Directed by Victor Fleming
November 24 - December 19
Best remembered now as the director of two timeless classics from 1939, THE WIZARD OF OZ and GONE WITH THE WIND, director Victor Fleming's body of work demands reconsideration. During the wildcatting silent film era, Fleming worked his way up from set driver to cameraman, eventually becoming one of Douglas Fairbanks' key collaborators and lifelong friends. He directed a string of hits in both the late silent and early sound era--transitioning from one medium to the other much more nimbly than other directors--and guided several young stars in important career-making performances: Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy, Jean Harlow, Henry Fonda, Judy Garland and, especially, Clark Gable, who was still an unknown when cast in RED DUST and the only man who could play Rhett Butler just a few years later in GONE WITH THE WIND.
This ten-film retrospective includes a wide-ranging selection of Fleming's most significant work, both well-known classics and half-forgotten gems, each title in the series serving to help round out the legacy of one of Hollywood's most important directors.
AFI Member passes will be accepted at all screenings in the Victor Fleming series.
THE WIZARD OF OZ
#3 on AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals
#10 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies
"Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." THE WIZARD OF OZ is one of the all-time best-loved classics in American movies. But the expensive and ambitious 1939 musical fantasy had a troubled production history, including on-set mishaps and eleventh-hour script changes (and nonchanges--the film's most enduring song, "Over the Rainbow," [#1 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs] was nearly dropped!). Credit for the film's ultimate, lasting success can be shared across the board: a sharp script credited to Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf; the vision of producer Mervyn LeRoy and (uncredited) Arthur Freed, about to begin his brilliant career overseeing MGM's musicals; the wonderful songs of Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg; and the outstanding cast of 16-year-old MGM prodigy Judy Garland, vaudeville vets Ray Bolger, Jack Haley and John Lahr as her enchanting pals, and ace character actors Frank Morgan as the Wizard and Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West. But the man who made all of it ring true--the music, magic, action and emotion--was director Victor Fleming.
DIR Victor Fleming; SCR Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf based on the book by L. Frank Baum; PROD Mervyn LeRoy. US, 1939, b&w/color, 101 min. NOT RATED
Wed, Nov 24, 7:15; Thu, Nov 25, 7:15; Sun, Nov 28, 12:45
GONE WITH THE WIND
#2 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions
#6 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies
David O. Selznick's superproduction about the Old South, the Civil War and the indomitable Scarlett O'Hara was the culmination of a bidding war for the rights to Margaret Mitchell's bestseller, a wildly successful publicity campaign to cast Scarlett, endless script revisions, four different directors and obsessive tinkering by the tireless Selznick. The result was the most successful film in Hollywood history (adjusted for inflation, it still comes out on top). Fleming replaced original director George Cukor early in the production, with possible explanations including poor early rushes, a lack
of facility with the epic action scenes and Clark Gable's personal dissatisfaction. While many of Cukor's contributions are still apparent in the finished film, it never would have been completed, let alone successful, without Victor Fleming at the helm. Thirteen Oscar nominations and eight wins, including Best Picture, Best Director for Fleming, Best Screenplay, Best Actress for Vivien Leigh and Best Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel.
DIR Victor Fleming; SCR Sidney Howard, based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell; PROD David O. Selznick. US, 1939, color, 238 min plus 15 min intermission. NOT RATED
Sun, Nov 28, 3:00
*In Person: Michael Sragow will introduce the 7:00 show on December 3 and the 2:45 show on December 4; copies of his book will be available for purchase (and autographs!) in the lobby following these two shows!
"The unsung prototype of the screwball comedy and one of the funniest inside-Hollywood movies ever."--Michael Sragow. Superstar sexpot Jean Harlow's life has taken on a drama all its own: she's surrounded by a personal entourage of hangers-on, sycophants and deadbeat relations; her manic publicist, Lee Tracy, keeps making up stories for the press only slightly crazier than the reality; and if would-be paramour Franchot Tone seems too good to be true, he probably is. The plot and gags in this pre-Code gem had some real-life resonance with Harlow's own life story, but even more so with the silent era's great sex symbol Clara Bow (Fleming's former fiancee)--with Harlow's nickname here, "The If Girl," a wink at Bow's famous sobriquet, "The It Girl."
DIR Victor Fleming; SCR John Lee Mahin, Jules Furthman, based on the play by Caroline Francke and Mack Crane; PROD Hunt Stromberg. US, 1933, b&w, 96 min. NOT RATED
Fri, Dec 3, 7:00*; Sat, Dec 4, 2:45*; Mon, Dec 6, 4:30
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
*In Person: Michael Sragow will introduce the 9:15 show on December 3; arrive early to purchase his book in the lobby before the show!
Ripe for rediscovery, this too-little-seen version of Robert Louis Stevenson's macabre classic ranks among the very best. Spencer Tracy lets it all hang out as the upstanding doctor with the id-driven alter ego, with Lana Turner as his society fiancee and Ingrid Bergman as the cockney barmaid that Mr. Hyde prefers. "Fleming's swagger and seductiveness translate into an interestingly brusque, rough-'em-up tough- love view of male-female relations. The sheer nastiness of Tracy's Hyde is mesmerizingly scary." -- Molly Haskell
DIR/PROD Victor Fleming; SCR John Lee Mahin based on the novel "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson. US, 1941, b&w, 113 min. NOT RATED
Fri, Dec 3, 9:15*; Sun, Dec 5, 9:40; Thu, Dec 9, 4:30
*In Person: Michael Sragow will introduce the 12:45 show on December 4; copies of his book will be available for purchase (and autographs!) in the lobby before and after the show!
Hard-working rubber plantation owner Clark Gable initially doesn't take a shine to Saigon hooker Jean Harlow, who's hitched a ride upriver with Gable's shiftless employee Donald Crisp. But just as he starts to warm to her wisecracking charm, surveyor Gene Raymond arrives with his society wife, Mary Astor, in tow. Gable falls hard for Astor, but Harlow's not giving up so easily. Shot on jungle sets previously used for TARZAN, this racy, pre-Code picture became the smash hit that propelled Clark Gable to stardom. "Harlow [delivers] her zingy wisecracks with a wonderful dirty humor. Directed by Fleming in a racy, action-packed style." -- Pauline Kael
DIR Victor Fleming; SCR John Lee Mahin, based on the play by Wilson Collison; PROD Hunt Stromberg, Irving Thalberg. US, 1932, b&w, 83 min. NOT RATED
Fri, Dec 3, 5:00; Sat, Dec 4, 12:45*; Tue, Dec 7, 4:30
Hunky test pilot Clark Gable and spunky Kansas farm girl Myrna Loy meet cute when he's forced to land his aircraft in her field. Despite the misgivings of best pal and mechanic Spencer Tracy, Gable and Loy get married, which prompts hard-case boss Lionel Barrymore, who believes his pilots shouldn't be tied down to dames, to fire Gable. The despondent Gable goes on an epic bender, the disappointed Loy leaves Gable, the noble Tracy makes amends between Gable and Loy and Gable and Barrymore, and that's all before the big Army bomber assignment that will change their lives forever. A major hit in 1938, this film was nominated for Best Picture, Screenplay and Editing. "A personal favorite of mine. ... [A prime example] of what big-studio moviemaking could be." -- Myrna Loy
DIR Victor Fleming; SCR Vincent Lawrence, Waldemar Young, Frank Wead; PROD Louis D. Lighton. US, 1938, b&w, 118 min. NOT RATED
Sun, Dec 12, 5:30; Tue, Dec 14, 9:00
THE FARMER TAKES A WIFE
New 35mm Print!
Henry Fonda (in his screen debut) works as a deckhand on an Erie Canal boat in order to save enough money to buy a farm and settle down. When he meets ship's cook Janet Gaynor, he thinks he's found just the woman to settle down with. But Gaynor likes her exciting life on the canal, and her hardnosed boss, Charles Bickford, isn't about to let her go.
DIR Victor Fleming; SCR Edwin J. Burke, based on the play by Marc Connelly and Frank B. Elser, based on the novel "Rome Haul" by Walter D. Edmonds; PROD Winfield R. Sheehan. US, 1935, b&w, 91 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Dec 11, 2:00; Mon, Dec 13, 6:30
New 35mm Print!
"Has an enduring charm. Cooper's first all-talking picture in which, with the help of director Fleming, he found the laconic, straight-arrow character that he was to represent through much of his later career. The relationship between Cooper and Arlen, much like the later friendship of Newman and Redford, gives the film its emotional resonance." -- Pauline Kael
In the Old Wyoming Territory, ranch hand Gary Cooper and best buddy Richard Arlen become rivals for the affection of schoolteacher Mary Brian. After Arlen falls in with Walter Huston's gang of cattle rustlers, Cooper must make the tough call to hang his old pal. One of the archetypical Westerns, based on the novel by Owen Wister, directed with gusto and grit by Fleming. "The essential expression of Western gallantry and nobility, without any fake heroism or sentimentality." -- Michael Sragow. Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
DIR Victor Fleming; SCR Howard Estabrook, Grover Jones, Keene Thompson, Edward E. Paramore Jr., based on the novel by Owen Wister; PROD Louis D. Lighton. US, 1929, b&w, 91 min. NOT RATED
Sun, Dec 12, 1:00; Mon, Dec 13, 8:30
New 35mm Print!
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest/Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!" Robert Louis Stevenson's beloved swashbuckler springs to life, with Fleming's flair for action and adventure given ample opportunity to shine and the perfect star casting of Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper, fresh from their wildly successful teamwork in THE CHAMP, reunited here as one-legged pirate Long John Silver and young Jack Hawkins. Adapted for the screen countless times, Fleming's 1934 version remains tops in the minds and hearts of many.
DIR Victor Fleming; SCR John Lee Mahin, based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson; PROD Hunt Stromberg. US, 1934, b&w, 110 min. NOT RATED
Wed, Dec 15, 6:40; Sat, Dec 18, 12:45
Spoiled rich kid Freddie Bartholomew falls from an ocean liner into the briny deep and certain doom until rescued by Portuguese fisherman Spencer Tracy. Put to work on Tracy's fishing schooner for the next few months until they return to harbor, the pampered Bartholomew initially thinks his luck's gone from bad to worse, but under Tracy's patient and wise tutelage, he learns the value of hard work, responsibility and true friendship. Best Actor Oscar for Tracy, who'd win again the following year for BOYS TOWN. "Unashamedly emotional and profoundly moving...Fleming's most personal film and, as a work that he directed in its entirety, it is also his greatest achievement." -- Peter Bogdanovich
DIR Victor Fleming; SCR John Lee Mahin, Marc Connelly, Dale Van Every, based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling; PROD Louis D. Lighton. US, 1937, b&w, 115 min. NOT RATED
Thu, Dec 16, 6:40; Sun, Dec 19, 12:45