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Classic Films for Senior College

$30.00

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2019 Fall Class

Classic Films for Senior College

Instructor: Chet Day, Art Ray, Peter Ezzy

Fridays •  9/20-11/15 • 8:30 AM-12:00 NOON • 9 weeks

Location: Klahr Center

This 9 week course consists of an analytical and fun discussion group exploring the relative merits of selected top-rated Classic Films as determined by the American Film Institute (AFI), British Film Institute (BFI), and prior classes. Films are critiqued by participants. Class members are encouraged to suggest movies and lead discussions.

The 9 movies for this semester are: Kiss Me Kate, 1953; All Quiet On the Western Front, 1930; Friendly Persuasion, 1956; Moonstruck, 1987; Forrest Gump, 1994; Shawshank Redemption, 1994; Shine, 1996; Finding Forrester, 2000; and Schindler’s List, 1993. 

Text and study materials are provided. We accommodate the hearing impaired. Classroom

Kiss Me Kate is a 1953 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name.

Inspired by The Taming of the Shrew, it tells the tale of musical theater actors Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi, who were once married, and are now performing opposite each other in the roles of Petruchio and Katherine in a Broadway-bound musical version of William Shakespeare’s play.

Already on poor terms, the pair begin an all-out emotional war mid-performance that threatens the production’s success. The only thing keeping the show together are threats from a pair of gangsters, who have come to collect a gambling debt from the show’s Lucentio, Bill Calhoun. In classic musical comedy fashion, slapstick madness ensues before everything is resolved.

The movie had a mostly positive reception. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called Kiss Me Kate “one of the year’s more magnificent musical films … a beautifully staged, adroitly acted and really superbly sung affair—better, indeed, if one may say so, than the same frolic was on the stage.”[5] Variety opened its positive review by stating: “Metro’s reputation for turning out top caliber musical pictures is further enhanced with ‘Kiss Me Kate.’ It’s Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’ done over in eminently satisfying fashion via a collaboration of superior song, dance and comedy talents.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

 All Quiet on the Western Front
is a 1930 American epic pre-Code (not controlled by the Motion Picture Production Code censorship guidelines) anti-war film based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel of the same name. Directed by Lewis Milestone, it stars Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, John Wray, Arnold Lucy and Ben Alexander.

All Quiet on the Western Front opened to wide acclaim in the United States. Considered a realistic and harrowing account of warfare in World War I, it made the American Film Institute’s first 100 Years…100 Movies list in 1998. A decade later, after the same organization polled over 1,500 workers in the creative community, All Quiet on the Western Front was ranked the seventh-best American epic film. In 1990, the film was selected and preserved by the United States Library of Congress’ National Film Registry as being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The film was the first to win the Academy Awards for both Outstanding Production and Best Director.

Its sequel, The Road Back (1937), portrays members of the 2nd Company returning home after the war.

Some of the credit for the film’s success has been ascribed to the direction of Lewis Milestone:
“Without diluting or denying any… criticisms, it should be said that from World War I to Korea, Milestone could put the viewer into the middle of a battlefield, and make the hellish confusion of it seem all too real to the viewer. Steven Spielberg noted as much when he credited Milestone’s work as partial inspiration for Saving Private Ryan …Lewis Milestone made significant contributions to [the genre of] the war film.” [ Mayo, Mike: War Movies: Classic Conflict on Film, Visible Ink Press, 1999]

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friendly Persuasion is a 1956 American Civil War drama film starring Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire, Anthony Perkins, Richard Eyer, Robert Middleton and Phyllis Love. The screenplay was adapted by Michael Wilson from the 1945 novel The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West, and was directed by William Wyler. The film tells the story of a Quaker family in southern Indiana during the American Civil War and the way the war tests their pacifist beliefs.

The film is set in Jennings County, Indiana in 1862. Jess Birdwell (Gary Cooper) is a farmer and patriarch of the Birdwell family whose Quaker religion conflicts with his love for the worldly enjoyments of music and horse racing. Jess’s wife Eliza, (Dorothy McGuire) a Quaker minister, is deeply religious and steadfast in her refusal to engage in violence.

We are introduced to the family via its youngest member, “Little” Jess, who is forever at war with his mother’s pet goose. The story begins as an easygoing and humorous tale of Quakers trying to maintain their faith as they go to meeting on First Day (Sunday). The mood shifts dramatically when the meeting is interrupted by a Union officer who asks how the Quaker men can stand by when their houses will be looted and their families terrorized by approaching Confederate troops. When confronted with the question of his being afraid to fight, Josh Birdwell responds that it might be the case. His honesty provokes the wrath of Purdy, a Quaker elder who condemns people who don’t believe as he does.

The film returns to its lighter tone as the Quakers try to maintain their ways, despite the temptations of amusements at a county fair, and a new organ (which Jess buys over Eliza’s opposition), but one is always reminded that the Confederate Army is drawing closer.

The movie script was discussed in 1951 by Michael Wilson in his testimony as an “unfriendly witness” at the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and by director Frank Capra, who was seeking to dissociate himself from Wilson, who was ultimately placed on the Hollywood blacklist.

Capra, who had originally contracted Wilson to write the screenplay just after the war but then dropped the project. The movie was not produced because he felt “it would be a bad time to produce a picture that might be construed as being antiwar.”

“What happened to Wilson’s pacifist script after Capra dropped it,” notes film historian Joseph McBride, “reflected the political climate of the Cold War. When William Wyler directed the film for Allied Artists in 1956 as Friendly Persuasion, he had the story changed to make the Quaker youth (played by Anthony Perkins) become a killer. The Quakers in Wyler’s version, as Pauline Kael observed, ‘are there only to violate their convictions.’

At the 29th Academy Awards, Friendly Persuasion was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Anthony Perkins), Best Music – Song (Dimitri Tiomkin and Paul Francis Webster for “Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love)”), Best Writing – Screenplay (Adapted) (unnamed), and Best Sound Recording (Gordon R. Glennan and Gordon E. Sawyer). Wilson’s name could not appear on the Oscar ballot because he was blacklisted.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Moonstruck is a 1987 American romantic comedy film directed by Norman Jewison and written by John Patrick Shanley. It is about a widowed, 37-year-old, Italian-American woman who falls in love with her fiancé’s estranged, hot-tempered younger brother.

Thirty-seven-year-old Loretta Castorini, an Italian-American widow, lives in Brooklyn Heights, New York, with her family: father Cosmo; mother Rose; and paternal grandfather. Her boyfriend, Johnny Cammareri, proposes to her before leaving for Sicily to be with his dying mother; Loretta is insistent that they carefully follow tradition as she believes her first marriage was cursed by her failure to do so, resulting in her husband’s death after two years. Johnny asks Loretta to invite his estranged younger brother Ronny to the wedding. Loretta returns home and informs her parents of the engagement. Cosmo dislikes Johnny and is reluctant to pay for the “real” wedding that Loretta insists on, while Rose is pleased that Loretta likes Johnny but does not love him; she believes that one can easily be hurt by a partner whom one loves.

According to Gene Siskel, writing for the Chicago Tribune: “Moonstruck, which is being sold as a romance but actually is one of the funniest pictures to come out in quite some time. […] You will not easily forget this incredibly robust family . . .”

Moonstruck was a major critical and commercial success. Receiving largely positive reviews from critics, it went on to gross $80 million at the North American box office, making it the fifth highest-grossing film of its year in North America

It was nominated for six Oscars at the 60th Academy Awards, winning for Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress (Cher), and Best Supporting Actress (Olympia Dukakis).

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Forrest Gump is a 1994 American comedy-drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Eric Roth. It is based on the 1986 novel by Winston Groom, and stars Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, and Sally Field. The story depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump (Hanks), a slow-witted but kind-hearted man from Alabama who witnesses and unwittingly influences several defining historical events in the 20th century in the United States. The film differs substantially from the novel.

Forrest Gump was released in the United States on July 6, 1994 and received favorable reviews for Zemeckis’ directing, Hanks’ performance, the visual effects, and the script. The film was an enormous success at the box office; it became the top-grossing film in America released that year and earned over US$677 million worldwide during its theatrical run, making it the second highest-grossing film of 1994.

Varying interpretations have been made of the protagonist and the film’s political symbolism.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “I’ve never met anyone like Forrest Gump in a movie before, and for that matter I’ve never seen a movie quite like ‘Forrest Gump.’ Any attempt to describe him will risk making the movie seem more conventional than it is, but let me try. It’s a comedy, I guess. Or maybe a drama. Or a dream. The screenplay by Eric Roth has the complexity of modern fiction…The performance is a breathtaking balancing act between comedy and sadness, in a story rich in big laughs and quiet truths…What a magical movie.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont, based on the 1982 Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. It tells the story of banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), who is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murder of his wife and her lover, despite his claims of innocence. Over the following two decades, he befriends a fellow prisoner, contraband smuggler Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), and becomes instrumental in a money laundering operation led by the prison warden Samuel Norton (Bob Gunton). William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, and James Whitmore appear in supporting roles.

While The Shawshank Redemption received positive reviews on its release, particularly for its story and the performances of Robbins and Freeman, it was a box office disappointment, earning only $16 million during its initial theatrical run. Many reasons were cited for its failure at the time, including competition from films such as Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump, to the general unpopularity of prison films, lack of female characters, and even the title, which was considered to be confusing for audiences. Even so, it went on to receive multiple award nominations, including seven Academy Award nominations, and a theatrical re-release that, combined with international takings, increased the film’s box office gross to $58.3 million.

The Shawshank Redemption opened to generally positive reviews. Some reviewers compared the film to other well-received prison dramas, including: Birdman of Alcatraz, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Cool Hand Luke, and Riot in Cell Block 11. Gene Siskel said that like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Shawshank Redemption is an inspirational drama about overcoming overbearing authority.

In an interview, Morgan Freeman said, “About everywhere you go, people say, ‘The Shawshank Redemption—greatest movie I ever saw'” and that such praise “Just comes out of them”. Tim Robbins said, “I swear to God, all over the world—all over the world—wherever I go, there are people who say, ‘That movie changed my life’ ”. In a separate interview, Stephen King said, “If that isn’t the best [adaptation of my works], it’s one of the two or three best, and certainly, in moviegoers’ minds, it’s probably the best because it generally rates at the top of these surveys they have of movies. … I never expected anything to happen with it.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shine is a 1996 Australian biographical drama film based on the life of pianist David Helfgott, who suffered a mental breakdown and spent years in institutions. It stars Geoffrey Rush, Lynn Redgrave, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Noah Taylor, John Gielgud, Googie Withers, Justin Braine, Sonia Todd, Nicholas Bell, Chris Haywood and Alex Rafalowicz. The screenplay was written by Jan Sardi, and directed by Scott Hicks. The film made its US premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. In 1997, Geoffrey Rush was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 69th Academy Awards for his performance in the lead role.

As a child, David Helfgott (played by Alex Rafalowicz) is growing up in suburban Adelaide, South Australia and competing in a local music competition. Helfgott has been taught to play by his father, Peter (played by Armin Mueller-Stahl), a man obsessed with winning who has no tolerance for failure or disobedience. David is noticed by Mr. Rosen, a local pianist who, after an initial conflict with Peter, takes over David’s musical instruction.

As a teen, David (played by Noah Taylor) wins the state musical championship and is invited to study in America. Although plans are made to raise money to send David and his family is initially supportive, Peter eventually forbids David to leave and abuses him, thinking David leaving would destroy the family. Crushed, David continues to study and befriends local novelist and co-founder of the Communist Party of Australia, Katharine Susannah Prichard (Googie Withers). David’s talent grows until he is offered a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London. David’s father again forbids him to go, but with the encouragement of Katharine, David leaves. The film continues to follow the struggles of David as a musician and person struggling to adjust to society.

Shine was met with acclaim from critics. Critic Roger Ebert rated the film four out of four stars, stating “There has been much talk in 1996 about films whose filmmakers claim they were based on true stories but were kidding (Fargo), and films whose filmmakers claimed they were based on true stories but might have been lying (Sleepers). Here is a movie that is based on the truth beneath a true story.”

However, some critics allege that certain events and relationships in David’s life are portrayed with wild inaccuracy, sometimes even fabricated, resulting in damage to the reputations of real people. Helfgott’s sister Margaret Helfgott, in her book Out of Tune, stresses in particular the case of Helfgott’s father Peter Helfgott, who was, according to her, a loving husband, over-lenient parent and very far from the abusive tyrant portrayed in Shine.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Finding Forrester is a 2000 American drama film written by Mike Rich and directed by Gus Van Sant. In the film, a black teenager, Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown), is invited to attend a prestigious private high school. By chance, Jamal befriends a reclusive writer, William Forrester (Sean Connery), through whom he refines his talent for writing and comes to terms with his identity. Anna Paquin, F. Murray Abraham, Michael Pitt, Glenn Fitzgerald, April Grace, Busta Rhymes and Charles Bernstein star in supporting roles.

Although the film is not based on a true story, film critics have compared the character portrayed by Connery with real life writer J. D. Salinger. Connery later acknowledged that the inspiration for his role was indeed Salinger.

Sixteen-year-old Jamal Wallace plays basketball with his friends in New York. A recluse, William Forrester, lives on the top floor of the building across from the court. The kids regularly notice him watching them. One of the boys dares Jamal to sneak into the apartment and retrieve an item. Jamal takes a letter opener only to be surprised by Forrester and inadvertently leaves his backpack behind.

Forrester later drops Jamal’s backpack onto the street. Jamal returns home to find that Forrester wrote notes in Jamal’s journals. Jamal returns to Forrester’s apartment and asks him to read more of his writing. Forrester tells him to begin with 5,000 words on why Jamal should “stay out of my home,” which he completes and leaves on the doorstep the following day. Jamal returns the next day and is invited inside.

Upon its initial release, Finding Forrester received generally positive reviews. It garnered two thumbs up from Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, with Roeper considering it one of the 10 best films of the year. In late 2009, Roeper included the film at number 64 on his list of the 100 best movies of the decade

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Schindler’s List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler’s Ark by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally. The film follows Oskar Schindler, a Sudeten German businessman, who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as SS officer Amon Göth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern.

Often listed among the greatest films ever made,[4][5][6][7] it was also a box office success, earning $322 million worldwide on a $22 million budget. It was the recipient of seven Academy Awards (out of twelve nominations), including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score, as well as numerous other awards (including seven BAFTAs and three Golden Globes). In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked the film 8th on its list of the 100 best American films of all time.

In Kraków during World War II, the Germans have forced local Polish Jews into the overcrowded Kraków Ghetto. Oskar Schindler, an ethnic German from Czechoslovakia, arrives in the city hoping to make his fortune. A member of the Nazi Party, Schindler lavishes bribes on Wehrmacht (German armed forces) and SS officials and acquires a factory to produce enamelware. To help him run the business, Schindler enlists the aid of Itzhak Stern, a local Jewish official who has contacts with black marketeers and the Jewish business community. Stern helps Schindler arrange financing for the factory. Schindler maintains friendly relations with the Nazis and enjoys wealth and status as “Herr Direktor”, and Stern handles administration. Schindler hires Jewish workers because they cost less, while Stern ensures that as many people as possible are deemed essential to the German war effort, which saves them from being transported to concentration camps or killed.

SS-Untersturmführer (second lieutenant) Amon Göth arrives in Kraków to oversee construction of Płaszów concentration camp. When the camp is completed, he orders the ghetto liquidated. Many people are shot and killed in the process of emptying the ghetto. Schindler witnesses the massacre and is profoundly affected. He particularly notices a young girl in a red coat as she hides from the Nazis, and later sees her body among a wagonload of corpses. Schindler is careful to maintain his friendship with Göth and, through bribery and lavish gifts, continues to enjoy SS support. Göth brutally mistreats his Jewish maid Helen Hirsch and randomly shoots people from the balcony of his villa, and the prisoners are in constant fear for their lives. As time passes, Schindler’s focus shifts from making money to trying to save as many lives as possible.

While the film is shot primarily in black and white, a red coat is used to distinguish a little girl in the scene depicting the liquidation of the Kraków ghetto. Later in the film, Schindler sees her dead body, recognizable only by the red coat she is still wearing. Spielberg said the scene was intended to symbolize how members of the highest levels of government in the United States knew the Holocaust was occurring, yet did nothing to stop it. “It was as obvious as a little girl wearing a red coat, walking down the street, and yet nothing was done to bomb the German rail lines. Nothing was being done to slow down … the annihilation of European Jewry,” he said. “So that was my message in letting that scene be in color.”

Stephen Schiff of The New Yorker called Schindler’s List the best historical drama about the Holocaust, a movie that “will take its place in cultural history and remain there.” Terrence Rafferty, with The New Yorker, admired the film’s “narrative boldness, visual audacity, and emotional directness.” He noted the performances of Neeson, Fiennes, Kingsley, and Davidtz as warranting special praise, and calls the scene in the shower at Auschwitz “the most terrifying sequence ever filmed.” In the 2013 edition of his Movie and Video Guide, Leonard Maltin awarded the picture a four-out-of-four-star rating; he described the movie as a “staggering adaptation of Thomas Keneally’s best-seller … with such frenzied pacing that it looks and feels like nothing Hollywood has ever made before … Spielberg’s most intense and personal film to date”. James Verniere of the Boston Herald noted the film’s restraint and lack of sensationalism, and called it a “major addition to the body of work about the Holocaust.” In his review for The New York Review of Books, British critic John Gross said his misgivings that the story would be overly sentimentalized “were altogether misplaced. Spielberg shows a firm moral and emotional grasp of his material. The film is an outstanding achievement.”

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Class size 6-50 students
50 seats remaining

$30.00


Chet Day
has degrees in math, physics, EE/computer science, and business admin. He retired in 1995 from computer communications research for Bell System. Chet is on the UMASC Arts and Presentations Committee and volunteers for UMASC/UMA College of Arts & Sciences Concert Series. He and Deena have 4 grandchildren.

 


Art Ray
is a graduate of the University of Maine in electrical engineering and retired after 35 years at CMP. A student of UMASC since Fall 2003. Art does PowerPoint lectures on art and Maine local history for the Granite Hill/Brown Bag programs.

 

Peter Ezzy is an early supporter of Maine Senior Colleges and currently serves on the UMA Senior College Curriculum Committee. He recently retired from State service after working in the human services program area for over thirty-three years. He also served as a reserve officer with the Maine Emergency Management Agency. After completing undergraduate and graduate studies at UM at Orono, he served proudly in the USAF. He is also active with the Maine Association of Retirees. He is an avid gardener and outdoorsman.

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