Although I despise summer and its godforsaken heat and humidity, it does bring with it some fantastic things – Waterfront Wednesday, for one, as well as swimming pools and the perfect excuse for ice cream. Also: the Louisville Palace Summer Film Series. The Palace is a gorgeous venue, and probably the best place in the city to see classic films. This year’s theme is The Directors Series: Hollywood’s Golden Age, and it all starts tonight with a screening of It Happened One Night.
It Happened One Night has the distinction of being the very first film to win all five major Academy Awards categories: Best Picture, Director (Frank Capra), Actor (Clark Gable), Actress (Claudette Colbert), and Screenplay (Robert Riskin). It tells the story of a rich girl running away from her family and being helped along by a man who is actually a reporter looking for a story. It Happened One Night screens tonight at 8:00.
If my treatise on tonight’s film seems sparse, it’s because I am tremendously excited to discuss this weekend’s other film in the series: tomorrow night’s screening of the Charlie Chaplin masterpiece Modern Times.
I call it a masterpiece, but that is redundant because all of Chaplin’s films are masterpieces. For twenty years he delighted audiences with shorts and features about the lovable Tramp, the mustache-wearing cane-wielding homeless man with an air of sophistication and serious heart. Chaplin’s films are hilarious, utilizing a perfect blend of slapstick (not cheap slapstick, though, such as the Three Stooges) and situational comedy. The comedy, though, only complements the emotion-inducing dramatics of the stories. The Kid is a favorite, in which you will laugh to gasping, but if you don’t feel like shedding a tear as father and adopted son are separated, you have no soul. Chaplin’s films make you feel good about life; they are the perfect antidote for melancholia.
Modern Times is my other favorite. It was the last silent film that Chaplin would make – and he made it in 1936, nine years after the advent of the talkie. In Modern Times, our lovable Tramp undergoes a nervous breakdown at his factory job and finds himself in and out of jail and struggling to find work while fantasizing about a better life with his love interest, a fellow homeless woman. It is a funny film, but also tremendously beautiful – the final scene never fails to find me with a tear in my eye.
Modern Times plays at the Louisville Palace tomorrow, Saturday, at 8:00. It is the perfect venue for a perfect film, and I urge everybody: do not miss this fantastic opportunity.
The Louisville Palace is located at 625 S. 4th Street. All the information about the Directors Series can be found at the Palace website.
Image: Internet Movie Database