Rio Bravo (1959) <imdb>
Directed by Howard Hawks
Part of The Golden Age of Westerns Discussion Series
Presented by Terry Meehan
Howard Hawks did not like High Noon—a film that everybody's supposed to like. He said a real lawman would not run around town “like a wet chicken” asking for help, “until finally his Quaker wife saves his guts.” His real reason for not liking the 1952 classic probably had more to do with fifties politics than aesthetics. Nonetheless, he considers Rio Bravo to be his answer to High Noon. But let's forget politics and enjoy the film for what it is, a well-directed, well-written and well-acted western classic. Especially fun to watch are crooner Dean Martin, fresh from his breakup with Jerry Lewis, and boy wonder Ricky Nelson, who had a number one hit on the charts and celebrated his eighteenth birthday during the shoot. Professor Terry Meehan continues his series of classic westerns, introducing each film with rare clips and original documentaries, followed by audience reaction and a lively discussion.
Saturday, August 16 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
The African Queen (1951) <imdb>
Directed by John Huston
As an idealistic missionary in Africa, Katherine Hepburn is cut off from the news and knows little of the World War that is brewing back home. But when German imperial troops burn down her brother's mission and begin pressing the men into service, she decides to do England proud, burying her brother and planning her counterattack with a stiff upper lip. Humphrey Bogart's gin-swilling riverboat captain was just passing through. He may know a little more about the escalating war, but that doesn't mean he wants to get involved. That said, he can't leave her behind and he can't say no to her infuriating demands. Together, these mismatched middle-aged losers do the impossible—surviving hails of gunfire, raging rapids, bloodthirsty parasites and impenetrable swamps. And, of course, they fall in love. The real question is, after everything they've been through and all that they've gained so late in life, do they still go through with their suicide mission?
Saturday, August 23 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Blue Velvet (1986) <imdb>
Directed by David Lynch
The discovery of a severed human ear, found in a field and crawling with ants, leads an earnest young man into the world of a mysterious nightclub singer and the criminals who have kidnapped her child. But that’s not the strange part. Kyle MacLachlan can hardly believe the seedy world he’s found lurking beneath his hometown’s picture perfect veneer. He wants to know more... Isabella Rossellini plays the sensuous chanteuse who snares him and a wildly over-the-top Dennis Hopper plays her deranged lover in a performance that frightened generations of hipsters into drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon by the case. This is the world of David Lynch where the images come first and the explanations come undone, but it’s not weird for weird’s sake. This is beautiful, compelling stuff that you’ll want to see again and again—either on DVD or in unspeakable dreams.
Saturday, September 6 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Foreign Correspondent (1940) <imdb>
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
An American reporter, Joel McCrea, is sent to England in 1939 to assess the threat of a worldwide conflict. Attending a conference held by British bigwig Herbert Marshall, he meets the bigwig's daughter, Laraine Day, and encounters a Dutch diplomat played by Albert Bassermann. The diplomat disappears, but turns up later in Holland. Or is he an impostor? The final scenes, which echo Edward R. Murrow’s celebrated wartime radio broadcasts, prompted Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels to call this film a “masterpiece of propaganda.” Professor Terry Meehan begins a new series titled Hitchcock Goes to War, featuring films that add the themes of conflict and patriotism to the Master’s usual mix of suspense and intrigue. Meehan introduces each film with rare clips and original documentaries followed by audience reaction and discussion.
Saturday, September 13 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Ghost World (2001) <imdb>
Directed by Terry Zwigoff
Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson are two recent high school graduates with no future plans beyond moving in together and acting superior to everyone they meet. Looking for ways to fill their time over a long pointless summer, they decide to respond to one lonely man's missed connection ad and stand him up as a gag. But for Birch, what was intended as a cruel joke leads to a complicated and intriguing friendship with a kindred spirit who cannot seem to fit into or connect with the world around him. What is her fascination with this older man, played by a soul weary Steve Buscemi? Johansson quickly begins to resent her friend's attachment to this loser, but her rage will not provide any answers. And is it possible that Birch has overestimated Buscemi's desire to be an object of pity? The director of Crumb adapts Daniel Clowe's award-winning graphic novel and proves that some of today's most authentic, real world characters and stories are found in comic books.
Saturday, September 20 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
The Color of Paradise (1999) <imdb>
Directed by Majid Majidi
A blind child waiting by the side of the road hears a bird fallen from its nest. He chases away the cat, finds the bird, climbs the tree and reunites the bird with its family. He is truly a remarkable boy, but his father will never regard him as anything but a burden. A student at Tehran’s Institute for the Blind who looks forward to spending the summer in the country with his family, Mohammad is full of life, love and curiosity. But his father is a selfish man who wants his son out of the way so that he can find a new wife. Over grandmother’s objections, Mohammad is apprenticed to a blind carpenter. Family bonds and perseverance are the keys to this
rewarding tale. Farsi with English subtitles. Dr. Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, Oberlin College’s Presidential Scholar in Islamic Studies and a former ambassador to the United Nations, will lead a special film discussion following the presentation of this Iranian masterpiece.
Saturday, September 27 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
The Palm Beach Story (1942) <imdb>
Directed by Preston Sturges
Screwball comedies are, of course, known for being screwy, but this one is downright deranged. So why does it leave us feeling so sunny and refreshed? Claudette Colbert loves her husband, Joel McCrea, but she’ll divorce him if that’s what she has to do to make a success out of him. She has this crazy idea that marrying a wealthy man and using the money to finance McCrea’s invention is somehow her wifely duty. McCrea, of course, thinks this is hogwash, but he loves her. A madcap chase ensues. She heads down to Palm Beach, the divorce capitol of the world, and he follows despite her ingenious schemes to slow him down. We don’t want to spoil any more of the delicious plot, but we will tell you that they end up as guests of an utterly decent millionaire played by the crooner Rudy Vallee (who knew he was so funny?) and his socialite sister, the inimitable Mary Astor. For those of you who will say that the happy ending comes out of left field, we say that you weren’t paying close enough attention to the opening credits. Three cheers for Preston Sturges!
Saturday, October 4 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Saboteur (1942) <imdb>
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
When a fire breaks out at the airplane factory, Robert Cummings is handed a fire extinguisher filled with gasoline by a fellow named Fry. The authorities say that no one by that name has ever worked at the plant and point to Cummings as the culprit. Thus begins a classic Hitchcock triple chase: Cummings attempts to prove his innocence by tracking down Fry, while the Feds and the bad guys pursue him. Of course Hitchcock also works a woman like Priscilla Lane into the plot. Will she turn Cummings in, or will she help him? Professor Terry Meehan continues his series Hitchcock Goes to War, introducing each film with rare clips and original documentaries followed by audience reaction and a lively discussion.
Saturday, October 11 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Funny Games (2007) <imdb>
Directed by Michael Haneke
If you like to read film reviews, sooner or later you will come across the phrase, "this movie indicts the viewer." Michael Haneke's Funny Games, an Americanized remake of his own 1997 work, has been called a powerful condemnation of America’s fascination with violence by some and disgusting, vile and horrific by others. Naomi Watts and Tim Roth are heading to their vacation home with their young son—a destination they share with a pair of young, articulate, golf-club-wielding, white-gloved serial killers. Michael Pitt plays the ringleader of this mysterious duo who capture hostages for a sick game in which no one knows if they will live
or die, one in which the viewer is sometimes taunted for participating. But do not mistake this for a horror film. A relentless study on what makes violence so hard to turn away from, it refuses to let us off with simple
thrills and chills. “Why don’t you just kill us?” Watts asks at one point. The response: “You shouldn’t forget the importance of entertainment.”
Saturday, October 18 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Nowhere Boy (2009) <imdb>
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson
This is sacred ground. A film about the troubled childhood of John Lennon could have gone wrong in so many ways, but this pitch-perfect picture manages to avoid the pitfalls of legend and delivers the emotional truth of
the boy who would become the man who would become the icon. Raised by his stern Aunt Mimi, the adolescent Lennon discovers that his long absent mother lives only a short walk away. Her free spirit opens up new
worlds to him—especially musically—but her shortcomings lead him to harsh truths about his family and himself. In the background of this lovely story, Lennon forms his first skiffle group, the Quarrymen, and meets two musical rivals named Paul and George. Beatles fans know the snapshots of this fledgling group well, but to see them come to life is nothing short of magical. With a soundtrack rocking influential songs by Elvis Presley,
Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and Eddie Cochran, you don’t have to be a Beatles fan to enjoy this film, but you might end up tapping your feet.
Saturday, October 25 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Barton Fink (1991) <imdb>
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
A New York playwright is brought to Hollywood to write for the movies. But why do they need a genius to write a Wallace Beery wrestling picture? Despite the clever jabs, this isn’t one of those showbiz satires. That’s too easy for the filmmakers behind Fargo, the Big Lebowski and other gems. Their target, instead, is the folly of writers. As Barton Fink, John Turturro proclaims his allegiance to the common man, but can't relate to the loneliness of John Goodman, the smiling salesman who lives next door. This surreal comedy just might open his eyes. Literary types will also appreciate the thinly-veiled William Faulkner, boozing away his gifts as a mentor of sorts. When they cleaned out the real Faulkner’s desk at Warner Brothers, all they found was an empty bottle and a piece of foolscap on which he’d written, “Boy meets girl” over a thousand times.
Saturday, November 1 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
They Were Expendable (1945) <imdb>
Directed by John Ford
To celebrate Veteran’s Day, we could have chosen any one of a number of classic war movies with triumphant heroes and clear victories. Instead, we decided to pay tribute to those who faced certain defeat bravely and laid down their lives for the other guys. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, America’s pre-war Navy in the South Pacific was cut off and left as sitting ducks in and around the Philippines. They were in no shape to attack, and they certainly could not retreat. Reinforcements simply hadn’t been built yet. Robert Montgomery and John Wayne play PT boat commanders holding the line to bide time for a wounded nation while it recovers. Based on a true story, most of the gutsy sailors depicted here were doomed to die either in battle or on the march. In a
rare moment of peace, some of them get a chance to share a meal with a pretty nurse played by Donna Reed. It means a lot to them. Their hushed silence as they contemplate their fates in her sparkling eyes will break
even the hardest of hearts. They were expendable.
Saturday, November 8 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Lifeboat (1944) <imdb>
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
After an Allied ship and a German U-boat sink each other in the North Atlantic, a hodge-podge of Brits, Americans and one German find themselves adrift in a lifeboat. The passengers begin their experience
in a cooperative mood, hoping they will soon be rescued—even Tallulah Bankhead. As time goes by, however, differences in race, nationality and class begin to break down their fragile social system. If this sounds like a
Steinbeck story, it’s because it is. The American literary giant was nominated for an Academy Award, making him one of only a handful of Nobel laureates to have also been in the running for an Oscar. Professor Terry Meehan continues his series Hitchcock Goes to War, introducing each film with rare clips and original documentaries followed by audience reaction and a lively discussion.
Saturday, November 15 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Pumpkin (2002) <imdb>
Directed by Anthony Abrams
Pumpkin is a dark, quirky comedy in the disguise of a sunny day, but viewers are warned that what one assumes to be offensive material may turn out perfectly sweetly in the end. A perky blonde Christina Ricci and her Alpha Omega Pi sisters plan to win Sorority of the Year with a killer charity—coaching mentally challenged athletes. Glorious Ricci is less than enthused, but agrees that it is the perfect manipulative stunt. She’s frankly terrified when she first meets Pumpkin, but soon finds herself deeply touched by his honest clarity and gentle humanity. To the horror of her friends and Pumpkin's protective mother, they fall in love. Ricci abandons her perfect life and becomes an outcast. But they’ll live happily ever after, right? This brave film raises questions that none of us can answer and puts a confused smile on our faces.
Saturday, November 22 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
A River Runs Through It (1992) <imdb>
Directed by Robert Redford
Here’s a movie for fathers and sons and the women who love them. In this true story, based on the memoir by Norman Maclean, two brothers grow up in the majesty of the Montana wilderness under the stern watchful eye
of their minister father, played by Tom Skerritt. While Norman, played by Craig Sheffer, learns to channel his natural rebellion into writing and a career as a newspaperman, Brad Pitt’s Paul is an irresistible daredevil
that no one can say no to—whose appetites tend to lead him down a slippery path of self-destruction. The one thing that all three men have in common is a committed love of fly-fishing. No matter what conflicts may
arise between them, once they wade into the river, they find peace and calm and that all-important sense of belonging. Director Robert Redford paints an inspiring portrait of the strength of the American family—even
as he reminds us that its strengths are not limitless. Bring your dad.
Saturday, November 29 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
The Shipping News (2001) <imdb>
Directed by Lasse Hallstöm
An emotionally-beaten Kevin Spacey heads to his ancestral home of Newfoundland, with his young daughter in tow, in an attempt to start his life over after his unfaithful wife is killed in a car accident. His aunt, Judi Dench, is ready to take him under her wing, but only if he can learn to toughen up and move on with life. Settling into the cold and foreboding landscape, he finds a job as a newspaper reporter and begins to explore the unforgiving land where his grandfather died at only twelve years old. Shrouded in frozen mythological tones, his family’s dark history begins to unravel before him. Through the pain and turmoil, the beaten man finds a voice to reclaim his life. Then he meets the widow Julianne Moore…
Saturday, December 13 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
The Tale of Zatoichi (1962) <imdb>
Directed by Takeshi Kitano
Here begins the tale of the blind swordsman. If you’re not a fan of fighting movies filled with repetitive non-stop violence, don’t worry about a thing. Sit back and enjoy the slowly building suspense. Action fans will be on the edge of their seats waiting and waiting for that first flash of swordplay—and when it finally comes, it will only last a fraction of a second. That’s because Zatoichi is a true master. One blow is all it takes. Frankly, he would rather make his living as a masseuse, relieving people of their aches and pains, but the world is a terrible place and Zatoichi must hire out his sword to make his way. In this unusually somber and wildly popular medieval drama, one gang hires a consumptive samurai to enlarge their turf and their rivals hire Zatoichi. With contempt for their employers, the two men go fishing together and become friends. But that
doesn’t change the fact that, eventually, one of them must kill the other. So it goes for Zatoichi in the first and best of the more than twenty films made featuring the character. Japanese with English subtitles.
Saturday, December 20 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Rock Around the Clock (1956) <imdb>
Directed by Fred F. Sears
Whether or not this is a good movie is beside the point. Rock Around the Clock is an important artifact of the rock and roll revolution, howlingly inaccurate in its particulars but prophetic in its vision of the future. More
importantly, everybody involved looks like they’re having the time of their lives. See Bill Haley and his Comets, clad in plaid, roughhousing their way through one rambunctious number after another. The corny nature of the plot only serves to make their music seem that much more vibrant and alive. If that wasn’t enough, the Platters and Freddie Bell and the Bellboys round out the bill with their own hits—and bandleader Tony Martinez is there to show us what rock wasn’t. Also appearing, Alan Freed seals the deal for Cleveland rock lovers everywhere playing himself. This movie was quickly followed by Don’t Stop the Rock. We couldn’t agree more.
Saturday, January 3 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Bon Voyage/Aventure Malgache (1944) <imdb> <imdb>
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock came to America in 1939, just before the Germans began bombing his homeland. Though he was too old for military service, he felt obligated to do something for the war effort. So he flew to London, sitting on the floor of a bomber, and made these two little-seen short films in tribute to the work of the French Resistance. Bon Voyage is about an RAF gunner who travels through German-occupied France, aided by courageous Resistance operatives. Or so it seems. Like Kurosawa’s Rashomon, when the story is retold with the same characters and events, it takes on a radically different interpretation. Aventure Malgache tells the story of an actor who masqueraded as a loyal Vichy official in Nazi-occupied Madagascar while actually running a pro-Resistance radio station. Professor Terry Meehan continues his series Hitchcock Goes to War, introducing each film with rare clips and original documentaries followed by audience reaction and a lively discussion.
Saturday, January 10 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Hell’s Angels (1930) <imdb>
Directed by Howard Hughes
Three friends leave Oxford to fly fighter planes in the Great War—two for England and one for Germany. Torn between patriotism and conscience, they also somehow manage to fight over the same woman. If you've seen
Scorsese's The Aviator, you know that the eccentric playboy director and test pilot, Howard Hughes, actually assembled what was then the world's largest air force—almost incidentally—while making this film. He needed
every plane to bring his vision to life. Men died filming the aeronautic stunts, and Hughes was up there with them when they fell. Driven by an otherworldly perfectionism, he filmed the movie over and over, making
the transition from silent films to talkies and even including a short, experimental color sequence that showcased the blonde beauty of Jean Harlow. How can you not be curious to see this film?
Saturday, January 17 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Real Genius (1985) <imdb>
Directed by Martha Coolidge
Fifteen year old Mitch is a genius, but is he too young to go to college? Professor Hathaway doesn’t think so. He appeals to Mitch by understanding that the boy’s parents don’t understand and by dismissing the rest of the world as idiots—but he doesn’t really care if Mitch makes friends or not. He’s under serious pressure from the CIA to develop a laser weapon, and he doesn’t care if his students suffer in the process. Thank goodness that Mitch’s roommate and lab partner is Val Kilmer, a science legend who’s learned that having fun and being creative is just as important as burying your nose in books. Together, they solve the mystery of the man who lives in their closet and perfect the laser. But once they learn that they’ve been used, they have no choice but to
concoct an epic, world-saving prank that will leave you smiling. Kilmer has never been more charming than in this rare 80s comedy of wit and substance that was based, believe it or not, very loosely on a true story. File this one under H for toy.
Saturday, January 24 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) <imdb>
Directed by Shane Black
The title of this funny film noir thriller, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer, was borrowed from the legendary film critic Pauline Kael who described these four words as, "perhaps the briefest statement
imaginable of the basic appeal of movies.” With that as their starting point, the filmmakers break every rule and hit every cliché of the buddy action picture in order to deliver something remarkably sublime—and lots of fun, too. Downey plays a thief who poses as an actor and somehow ends up in Hollywood with a big screen test. For research purposes, he’s paired up with a private detective played by Kilmer. (Who, incidentally, is the first gay character to star in a big studio action picture.) It doesn’t take long for this mismatched pair to get involved in
multiple murders, Hollywood parties, trashy clubs and a girl so beautiful she ought to be advertising shampoo. Did we mention that this is a Christmas movie? Downey and Kilmer share an onscreen chemistry that will leave you begging for more.
Saturday, January 31 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
8 ½ (1963) <imdb>
Directed by Federico Fellini
Guido is a world famous film director, trying to relax after his last film became another big hit. But he can't get a moment's peace with his old collaborators, ghosts of his previous films, constantly pestering him for more work. The genius wrestles with his conscience, but is unable to come up with any new ideas. As his mind wanders, he begins to retreat into fantasies and memories of all the women he has loved and left. In the
end, Fellini turns his writer’s block into one of his greatest triumphs—a surrealistic slice of autobiography filled with warm feelings and good laughs. Italian with English subtitles.
Saturday, February 7 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Notorious (1946) <imdb>
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
According to biographer Donald Spoto, this was Hitchcock’s first attempt to create a serious love story. G-man Cary Grant loves Ingrid Bergman, the daughter of a suspected spy, but he asks her to sleep with Claude Rains in order to get the dirt on a Nazi plot. If you call that a love story, then Happy Valentine’s Day from Alfred Hitchcock! What the spies are after is Uranium-235, an isotope that can be used to make an atom bomb. When Hitchcock was shopping around the treatment for this story in 1944, none of the studio bosses knew anything about uranium or atomic bombs. But the FBI did. They were wondering why Hitchcock and his screenwriter, Ben Hecht, were meeting with scientists to discuss nuclear fission. He was under surveillance for several months. But at least he got a great movie out of it. Professor Terry Meehan concludes his series Hitchcock Goes to War, introducing each film with rare clips and original documentaries followed by audience reaction and a lively discussion.
Saturday, February 14 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
25th Hour (2002) <imdb>
Directed by Spike Lee
Edward Norton has twenty-four hours of freedom left before he has to report to prison and serve seven years on a drug conviction. So he hits the town—a recently post 9/11 New York City—with his two best friends and girlfriend to embark on one last booze filled night of fun. But he is haunted by the past that has lead him to this point and struggles to accept his fate. He doesn’t think he can survive prison time. In fact, everyone around him seems to agree that he won’t. As the last few hours of freedom slip away, his prospects seem grimmer and grimmer. He can run, commit suicide or face the music… This film’s shocking conclusion is one you will never see coming.
Saturday, February 21 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium
Rebel Without a Cause (1955) <imdb>
Directed by Nicholas Ray
Behold the apotheosis of James Dean. Before the sixties came along and changed everything, this little film about teenage rebellion hit the screens and mesmerized the audiences of 1955, irrevocably marking the lives of
all the young men and woman who watched it. James Dean is a troubled kid with a troubled past, and he isn’t sorry about it. When he moves to a new town he meets two other disenfranchised youth, the lovely Natalie
Wood and the loyal Sal Mineo. The trio quickly bond together as a family unit to stand up to school bullies, weak willed parents and repressive police. But Dean still feels compelled to prove himself in switchblade fights
and drag races. In addition to being a box office success, this landmark film served as a call to arms to every teenager who felt isolated or left out. It also became the blueprint for scores of young adult dramas in the
years that followed.
Saturday, February 28 at 6:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium