Hollywood Modern: Film Design of the 1930s
February 5 - March 9

In conjunction with the National Building Museum's current exhibit, "Designing Tomorrow: America's World's Fairs of the 1930s," AFI Silver presents this series of films featuring an eclectic, and occasionally over-the-top, array of modernist set designs, reflecting the forward-looking design sensibilities of the 1930s.

At a time of incredible economic difficulty, Hollywood provided moviegoers in the 1930s with sparkling fantasies of fashion, urban decadence and nights on the town, set within environments offering the most deluxe, most glamorous, most modern styles available. Many of the same design trends seen onscreen were displayed in demonstration homes at the World's Fairs of the 1930s, from chrome accents, modular furnishings and plate glass, to synthetic fabrics and surfaces.

Whether it is the appearance of Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House in FEMALE, the spiraling lobby of GRAND HOTEL, William Powell's penthouse in STAR OF MIDNIGHT or the glittering Silver Sandal Club in SWING TIME, examples of modern architecture and design can be seen within a long list of films considered classics of Hollywood's golden age.

Special thanks to the National Building Museum for its collaboration, including co-curators of the exhibition Deborah Sorensen and Laura Burd Schiavo, Paul Killmer, director of public programs, and Scott Kratz, vice president for education.

For more information on the National Building Museum's "Designing Tomorrow" exhibit, running through July 10, 2011, visit nbm.org/exhibitions-collections.



GRAND HOTEL
Introduction by curator Deborah Sorensen and Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday

This film is the apotheosis of MGM's carefully cultivated prestige, meticulously crafted glamour and bevy of bankable stars, with Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery and Lionel Barrymore's personal dramas intersecting at Berlin's most luxurious hotel. Guided then by the brilliant Irving Thalberg, the studio was known for having superb talent behind and in front of the camera, and the film's real star is the art deco hotel sets designed by the legendary art director Cedric Gibbons. Oscar winner for Best Picture, 1932.

DIR Edmund Goulding; SCR Béla Balázs, William A. Drake, based on Drake's play, based on the novel "Menschen im Hotel" by Vicki Baum; PROD Irving Thalberg. US, 1932, b&w, 112 min. NOT RATED

Sat, Feb 5, 12:45

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

FEMALE

Ruth Chatterton is a hard-driving captain of industry in the auto business who loves her work and her hunky workers, too. But most of all, she loves her freedom, and prefers to love 'em and leave 'em. When the talented engineer George Brent resists the boss's overtures, Chatterton discovers a new challenge...and new feelings. Michael Curtiz's direction sparkles (with assists from Williams Dieterle and Wellman), and the screenplay is by Gene Markey, scripter of another pre-Code favorite, BABY FACE. Design aficionados will delight in Chatterton's digs, Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House in L.A.'s Los Feliz hills (nine years old in 1933), plus over-the-top art deco set design by Jack Okey.

DIR Michael Curtiz; SCR Gene Markey, Kathryn Scola, Donald Henderson Clarke, PROD Robert Presnell Sr. US, 1933, b&w, 60 min. NOT RATED

Sun, Feb 6, 12:45

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

THE GAY DIVORCEE*

Despite Astaire's protestations against making another picture with Rogers (he'd been part of a famous dancing duo already, with his sister Adele, and was ready for a solo career), RKO knew a good thing when they saw one, and trumpeted their new stars as "The King and Queen of 'Carioca'" on posters for this follow-up to FLYING DOWN TO RIO the next year. The convoluted plot (a faked adultery scandal, a case of mistaken identity) just filled in the gaps between the musical numbers, notably Cole Porter's "Night and Day," and an extravagant 15-minute production set to Best Song Oscar winner "The Continental," in which five revolving glass doors are integral parts of the choreography.

DIR Mark Sandrich; SCR George Marion Jr., Dorothy Yost, Edward Kaufman, based on the musical "Gay Divorce" by Dwight Taylor; PROD Pandro S. Berman. US, 1934, b&w, 107 min. NOT RATED

Mon, Feb 7, 7:20; Wed, Feb 9, 9:00

* Also part of the Backwards and in High Heels: Ginger Rogers Centennial Retrospective series

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

TROUBLE IN PARADISE

Prowling Paramount's back-lot version of Venice, suave thief Herbert Marshall meets his ideal mate in sprightly pickpocket Miriam Hopkins, with whom he hatches a plot to get close to wealthy widow Kay Francis and relieve her of her excess valuables. Complications ensue when Marshall discovers that the charming Francis is quite the jewel herself. Director Ernst Lubitsch's most sparkling creation, with chic art deco sets that match the movie's ultramodern attitude. "As close to perfection as anything I have ever seen in the movies." — Dwight Macdonald

DIR/PROD Ernst Lubitsch; SCR Samson Raphaelson, Grover Jones, from the play "The Honest Finder" by László Aladár. US, 1932, b&w, 83 min. NOT RATED

Sat, Feb 12, 12:45; Thu, Feb 17, 7:30

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

DESIGN FOR LIVING

Meeting cute on the train, Americans in Paris Miriam Hopkins—a successful commercial artist—and Gary Cooper and Frederic March—unsuccessful painter and playwright, respectively—take up residence together in the boys' garret, Hopkins believing that she can advance both of their careers, making a "gentleman's agreement" of no sexual distractions. She helps each catch their first break, but also entices each to break the agreement (she's no gentleman). Feeling pinched by the love triangle, Hopkins leaves to marry her buttoned-down boss, causing all three to realize that their bohemian arrangement wasn't so bad.

DIR/PROD Ernst Lubitsch; SCR Ben Hecht, from the play by Noël Coward. US, 1933, b&w, 95 min. NOT RATED

Sun, Feb 13, 1:00; Mon, Feb 14, 9:20

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

THE WOMEN

Hounded by gossip, Manhattan society woman Norma Shearer resolves not to give up her straying husband without a fight; egged on by her madcap friend Rosalind Russell, she screws up the courage to confront that home-wrecking shopgirl Joan Crawford. Director George Cukor nimbly guides the sprawling, all-female cast, featuring memorable turns by Paulette Goddard, Joan Fontaine and Marjorie Main (in a proto-Ma Kettle role) in this wicked and witty satire of what women want. Cedric Gibbons's stylish backdrops set the scenes.

DIR George Cukor; SCR Anita Loos, Jane Murfin, based on the play by Clare Boothe Luce; PROD Hunt Stromberg. US, 1939, b&w/color, 133 min. NOT RATED

Sat, Feb 19, 2:45

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

SWING TIME*
#90 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition

Rogers claimed this was her favorite of the ten films she made with Astaire. Here, he plays "Lucky," a gambler hoping to raise $25,000 and thereby prove himself worthy of his bride-to-be, Betty Furness. The plan hits a snag when he meets, and falls for, the beautiful Penny (Ginger Rogers), a dancer in New York. Jerome Kern composed the memorable score, which includes the enduring classic (and winner of the Best Song Oscar), "The Way You Look Tonight," plus, "Pick Yourself Up," "Never Gonna Dance" and "A Fine Romance." Choreographer Hermes Pan received an Oscar nomination for his inspired dance direction.

DIR George Stevens; SCR Howard Lindsay, Allan Scott, based on the story "Portrait of John Garnett" by Erwin S. Gelsey; PROD Pandro S. Berman. US, 1936, b&w, 103 min. NOT RATED

Fri, Feb 25, 4:45; Sat, Feb 26, 5:10; Mon, Feb 28, 4:45; Tue, Mar 1, 4:45; Wed, Mar 2, 4:45; Thu, Mar 3, 4:45

* Also part of the Backwards and in High Heels: Ginger Rogers Centennial Retrospective series

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

A STAR IS BORN (1937)

Young hopeful Janet Gaynor's star rises as alcoholic leading man Fredric March's fades, a career imbalance that threatens their love and friendship in Hollywood's cruel calculus. This drama of heartbreak in Hollywood's dream factory has proven surprisingly enduring, with remakes in 1954 and 1976 (and, it's rumored, 2012!). Versatile director William Wellman guides Gaynor and March to two of the finest performances of their careers. W. Howard Greene received an Honorary Oscar for his pioneering color photography, and March's chic pad looks years ahead of its time thanks to art director Lyle Wheeler.

DIR/SCR William A. Wellman; SCR Robert Carson, Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell; PROD David O. Selznick. US, 1937, color, 111 min. NOT RATED

Sat, Feb 26, 12:30

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

Double Feature: Two Movies for the Cost of One Admission!
STAR OF MIDNIGHT*

Lawyer/sleuth William Powell ("People consider me Charlie Chan, Philo Vance and the Saint all rolled into one") and society girlfriend Ginger Rogers investigate the mystery of a missing woman who has reappeared, under an assumed name, as a stage actress, and why someone would murder a show-biz columnist to keep it a secret. It's not THE THIN MAN, but it's a close relation, and the debonair Powell is very much at home in the swank Manhattan apartment designed for him by Van Nest Polglase.

DIR Stephen Roberts; SCR Howard J. Green, Edward Kaufman, Anthony Veiller, based on the novel by Arthur Somers Roche; PROD Pandro S. Berman. US, 1935, b&w, 90 min. NOT RATED Presented on DVD

Screening with:

RAFTER ROMANCE

Behind on her rent, working girl Ginger Rogers accepts her landlord's ultimatum and moves into the attic apartment, shared in shifts with Greenwich Village artist/night watchman Norman Foster. Even though the two have never met face to face, they wage the typical roommate battles via written notes. When the two meet cute in person, not realizing who the other really is, their first date promises to be illuminating. A cheeky pre-Code comedy directed by William Seiter (SONS OF THE DESERT, IF YOU COULD ONLY COOK).

DIR William A. Seiter; SCR H.W. Hanemann, Sam Mintz, Glenn Tryon, based on the novel by John Wells; PROD Alexander McGaig. US, 1933, b&w, 73 min. NOT RATED

Sun, Feb 27, 1:00; Mon, Feb 28, 7:00

* Also part of the Backwards and in High Heels: Ginger Rogers Centennial Retrospective series

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.