Tributes to the recently deceased Shirley Temple and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and several Academy Award-nominated and -winning films are among the March 2014 screenings at the Library of Congress' Packard Campus Theater and, in collaboration with the Library's National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, The State Theatre, both located in Culpeper, Virginia.
The 1934 sentimental comedy-drama Little Miss Marker (March 6, Packard) is the movie that turned six-year-old Shirley Temple into a major film star. Temple would become the biggest domestic box office draw of the mid-1930s, and, Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Sonja Henie, Don Ameche, Loretta Young, and Madeleine Carroll notwithstanding, would remain 20th Century Fox's top star until later in the decade. Directed by Alexander Hall (Here Comes Mr. Jordan, My Sister Eileen), Little Miss Marker – actually, a Paramount release – also features Adolphe Menjou and Dorothy Dell; the latter died at age 19 in a car crash near Pasadena in June 1934.
The Philip Seymour Hoffman movies, all three at the Packard Theater, are Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master (March 27), Bennett Miller's Capote (March 28), and Anderson's Boogie Nights (March 29). A box office disappointment, The Master (2012) was a well-received drama – and thinly disguised portrayal of Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard – that earned Oscar nominations for Hoffman (as the Hubbard-esque Lancaster Dodd), Joaquin Phoenix, and Amy Adams.
Nominated for five Academy Awards, Capote (2005) was easily my favorite among that year's five Best Picture nominees (the others were Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck., Steven Spielberg's Munich, and the eventual winner and weakest of the batch, Paul Haggis' Crash). Hoffman is superb as flamboyant writer Truman Capote, who, while working on In Cold Blood, becomes emotionally attached to one of the two young men tried and convicted of the brutal murder of a Kansas family. Catherine Keener plays Capote's friend Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird). Screenplay by Dan Futterman.
Boogie Nights (1997) has lots of admirers, but I find it an aimless, sketchy, and much too long glimpse into Los Angeles' booming porn industry of the '70s. In the film, unfortunately closer in tone to Pulp Fiction than to Hot & Saucy Pizza Girls or The Girls in the Band, Philip Seymour Hoffman has a minor role as a boom operator in love with Eddie Adams a.k.a. Dirk Diggler, Mark Wahlberg's jaw-droppingly endowed porn star (inspired by John Holmes). Boogie Nights earned Oscar nods for Anderson (as screenwriter); Julianne Moore, as a drug-addicted porn star; and more deservedly, for Burt Reynolds, who, as a porn auteur, delivers what may well be the most memorable performance of his long career.
Oscar movies, Lillian Gish, Julie Christie
Among the Library of Congress' March 2014 Oscar movies are David Lean's 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia (March 2, State Theater), starring Peter O'Toole (who died last December) in the title role; George Cukor's sumptuous 1964 musical My Fair Lady (March 16, State Theater), starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn (dubbed by Marni Nixon); John Ford's 1935 drama The Informer (March 13, Packard Theater), which earned Victor McLaglen one of the least-deserving Best Actor Academy Awards ever (and McLaglen has plenty of competition in the “least-deserving” category); and David O. Selznick's Victor Fleming-directed Gone with the Wind (March 30, State Theater), the 1939 blockbuster about love in times of civil war, starring Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, and Leslie Howard, in addition to scene-stealers Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen.
And finally, at the Packard Theater, you can check out Lillian Gish in the title role in John S. Robertson's 1927 period drama Annie Laurie (March 7), also featuring hunky 1920s leading man Norman Kerry, and a Julie Christie double bill (March 8): Richard Lester's Petulia (1968), with George C. Scott and Richard Chamberlain, and Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now (1973), with Donald Sutherland. Set in San Francisco, the former is a fragmented mess; the latter, however, is one of the most haunting psychological thrillers ever made. (So unforgettable, it even inspired a hilarious Absolutely Fabulous spoof three decades later.)
The full schedule of the Library of Congress' March 2014 screenings can be found here. Note: titles are subject to change without notice. For more information on the Packard Campus Theater screenings, call (540) 827-1079 ext. 79994 or (202) 707-9994. For State Theatre screenings, call (540) 829-0292.
Image of Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in Capote: Sony Pictures Classics.