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Home Authors + Books Halloween Movies: ‘The Man Who Laughs’ & ‘Eyes Without a Face’ + Rare John Ford

Halloween Movies: ‘The Man Who Laughs’ & ‘Eyes Without a Face’ + Rare John Ford

13 minutes read

The Man Who Laughs Conrad Veidt Mary Philbin
Paul Leni’s The Man Who Laughs, starring Conrad Veidt and Mary Philbin.
Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Alida Valli, Pierre Brasseur, Angela Lansbury, Conrad Veidt, Sean Connery, John Wayne, Gene Wilder, silent film stars Mary Philbin and Buster Keaton, and lots of zombies (it’s Halloween, after all) are some of the performers featured in the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation’s free film series in Culpeper, Va., in October. (See Packard Campus October 2010 Schedule below.)

Among the screening movies are Leo McCarey’s comedy My Favorite Wife (1940), Mel Brooks’ spoof Young Frankenstein (1974), Raoul Walsh’s early epic Western The Big Trail (1930), and George A. Romero’s zombie-packed Night of the Living Dead (1968).

My two chief recommendations are:

Georges Franju’s eerie Les yeux sans visage / Eyes Without a Face (1960), which long predates The Silence of the Lambs in its tale about young women’s skins being used – against their will – for cosmetic purposes. Eyes Without a Face stars Pierre Brasseur as the mad scientist and Alida Valli – looking radically different from her soulful heroines of years past – as the professor’s assistant. Haunting music by Maurice Jarre.

Paul Leni’s The Man Who Laughs (1928), a late silent based on Victor Hugo’s novel about a man whose mouth was ripped into a permanent smile. Conrad Veidt has the title role, Mary Philbin (The Phantom of the Opera) plays the heroine, and Olga Baclanova (Freaks) steals the show as a conniving duchess.

This month’s film series will include for the first time a Wurlitzer theater organ to accompany the silent film screenings.

Also of note, on Oct. 1 the Packard Campus showcased a long-thought-lost British television program recently discovered in the Library’s collections: Colombe (1960), based on Jean Anouilh’s play Mademoiselle Colombe, and starring a pre-James Bond Sean Connery. Apparently there’ll be more such screenings in the coming months.

Note: Screenings are preceded by a slide presentation about the film, with music selected by the Library’s Recorded Sound Section. Some screenings will also include short subjects before the main feature. Titles are subject to change without notice.

All Packard Campus programs are free and open to the public, but children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. For reservation information, call (540) 827-1079 extension 79994 or (202) 707-9994 during business hours, beginning one week before any given screening. Reservations will be held until 10 minutes before showtime. For further information on the theater and film series, visit

Photo: Courtesy of the Packard Campus.

Packard Campus schedule and film synopses (via press release):

Friday, October 1 (7:30 p.m.)
Library of Congress Discovers Lost British TV Treasures
Based on the original Broadway production of the play “Mademoiselle Colombe” by Jean Anouilh.

Directed by Naomi Capon. With Sean Connery & Dorothy Tutin.  Black & White, 102 min.

Saturday, October 2 (7:30 p.m.)
When Stan and Ollie trick their wives into thinking that they are taking a medicinal cruise while they’re
actually going to a convention, the wives find out the truth the hard way.

Comedy.  Directed by William A. Seiter.
With Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and Charley Chase.  Black & White, 68 min.

Also on the program: Maids ala Mode (Hal Roach, 1933) starring Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd. Comedy, black & white, 18 min.

Thursday, October 14 (7:30 p.m.)
THE BIG TRAIL(Fox, 1930)
Breck Coleman leads hundreds of settlers in covered wagons from the Mississippi River to their destiny out West.

Western adventure. Directed by Raoul Walsh. With John Wayne, Marguerite Churchill and El Brendel. Selected for The National Film Registry in 2006. Black & White, 125 min.

Friday, October 15 (7:30 p.m.)
Debut of the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ
THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (Universal, 1928)
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo. Gwynplaine, son of Lord Clancharlie, has a permanent smile carved
on his face by the King, in revenge for Gwynplaine’s father’s treachery.

Horror, drama, romance.  Directed by Paul Leni. With Conrad Veidt and Mary Philbin. Black & White, 110 min.  Silent with live musical accompaniment on the Wurlitzer organ by Andrew Simpson.

Saturday, October 16 (2:00 p.m.)
Debut of the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ
SEVEN CHANCES(Metro, 1925)
A man learns he will inherit a fortune if he marries by 7 p.m. Today!

Comedy, romance.  Directed by and starring Buster Keaton. Black & White, 110 min. Silent with live musical accompaniment on the Wurlitzer organ by Andrew Simpson.

Also on the program: Rivals (Arrow, 1925) with Billy West & Oliver Hardy. Comedy, black & white, 20 min.

Thursday, October 21 (7:30 p.m.)
A shipwrecked woman is rescued just in time for her husband’s re-marriage. Comedy, romance.  Directed by Garson Kanin.
With Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Black & white, 88 min. Also on the program: a Warner Bros. cartoon and comedy short from 1940.

Friday, October 22 (7:30 p.m.)
A surgeon steals young women’s faces hoping to heal his daughter’s scars. Horror. Intended for mature audiences.
In French with English subtitles. Directed by Georges Franju. With Pierre Brasseur. Black & white, 88 min.

Saturday, October 23 (2:00 p.m.)
An apprentice witch and three war orphans try to prevent the Nazi invasion of England.

Family adventure, fantasy, musical. Directed by Robert Stevenson. With Angela Lansbury and Roddy McDowell. Color. 117 min.

Thursday, October 28 (7:30 p.m.)
THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES (Universal, 1946)
Two ghosts from the Revolutionary War haunt a house until they can clear their names of treason charges.

Comedy. Directed by Charles Barton. With Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Black & white. 82 min.

Also on the program: two Warner Bros. shorts from 1946.

Friday, October 29 (7:30 p.m.)
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Continental Distributing, 1968)
Radiation from a fallen satellite causes the recently deceased to rise from the grave and seek the living to use as food.

Horror. Intended for mature audiences. Directed by George Romero. With Duane Jones and Ken Hardman.
Selected for The National Film Registry in 1999.Black & White, 96 min.

Saturday, October 30 (2:00 p.m.)
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN(20th Century Fox, 1974)
Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson, after years of living down the family reputation, inherits granddad’s castle and repeats the experiments.

Comedy. Directed by Mel Brooks. With Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman and Teri Garr.
Selected for The National Film Registry in 2003. Black & White, 106 min.

Rare John Ford Movie & ‘The Films of 1910’: Packard Campus

Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller in Hackers, Gillo Pontecorvo’s political cinema classic La Battaglia di Algeri / The Battle of Algiers, the long-thought-lost John Ford drama Upstream, Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney in National Velvet, and an evening featuring the films of 1910 are some of the Nov. 2010 highlights at the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation’s free film series in Culpeper, Va., in November. (See Packard Campus Nov. 2010 Schedule further below.)

I’ve heard many good things about John Ford’s Upstream, recently shipped back to the United States after being found along with 75 other titles at a New Zealand archive.

Another silent, The Flying Ace should be worth a look if only for curiosity’s sake.

National Velvet was Elizabeth Taylor’s first major hit and one of Mickey Rooney’s last, in addition to earning Anne Revere a Best Supporting Actress Oscar; Hackers offers a pre-Oscar, pre-stardom, pre-Brad Pitt Angelina Jolie; while the Oscar-nominated The Battle of Algiers, about Algeria’s bloody war of independence, remains one of the most controversial (it was banned in France for a while) and most relevant movies of the ’60s.

In fact, several years ago The Battle of Algiers was screened at the Pentagon, as some found parallels between the Algerians’ fight for independence from France and the raging insurgency fighting the American occupation of Iraq.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Program Coordinator of Educational and Special Projects Randy Haberkamp and organ player Michael Mortilla will be on hand for the presentation of the films of 1910, a compilation showing what was being made in the film world a century ago.

Photo: Packard Campus.

Packard Campus schedule and film synopses from the press release:

Thursday, November 4 (7:30 p.m.)
HACKERS (United Artists, 1995)
A group of young computer hackers stumbles across a computer virus that may have catastrophic effects. Together, they must take down the evil man who engineered the virus while being pursued by the secret service. Crime drama, thriller. Directed by Iain Softley. With Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie. Color. 107 min.

Friday, November 5 (7:30 p.m.)
THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (Igor Films, 1966)
A film commissioned by the Algerian government that shows the Algerian revolution against the French Foreign Legion from both sides. In French and Arabic with English subtitles. Historical drama. Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. With Jean Martin and Brahim Hadjadj. Black & White, 121 min.

Saturday, November 6 (7:30 p.m.)
THE FLYING ACE (Norman, 1926)
A World War I fighter pilot returns home a war hero and regains his former job as a railroad company detective. Crime adventure. Directed by Richard E. Norman. With Laurence Criner and Kathryn Boyd. Silent, Black & White, 65 min.
Also on the program: Sleepy Sam, the Sleuth (Norman, 1915) Black & white, 10 min.
Musical accompaniment by Andrew Simpson.

Monday, November 8 (7:30 p.m.)
A special Monday night screening to celebrate the repatriation of 75 American films from New Zealand under the auspices of the National Film Preservation Foundation.
UPSTREAM (Fox, 1927)
A backstage comedy-drama about a Shakespearean actor and a woman from a knife-throwing act. This was considered to be a lost film until it was recently discovered in New Zealand. Directed by John Ford. With Nancy Nash and Earle Foxe. Silent, Black & White, 60 min. Musical accompaniment by Andrew Simpson.

Thursday, November 18 (7:30 p.m.)
A Century Ago: Films of 1910
Journey back 100 years to 1910 and the continuing development of motion pictures, in this fascinating program of short films organized and presented by Randy Haberkamp, Director of Educational Programs for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Most prints will be 35mm and are drawn from the collections of the Academy Film Archive, the Library of Congress, George Eastman House and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The program will last approximately 2 hours. Musical accompaniment by Michael Mortilla.

Friday, November 19 (7:30 p.m.)
THE NAKED CITY (Universal, 1948)
A step-by-step look at a murder investigation on the streets of New York. Crime drama. Selected for the National Film Registry in 2007. Directed by Jules Dassin. With Barry Fitzgerald and Howard Duff. Black & white, 96 min.
Also on the program: So You Want to Be a Detective (Warner Bros., 1948), a Joe McDoakes comedy short. Black & white, 11 min.

Saturday, November 20 (2:00 p.m.)
A jaded former jockey helps a young girl prepare a wild but gifted horse for England’s Grand National Sweepstakes.
Family drama. Selected for the National Film Registry in 2003. Directed by Clarence Brown. With Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor and Angela Lansbury. Black & white, 123 min.

Mario Vargas Llosa: Nobel Winner in Literature & His Movies

Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa, 74, not American Cormac McCarthy or Kenyan Ngugi wa Thiong’o or the Swede Tomas Tranströmer as some had predicted, will be handed the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature next December.

As per the Swedish-based Academy, Vargas Llosa was awarded “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat.”

Among the handful of movies based on Vargas Llosa’s novels are Francisco J. Lombardi’s Peruvian drama La ciudad y los perros (1985, lit. “The City and the Dogs”), about four cadets at a military academy; Jon Amiel’s comedy Tune in Tomorrow… (1990), based on Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, and starring Barbara Hershey, Peter Falk and Keanu Reeves; and Luis Llosa’s Anglo-Spanish La fiesta del chivo / The Feast of the Goat (2005), in which a woman (Isabella Rossellini) remembers her family’s relationship with Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo (Tomas Milian).

Luis Llosa is Mario Vargas Llosa’s cousin; Claudia Llosa, whose The Milk of Sorrow was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar earlier this year, is a niece of theirs.

In addition to his writing and political views, Vargas Llosa is also known for his violent rift – a punch in the face was part of the deal – with Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez.

Robert Boyle Homage: ‘Winter Kills’ with Jeff Bridges

Legendary production designer Robert Boyle, who died last Aug. 2 at the age of 100, will be honored by the Art Directors Guild (ADG) Film Society and the American Cinematheque with a memorial screening of William Richert’s Winter Kills (1979) on Sunday October 10, at 5:30 pm at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Winter Kills features Jeff Bridges, John Huston, Anthony Perkins, Eli Wallach, Sterling Hayden, Dorothy Malone, and Toshiro Mifune.

Earlier that day, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will conduct “an invitational tribute” to Boyle in the lobby of its Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Based on Richard Condon’s novel, Winter Kills revolves around the encounter between the son of an assassinated U.S. president and a dying man who claims to be the killer. Sets were built at the MGM Studios, in addition to location shooting in Manhattan, various sections of Los Angeles County, and the Santa Barbara Channel.

Sponsored by Variety, Winter Kills, one of Boyle’s personal favorite efforts, is the sixth and last presentation in this year’s screening series highlighting the work of renowned production designers.

Robert Boyle was nominated for Academy Awards for his work on North by Northwest, Gaily, Gaily, The Shootist and Fiddler on the Roof. He received an Honorary Oscar in 2008. In 1997, he was voted a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Art Directors Guild.

General admission for Winter Kills: $11. American Cinematheque members: $7. Students/Seniors with valid ID: $9. All screenings start at 5:30 p.m. 24-hour information is available at 323-466-FILM (3456). Tickets can also be purchased on

Images: Courtesy of Art Directors Guild / American Cinematheque.

Rio Film Festival 2010: Restored Roberto Farias Comedy Screened

At the Festival do Rio, Rio de Janeiro’s international film festival, a restored print of veteran filmmaker Roberto Farias’ Rico Ri à Toa / The Rich Laugh for Nothing was screened at the Cine Odeon to celebrate 10 years of the Center of Brazilian Film Researchers’ restoration of Brazilian productions.

“I never thought that someone someday would be interested in [my movie],” Farias, 78, told the audience. “[Your presence here] reminds me of the film’s debut.”

According to Edu Fernandes at UOL Cinema, Rico Ri à Toa tells the story of a taxi driver named Zé da Fubica (played by comedian Zé Trindade) who receives a large sum of money by way of a false inheritance – it’s actually stolen money. Even after moving to posh Ipanema, the cabbie keeps some of his same old habits, much to the annoyance of his wife.

Recently, Farias presided the committee that picked Lula, the Son of Brazil as Brazil’s submission for the 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.

According to the IMDb, there’s a Tiririca in the cast of Rico Ri à Toa, but I don’t think that’s the illiterate clown – also named Tiririca – that Brazilian voters have just elected to Congress.

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It's Raining Tonight -

I’ve watched the “The City and the Dogs” film and was left awe-struck with the plot and the characterization. Mario Vargas Llosa really deserved the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature.


Ronie Melvar -

I’ve watched the “The City and the Dogs” film and was left awe-struck with the plot and the characterization. Mario Vargas Llosa really deserved the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature.


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