Park Ridge film series turns lens towards Hollywood itself

Movies About Movies: Hollywood Projects Itself is the 2017 spring film festival at the Park Ridge Public Library. The series examines Hollywood’s image of itself.

Movies About Movies concentrates on a specific era of filmmaking, from the late 1920s until the early 1950s.

The Library series runs on Thursday nights from March 2 until May 25. All screenings at the Library are free. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.(sometimes earlier) and we will always screen shorts or documentaries before 7 p.m. I will introduce each film promptly at 7 p.m.

March 2: SHOW PEOPLE (1928) Dir. King Vidor/82 min.

Screen comedienne Marion Davies (in her best role) stars as a small-town girl with dreams of being a dramatic actress in this delightful behind-the-scenes look at the golden age of silent pictures. With William Haines (and several surprise cameos, including the film’s director).

March 9: FREE AND EASY (1930) Dir. Edward Sedgwick/92 min

(With bonus Keaton film starting at 6:15 PM.)

Early talkie with Buster Keaton arriving in Hollywood (with Anita Page) and getting a studio contract despite his ineptness. This musical comedy also stars Robert Montgomery (and several celebrity walk-ons).

March 23: WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? (1932) Dir. George Cukor/88 min.

The first version of what would become A Star is Born has Constance Bennett as a waitress-turned-ingenue and Lowell Sherman as her tailspinning director. With Neil Hamilton and Gregory Ratoff.

March 30: A STAR IS BORN (1937) Dir. William Wellman/111 min.

A Technicolor re-working of What Price Hollywood?—this time with Janet Gaynor as the rising star and Fredric March as her washed-up husband. Nominated for several Academy Awards including Best Actor for March– one of his finest performances.

April 6: IT HAPPENED IN HOLLYWOOD (1937) Dir. Harry Lachman/67 min.

Richard Dix portrays a silent film cowboy star who can’t adjust to the new era of “talkies.” With Fay Wray and a host of movie star “doubles.” Co-written by Samuel Fuller.

April 13: BOY MEETS GIRL (1938) Dir. Lloyd Bacon/86 min.

A screwball view of Hollywood with James Cagney and Pat O’Brien as a couple fast-talking screenwriters. This biting satire also stars Marie Wilson, Ralph Bellamy, and Ronald Reagan (in a small role as an announcer).

April 27: SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (1942) Dir. Preston Sturges/90 min.

Sturges’s satiric masterpiece about a director of Depression-era fluff who sets out to discover America as a hobo in the hopes of making a serious film. Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake star alongside a great cast of character actors.

May 11: IN A LONELY PLACE (1950) Dir. Nicholas Ray/91 min.

Cynical view of Hollywood with Humphrey Bogart as a self-destructive screenwriter trying to clear himself of a murder charge. One of the all-time great film noirs with Bogart giving one of his darkest portrayals. With Gloria Grahame.

May 25: THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952) Dir. Vincent Minnelli/118 min.

Story of a megalomaniacal producer (Kirk Douglas) told through his relationships with other characters on set, including actress Lana Turner (in one of her better performances). With Dick Powell and Gloria Grahame (Best Supporting Actress).

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