This winter marks the 11th year of Movies at the Library and what better way to kick off the series than with the film that weather cancelled in December, the wonderful comedy “Ball of Fire” on Tuesday, January 13 at 7 p.m.
Its credentials are impressive, from the screenplay by the great duo Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett to its two stars, Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper. Stanwyck is so good that she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress, rare for a comedic role and in a “screwball” comedy at that.
She and Cooper are joined by some of Hollywood’s standbys, including Oscar Homolka, Dana Andrews, Henry Travers and Dan Duryea as Duke Pastrami. (It’s that kind of movie.)
One of Hollywood’s really fine crime dramas, “L.A. Confidential,” will be shown on January 27; it is the only one of this series included in “1001 Films You Must See Before You Die.” It describes the film as “dressed in sumptuous chocolate brown of warm film noir [and] is hot, funny and sorrowful. Dicks and dames collide in a grandiose lament for the loss of true love and moral courage.” It is the creation of Curtis Hanson, who directed the all-star cast.
February 10 brings one of America’s superb comedy-dramas, “Working Girl,” from the master, Mike Nichols. It is such a delicious blend, it deserves multiple viewings. Melanie Griffith is at her very best as an ambitious secretary who tries to out-fox her wily boss, played by Sigourney Weaver. Harrison Ford turns in a beautifully modulated comic turn as the love interest of both women and even in such great company, Joan Cusak practically steals the show.
At the end of February, on the 24th, one of Hollywood’s truly admirable bio-pics will be screened, admirable because it does not distort the truth and is magnificently entertaining. “Viva Zapata!” features a young but already brilliant Marlon Brando as the peasant Mexican, Emiliano Zapata, who rises to position and power.
The script is by John Steinbeck; the director is Elia Kazan. Anthony Quinn gives an Oscar-winning performance as Zapata’s brother. Also in the cast are Joseph Wiseman and Jean Peters. All are unforgettable.
March 10th will feature an Irish gem, “The Playboys,” starring a bevy of fine Irish actors, including Albert Finney, Aidan Quinn and Milo O’Shea. Set in the 1950s, Robin Wright plays a young woman who scandalizes her provincial village by refusing to name the father of her out-of-wedlock child.
Last for the winter, on March 24, is the little-known “The Singing Revolution,” from an extraordinary story of the non-violent path Estonia took to free itself from Soviet occupation after decades of terror. This documentary chronicles the inspiring way Estonians chose to claim their independence. Between 1987 and 1991, thousands gathered to sing previously forbidden patriotic songs and without bloodshed, established their freedom and self-determination.
The Los Angeles Times wrote that it is “inspiring and gripping,” a not-to-be-missed experience.
Movies at the Library are shown in the Community Room on the lower level, easily entered from Bateman Road. There will be free water, treats and special introductions to each film. So mark your calendars and call a friend.
See you at the movies!