WEST ORANGE, NJ — Held on Sundays throughout January and February in the town where Thomas Edison invented movies, the West Orange Classic Film Festival has returned for its thirteenth season, once again giving lovers of cinema a chance to experience their favorite films on the big screen.
This year’s festival runs the gamut from slapstick comedy to character-driven thrillers, as well as offering dramas examining racial and political conflicts taking place from the 19th century American west to WW II Germany and Italy to the streets of New York, with each film followed by a discussion led by a local film scholar/critic. Six of the films to be presented were selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."
All screenings are at the AMC Theatre in Essex Green Shopping Center on Prospect Avenue in West Orange at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 ($9 for members of the West Orange Arts Council, who must purchase tickets at the box office) and are available at the theatre box office or through Fandango.
The festival premiered on Jan. 7 and will continue as follows:
January 21: “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943), with Stephen Whitty
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and featuring Thornton Wilder among its credited screenwriters, Hitchcock often claimed that “Shadow of a Doubt” was his favorite of his many films. The Academy Award nominated original story tells of a young woman (Teresa Wright from Maplewood NJ and Columbia High School) who discovers her visiting uncle (Joseph Cotten) may not be the man he seems to be.
January 28: A Laurel & Hardy double feature, with writer and documentary film producer Paul Castiglia
The festival presents recently restored by UCLA prints of “The Music Box”, the 1932 Academy Award Winner for Best Live Action (Stan and Ollie attempt to move a piano up a large flight of steps), and the 1937 feature “Way Out West”, in which the duo are tasked with delivering the deed to a valuable gold mine to the daughter of a dead prospector, while the girl’s guardians try to prevent it.
February 4: “Love & Anarchy” (1973), with Club Cinematheque founder Gerard Amsellem
Directed by Lina Wertmuller, the story, set in Fascist Italy before the outbreak of World War II, centers on an anarchist (Giancarlo Giannini) who stays in a brothel while preparing to assassinate Benito Mussolini. This film explores the depths of Giannini’s character’s emotions concerning love, his hate for fascism, and his fears of being killed while assassinating Mussolini.
February 11: Black Maria Film Festival, with Jane Steuerwald, professor of film at New Jersey City University and Executive Director of the festival
The Black Maria Film Festival is an international juried competition that has been celebrating and preserving the diversity, invention, and vitality of the short film since 1981. The festival exhibits the work of diverse filmmakers from across the US and around the world. These artists often represent an under-served constituency who might not otherwise have the opportunity for live public exhibition nationwide or abroad. Several filmmakers are expected to attend.
February 18: “Do the Right Thing” (1989), discussion leader TBD
The movie tells the story of a Brooklyn neighborhood's simmering racial tension, which comes to a head and culminates in tragedy on a hot summer day. Written and directed by Spike Lee, who also played the part of Mookie in the film, the cast includes Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, John Turturro, Rosie Perez, and Samuel L. Jackson.
February 25: “Shane” (1953), discussion leader TBD
Noted for its Academy Award winning landscape cinematography, editing, performances, and contributions to the Western genre, “Shane” centers on a weary gunfighter attempting to settle down with a homestead family, but a smoldering settler/rancher conflict forces him to act. The film stars Alan Ladd, Jack Palance, Van Heflin and Jean Arthur.
For further information, contact Ken Mandel at firstname.lastname@example.org, or join the Facebook page “West Orange Classic Film Festival.”