in part by the Harvard Extension School and the Summer School. Students 18 and under pay only $3.
July 18 (Thursday) 7 pm
July 20 (Saturday) 7 pm
Directed by John Ford
US 1934, 35mm, b/w, 74 min.
With Victor McLaglen, Wallace Ford
John Ford’s incisive study of men under pressure from an unseen enemy is set in the North African desert, where a British patrol is lost and under siege during the First World War. Focusing on character more than plot, the film chronicles the fear and delirium that sets in as the soldiers in the patrol fall victim to Arab sniper attack. Boris Karloff’s remarkable performance as a soldier who is convinced the patrol is doomed is memorable as much for its sheer intensity as for its stylistic excesses.
July 18 (Thursday) 8:30 pm
July 20 (Saturday) 8:30 pm
Directed by Werner Herzog
West Germany 1972, 35mm, color, 95 min.
With Ruy Guerra, Del Negro
German with English subtitles
Filming in South America, Herzog recreated the exploits of sixteenth-century Spanish explorer Aguirre, who searched with his retinue for El Dorado over mountains, through jungles, and down a great river. The film is at once documentary in style and deliriously lyrical: although it identifies with Aguirre’s obsessed and unbalanced state of mind, it maintains a critical and ironic distance on the whole adventure. Kinski’s performance in the title role is nothing shot of phenomenal.
July 19 (Friday) 7 pm
Directed by Zhang Yimou and Yang Fengliang
China/Japan 1990, 35mm, color, 95 min.
With Li Baotian, Li Wei
Mandarin with English subtitles
A fatalistic, Oedipal fable about an abusive husband, his new bride, and the adopted nephew who falls in love with her, Zhang Yimou’s Ju Dou is a disturbing tragedy that counts pyromania and manslaughter among its dramatic developments. Zhang, trained as a cinematographer, creates visually stunning, edenic landscapes and then exposes the hellish realities beneath them. Banned in China on its initial release, the film went on to win numerous international film awards, including a nomination for best foreign language film at the1990 Academy Awards.
July 19 (Friday) 8:45 pm
Directed by Elia Kazan
US 1951, 35mm, b/w, 125 min.
With Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter
Elia Kazan reunited much of the all-star cast from his hit Broadway production for this screen adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s famous play. Vivien Leigh brilliantly evokes the neurotic fragility of Blanche Dubois, a fallen southern belle whose pretences to gentility are put to the test when she comes to New Orleans to visit her sister, Stella (Hunter), and brutish brother-in-law, Stanley (Brando). Kazan melds gritty, cinematic realism with the stylized dialogue of the theater in this classic that made Brando a star and garnered Oscars for Leigh, Hunter, and Karl Malden.
July 21 (Sunday) 7 pm
July 23 (Tuesday) 7 pm
Directed by Pietro Germi
Italy 1962, 35mm, b/w, 108 min.
With Daniela Rocca, Stefania Sandrelli
Italian with English subtitles
Mastroianni’s brilliant comic performance in this first of a series of “Italian Style” comedies garnered international acclaim for both the film and the actor. He won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for his rendition of a condescending and bored Sicilian nobleman who decides the most efficient way to marry his attractive teenage cousin is to murder his current wife. The carefully crafted plot sheds light on the hypocrisy of the Italian legal system and prevailing mores.
July 21 (Sunday) 9 pm
July 23 (Tuesday) 9 pm
Directed by Martin Scorsese
US 1980, 35mm, b/w and color, 129 min.
With Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci
Based on the life of middleweight boxing champion Jake LaMotta, Martin Scorsese’s searingly gorgeous black-and-white study is an uncomprising, brutal, and emotionally wrenching investigation of violence in the domestic and public arenas. De Niro’s Oscar-winning portrayal of LaMotta brings near-documentary precision to the jealousy-induced rage he dispenses both in the ring and at home. Cathy Moriarty’s masterful embodiment of the wife’s transition from golden-haired teen to world-weary housewife received its own Oscar nomination.
July 22 (Monday) 7 pm
Directed by Karel Reisz
US 1978, 35mm, color, 125 min.
With Michael Moriarty, Tuesday Weld
Based on Robert Stone’s classic novel Dog Soldiers, about the moral and psychological consequences of the Vietnam War, Who’ll Stop the Rain follows a jaundiced war correspondent (Moriarty) and his ex-Marine buddy (Nolte) from the battlefields of Vietnam back to counterculture Berkeley, where their plot to smuggle heroin into the States sours into bloodshed and ruin. Set amongst the cultural icons of a dying drug and hippie culture in 1971, the film exacts a complex performance from Nolte, whom Newsweek’s David Ansen described as “a fascinating mixture of raw physical power, courage, and pathology.”
July 22 (Monday) 9:15 pm
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
US 1967, 35mm, color, 126 min.
With George Kennedy, J. D. Cannon
This critical and box-office hit came to symbolize antiauthoritian attitudes of the time. Paul Newman’s Luke is an irreverent loner who is put on a chain gang for destroying parking meters. When he stands up to the gang’s merciless boss, he becomes an unlikely hero to his fellow prisoners. Donn Pearce adapted his own novel for the screenplay, which expertly dissects old-fashioned attitudes of the American South. Newman’s controlled portrayal of the gutsy prisoner earned him an Academy Award nomination.