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Springtime for Movies at the Library



It was a disappointing start to the 10th year of Movies at the Library, with too much snow blanketing the first three film-showing Tuesdays. But Shelter Island movie lovers should not despair as the spring season, which begins on Tuesday, April 1 (it is hoped, no foolin’) will reprise two of them.

First on the schedule, however, is the great 1968 English film, “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” which depicts events leading up to the British involvement in the Crimea, a piece of real estate again much in the news. It is directed by Tony Richardson and features a cast of British stalwarts led by David Hemmings with Vanessa Redgrave, Harry Andrews, John Gielgud and Trevor Howard. The two young daughters of Richardson and Redgrave, Natasha and Joely, appear in small parts.

The postponed “The King of Masks” will be shown on April 15. This is a delightful and heart-warming story set in 1930s Sechuan, China. An aged street performer realizes he has no son to whom to pass on his ancient tradition and its secrets. He decides to purchase a child on the black market and the one he selects is far wiser and cleverer than he expects. The film is “simple, eloquent and moving,” according to critic Leonard Maltin. It has English subtitles.

April 29 will feature “Monte Walsh,” which takes place in the last days of the West when the life of a cowboy was endangered. Lee Marvin and Jack Palance play two who choose different solutions to the problem. The film is the directorial debut of the famed, and often honored, cinematographer, William Fraker, and his earlier career is beautifully evident. Based on a novel by Jack Schaefer (who wrote “Shane”), it also features the first American appearance by the remarkable Jeanne Moreau.

May 13 brings a stunning double-bill to the Community Room at the library, two Oscar-winning documentaries. This year’s winner of the best feature documentary, “Twenty Feet from Stardom,” will be paired with the true, touching story of “The Lady in No. 6: Music Saved my Life.” The lady is Alice Herz Sommer and until earlier this year she was both the oldest pianist and oldest Holocaust survivor. The film won the Oscar for documentary short. The longer film was directed by Morgan Neville and features music of quite a different sort.

Although longer than most of the films presented in the library series, Werner Herzog’s “Fitzcaraldo” is such a brilliant piece of work, the committee decided it was worth the time. It is the vivid, fascinating portrait of a man obsessed by the desire to capture a shipping route on the Amazon even when it means hauling a boat over the Andes mountaintops through hostile territory. Starring Klaus Kinski, who was a favorite collaborator of Herzog, this is an astonishing, captivating and controversial film. It will be shown May 27.

Closing this spring series will be the bio-pic “The Three Stooges,” written for television by the committee’s Janet Roach. The date in June 10 — remember this is the 10th anniversary year of library movies — and will feature some surprises as has become the tradition for Movies at the Library before its summer hiatus.

So mark your calendars for all six and we’ll see you at the movies with treats and bottled water, and enlightening introductions from committee members.