Series Introductions by William K. Everson
The following (edited copy of) descriptions accompanied prefaced schedules distributed to attendees of the film series programmed by Professor Everson at the New School
A survey of some of the pitfalls - and rewards - of translating from one medium into another. The films in this series have been selected not just for what they illustrate, but because they are all first-rate films in their own right. Also, the majority have not been seen intact, and outside television, for many years. Most of the films will be accompanied by representative excerpts from related films, or from different versions of the same subject.
THE PLAY AND NOVEL AS FILM
(an extension of courses #1370 and #1372)
Four extremely rare films, none of them currently available for theatrical or television showing, and unseen for many years.
Concerning our next Film Series
Tonight's programs are the last in our current series. Our fall series will begin on September 29th and carry through, on Friday nights, until December 8th. Again, there will be ten programs in the series. Programs are now being finalised, and a complete listing should be available within a week or two. Those of you on our mailing list will doubtless get a copy of this schedule very shortly, and of course copies will be available here at the school - or on request my mail - and in due time the program will be announced in the press as well.
For this series, I am taking a slightly new tack. We hope to strike a balance, as hitherto, between purely "fun" evenings and revivals of genuine classics and undeservedly forgotten films. The one common denominator will be that for the most part these will be films that haven't been seen in New York for many years, sometimes not even on the Late Late Show -- which is an outlet we can't regard seriously anyway.
The departure this time is that there will be only one performance per evening, starting at 8.00 p.m. Hopefully this won't be inconvenient to those of you who have been coming to the 9.15 performances. The advantages are many however. There are times for example, when a double-bill can be especially meaningful: to illustrate two contrasting approaches to a similar theme, or disparate examples of the work of a director or star. The less rigid time-scheduling will allow for the addition of worthwhile shorts which often pass through our hands, for a short time only, long after the schedule has been announced. And when time - and the films themselves - permit and require it, we can have a kind of open-house and discussion period after the showings, for those who wish it. Altogether I think switching to a single session will allow for greater flexibility - and a more relaxed time all around. If the experiment doesn't work, we can always resume our present two-a-night operation in our Spring series.
As an example of some of the programs coming up: Our opener on September 29th will be the 1934 OF HUMAN BONDAGE with Bette Davis and Leslie Howard; apart from one retrospective showing at Lincoln Centre two years ago, a virtually lost film for the past quarter-of-a-century. A thriller evening will present two horror films from the early 30's, H.G. Wells' ISLAND OF LOST SOULS with Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi, and SUPERNATURAL with Carole Lombard and Randolph Scott. There'll be an evening devoted to the German influence on British films of the 30's, illustrated by Erich Pommer's ST. MARTIN'S LANE (Laughton, Vivien Leigh, Rex Harrison) and Britain's most famous science-fictioner, the 1935 TRANSATLANTIC TUNNEL with Richard Dix, George Arliss, Walter Huston. Others: HOLLYWOOD CAVALCADE, in Technicolor, Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Keaton. MASSACRE, a superb "forgotten" social film of the 30's with Richard Barthelmess; BUREAU OF MISSING PERSONS, a lively "fun" melodrama with Bette Davis, Lewis Stone and Pat O'Brien, an evening devoted to the detective film genre, and many others. Have a good Summer - see lots of movies - and we hope you'll join us again in the fall.
Wm. K. Everson
(May 12, 1967)
Friday Night Film Series
A survey of some of the least-appreciated and most off-beat work of major directors, and some of the best films of lesser-known directors. Some programs will compare widely differing directorial approaches to the same kind of material, while others will offer miniature "retrospectives," via excerpts, of one director's career. Half of the films in the series are being given their first NY (non-tv) exposure in well over 20 years. Double-bills will be screened in the order listed, and discussion periods will follow many of the screenings.
Although more complete details will be given in the upcoming New School Bulletin, the next film series is already finished, and I thought that you might like a brief rundown of its contents. If films discussed in our open-house sessions, and half-promised for the upcoming series aren't there, it's for one of two reasons. Either the legal clearances haven't yet been obtained - and sometimes these are far more time-consuming than finding the prints themselves - or the prints, though promised, haven't yet arrived. One film that I was most anxious to run - Alfred Hitchcock's marvellous 1932 thriller Number 17 (to my knowledge, never released in the USA) - has now arrived, but too late to be included in the upcoming series which for booking, printing and other reasons, had to be finalised more than a month ago. However, we can definitely look to Number 17 to launch our Fall series. Also - a reminder to those who missed out on the Barrymores' Rasputin and the Empress at our overflow showing - it'll be repeated as a separate program on Friday January 10th.
The new series starts on February 7th with Viva Villa!, 1934, directed by Jack Conway and Howard Hawks, with Wallace Beery, Fay Wray and Joseph Schildkraut.
The films range from 1922 through 1938 and are from five countries - through primarily America. TV apart, most of them are unfamiliar today. Only four have been on NY theatre screens in the past two decades, and those only briefly, while the others include two being given their NY premieres - respectively 46 and 30 years too late.
For our Fall series, we will be concentrating on the 20's and the early 30's, giving us the chance to experiment with a few silent films (shown with music of course). Silent films that fill all the requirements - that they be good pictures, good prints, and legally free to be shown - aren't that easy to come by, but if the few that we are showing prove popular, we will certainly continue to schedule them, and perhaps in greater numbers, in later series. Space precludes a very detailed breakdown of the new series - there will be more descriptive material in the next big New School Bulletin - but the following will at least introduce you to the new schedule. Not all of the specific dates are positively confirmed, and it is possible, though not likely, that one or two titles may have to be shuffled around. But by the time that the printed Bulletins are available, everything will have been fully confirmed, and even now I don't anticipate any changes.
A series of 18 notable films produced over a 14-year period. Some are major rediscoveries thought to have been permanently lost. All programs will be accompanied by introductory talks.
Below you will find brief details of our upcoming series. More detailed information, including running times and designation of discussion periods, will be listed in the next New School Bulletin. However, the films are all confirmed, as are the dates - although until the Bulletin gets into print there is always a slight chance of a possible reshuffling. One or two silent titles that I may have mentioned in discussion periods are excluded only because it seems likely that they will be shown in a Museum of Modern Art "re-discovery" cycle in the Fall, and I hate to wasted our limited dates by such overlapping. If any of the films in question aren't shown by the Museum, then we can get back to them in 1971.
"Thriller" is a very loose term covering mystery, horror, comedy, adventure and sundry other genres, the one common denominator being that such films depend for their effect on maximum manipulation of audience emotions, and therefore afford a good director the chance to work most creatively with all the tools of his trade.
With this first Summer series, we are experimenting with a new format; repeating some of the most requested films from previous series, coupled in each case with a related (by theme, star, director) film that we haven't shown before. Since we show approx. 40 "new" films a year in our two regular series, and will repeat only six, presumably the system will allow us never to catch up! Since so many of our students are away in the Summer, we are deliberately avoiding any "blockbuster" rediscoveries and will hold these for our Fall season. Films will be screened in the order as listed below, and discussion periods will follow most of the shows. For the Summer series only, the screening day is Tuesday and the starting time is advanced to 7.30.
We hope you'll take our word for it that some of the most obscure films in the series are also the best and most worthy of rediscovery. Gregory LaCava's Gabriel Over the White House couldn't be confirmed, but has now definitely been booked for our Spring '72 series.
With the possible exception of program #8, our common-denominator theme this time is the classic and/or traditional love story, from the days when tenderness rather than sex was the dominating factor. However, the genre is a flexible one, and doesn't call for a major departure from our usual policy of trying to cover as much ground as possible in one course. The Love Story still allows us to encompass the melodrama, the action spectacle and several brands of comedy, as providing showcases for many major rediscoveries by such directors as John Ford, King Vidor and Frank Borzage.
As in previous Summer programs, we are coupling one "re-run" (where possible the most frequently requested) from previous series with a new (for us!) film related by theme, period or director. Films will be shown in the order listed, and full program notes will be issued for each screening.
With a stress on mystery and melodrama...Many of the films are important rediscoveries, and at least half of them have never been on television
With a collective heading of "Larger than Life" it concentrates on films that are star vehicles (or director showcases) of essentially (though not exclusively) Entertainment fare between 1919 and 1939.
A further collection of rare and in many cases only recently rediscovered films. Full program notes will be issued at each screening, and discussions will follow many of the sessions. Silent films to be shown in the order listed. Due to the increasingly complex non-theatrical film field, and the possibility of commercial reissue and legal problems, we reserve the right to make changes - with substantial advance notice - but we do not anticipate such a necessity, and it has only happened once thus far.
Though now available, I did not re-schedule Love on the Run since this will be shown in the immediate future at the Theatre 80. Please also note that the Summer shows will be on a Wednesday this year. It was originally planned for Thursday, mainly because I'll be teaching at Harvard this Summer and will be up there each Monday through Wednesday. However, Thursday proved to be a bad idea: the auditorium is booked that night, and the only alternative would have been the 5th Avenue Cinema venue - which would have limited audience attendance to half of our current accommodation. Too, it would have conflicted with the Museum of Modern Art's Thursday night showings. So Wednesday was the only alternative; this knocks out my participation in the series (other than providing notes as usual) and this may well make a pleasant Summer break for some of you in itself! James Monaco will take over however and introduce the programs, and possibly conduct discussions after some of them. We have some exciting things lined up for the Fall series, which starts on October 3, when we'll be trying out a format we've discussed occasionally and that I've long wanted to experiment with - playing a really good "B" movie (and there are plenty with genuine merit, both British and American) in support of the main film.
For this Summer, we have partially repeated our usual Summer policy of combining one requested repeat item with a related "new" film. Three of the programs are so made up, the other three are totally "new."
By now we've pretty much well exhausted the available "sure-fire" and "blockbuster" revivals, many of which have now become standards at revival houses around town. So we're continuing with what we feel to be our most useful function, ferreting out the really worthwhile obscurities. With perhaps two exceptions, the films on this schedule are virtually unknown and very largely unshown.
This summer we have confined our request-repeats to just two programs (#3 & #6) with the rest of the series devoted to a pot-pourri of material, some quite rare and elusive, that we haven't screened before.
To our usual (or hopefully unusual) pot-pourri of rediscoveries and obscurities, we have added something a little extra this year. Over our 30-series history, we've constantly put aside certain films which deserved to be shown, but because of slightly inferior print quality, or the fact that their academic interest might outweigh their entertainment values, they've been squeezed out. By now however, there is much of an audience for, and interest in, this kind of film - so we've taken a leaf out of the British Film Institute's methods and instituted what we'll call Archive Night. This will be an extra show at the end of each session. The chances are that these programs will be of interest to most of our regular audience anyway, but that Archive Night designation will always indicate films of a more special quality, of more value to the student and historian rather than the casual entertainment-seeker. We have a backlog of at least 50 of such films stock-piled, so the additional show will be a regular feature from now on.
The middle five of these seven programs continue our usual Summer policy of combining a new addition to our repertoire with a repeat from a previous series. Since I'll be commuting from the West Coast on teaching assignments there, and won't be in NY on Wednesdays, I will only be present at the first showing. Thus, all subsequent programs will start promptly at 7.30 without introductory comments, although notes will be provided as usual.
Repeats this Summer are concentrated into programs #2 and #7. Programs will be on Wednesdays at 7.30. While the "Archive Night" program is traditionally an extra show at the end, it appears mid-series this time since one of the films has to be returned to England by late July.
Our Summer series this year brings back five frequently requested repeats from previous series, plus another nine films that can loosely be characterized as "neglected"...certain films that I may have discussed in our post-screening sessions as playing here in the Summer are not included in the schedule only because, to avoid complications and let-downs, all the programs have to be assembled and ready at the beginning of the series, and many films just aren't available to be kept that long. A case in point is the Arliss Voltaire, long due for a re-presentation here, but which we will have to hold over until the Fall.
Since so many revival theatres (and other film courses) now specialise so much in the kind of films that used to be pretty exclusively the domain of these series, you may have noted a gradual veering away from the exotic to the eclectic and the esoteric! The current series is a typical example of this, with many obscurities (none of them deservedly so) that one would like to think might become "regulars" in the commercial field twenty years hence. But to be sure, catch them while they're here!
As usual, we are using the Summer to bring back a number of overdue repeats (in this case, five films) while the other films are fresh to these series. Full program notes will be issued at each screening. As usually happens, I will be commuting to and from the West Coast during the Summer and will not be present at all of the shows; however, I will definitely be on hand for programs #2, 4 and 7 so we will schedule discussion sessions for those evenings; others may be added nearer the time.
Another pot-pourri of the obscure, the elusive and the too-rarely revived.
When we started these series many years ago, the idea was to concentrate on the lost, strayed and forgotten films. Basically our concept hasn't changed - except that many of these "lost" films are now not only found, but back in circulation again. This season therefore we're specialising in another brand of lost films: films that are in some cases quite literally orphans because they have no parents (namely legal owners or distributors) or because in other cases, these parents have disowned them because they don't consider them big or important enough to warrant revival, except for, in some cases, television. In order to keep the series consistent, we've deliberately kept away from block-busters. Regular attendance this Spring will be both an act of faith and, we hope, an act of discovery too. We hope it will pay off, because there are any number of other under-nourished filmic orphans waiting in the wings to be adopted.
Our "Filmic Orphans" series seemed to be regarded as a success, and we'll be doing more of the same in the Fall. In the meantime, our Summer series is more traditional, and includes four repeats that have been much requested.
This series is really a FILMIC ORPHANS 2, and in order to describe the films, many of them quite obscure, I need more space than is here available...for lengthier descriptions, see the Fall Bulletin due out soon, and I'll have more to say about the series as a whole in the introduction to program #1.
While Film Series #45 marks no special anniversary, it does represent something of a breakthrough in being able to offer a number of extremely elusive films that we have been after for many years. The basic structure of the series remains unchanged, but we're happy that this time there are several films that you, the audience, has requested -- along with the usual obscurities that we hope you'll agree are worth returning to the spotlight.
Once again, a mixed bag of oddities and rarities, primarily light-weight in deference to the holiday season. As always with a Summer session, we take the opportunity to repeat some of the most-requested films from earlier series, each of these being identified by an (R) -- indicating a re-run, NOT a restricted movie!
Once again, a collection of rediscoveries, rarities, oddities, and curios; possibly no major classics have been unearthed this semester, but we think we can promise some fascinating surprises.
** Note: although we have been guaranteed that there will be no problem with the 1929 LAST OF MRS CHEYNEY, MGM's track record is a little unreliable when it comes to early versions of films that have been remade. Since this is an extremely rare film it will presumably provoke above-average interest, and to be on the safe side I suggest that anyone who is coming a long distance specifically to see this film check with the New School first. If there is a let-down, it will be announced at the prior screening, and the substitute back-up film will be (as close as we can get to period and type) A NOTORIOUS AFFAIR (1930, dir. Lloyd Bacon), also with Basil Rathbone, and with Kay Francis and Billie Dove. However, via crossed fingers, burning candles, and High Incantations to the Yogi, we have high hopes that the 1929 Cheyney will arrive as promised.
For those who weren't present when I discussed the MGM booking problem: relations remain good and hopefully are improving, but MGM now have a policy of not accepting bookings more than a month before playdates, in order to protect potential tv bookings. This makes it difficult to plan reliable programming, to book a specific MGM with a specific non-MGM for example. The solution, to be implemented from the Summer on, is to leave a program date blank for an MGM "Mystery Double Bill" to consist of two films from a list of substantially more. That way we're sure of getting at least two films that we want, and those programs will be slotted at least a month into each series so that you will have a month's notice as to what the films are to be. The one MGM film in the Spring schedule is guaranteed however, and not subject to any doubts!
There are only three re-runs this Summer, two of them British films that we had held off repeating because we had expected them to be included in the upcoming Museum of Modern Art British cycle. (They're not, so here they are). I have held off the vintage MGMs until the Fall (when at least four will be shown) mainly because I will only be on hand for the first and last of the Summer series, and don't want to leave any potential problems concerning the wrong prints showing up in my absence.
There is NO Summer series this year. However, this is not a matter of policy and is a one-time only elimination. Projection staff at the New School is currently in a state of upheaval and is down to practically nil. New personnel and possibly trainees will be brought in for the Summer, and in view of the tricky nature of some of the prints that I use, and the fact that I'll be away most of the Summer, it seemed fairer to the films - and to the audience - not to risk any mishaps. As before, we are dealing with MGM on older films that cannot be confirmed until much nearer the playdate. Such films are marked "unconfirmed" and if they prove not to be available, appropriate MGM substitutes will be supplied. In each case, definite confirmation will be available and announced by program #1.
As usual with our Summer series, we have delved back into our own past. Of the 14 films on view, five are repeated from much earlier (1967-1971) series; to my knowledge none of them have re-surfaced in NY in the past 15 years, so revivals are certainly in order.
Since, at the time of assembling this program, the Warner and MGM product is still in a state of uncertainty, we have avoided them entirely this time around, to avoid problems of last-minute let-downs. (Hopefully that group of films will be available for booking again shortly). This means that our programs are even more esoteric than usual, btu have the common denominator of offering films that have disappeared from television, that will probably never make it to the videotape market, and in isolated cases, were never released here at all.
Another collection of the unfamiliar, the forgotten and the inaccessible.
Once again our aim is to concentrate on rediscoveries, obscurities and the films least likely to appear on television or videotape.
Once again the Summer series gives us the opportunity to present some much requested repeats of films we haven't shown for at least fifteen and in some cases more than twenty years. If we are light on silent films, it is because the Summer venue at the former 5th Avenue Cinema (at 13th St.) makes it problematical to transport the piano. Thus we are showing only one silent (with its own musical track) and we hope to add an extra silent program in the Fall to compensate.
Our format is pretty much the same as always, but we think the liveliest in a long while; a unique collection of rediscoveries, old favorites, obscurities - and one or two movies you'll never want to see a second time but will be glad of having seen once.
Another assortment of rediscovered silents and under-rated talkies -- and some film included merely because tv and the videocassette market has robbed them of the chance of big-screen revival, except at the New School.
Many of you have asked about the disappearance of our Summer series, and while this has been discussed (in a small way) in our post-screening question/answer sessions, this is probably the best place to set the record straight. It was not a New School decision, but my own. For health reasons (not critical, but not insignificant either) I have to avoid tension and stress, and the Summer series comes at just the wrong time for that. In late May I am always wrapping up Summer exams at NYU and preparing for upcoming courses and seminars from July on. In June I also have commitments in Europe, so it's a busy period by any standards, with most of this work being compressed into a two to three week period. Since I have been (and would be) away for much of the Summer series, it means that every program has to be lined up, prints cleaned and checked, program notes written and everything delivered to the School over that same short period. I also have to provide someone, usually a very reliable student, to be on hand and keep me posted if there are any problems -- e.g. if mechanical problems necessitate the canceling of a film or program, and the need to re-schedule. (It has happened in the past). All of this, over the same brief period, has just gotten to be a bit too much -- and since there is so much else going on filmically in New York, the loss of the series isn't as irksome as it might have been a few years back, and I hope you'll understand the reasons.
The Summer series has always been useful for repeating key films that are fresh to many of our newer attendees, that others have asked us to repeat, and that we haven't shown for some 15 years, our rough cut-off date for repeats. I don't want to lose that useful function, and had planned to devote at least one program per session to worthwhile and overdue repeats. Initially I had planned to start this policy in the coming Fall, but now a new (and I hope temporary) problem has arisen to forestall it at least until the Spring. The New School has recently absorbed much of the activity of the Actors' Studio and unwittingly much of that activity has centered on using the auditorium on a Friday night. This was a discovery made literally at the last minute, when there was no chance to re-negotiate or re-schedule. The School could only provide six nights for the Film Series in the Fall. (One problem is that I am teaching most of the other nights, and can't juggle my own schedule). I am trying to squeeze an extra Monday night out of my schedule and the School's so that we can add a seventh program -- and if that can be done, it'll be announced in the NS Fall Bulletin, or in our opening notes in September. There will of course be a much reduced subscription rate for the Fall series, and there is an ongoing discussion to reinstate the full series in the Spring. Possibly I can even make some kind of an announcement about that in the introduction this evening. It is unfortunate of course that some programs have had to be jettisoned and in certain cases re-arranged so that we don't lose films that might not be available next Spring. If certain titles had been announced that don't show up on this shortened schedule, then look for them in early '95. In the meantime, thanks for your patience.
As you know, the series has run into difficulties because of the Actor's Studio activity pre-empting the auditorium on many Friday nights. Alternate dates that we were offered were impossible because of my own NYU teaching schedule. So we're struggling along for the time being with a shortened Friday night series starting at 8.00 p.m. This in itself presents difficulties with long programs, discussions etc., but we'll face those as we come to them, while still trying to work out a return to a full schedule. If there is a sufficient break between the prior class and our starting time, we can perhaps switch to pre-screening discussions. Anyway, thanks for your patience and we'll keep you posted. I'm also arranging to do some special shows at Film Forum, and to restore the Summer series in '95, so that will enable us to catch up on some of the otherwise delayed items. Since a foreshortened season robs us of the opportunity for variety, for the Spring we're concentrating on melodrama in its various guises so that we'll have a cohesive them even if less time.
All of the films are being shown for the first time in a New School series. Requested - and promised - repeats of such films as MADONNA OF THE SEVEN MOONS and ABDUL THE DAMNED, and others not shown here for more than 15 years, will be included in the Summer schedule.