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July 19 - August 2

Conservator's Choice

The Harvard Film Archive’s world-class collection is especially rich in classic European art cinema, documentary and experimental film. Charged with the formidable task of discovering the rarest items within newly acquired collections, the Archive’s conservators have arguably the most in-depth knowledge of the HFA’s holdings. With this in mind, our conservators have assembled this special summer series as an alternate cross-section of the Archive, playfully juxtaposing auteurist art film with popular genre cinema. The many different kinds of cinephilic pleasures, be they intellectual or kinetic, are celebrated in an eclectic program that ranges from Shirley Clarke’s The Connection, a rarely screened classic of the New American Cinema, and the wonderful Beatles documentary Let It Be, to lesser-known treasures of the “vernacular fantastic,” from The Man Without a Body to Night of the Comet.

Series curated by Liz Coffey, Amy Sloper and Trisha Lendo of the HFA Conservation Center, who will each introduce one of the evening’s programs.


Saturday July 19 at 7pm

Night of the Comet

Directed by Thom Eberhardt.
With Robert Beltran, Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney
US 1984, 35mm, color, 95 min.

A rare example of an 1980s horror/fantasy film without a male lead – and without a portentous, brooding script – Night of the Comet is an irreverently hip comedy about two Valley girls taking a fearless stand against a hungry population of killer zombies left behind by a passing comet. An intelligent comedy/sci-fi hybrid, Comet instantly obtained cult status upon its release in 1984, and continues to be revered by sci-fi lovers, teen pic obsessives, and 1980s nostalgia hounds.

Q: The Winged Serpent

Directed by Larry Cohen.
With Michael Moriarty, David Carradine, Candy Clark
US 1982, 35mm, color, 93 min.

Featuring some of the hardest working actors in Hollywood, Q was shot by low-budget filmmaker extraordinaire Larry Cohen on location in New York City. A paranoid, petty crook leads a band of dubious cops and, inevitably, a damsel in distress to destroy Q, a stop-motion animated, flying reptile god in need of human sacrifices in this surprisingly effective 1980s monster movie.

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Saturday July 26 at 7pm

The Connection

Directed by Shirley Clarke.
With Warren Finnerty, Jerome Raphael, Carl Lee
US 1961, 35mm, b/w, 110 min.

Banned at the time of its release for its "obscene" and frank portrayal of drug culture, Shirley Clarke's feature debut portrays a group of Manhattan junkies, musicians, and other beatniks holed up in a loft awaiting their next fix. Clarke blurs the line between documentary and narrative by portraying Jim Dunn, a budding filmmaker who has agreed to pay for the fix if the addicts will allow him to film the connection scene. Legal battles kept the film out of US theaters for over a year.

Let It Be

Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg.
With Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr
UK 1970, 35mm, color, 81 min.

Filmed in 1969 at Twickenham and Apple Studios in London, Let It Be documents The Beatles recording what would become their final album. In the studio, The Beatles practice, argue, and jam together on classics like "Get Back," "Don't Let Me Down" and "The Long and Winding Road." The film ends with their legendary rooftop concert, which was shut down by the police after only five songs.

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Saturday August 2 at 7pm

The Man Without a Body

Directed by W. Lee Wilder and Charles Saunders.
With Robert Hutton, George Coulouris, Julia Arnall
UK 1957, 35mm, b/w, 78 min.

When a millionaire discovers he has a brain tumor, he does what any wealthy B-movie character would do and digs up a new brain. Dr. Karl Brussard doesn't want just any brain, however, he wants the brain of 16th century French prophet Nostradamus. He successfully brings Nostradamus' head back to life, but things take a turn for the worse when Nostradamus uses his powers to sabotage Brussard.

The Cyclops

Directed by Bert I. Gordon.
With James Craig, Gloria Talbott, Lon Chaney Jr.
US 1957, 35mm, b/w, 66 min.

After her fiancé is reported missing in a plane crash in Mexico,
Susan Winters organizes a search party that includes Martin Melville (Chaney), a bacteriologist. When their plane also crashes, they find themselves stranded in an isolated and highly radioactive valley, where they stumble upon a population of enormous and angry mutated creatures, including giant insects, lizards and a twenty-five foot tall cyclops. Directed by Bert I. Gordon, aka "Mister B.I.G.," The Cyclops showcases Gordon's signature giant monster film style, which exploits rear-projection to create spectacular special effects.

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