ATLANTA—Emory Cinematheque, a weekly series of free 35mm screenings, presents “American Comedy Classics,” beginning Wednesday August 28 with Billy Wilder’s “Some Like it Hot” (1959). The screenings take place each Wednesday (plus one Sunday evening) in White Hall 205. A screening of Buster Keaton’s films will take place on Sunday, September 29 at 7:30. A special screening of Paul Schrader’s “Mishima” (1985) will be held on Wednesday September 25 as part of famed composer Philip Glass’s visit to Emory.
“Like the western, the gangster film and the musical, film comedy constitutes one of America’s most distinctive contributions to worldwide cinema,” says Matthew H. Bernstein, this season’s Cinematheque curator and professor and chair of Film and Media Studies at Emory. “We aim to introduce our students, and share with the Atlanta community, an astonishing array of achievements, ranging from silent slapstick to classic screwball comedy to the ‘nervous romance’ initiated by “Annie Hall” (1977) to the animal comedy of recent decades.”
Twelve of the films presented have place on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Funniest Comedies. Several of them have won Oscars. Each screening will be introduced by Bernstein and include a brief, post-screening discussion of the film. The series includes:
Aug 28: Some Like it Hot (1959).
Billy Wilder’s classic sex comedy of disguise starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis was ranked the #1 funniest American Comedy by the AFI.
Sept. 11: Duck Soup (1932) and I’m No Angel (1933).
A double feature of Pre-Code early comedies featuring Paramount’s most subversive stars: The Marx Brothers (#5 on the AFI list) and Mae West.
Sept. 18: The Gold Rush (1925), with The Immigrant (1918).
Two major Charlie Chaplin silent comedies from his two-reeler and feature filmmaking days (The Gold Rush is #25 on the AFI list). Featuring live accompaniment by pianist Donald Sosin.
Sunday, Sept. 29: The General (1926), with Coney Island (1917).
An early Fatty Arbuckle two-reeler featuring Buster Keaton and Keaton’s feature length masterpiece (#18 on the AFI list). Featuring live accompaniment by pianist Donald Sosin.
Oct 2: Trouble in Paradise (1932).
A sparkling and sophisticated pre-Code romantic comedy that exemplifies the famous “touch” of director Ernst Lubitsch.
Oct 9: It Happened One Night (1934).
Frank Capra’s Oscar-sweeping (Film, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay) romantic comedy starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert (#8 on the AFI list).
Oct 16: The Awful Truth (1937).
The least known comic gem of the 1930s screwball cycle made a major star of Cary Grant and features Irene Dunne, Ralph Bellamy and Astor the dog. Director Leo McCarey (also Duck Soup) took home an Oscar (#68 on the AFI list).
Oct 23: His Girl Friday (1940)
Howard Hawks’s justly celebrated remake of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s classic newspaper comedy The Front Page with Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, and yes, Ralph Bellamy (#19 on the AFI list).
October 30: The Lady Eve (1941)
Writer-director Preston Sturges supremely absurd comedy of remarriage starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda.
Nov. 6: The Producers (1967)
Mel Brooks’ first feature and breakthrough film is a tasteless comedy featuring the utterly unique Zero Mostel as the degenerate Broadway producer who persuades his mousy accountant (Gene Wilder’s star-making role) to produce a musical about Nazis (#11 on the AFI list).
Nov. 13: Annie Hall (1977)
Woody Allen’s iconic crystallization of his hyper-neurotic-Jewish-New York-intellectual misadventures won four Oscars (film, director, actress, original screenplay) and is #4 on the AFI’s list.
Nov. 20: National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
This quintessential example of “animal comedy” about a college dean’s efforts to discredit a debauched campus fraternity cemented Saturday Night Live phenom John Belushi’s screen stardom (#36 on the AFI list).
Dec. 4: There’s Something About Mary (1998)
The Farrelly Brothers’ most accomplished gross-out farce is also a smart and sweet romantic comedy (#27 on the AFI list).
The series’ 35 mm projection gives the Atlanta community the opportunity to see films in their original, intended format, with commentary from Emory faculty. From Aug. 28 to Dec. 4, the free screenings are held every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 29 at 7:30 p.m. on the Emory campus in White Hall 205. Visit filmstudies.emory.edu for event details.
Emory Cinematheque, a collaboration between Emory College and the Department of Film and Media Studies, is one of the few film series bringing 35 mm repertory programming to the Southeast. In addition, the film department hosts special screenings and lectures by international filmmakers, scholars, and critics. filmstudies.emory.edu