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“Rediscovered” Film Series Showcases Rare Classics

February 27, 2014 01:50 PM
Have a taste for the exotic, the memorable, and the rare? We’ve unearthed some of the finest gems from the studio vaults for an all-new series for classic film buffs: The Rediscovered.
Running from March 6 through May 29, the series will showcase 11 forgotten and lesser-known films from Hollywood’s Golden Age, featuring artists like Claude Rains, Lon Chaney Sr., William Powell, Ann Harding, and Fay Wray. Spanning a wide range of genres, including screwball farces, historical dramas, film noir, and even the supernatural, the films frequently mark a departure from typical fare of the period.
For series host and film historian Matthew C. Hoffman, one of the biggest perks of the series is that it gives him an opportunity to highlight forgotten performers.
"Over the years I’ve discovered actors who were so good, it’s hard to believe they’re almost unknown now," Hoffman says. "They were often ahead of their time – as were many of the featured films. I think audiences will be very surprised by some of the things they discover through this series."
Notable among those actors highlighted is the brilliant Ann Harding, whose cerebral Pre-Code performances and waist-length blond hair made her the antithesis of the 1930s studio actress.
"Gallant Lady is one of her best," Hoffman says. "Harding plays what is often a clichéd character (an unwed mother) and makes her completely real. The only actress who could match her talent that way was possibly Bette Davis."
Hoffman’s tendency to pick complex, often quirky subjects has given the Library’s Classic Film Series a reputation as one of the most unique programs of its type in the Chicago area. Last year more than 1,000 people attended, and Hoffman’s blog has a number of devoted followers.
Among other highlights of The Rediscovered is a special showing at the Pickwick Theatre of the 1939 classic, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, which stars Claude Rains as a machine politician determined to discredit James Stewart. (Note: This screening is also a part of the Pickwick Theatre’s own classic film series, which debuted this year.)
"Many people have heard of this movie, but have never seen it," says Hoffman. "In many respects it’s the perfect film for our current political climate, showing how one principled man can make a difference in Washington."
While Hoffman has always provided his audiences with brief discussions about the films and their stars, he began last year to include special guest commentators, such as Taryn Power Greendeer, the daughter of actor Tyrone Power. He continues the tradition this season with an appearance on May 15 by Ann-Marie Streibich, granddaughter of actress Irene Dunne, who stars in Theodora Goes Wild.
Ultimately, he hopes that series like The Rediscovered will encourage people to look beyond the better-known classics and start discovering the cinema’s past for themselves.
"Classic film has a different feel from modern film," Hoffman says. "From the stories to the cinematography to the performances, it’s like exploring a new world. I think once people get hooked, they’re fans for life."
For more information about The Rediscovered film series, please call (847)825-3123. Be sure to visit www.parkridgeclassicfilm.com or www.therediscovered.wordpress.com for blog posts and updates!
Film Line-up for The Rediscovered
(Unless stated all films are screened in the Library’s First Floor Meeting Room at 7:00 p.m.)
March 6: West of Zanzibar (1928) Silent film with special appearance by pianist David Drazin
March 13: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington(Screened at the Pickwick Theatre. Admission: $7; $5 for seniors)
March 20: Abraham Lincoln (1930)
March 27: Jewel Robbery (1932)
April 3: Gallant Lady (1933)
April 10: Night Flight (1933)
April 17: Black Moon (1934)
May 8: The Key (1934)
May 15: The Unsuspected  (1947)
May 22: The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936)
May 29: Theodora Goes Wild (1936) with special appearance by Ann-Marie Streibich


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