For those on the Movies at the Library committee it seems almost impossible that it was 12 years ago that we met for the first time and outlined our plan for a series of great movies, known and unknown.
We were then under the leadership of Mel Mendelson and Howard Brandenstein. They are now sadly deceased, but their influence guides the project to this day.
We decided to celebrate 12 years with a personal choice of each member, with one to spare. The first film will be shown on September 20, as always at 7 p.m. in the Gill Patterson Community Room of the Library. It’s the choice of Jack Monaghan — “Five Graves to Cairo,” from 1943. The co-author, with Charles Brackett, and director, is Billy Wilder, who spins a rollicking tale of the search for supplies buried by the Germans in five excavations in Egypt. Starring Franchot Tone, Anne Baxter, Akim Tamiroff and Erich von Stroheim, with music by the great Miklós Rózsa, it’s is a delight from start to finish.
Second up on October 4 is the selection of Ann Dunbar — 1971’s “The Go-Between,” with Alan Bates as a love-struck farm hand, Julie Christie as a landowner’s daughter and Michael Redgrave remembering his years as the lovers’ “go-between” in 1900. Director Joseph Losey creates a charming, moving film from a script by Harold Pinter. Rounding out the cast are Margaret Leighton, Michael Gough and Edward Fox.
Lou Schmitt’s love of music and opera is evidenced by his choice of Franco Zeffirelli’s sumptuous film of “La Traviata” for October 18. Verdi’s story of a “fallen woman” was filmed in 1982 at the Metropolitan Opera with James Levine leading the Met Opera Chorus and Orchestra. The stars are Teresa Stratas and Placido Domingo. Much abbreviated, it runs for a wonderful hour and 49 minutes.
Fourth in our series is a film Gary Paul Gates considers hands-down the best from Orson Welles. Released in 1965, “Chimes at Midnight” looks at the life of one of Shakespeare’s most beloved characters, Sir John Falstaff, starting with his years as the roistering companion to a young Price Hal, circa 1400-1413. Welles, of course, plays Falstaff, who is the hero of this compilation of extracts from Henry IV and others. Also starring are Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford, John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson as the narrator. Scheduled for November 1st, Roger Ebert called it “a magnificent film.”
A more recent French film, “The Well Digger’s Daughter,” is Ken Pysher’s selection. Ken has brought some of the most wonderful unknown films to the committee and this is no exception. Made in 2011, the author, director and star, Daniel Auteuil returns 20 years after the releases of “Jean de Florette” and “Manon of the Spring” to the world of Marcel Pagnol in this celebrated remake of the 1940s classic. Pascale is a widower with six daughters in the countryside of Provence. He hopes to marry the eldest off to a loyal assistant. But when she returns from Paris and is impregnated by a local pilot who soon leaves for the front lines of World War I, the father must handle the consequences. See it on November 15th.
The last film in our series is on November 29. It’s a “wild card,” the uproariously inane and insane “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” from 1975. Written by Graham Chapman and John Cleese, it follows King Arthur and his knights as they embark on a low-budget search for the Holy Grail, encountering many, very silly obstacles on the way. Considered probably the best comedy ever made, it is generally credited with setting cinema back 900 years. The movie, of course, stars Chapman and Cleese but also Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones.
So mark your calendars as we mark 12 challenging and immensely enjoyable years.
See you at the movies!