August 14th, 2008

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Classic cinema in Cowtown



That's the skyline of Fort Worth, Texas, the smaller and often-ignored sibling of what's known as "the Metroplex." Unlike nearby Dallas, no prime-time TV series are named after it, and no major sports franchises call it home. The closest team to town is baseball's Texas Rangers over in Arlington, to the east; next year, the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, who currently play in suburban Irving, will move to a new, glitzy stadium in Arlington, but keep the "Dallas" name.

But Fort Worth does beat "Big D" in a few categories. For one thing, it has far more "real" cowboys, thanks to the presence of the famed Fort Worth Stockyards, thus its nickname of "Cowtown." For another, Fort Worth has a thriving museum scene, and is often labeled the museum capital of the Southwest. Among those of note are the Amon Carter Museum, the Kimball Art Museum, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the one we're going to focus on -- the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.



Just like its semi-namesake in New York, the famed Museum of Modern Art, the Fort Worth version includes cinema as part of its program. And beginning tonight and running for the next two weekends, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is saluting its New York counterpart with a program of vintage movies -- "Still Moving: Classic Film From MoMA." All these films are on loan from MoMA's permanent collection of more than 21,000 movies, and all are in 35mm.

While no Carole Lombard films are on the schedule, the program features classics from a variety of genres. All these films have been either preserved or restored, and deserve to be seen in a theater with an audience. (The museum has a 250-seat auditorium.)

Things kick off at 7 tonight with the 1928 Fox silent "Street Angel," for which Janet Gaynor won an Academy Award; it also features her best-known co-star, Charles Farrell.

The rest of the schedule:

* Friday, Aug. 15:
6 p.m. --
"The Iron Mask" (1929). Douglas Fairbanks stars (he also wrote the screenplay under a pseudonym) in this silent swashbuckler directed by Allan Dwan (the man who directed Lombard's first film as Jane Peters, "A Perfect Crime").

8 p.m. -- "The Big Trail" (1930). This is the rarely-seen "Grandeur" or widescreen version of a western epic starring a young John Wayne and directed by Raoul Walsh. Few theaters could afford the widescreen conversion so soon after installing sound, and the format languished for close to a quarter-century.




* Saturday, Aug. 16:
4 p.m. --
"Moana" (1926). This blend of documentary and fiction, filmed in the Pacific Islands, was directed by Robert Flaherty of "Nanook Of The North" fame. Despite its exotic setting, it was a commercial failure.

5:30 p.m. -- "The Love Parade" (1929). This sophisticated musical was Ernst Lubitsch's first talking picture, and technically it's far ahead of its creaky contemporary counterparts. Stars Maurice Chevalier and, in her screen debut, Jeanette MacDonald.



* Sunday, Aug. 17:
2 p.m. --
"His Girl Friday" (1940). "The Front Page" gets a sex change, as reporter Hildy Johnson becomes a she (and, as played by Rosalind Russell, what a she!) in a role Lombard could have played (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/72552.html). Ex-husband and editor Cary Grant is her foil in this rapid-fire classic directed by Howard Hawks. This is a fully restored version, not like the cheap public domain DVDs found in dollar stores.



4 p.m. -- "Brute Force" (1947). Burt Lancaster in a Jules Dassin-directed film noir set in a prison.

* Thursday, Aug. 21:
7 p.m. --
"The Boy With Green Hair" (1948). A young Dean Stockwell plays the emerald-haired orphan (restored to its full hue) in this allegory directed by Joseph Losey.

* Friday, Aug. 22:
6 p.m. --
"Alice In Wonderland" (1948). This version of the Lewis Carroll classic, blending live action (with Carol Marsh as Alice) and puppets, was little seen in its time due to Walt Disney's competing version. It has since been restored (it's a color film, incidentally).



8 p.m. -- "The Set-Up" (1949). Directed by Robert Wise and starring Robert Ryan, this is considered one of the best boxing films ever made.

* Saturday, Aug. 23:
2 p.m. --
"The Steel Helmet" (1951). The first film set during the Korean conflict, which was still going on at the time this was made. Directed and written by Samuel Fuller.

5 p.m. -- "On The Waterfront" (1954). One of the '50s most powerful films, this classic tale of corruption starring Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger and Karl Malden has been fully restored.

* Sunday, Aug. 24:
2 p.m. --
"Salt Of The Earth" (1954). Written, directed and produced by blacklisted members of the "Hollywood Ten," this examines the fight of Mexican-American workers in a New Mexico zinc mine who went on strike to gain wage parity with their Anglo co-workers.

4 p.m. -- "It Should Happen To You" (1954). Judy Holliday and a young Jack Lemmon star in this comedy, directed by George Cukor, which examines the pursuit of fame. Constance Bennett has a small role, portraying herself.

For more information, go to http://www.themodern.org/moma_stillmoving.html. Tickets are $8.50 ($6.50 for Modern Members). Guest speakers and special events to be announced at later date. For more information contact auditoriumprograms@themodern.org.
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