“How to Read A Film: The American Western” concludes with Clint Eastwood’s 1992 “Unforgiven” Sun., May 15

Best Video Film & Cultural Center concludes 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.

The concluding film in the four-film series is “Unforgiven” (1992), directed by Clint Eastwood. Admission is $7 and the event starts at 2 PM, May 15. The preceding films were “Stagecoach” (1939), “The Gunfighter” (1950), and “The Naked Spur” (1953).

The series engaged 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!

Upon its 1992 release, “Unforgiven” was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. Vincent Canby wrote:

As written by David Webb Peoples and directed by Mr. Eastwood, “Unforgiven” is a most entertaining western that pays homage to the great tradition of movie westerns while surreptitiously expressing a certain amount of skepticism. Mr. Eastwood has learned a lot from his mentors, including the great Don Siegel (“Two Mules for Sister Sara’ and “The Beguiled,” among others), a director with no patience for sentimentality.

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! (He strongly recommends viewing the movie before attending a “How to Read a Film” event.) 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: 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 outdraws “The Gunfighter” Sun., May 1, in “How to Read a Film: The American Western”

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues 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.

The second film in the series takes place Sun., May 1, with the 1950 “The Gunfighter,” starring Gregory Peck. Admission to each is $7. All events start at 2 PM. (Schenker spoke about “Stagecoach” on Apr. 24.)

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 films:

May 1 The Gunfighter (1950) dir. Henry King
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 returns with 11th “How to Read a Film” series Sun., Apr. 24; focus on “The American Western”

Best Video Film & Cultural Center is pleased to bring back Mark Schenker of Yale College for an 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.

The series starts Sun., Apr. 24, with the 1939 John Ford-directed “Stagecoach.” Admission to each is $7. All lectures/screenings begin at 2 PM.

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.”

April 24 Stagecoach (1939) dir. John Ford

May 1 The Gunfighter (1950) dir. Henry King

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.

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.

Mark Schenker’s “How to Read a Film” series continues with “The Searchers” Sun., Oct. 24, at 2 PM

Best Video Film & Cultural Center is pleased to bring back Mark Schenker for the tenth installment of his popular “How to Read a Film” series, which started Sun., Oct. 3, at 2 PM. Admission to each lecture is $7.

The series continues on Sun., Oct. 24, at 2 PM as Schenker illuminates the 1956 John Ford western “The Searchers.” (Schenker explored the screwball comedy “Bringing Up Baby” as the first film in this series; the second was the noir “Criss Cross.”)

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)

The remaining schedule for the series:

Sun., Oct. 24, 2 PM: “The Searchers” (1956, western, dir. by John Ford)

Sun., Oct. 31, 2 PM: “Inglourious Basterds” (2009, dir. by Quentin Tarantino)

In a 50th anniversary appreciation of “The Searchers,” the New York Times critic A.O. Scott writes:

Ernest Hemingway once said that all of American literature could be traced back to one book, Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn,” and something similar might be said of American cinema and “The Searchers.” It has become one of those movies that you see, in part, through the movies that came after it and that show traces of its influence. “Apocalypse Now,” “Punch-Drunk Love,” “Kill Bill,” “Brokeback Mountain”: those were the titles that flickered in my consciousness in the final seconds of a recent screening in Cannes of Ford’s masterwork, all because, at crucial moments, they seem to pay homage to that single, signature shot.

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.

Mark Schenker’s “How to Read a Film” series continues with “Criss Cross” Sun., Oct. 10

Best Video Film & Cultural Center is pleased to bring back Mark Schenker for the tenth installment of his popular “How to Read a Film” series, starting on Sun., Oct. 3, at 2 PM. Admission to each lecture is $7.

The series continues on Sun., Oct. 10, as Schenker illuminates the 1949 film noir classic “Criss Cross.” (Schenker explored the screwball comedy “Bringing Up Baby” as the first film in this series.)

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)

The remaining schedule for the series:

Sun., Oct. 10, 2 PM: “Criss Cross” (1949, film noir, dir. by Robert Siodmak)

Sun., Oct. 24, 2 PM: “The Searchers” (1956, western, dir. by John Ford)

Sun., Oct. 31, 2 PM: “Inglourious Basterds” (2009, dir. by Quentin Tarantino)

In a capsule review in The New Yorker, Richard Brody writes:

Robert Siodmak’s grimly romantic film noir, from 1949, set in Los Angeles, offers a hectic fusion of on-location texture and stylish artifice. Burt Lancaster stars as Steve Thompson, an armored-car driver whose barroom brawl with a gangster, Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea), is staged to throw police off the trail of their criminal conspiracy. Yet their mutual hatred is real; it’s based on their rivalry for the love of Anna (Yvonne De Carlo), Steve’s ex-wife. Working with a script by the novelist Daniel Fuchs that features long flashbacks and interior monologues, Siodmak builds Steve’s morbidly subjective tale with startling visual flourishes, gestural details, and erotic tensions.

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.

Mark Schenker returns with 10th “How to Read a Film” series Sun., Oct. 3, at 2 PM

Best Video Film & Cultural Center is pleased to bring back Mark Schenker for the tenth installment of his popular “How to Read a Film” series, starting on Sun., Oct. 3, at 2 PM. Admission to each lecture is $7.

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)

The schedule for the series:

Sun., Oct. 3, 2 PM: “Bringing Up Baby” (1938, screwball comedy, dir. by Howard Hawks)

Sun., Oct. 10, 2 PM: “Criss Cross” (1949, film noir, dir. by Robert Siodmak)

Sun., Oct. 24, 2 PM: “The Searchers” (1956, western, dir. by John Ford)

Sun., Oct. 31, 2 PM: “Inglourious Basterds” (2009, dir. by Quentin Tarantino)

Of “Bringing Up Baby,” the inaugural film in this series, Brian Tallerico wrote at RogerEbert.com:

Movies don’t get much more delightful and joyous than “Bringing Up Baby,” a film that honestly shaped my youth. Raised on classic musicals, my mother also loved classic comedies, and comedies don’t get more classic than this 1938 screwball masterpiece from Howard Hawks. Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant star in a film that was reportedly so much fun to make that the production had to regularly stop for laugh breaks.

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.

Mark Schenker concludes “How to Read a Film” series on screwball comedies with “Ball of Fire” on Sun., Dec. 15, at 1 PM

In this ninth installment of his series “How to Read A Film,” Mark Schenker, Dean of Academic Affairs of Yale College, turned to screwball comedies. Like the gangster movie, the Western and the Hollywood musical, the genre of screwball comedy films originated in the United States. The new satirical spin (hence “screwball”) on romantic comedy stressed witty dialogue and zaniness over sentimental love, and placed big name stars in odd situations. As with gangster movies, horror films and lavish musicals, the genre found a ready audience with Depression-era film-goers who were eager for escapist fare.

The final lecture with film in this series—rescheduled from Dec. 1 due to snow—will be on Sun., Dec. 15, at 1 PM. The series winds up with “Ball of Fire” from 1941, starring Barbara Stanwyck. (The previous films were the 1934 “It Happened One Night” on Nov. 10; “The Awful Truth” [1937], and “Some Like It Hot” [1959].) Admission is $7.

From Bosley Crowther’s rave 1942 New York Times review:

According to legend, Samuel Goldwyn has made some beautiful lapsi linguae in his time and has done things with the King’s English that stand as a monument to his name. Maybe. But still Mr. Goldwyn can’t be too touchy on that score, for now he has produced a picture which deliberately kicks the language around in a manner so colorful and lively that you can almost sense his tongue stuck in his cheek. “Ball of Fire” is the title of this wholly ingratiating lark, and so pleasant is its spoofing of the professional pose, so comprehensive is its handling of the modern vernacular and so altogether winning are Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck in it that it had the customers jumping with enjoyment at the Music Hall yesterday.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.

Mark Schenker “How to Read a Film” explores “Some Like It Hot” Sun., Dec. 8, at 2 PM

In this ninth installment of his series “How to Read A Film,” Mark Schenker, Dean of Academic Affairs of Yale College, turns to screwball comedies. Like the gangster movie, the Western and the Hollywood musical, the genre of screwball comedy films originated in the United States. The new satirical spin (hence “screwball”) on romantic comedy stressed witty dialogue and zaniness over sentimental love, and placed big name stars in odd situations. As with gangster movies, horror films and lavish musicals, the genre found a ready audience with Depression-era filmgoers who were eager for escapist fare.

Because of the postponement due to snow of “Ball of Fire,” scheduled for Dec. 1, the remaining schedule has been rearranged as follows: What would have been the final lecture on “Some Like It Hot” will take place as planned on Sun., Dec. 8, at 2 PM. “Ball of Fire” has been rescheduled to Sun., Dec. 15, but at 1 PM rather than 2 PM.

Director Billy Wilder’s 1959 “Some Like It Hot” stars Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. Roger Ebert described “Some Like It Hot” as “one of the enduring treasures of the movies, a film of inspiration and meticulous craft, a movie that’s about nothing but sex and yet pretends it’s about crime and greed.”

From A.H. Weiler’s 1959 New York Times review:

There should be no doubt this morning that the members of the happily irreverent film troupe that made “Some Like It Hot” have done something constructive about the old wheeze that begins, “Who was that lady I saw you with?” For, in fashioning this overlong, occasionally labored but often outrageously funny series of variations on an ancient gag, they have come up with a rare, rib-tickling lampoon that should keep them, the customers and the management … chortling with glee.

Click here for the complete list of upcoming events.