2011 marks centennials for two of Carole Lombard's acting contemporaries -- Ginger Rogers, with whom she is pictured, and Jean Harlow, who was a close friend. Both provided immeasurable contributions to the classic Hollywood we know and love.
And if you live in or near the Washington, D.C. area, good news. Just as it did for Lombard in 2009 (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/179517.html), the American Film Institute's Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Md. is celebrating the legacies of both actresses.
To be honest, the AFI's "Jean Harlow Centennial Celebration" isn't much, only two films, running from Saturday, March 5 to Tuesday, March 8. (Turner Classic Movies will be showing plenty of Harlow during the month.) But the two AFI selections are good ones, well worth experiencing on the big screen -- "Platinum Blonde" (1931) with Loretta Young and the ill-fated Robert Williams, and the always welcome "Libeled Lady" (1936), where Jean delivers the laughs with William Powell, Spencer Tracy and Myrna Loy.
"Furious fun and racy romance," indeed.
For showtimes and more information on the Harlow films, go to http://www.afi.com/silver/new/nowplaying/2011/v8i1/harlow.aspx.
The Rogers package, "Backwards and in High Heels: Ginger Rogers Centennial Retrospective," is far more elaborate, featuring 22 films, beginning Friday and continuing through April 7. Most of February is devoted to Ginger's movies with Fred Astaire, kicking off with "Flying Down To Rio" (1933), where the two are in support to Gene Raymond and Dolores Del Rio; their first starring vehicle, "The Gay Divorcee" (1934), follows.
If you'd like a good old-fashioned double feature, you'll have two chances to do it: on Feb. 27 and 28, as the Silver shows "Star Of Midnight" (1935, with Powell) and "Rafter Romance" (1933, with Preston Foster), and on March 6 and 7, with the 1933 Warners pre-Code musicals "42nd Street" and "Gold Diggers Of 1933" (the latter featuring Ginger's mouth gradually magnified in a gargantuan close-up, while she sings "We're In The Money" in pig Latin!).
By mid-March, Rogers' later films appear on the schedule, including her Oscar-winning performance in "Kitty Foyle" (1940); two fun films from 1942, "Roxie Hart" (William Wellman's take on the "Chicago" story) and "The Major And The Minor" (Billy Wilder's directing debut), and Howard Hawks' hilarious "Monkey Business" (1952). For specific showtimes and other info, visit http://www.afi.com/silver/new/nowplaying/2011/v8i1/rogers.aspx.
I've been to the Silver; it's a charming venue, blending its original Art Deco charm (it opened in 1938) with state-of-the-art facilities and comfort. Plus, it's a short walk from the Silver Spring station on Metrorail's Red line. Jean and Ginger await your visit.