Friday, July 29, 2011

Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D.: Why I Love NOTORIOUS

BMFI's Director of Education, Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., contributes this second entry in a series of blog posts about how the movies showing at BMFI have inspired our staff and volunteers. We hope you love them as much as we do.

Why I Love Notorious
By Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., BMFI Director of Education

Notorious (1946) isn’t one of Alfred Hitchcock’s flashiest films, even though it has two of the most glamorous stars he ever worked with—Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Notorious doesn’t have nearly the most memorable narrative or surprising plot twist of any Hitchcock film, though its story provides such a potent conflict, it’s been lifted for a number of novels, television episodes, and films—perhaps most famously by screenwriter Robert Towne for Mission: Impossible 2. Neither does Notorious have one of the director’s most visually arresting scenes—think of Psycho or North by Northwest—but it does have the single most clever and meaningful use of a coffee cup in the history of cinema.

But don’t lament Notorious for what it doesn’t have; love it for what it does. Beyond the great elements mentioned above, the movie also contains perhaps the single most romantic and suggestive on-screen kiss ever to come out of the studio system, one of Hitchcock’s most thoroughly malevolent “mothers”, and one of the best uses of the MacGuffin ever. 

The coffee cup in question. Ingrid Bergman shines as a spy who infiltrates a ring of Nazis in Rio de Janeiro in Hitchcock's Notorious, showing Tuesday, August 2 at BMFI.

I love it for that coffee cup I first noticed when I saw the film as a college student. That petite mug put me on the path to learning and caring about mise-en-scene. It is true that sometimes a coffee cup is just a coffee cup... but Notorious taught me to never take it for granted.

Dr. Douglas will introduce BMFI's 35mm screening of Notorious on Tuesday, August 2. The film is being shown in conjunction with his four-week film class, Alfred Hitchcock: The Best of the Rest.

Dr. Douglas received his Ph.D. from the Department of Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern University. His next class at BMFI is a one-night Summer Classics Seminar focusing on Steven Spielberg's classic thriller, Jaws, on August 16.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Club BMFI: Member Appreciation Events

By Devin Wachs, Public Relations Manager

Groucho famously said, "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member," but here at BMFI, we're glad that our members disagree. Our 6,400 members are vital to our success and we rely on their support and passion for our theater and programming.

It's true, our members already get benefits like discounted admission to movies and film education courses, but we wanted to do something extra to say thank you. To that effect, we hope that members new and old will join us at one of the "Club BMFI" members-only meet-and-greets that we're hosting before the screenings in our "3-D: What's all the Fuss?" Film Series.

Complimentary white wine, sodas, and popcorn will be served in the first floor Community Room from 6:00-7:00pm tonight, Wednesday, July 13 (before It Came from Outer Space in 3-D) and Wednesday, August 10 (before Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3-D). Members will also be able to put faces to names when they meet BMFI's new Membership Coordinator, Patricia Russo, and other BMFI staff members. Please bring your member ID card.

For those of you who aren't members or need to renew, you can find more information and join online or call Patricia at 610-527-4008 x106. You can also join in person tonight at our "Club BMFI" event or at the Box Office the next time you come to the movies!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Five Film Favorites for the Fourth of July

By Zoe Portman, BMFI Intern

To commemorate America’s Independence Day and spark that patriotic spirit, here are five films that celebrate America and inspire that fourth of July feeling.

1) Independence Day (1996)
Starring Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman, Independence Day is the story of an alien invasion of Earth launched in the days preceding America’s Independence Day. Nothing screams American patriotism like blatant xenophobia and making the rest of the world celebrate our independence. No wonder this was a #1 hit!                                         

2) Air Force One (1997)
Get off my plane!

Harrison Ford is the President of the United States, flying home on Air Force One from a conference in Russia. All he wants to do is relax with his wife and daughter, and watch the football game. However, his plans are disrupted when the plane is hijacked by Soviet radicals, led by Gary Oldman. Can good old American know-how defeat these highly trained military terrorists?

3) Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Starring James Cagney as the singer/songwriter/performer George M. Cohan, Yankee Doodle Dandy is the story of Cohan’s contribution to World War I morale, told in flashback as his patriotic songs are revived for World War II. James Cagney won a Best Actor Academy Award for portraying the song-and-dance man.

4) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

Jefferson Smith, a Boy Ranger leader filled with idealistic patriotism, accidently discovers political corruption in the senate. Despite his naivety, he refuses to back down, instead fighting for the American values he believes in. Even in the wake of recent political corruption and scandals, this Frank Capra classic is sure to inspire faith in America. 

5) Good Night and Good Luck (2005)
In the same vein as All the President’s Men, Good Night and Good Luck shows how honest reporting can shine through the darkness of fear and hysteria. Edward R. Murrow, already famous and beloved for his radio reports during the London Blitz, decides to attack Senator Joseph McCarthy’s fear tactics during the height of the Red Scare. This film is a testament to the power of the press.

Zoe Portman is a Film Studies student entering her fourth year at Hampshire College, currently interning at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute.