University News

'Dead Filmmakers Society' Returns to WIU This Summer

June 4, 2013

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MACOMB, IL – The summer cinema favorite at Western Illinois University returns this year as the "Dead Filmmakers Society 2013" plans eight showings.

All screenings will be held in the Sandburg Theater in the University Union, on Wednesday evenings. Each film begins at 7 p.m. and there is no admission charge. Many films will be preceded by selected short subjects.

All screenings are 16mm films from the collection of Western film Professor Richard Ness, who will serve as host. The series is sponsored by the WIU Department of Broadcasting.

This year's schedule includes:

• June 5 – "Lady on a Train" (1945) - We begin with a tribute to the late Deanna Durbin, who died in April at age 91. This is one of her best, combining elements of mystery thriller, romantic comedy and even a touch of film noir, as the heroine witnesses a murder and tries to solve the crime. And, of course, what would a Durbin film be without a few song numbers.

• June 12 – "Bengazi" (1955)/ "A Yank in Libya" (1942) - What this desert action double bill lacks in quality (which is a lot), it makes up for in topicality. In the first scene, Richard Conte, Victor McLaglen and Mala Powers literally have to hold down the fort, while searching for buried treasure. The second feature at least gives you a rare chance to see a performance by Albert Brooks' father (acting under the name Parkyarkarkus), who helps an American reporter thwart a Nazi plot to supply weapons to the Arabs.

• June 19 – "Whisky Galore" (aka "Tight Little Island" – Britain 1949) - In this delightful British comedy, the inhabitants of a small Scottish island are facing a crisis – they've run out of liquor. Their problems seem to be solved when a ship runs aground with a cargo of 50,000 cases of whisky, as long as they can keep it hidden from the authorities.

• June 26 – "Murmur of the Heart" (France 1971) - Director Louis Malle takes a matter-of-fact approach to potentially controversial subject matter in this story of a boy coming of age in France in the mid-1950s, whose mother provides a unique solution to his passage to adulthood. It includes a great score made up of works by Charlie Parker, Sidney Bechet and others. In French with English subtitles.

• July 3 - "Francis Covers the Big Town" (1953)/ "It Happens Every Thursday" (1953) - Yes, this year we're showing a Francis the Talking Mule film. This time the jovial jackass helps Donald O'Connor break into the newspaper business. In the second film of this journalism double bill, Loretta Young and John Forsyth try to make a go of a small-town newspaper, with help from Jane Darwell and Edgar Buchanan (and keep an eye out for an uncredited Dennis Weaver).

• July 10 – "Silver Bears" (1978) - Michael Caine, Cybill Shepherd, David Warner and Tommy Smothers star in this smart and entertaining caper involving gangsters and con artists trying to manipulate the international financial market. Featuring a young Jay Leno in an early acting role, this film was written by Peter Stone (Charade).

• July 17 – "Stella" (1950) – This is a good-natured film about eccentric relatives, insurance fraud and dead bodies. When a good-for-nothing uncle dies on a family outing, his relatives decide to bury him to avoid questions - then they find out he was insured. The film stars Ann Sheridan, David Wayne, Victor Mature and Frank Fontaine (who fans of the Jackie Gleason show will remember as "Crazy Guggenheim").

• July 24 – "Watership Down" (Britain, 1978) - This beautifully animated treatment of Richard Adams' novel about a group of rabbits trying to find a place where they can live safely features the voices of John Hurt, Zero Mostel and Ralph Richardson.

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