November 30–January 2
This year, AFI Silver's holiday celebration lasts all month long! Presenting not only perennial Christmas favorites IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL and the long-awaited return of MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, on a new 35mm print, but the ripe-for-rediscovery classics REMEMBER THE NIGHT, THE BISHOP'S WIFE and HOLIDAY AFFAIR. And New Year's Eve gets the holiday treatment, too, with HOLIDAY, THE APARTMENT and AFTER THE THIN MAN. There's also some naughty mixed with the nice: GREMLINS, BLACK CHRISTMAS, SUNSET BLVD. and even THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE with its upside-down Christmas tree.
AFI Member passes will be accepted at all screenings in the Holiday Classics series.
This 1974 Canadian horror film from the uniquely talented Bob Clark (look for his films A CHRISTMAS STORY and MURDER BY DECREE in this issue of Preview) is widely credited with being the first "slasher" film, the genre of horror that would come to dominate by the 1980s. But unlike the formulaic franchise entries that came in its wake, BLACK CHRISTMAS is a well-made thriller, with thoughtful characterization and formally creative moments of fright. Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder are still in their college sorority house on Christmas Eve, even after receiving a series of menacing telephone calls. Big mistake, eh?
DIR/PROD Bob Clark; SCR Roy Moore. Canada, 1974, color, 98 min. RATED R
THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER
#28 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions
"Close to perfection – one of the most beautifully acted and paced romantic comedies ever made in this country" – Pauline Kael. On a Hollywood back lot, Ernst Lubitsch recreates Budapest – at least the parts of it that can be seen out the window of Frank Morgan's gift shop, where James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are two store clerks who have loathed each other from the day they met. But when Stewart answers Sullavan's personal ad from the newspaper's lonely hearts column, they begin an anonymous love affair by mail, with the big reveal coming on Christmas Eve.
DIR/PROD Ernst Lubitsch; SCR Samson Raphaelson, based on the play "Parfumerie" by Miklós L´szló. US, 1940, b&w, 99 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Dec 1, 11:05 a.m.; Sun, Dec 2, 6:30; Tue, Dec 4, 7:00
WWII widow Janet Leigh works as a department store comparison shopper during the Christmas season in NYC, and after buying and returning the most expensive train set from the competition's store, gets good-hearted sales clerk Robert Mitchum fired for letting her off easy. Mitchum uses his resulting free time to pal around with Leigh, and romance blooms. However, Leigh's longtime admirer Wendell Corey has just proposed to her. And then there's her young son Timmy – who really wanted that train! Mitchum and Leigh, both just starting their careers, truly shine in this holiday charmer, recently re-discovered for the gem that it is.
DIR/PROD Don Hartman; SCR Isobel Lennart, from the story "Christmas Gift" by John D. Weaver. US, 1949, b&w, 87 min. NOT RATED. Preservation print courtesy of the Library of Congress
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET
New 35mm Print!
Sat, Dec 1, 6:00; Wed, Dec 5, 9:20
Do you believe in Santa Claus? No-nonsense Macy's exec and single mom Maureen O'Hara certainly doesn't, and she won't raise her daughter Natalie Wood to believe so, either. But Christmas is big business for Macy's, and the store needs Santas. So when a funny old man named Kris Kringle shows up for the job – insisting he's the real Santa Claus – O'Hara humors the old guy and hires him. But he's so successful at spreading the spirit of Christmas, even O'Hara starts to wonder if he's the real thing. Twinkle-eyed Edmund Gwenn shines as the jolly fellow in this Christmas classic.
DIR/SCR George Seaton; SCR from a story by Valentine Davies; PROD William Perlberg. US, 1947, b&w, 96 min. NOT RATED
REMEMBER THE NIGHT
Fri, Dec 7, 5:00; Sat, Dec 8, 11:10 a.m.; Sun, Dec 9, 11:10 a.m.
When shoplifter Barbara Stanwyck gets pinched for lifting a diamond bracelet during Christmastime in New York, it's assistant DA Fred MacMurray's job to send the third-time offender to the big house. With the case postponed until after Christmas, MacMurray floats Stanwyck bail money so she can go home for the holidays – with him, it turns out. Misadventure, mirth and a little holiday magic bring the two together, but there's still that day in court.
DIR/PROD Mitchell Leisen; SCR Preston Sturges. US, 1940, b&w, 94 min. NOT RATED
Preservation print courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Fri, Dec 7, 7:00; Sat, Dec 8, 11:05 a.m.
Whit Stillman's sparkling comedic debut earned the director multiple accolades, including a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination. A middle-class Manhattanite from the Upper West Side falls in with a clique of upper-class Upper East Siders during the busy debutante ball and holiday season; amid the ensuing drinking, debating and comedic class anxiety come the pangs of love, self-discovery and the first fumblings toward growing up.
DIR/SCR/PROD Whit Stillman. US, 1990, color, 98 min. RATED PG-13
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
Shows added on Christmas Day!
Sat, Dec 8, 6:30; Thu, Dec 13, 7:00
Guardian angel Clarence Odbody saves George Bailey (James Stewart) from a Christmas Eve suicide by showing him how dismal life in the small town of Bedford Falls would have been for his family and friends had he never been born. With Donna Reed as George's adoring wife, Henry Travers as the angel hoping to get his wings and Lionel Barrymore as the villainous Mr. Potter. The all-time Christmas classic may be Frank Capra's finest work. "The epiphany of movie sentiment and a transcendent experience." – Chicago Reader.
DIR/SCR/PROD Frank Capra; SCR Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling, Philip Van Doren Stern, Michael Wilson. US, 1946, b&w, 130 min. NOT RATED
CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT
Fri, Dec 14, 12:30; Sat, Dec 15, 11:00 a.m., 7:30; Thu, Dec 20, 6:45; Fri, Dec 21, 7:00; Sat, Dec 22, 7:00; Sun, Dec 23, 4:20, 7:00; Mon, Dec 24, 12:25, 7:00, 9:45
Just added: Tue, Dec 25, 1:30, 4:10, 6:45, 9:20
Smart Housekeeping's star food writer Barbara Stanwyck rhapsodizes about cooking elaborate meals for her husband and children at their Connecticut farmhouse, but in reality she's an unmarried Manhattan apartment-dweller, can't boil water and has a Hungarian chef pal (S. Z. Sakall) who feeds her all the yummy recipes. But when her publisher Sydney Greenstreet concocts a Christmas stunt – to invite Navy hero Dennis Morgan home for one of her home-cooked meals – Stanwyck will need to get even more creative to keep her domestic con afloat.
DIR Peter Godfrey; SCR Lionel Houser, Adele Comandini, from a story by Aileen Hamilton; PROD William Jacobs. US, 1945, b&w, 102 min. NOT RATED
A CHRISTMAS STORY
Sun, Dec 16, 6:40; Tue, Dec 18, 4:45; Thu, Dec 20, 4:45
All Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun, but the only response he gets from his mother is, "You'll shoot your eye out." For those who've experienced this film, it's hard to imagine that phrase without hearing the voice of Jean Shepherd, the narrator and writer of this classic Christmas tale. No matter how many times audiences see it, they keep coming back for the brilliant comedic turns by Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin.
DIR/SCR/PROD Bob Clark; SCR Leigh Brown, Jean Shepherd, from his book "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash"; PROD René Dupont. US/Canada, 1983, color, 94 min. RATED PG
Sun, Dec 16, 8:45; Mon, Dec 17, 4:30; Tue, Dec 18, 7:10
Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, in career-making performances, lead an outstanding cast in one of the screen's most poignant comedies, a workplace romance of uncommon sophistication. Motivated by vague promises of promotion, lowly insurance clerk Lemmon lets his bosses use his apartment for their late-night assignations during the holiday season. When he falls for elevator operator MacLaine, ex(-ish)-girlfriend of boss Fred MacMurray, the moral dilemmas begin to mount. Ten Oscar nominations and five wins, including Best Picture, Director and Screenplay for writer/director/producer Billy Wilder.
DIR/SCR/PROD Billy Wilder; SCR I. A. L. Diamond. US, 1960, b&w, 125 min. NOT RATED
THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL
Fri, Dec 21, 12:30; Sat, Dec 22, 11:00 a.m.; Tue, Dec 25, 11:00 a.m.
The Muppets' version of the Charles Dickens classic ranks among the best. The always-game Michael Caine gives it his all as Ebenezer Scrooge, with Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as his wife Emily and Kermit's nephew Robin as Tiny Tim, plus regulars Fozzie, Gonzo, Rizzo Rat and some truly awesome creations from Jim Henson's Creature Shop for the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come.
DIR/ PROD Brian Henson; SCR Jerry Juhl, based on "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens; PROD Martin G. Baker. US, 1992, color, 85 min. RATED G
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Fri, Dec 21, 3:00; Sat, Dec 22, 11:10 a.m., 3:00; Sun, Dec 23, 12:30; Mon, Dec, 24, 3:00
This 1951 British film features Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge – for many, the definitive performance of the iconic character. Miserly and mean-tempered, Scrooge is shaken to his core when he is visited on Christmas Eve by the ghost of his late business partner, Jacob Marley, and the spirits of Christmas past, present and future, whose phantasmagoric revelations help him to see the error of his ways.
DIR/PROD Brian Desmond Hurst; SCR Noel Langley, after the story by Charles Dickens. UK/US, 1951, b&w, 86 min. NOT RATED
Fri, Dec 21, 5:00; Sat, Dec 22, 5:00; Sun, Dec 23, 2:15; Mon, Dec 24, 5:00
Teenager Zach Galligan receives a unique gift his father discovers in a mysterious shop in Chinatown: a cuddly little mogwai he names Gizmo. But there are strict rules about the care and feeding of a mogwai – don't get it wet, keep it away from bright light and never, ever feed it after midnight. Of course, these very things happen, and soon Galligan, his pretty girlfriend Phoebe Cates, and the entire town of Kingston Falls are enduring a full-on siege by the mogwai's unwelcome spawn: hundreds of demonic, destructive gremlins. There goes Christmas! Joe Dante's comically frightful cult classic is a wicked romp through genre movie conventions, with in-jokes galore.
DIR Joe Dante; SCR Chris Columbus; PROD Michael Finnell. US, 1984, color, 106 min. RATED PG
Fri, Dec 21, 9:45; Sat, Dec 22, 9:45; Wed, Dec 26, 11:00 a.m.
Barry Levinson's classic coming-of-ager focuses on a group of childhood pals, now in their twenties and beginning to come to grips with their need to grow up. It's the Christmas holidays, 1959, and for the moment, they're content to hang out at their favorite Baltimore diner, debating such pressing topics as sports, cars, pop music and girls. The ensemble cast boasts an extraordinary roster of then-fledgling talent, including Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern, Steve Guttenberg, Paul Reiser, Tim Daly and a smoldering Ellen Barkin. Levinson's debut film earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay and launched his directorial career.
DIR/SCR Barry Levinson; PROD Jerry Weintraub. US, 1982, color, 110 min. RATED R
Sat, Dec 22, 11:05 a.m.; Sun, Dec 23, 9:30
After a whirlwind romance, stock market whiz Cary Grant and debutante Doris Nolan announce their engagement at a lavish New Year's Eve party at her family's Park Avenue townhouse. But Grant winds up spending most of the night in the company of Nolan's bohemian younger sister Katharine Hepburn. For their honeymoon, Grant wants to see the world on an extended holiday. But his fiancée would prefer him to go to work in her father's bank. Torn between his head and heart, Grant begins to realize that with the free-thinking Hepburn, he could have it all. Based on the play by Philip Barry, also the author of Hepburn's signature smash THE PHILADELPHIA STORY.
DIR George Cukor; SCR Donald Ogden Stewart, Sidney Buchman, from the play by Philip Barry; PROD Everett Riskin. US, 1938, b&w, 95 min. NOT RATED
THE BISHOP'S WIFE
Sat, Dec 22, 1:00; Sun, Dec 23, 11:05 a.m.; Mon, Dec 24, 11:05 a.m.
Praying for divine intervention during the Christmas season to help him realize his dream of building a new cathedral, Bishop David Niven has his prayers answered in the person of angelic Cary Grant. But Grant's message isn't exactly what Niven wanted to hear: rather than a single-minded focus on collecting money to erect a bigger building, Niven ought to help needy people in his community and look after the resources he already has, not the least of which is his lovely but neglected wife, Loretta Young. Niven's a hardheaded sort, so Grant must show him how it's done – mounting a charm offensive on the parishioners and squiring Young around town. Cinematography by the great Gregg Toland; Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett contributed an uncredited script polish.
DIR Henry Koster; SCR Robert E. Sherwood, Leonardo Bercovici, from the novel by Robert Nathan; PROD Samuel Goldwyn. US, 1947, b&w, 109 min. NOT RATED
AFTER THE THIN MAN
Thu, Dec 27, 11:00 a.m.; Fri, Dec 28, 11:05 a.m.
"This is a fine way to start the New Year," Nick Charles says as he bails his wife Nora out of jail. But it's Nora's cousin who's really in trouble, having been found standing over the body of her cheating husband with a smoking gun in her hand. Did she do it? Starring a young James Stewart in one of his earliest roles, as Nora's younger cousin. After the climactic reveal, Nora has one more surprise for unsuspecting Nick.
DIR W. S. Van Dyke; SCR Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich; PROD Hunt Stromberg. US, 1936, b&w, 113 min. NOT RATED
MEET JOHN DOE
Fri, Dec 28, 11:00 a.m.; Wed, Jan 2, 11:00 a.m.
A decidedly dark allegory from director Frank Capra: soon-to-be-downsized journalist Barbara Stanwyck publishes a fake letter, a desperate cri de coeur from the Common Man that threatens a Christmas Eve leap from the roof of City Hall to protest the ills of the world, signed "John Doe." When the letter causes a grassroots phenomenon, her newspaper hires her back to keep the story alive, including casting former baseball player/current bum Gary Cooper to play the role of John Doe. As manipulative political forces seek to hijack the movement, Stanwyck faces the crisis of falling in love with the man she's in danger of destroying.
DIR/PROD Frank Capra; SCR/PROD Robert Riskin, based on the story by Richard Connell and Robert Presnell, Sr. US, 1941, b&w, 122 min. NOT RATED
#16 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies
Sat, Dec 29, 11:00 a.m.; Mon, Dec 31, 11:00 a.m.
"I am big! It's the pictures that got small!" Regarded by many as the best film ever made about Hollywood – and by others as audacious treachery. In flashback, dead screenwriter/kept man Joe Gillis (William Holden) narrates his tormented, mutually exploitative affair with has-been star Norma Desmond (magnificently portrayed by silent-era star Gloria Swanson). Erich von Stroheim (onscreen as Swanson's devoted valet Max) came up with the memorable idea of having his character write the star's fan mail. Director and screenwriter Billy Wilder rejected his other suggestion: von Stroheim washing and ironing her panties. Among the film's other famous scenes: two New Year's Eve parties, one bustling and convivial, the other cloistered and creepy. Nominated for 11 Oscars, winning three, including Best Screenplay.
DIR/SCR Billy Wilder; SCR/PROD Charles Brackett; SCR D. M. Marshman, Jr. US, 1950, b&w, 110 min. NOT RATED
THE GODFATHER: PART II
Sun, Dec 30, 11:05 a.m.; Tue, Jan 1, 11:05 a.m.
One of the all-time greatest movie sequels continues the saga of the Corleone clan begun two years prior with THE GODFATHER, moving not only forward, as new don Al Pacino weathers crushing setbacks and familial disintegration, but back, exploring the Corleone family's voyage to America and fight to survive in the rough-and-tumble immigrant ghetto of old New York, with Robert De Niro giving a brilliant performance as the younger version of Marlon Brando's Vito Corleone. The tour-de-force New Year's Eve celebration in 1958 Havana, on the eve of more than just a new year, earns it a place in this series, but really, it's always wise to spend some time with the family during the holidays… Eleven Oscar nominations and six wins, including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Supporting Actor for De Niro.
DIR/SCR/PROD Francis Ford Coppola; SCR Mario Puzo, based on his novel. US, 1974, color, 200 min. In English, Italian and Latin with English subtitles. RATED R
Long before THE HURT LOCKER made her a household name, Kathryn Bigelow impressed with this stylish sci-fi mystery set on New Year's Eve in an imagined near-future of 1999 Los Angeles. Ex-cop Ralph Fiennes makes his living selling virtual reality discs – uploadable memories and emotions that make for an addictive new drug – but when a new disc arrives containing memories of a prostitute's murder, Fiennes finds himself embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy. The offbeat cast includes Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Vincent D'Onofrio and Tom Sizemore.
DIR Kathryn Bigelow; SCR/PROD James Cameron; SCR Jay Cocks; PROD Steven-Charles Jaffe. US, 1995, color, 145 min. RATED R
THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE
Mon, Dec 31, 10:45 pm; Wed, Jan 2, 9:30
When a tidal wave strikes the SS Poseidon on New Year's Eve, the ship flips over, creating a luxury cruise ship death trap. Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Stella Stevens, Red Buttons, Carol Lynley, Roddy McDowall and Jack Albertson begin the dangerous climb to safety, deck by deck from the ballroom ceiling. Ronald Neame's nautical disaster film has long distinguished itself from producer Irwin Allen's other cataclysmic entertainments for its technical wizardry (it won a special achievement Oscar for special effects) and its gripping depiction of a scrappy band of survivors clawing their way to safety against long odds and the harrowing death and destruction around them.
DIR Ronald Neame; SCR Stirling Silliphant, Wendell Mayes, from the novel by Paul Gallico; PROD Irwin Allen. US, 1972, color, 117 min. RATED PG
Tue, Jan 1, 11:00 a.m.; Wed, Jan 2, 11:00 a.m.