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July 24 - August 3, 2002

Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive (Actors O-T)

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 24 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Gary Oldman: The Firm

Directed by Alan Clarke
UK 1989, 16mm, color, 68 min.
With Lesley Manville, Phil Davis

This made-for-television drama was the final film by politcally charged British director Alan Clarke, who succumbed to cancer in 1990. Set in the Thatcherite social milieu of 1980s Britain, The Firm focuses on Gary Oldman’s blisteringly intense portrayal of a solidly middle-class urban professional and family man who becomes ‘top boy’ in a gang of ragingly violent football hooligans on the weekends.

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July 24 (Wednesday) 8:30 pm

Laurence Olivier: Rebecca

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
US 1940, 35mm, b/w, 130 min.
With Joan Fontaine, George Sanders

Hitchcock’s first Hollywood film, based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, is a gripping blend of detective story, gothic romance, and psychological drama. Joan Fontaine gives a distinguished performance as a young woman who marries a fascinating widower only to discover she must live in the shadow of his former wife, Rebecca, who died mysteriously several years earlier. Olivier garnered a Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of the handsome but cold husband, a Cornish landowner tortured by the memories of his dead wife as he tries to begin life anew.

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July 25 (Thursday) 7 pm
July 27 (Saturday) 7 pm

River Phoenix: Running on Empty

Directed by Sidney Lumet
US 1988, 35mm, color, 116 min.
With Christine Lahti, Judd Hirsch

Sidney Lumet’s investigation of the aftermath of 60s radicalism features River Phoenix as Danny, a seventeen-year-old whose teenage preoccupations with girls and school are complicated by the dark past of his ex-activist parents—fugitives on the run for having blown up a napalm research center years earlier. This coming-of-age picture with a twist explores the additional emotional burdens that a legacy of secrecy imposes on the parent-child relationship as its contrasts the markedly transformed social milieus of the 1960s and 1980s.

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July 25 (Thursday) 9:15 pm
July 27 (Saturday) 9:15 pm

Al Pacino: Glengarry Glen Ross

Directed by James Foley
US 1992, 35mm, color, 100 min.
With Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin

The film version of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize–winning play is a scorching, profane investigation of the wheelings and dealings among a group of Chicago real-estate salesmen and a stunning showcase for a remarkable ensemble cast. Al Pacino gives a tour-de-force performance as Ricky Roma, the cocky, silver-tongued office hotshot. Of equal note are performances by Jack Lemmon as the one-time kingpin who has fallen on hard times, Alec Baldwin as the terrifying “motivator,” and Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, and Kevin Spacey as fellow salesmen-cum-con-artists.

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July 26 (Friday) 7 pm
July 28 (Sunday) 7 pm

Anthony Quinn: Requiem for a Heavyweight

Directed by Ralph Nelson
US 1962, 35mm, b/w, 85 min.
With Anthony Quinn, Jackie Gleason, Mickey Rooney

Six years after Jack Palance brilliantly essayed the character of Mountain Rivera on television’s “Playhouse 90,” Anthony Quinn took on the role of the battered boxer for this big-screen adaptation of Rod Serling’s Emmy-winning teleplay. As the film begins, Rivera, a veteran of 17 years in the ring, is beaten senseless by a younger, faster opponent (played by Cassius Clay, soon to be Muhammed Ali). Age and the physical punishment of the sport have taken their toll, but Rivera lacks the money to retire gracefully and his longtime manager (Gleason) suggests he start fighting crooked or switch to professional wrestling.  An unforgettable drama of abiding friendship and the abuse of trust, Quinn, Gleason, and Rooney, as Rivera’s erstwhile trainer, turn in magnificent performances.

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July 26 (Friday) 8:45 pm
July 28 (Sunday) 8:45 pm

Anthony Quinn: La Strada

Directed by Federico Fellini
Italy 1954, 35mm, b/w, 115 min.
With Giuletta Masina, Richard Basehart
Italian with English subtitles

Widely considered to be Fellini’s first masterpiece, La Strada features a masterful performance by Anthony Quinn as an itinerant strongman who purchases a tragic, affection-starved waif (the sublime Giuletta Masina) as his assistant for the price of a plate of pasta. He exploits her at every turn as they travel to grey and desolate towns that Fellini captures in strikingly poetic and symbolic imagery. Winner of an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, La Strada also features a haunting score by composer and lifelong Fellini associate Nino Rota.

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July 29 (Monday) 7 pm

Raimi: The Baker's Wife (La Femme du Boulanger)

Directed by Marcel Pagnol
France 1938, 35mm, b/w, 110 min.
With Ginette Leclerc, Charles Moulin
French with English Subtitles

The infidelity of the baker's wife, who leaves her husband for a handsome young shepherd, is forgivable to the members of a French village in Provence. But when the baker becomes too despondent to provide them with bread, the town loses its tolerance and bands together to bring the errant wife home.  Marcel Pagnol's adaptation of Jean Giono's novel is a witty, sensuous portrait of Provençal life.  Paimu's performance as the despairing cuckold made him famous.

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July 29 (Monday) 9 pm

Rosalind Russell: The Women

Directed by George Cukor
US 1939, 35mm, b/w and color, 131 min.
With Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford

Unique for it’s women-only cast—a gathering of some of the finest studio talent of the 1930s—George Cukor’s acid comedy about love and infidelity created a rare female view of the war between the sexes. A group of friends spirits society wife Mary Haines (Shearer) off to a dude ranch near Reno for divorce when they convince her that her husband’s affair with a shop girl (Crawford) must be avenged. Rosalind Russell delivers a wickedly comic performance as the confidente who gains sadistic pleasure from her friend’s misfortune.

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July 30 (Tuesday) 7 pm
July 31 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Barbara Stanwyck: The Lady Eve

Directed by Preston Sturges
US 1941, 35mm, b/w, 97 min.
With Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn

Screenwriter-director Preston Sturges had promised Barbara Stanwyck he would write a great comedy for her one day, and he delivered it with this sly little masterpiece of comic seduction that contains just the right blend of satire and slapstick. Stanwyck gives a dazzling performance as a gold digger who conspires to seduce Fonda, the shy, backward son of a wealthy brewer who sells beer under the slogan “Pike’s Pale, the Ale that Won for Yale.” Stanwyck pitches most of her delivery into a kind of hushed, urgent, and intimate whisper—creating an ultimate satire of feminine wiles.

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July 30 (Tuesday) 8:45 pm
July 31 (Wednesday) 8:45 pm

James Stewart: The Philadelphia Story

Directed by George Cukor
US 1940, 35mm, b/w, 112 min.
With Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant

While Hepburn and Grant are the locus of this romantic comedy about a Mainline society girl caught between her dull new fiancé and her irresponsible ex-husband, it is James Stewart—in the role of the gossip reporter who comes to expose her but falls in love—who stole the Academy Award for his performance. Cukor’s glossy adaptation of Philip Barry’s play about manners and morals in upper-crust society remains a classic of the screwball-comedy genre.

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August 1 (Thursday) 7 pm
August 3 (Saturday) 7 pm

Elizabeth Taylor: A Place in the Sun

Directed by George Cukor
US 1939, 35mm, b/w and color, 131 min.
With Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford

Although this brooding romantic drama has little in common with its source, Theordore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy, it exerts a melancholic, foreboding power all its own. Clift plays the poor relation of a wealthy manufacturer who falls in love with a beautiful socialite (Taylor) while having an affair with a factory girl (Winters). Elizabeth Taylor, who was only seventeen when Stevens cast her, fully commands the screen as the vivacious socialite Angela Vickers. Sumptuously photographed by William Mellor, the film took six Oscars, including awards for direction, screenplay, and cinematography.

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August 1 (Thursday) 9:15 pm
August 3 (Saturday) 9:15 pm

John Turturro: Miller’s Crossing

Directed by Joel Coen
US 1990, 35mm, color, 115 min.
With Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney

Set in 1929, Miller’s Crossing is the stylish story of an Irish crime boss and his cool, brainy aide whose friendship is severed when they fall in love with the same woman. The bloody gang war that ensues is artfully conveyed in that zone the Coen brothers have established so well: between a celebration of the conventions of the genre film and an ironic acknowledgement of their artifice. John Turturro’s searing performance as Bernie, a small-time bookie slated for murder, forms the film’s emotional core, which strikes at the callous opportunism and moral ambivalence of the prohibition era.

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