NAU’s College of Arts and Letters Film Series, co-sponsored by the Cline Library and the School of Communication, promotes understanding and appreciation of cinema through Northern Arizona University and the greater Flagstaff community. Before each film, a local film expert offers a short introduction to set the film in its historical, artistic, and cultural context. Each film is followed by a discussion.
The CAL film series blends well-known audience favorites along with lesser-known films, as well as a mix of genres, artists, and decades, moving chronologically from past to present, so that audiences can see the evolution of the art form.
The Fall 2019 film series begins our two-season focus on Great Collaborations in the movies. Film is a collaborative art form. When filmmakers and actors work together on more than a single film, it is usually purposeful. It may be for art, it may be for profit, or it may be because the collaborators simply like working together. Most likely it is for more than one reason.
We begin this season in 1935 with the first of two films that Charles Chaplin made with Paulette Goddard, “Modern Times,” which is often considered his greatest film. The filmmaker and actress married, made one more film together and then separated in 1942. Our other 1930s film, “Only Angels Have Wings,” is regarded as one of director Howard Hawks finest and is one of five the director made with star Cary Grant.
“Sullivan’s Travels” is a 1941 Preston Sturges comic masterpiece, co-starring Veronica Lake and a stock company of supporting actors who appeared in seven of the funniest films ever made which Sturges wrote and directed from 1939 to 1944. From 1944, we have another classic Howard Hawks film, “To Have and Have Not.” The director discovered young model, Betty Perske, changed her name to Lauren Bacall, and teamed her at age 19 with veteran star Humphrey Bogart, thus beginning one of Hollywood’s great on screen and real-life romances.
Each fall, the CAL Film Series partners with the Flagstaff Festival of Science to present a movie related to that year’s Festival theme. In 2019, the theme is the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing, and we present last year’s Oscar winning “First Man,” for which director Damien Chazelle chose his “La La Land” leading man, Ryan Gosling to star.
Although at first Sir Alec Guinness called “Star Wars,” “fairy-tale rubbish,” eventually he came around to appreciate what is undoubtedly his most well-known role as Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as the fortune it brought him. However, his Oscar-winning role in “Bridge on the River Kwai,” one of six films in which he acted under the direction of David Lean, is probably his greatest acting achievement.
The first of two foreign language films this season will be Akira Kurosawa’s enormously entertaining and influential action adventure, “Yojimbo,” one of 16 movies he worked on with Toshiro Mifune. The second will be “Aguirre, the Wrath of God,” about a mad conquistador’s search for El Dorado and is one of six movies that Werner Herzog directed Klaus Kinski.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton made 11 films together and countless more headlines. Some of their films were good, most of them were not, but unquestionably the best of them was “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” which won Taylor her second Best Actress Oscar.
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were great friends who appeared in 10 films together, including 1968’s hilarious “The Odd Couple,” which won Neil Simon both a Tony for the play and a Writers Guild of America award for the movie.
Our Halloween week offering is one of our horror favorites, John Carpenter’s seminal “The Thing,” one of five films in which he directed Kurt Russell. Eleven NAU students and associates, including director Joe Cardone and producer Carol Kottenbrook, worked on “Outside Ozona,” an evocative story of strangers on the road at night listening to the same radio station.
Woody Allen directed Diane Keaton in eight movies, none more memorable than “Annie Hall,” 1978’s Oscar winning Best Picture, Director, Actress, and screenplay. Martin Scorsese has directed Robert DeNiro in eight features and Joe Pesci in two, and both of them again in the upcoming “The Irishman.” Arguably their most memorable work was “Raging Bull,” for which DeNiro won the Best Actor Oscar in this true story about boxer Jake LaMotta.
We conclude with the hilarious mockumentary, “Best in Show” in which director Christopher Guest worked with his company of comic talent, including Michael McKean, Catherine O’Hara, Jane Lynch, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard and others.
The film series is free and open to the public. (A cartoon will precede films of less than 120 minutes.)
Free weeknight parking behind Cline Library in lot P13 requires a permit, which community members can get by following directions at our film series website at http://nau.edu/CAL/Events/CAL-Film-Series. We hope to see you on Tuesday nights this semester.