Mark Schenker’s “How to Read a Film: The American Western” continues with “The Naked Spur” Sun., May 8

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues with Mark Schenker’s 11th installment of his “How to Read a Film” series, focusing again this season on a genre rather than a director. Having presented two series on film noir and another on screwball comedy, he turns now to another distinctively American film category: the western. He will consider four great movies ranging from the 1930’s through the 1950’s—a great decade for the genre both in the theater and on TV—to the 1990’s.

After addressing “Stagecach” (1939) on Apr. 24 and “The Gunfighter” (1950) on May 1, Schenker explores “The Naked Spur” (1953) on Sun., May 8, at 2 PM. Admission to each is $7.

The series engages with four major filmmakers and an array of actors celebrated for their work in and beyond the western genre: John Wayne, Gregory Peck, and James Stewart; Claire Trevor and Robert Ryan; Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman—along with Morgan Freeman, Janet Leigh, Ralph Meeker, and the great character actor Millard Mitchell*—twice!

*Film fans will likely know Millard Mitchell best as the studio head in 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Remaining How to read a Film:

May 8 The Naked Spur (1953) dir. Anthony Mann
May 15. Unforgiven (1992) dir. Clint Eastwood

Mark Schenker’s lectures are accompanied by screenings of the films to illustrate the points he is making—it’s like a live commentary track! His previous lectures on the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Billy Wilder (among others) and the historical context in which the TV series “Downton Abbey” took place were erudite and entertaining.

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

Mark Schenker’s “How to Read a Film” series concludes with “Inglourious Basterds” Sun., Oct. 31, at 2 PM

Mark Schenker’s tenth installment of his popular “How to Read a Film” series culminates with the examination of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” on Sun., Oct. 31, at 2 PM. Admission is $7.

Schenker explored the screwball comedy “Bringing Up Baby” as the first film in this series, the second was the noir “Criss Cross,” and he delved into John Ford’s western “The Searchers” on Oct. 24.

In previous installments of “How to Read A Film,” Schenker has zeroed in on a specific director’s oeuvre or focused on four films in a particular genre, like film noir. For this series, he will “focus more broadly on genre, and how a consideration of three great genres of American film can yield a greater understanding of one of Quentin Tarantino’s masterpieces, “Inglourious Basterds,” which audaciously combines aspects of screwball comedy, film noir, and western.”

This will be an indoors event with the following covid protocols in place:
• 30 attendees max
• proof of vaccination required
• masks required (they can be lowered to take drinks or eat popcorn but should be raised back up when done)

From Roger Ebert’s 2009 review of “Inglourious Basterds”:

Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” is a big, bold, audacious war movie that will annoy some, startle others and demonstrate once again that he’s the real thing, a director of quixotic delights. For starters (and at this late stage after the premiere in May at Cannes, I don’t believe I’m spoiling anything), he provides World War II with a much-needed alternative ending. For once the basterds get what’s coming to them.

Mark Schenker’s lectures are accompanied by screenings of the films to illustrate the points he is making—it’s like a live commentary track! His previous lectures on the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Billy Wilder (among others) and the historical context in which the TV series “Downton Abbey” took place were erudite and entertaining.