The series kicks off June 13 with a double bill: Buster Keaton's 1927 Civil War comedy The General will be preceded by 1903's The Great Train Robbery, the 12-minute short that advanced the art of filmmaking by leaps and bounds. June 20 brings Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 thriller The Lady Vanishes, while Preston Sturges' 1942 screwball comedy The Palm Beach Story follows (after a short break) on July 11. Albert Finney earned an Oscar nomination as Agatha Christie's master sleuth Hercule Poirot in 1974's all-star offering Murder On the Orient Express (July 18), and Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw head the cast of that same year's hostage flick The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (July 25).
August finds John Barrymore (as a Broadway producer) and Carole Lombard (as a stage and screen star) bickering beautifully in Howard Hawks' 1934 gem Twentieth Century (August 1), cop Charles McGraw evading mobsters during a cross-country train ride in 1952's quintessential noir The Narrow Margin (August 8), and Marlene Dietrich slinking her way through one of her signature roles as Shanghai Lily in 1932's Shanghai Express (August 15).
Having caught all the featured titles over the years, I can attest that there's not a dud in the bunch. Still, Twentieth Century must be seen simply to marvel at John Barrymore's insane, over-the-top — and very, very funny — performance. And for a sleeper pick, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is one of those movies that may have been generally forgotten but never fails to entertain anyone lucky enough to catch it.
All films begin at 7pm except for Murder On the Orient Express, which commences at 6:45. The movies will be in the Main Library's Francis Auditorium on the lower level; admission is free. For details, call 704-336-6217.
The Charlotte Film Society recently announced the summer slate for its "Second Week" Series, with 11 titles booked for June, July and August. Among the pictures presented are the critically acclaimed Moolaade, Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene's drama about a headstrong woman who stands up against her village's practice of performing female circumcisions (June); Gunner Palace, a documentary that leaves politics aside as it looks at the plight of US troops in Baghdad (July); Academy Award Nominated Short Films, a roundup of seven of the nominees (including the two winners) for the most recent Best Animated Short and Best Live Action Short Oscars (July); and the documentary Inside Deep Throat, which explores the impact of the world's most famous porn flick (August).For schedules, prices and other information, call 704-334-1324, or go online to http://charlottefilmsociety.com.
Durham's prestigious Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is over, which means it's time for The Light Factory to host The Best of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. For the fourth consecutive year, the Charlotte venue will present a couple of the winning features from the nation's foremost nonfiction film fest. This year, the selections are The Education of Shelby Knox, about a Southern Baptist teenager in Texas who tries to find a satisfying middle ground between her strict religious views and her open-mindedness regarding sex education, and The Self-Made Man, a timely tale about a senior citizen who contemplates suicide. The Education of Shelby Knox is scheduled for 7pm Thursday, June 9, along with The Goody Goody, an 11-minute piece by Wilmington filmmaker Terry Linehan. The Self-Made Man is at 7pm Friday, June 10, with the animated short film Backseat Bingo. Screenings are held in Knight Gallery at Spirit Square; admission to each evening's events is $7 at the door. For further info, call 704-333-9755.