As we head into awards season, we’ll hear a lot about film directors. Their vision of what a screenplay should look like on screen can help make movie magic. The classic film series at Northern Arizona University will focus on these magic makers. With this semester’s look at directors at 20th Century Fox, we get comedies, dramas and even a musical. Directors range from Frank Borzage, winner of the first Academy Award for best director, to the most successful director in film, Steven Spielberg.
The series screens a movie every Tuesday night at 7 p.m., and you can enjoy a classic film, a discussion and maybe even a classic cartoon. If you like older movies and want to see them with an audience, this is the way to do it. This semester you can see the last of the great silent films, Borzage’s Seventh Heaven (1927), on Jan. 16. Leading lady Janet Gaynor won the first Oscar because of this role. We get director William Wellmn’s The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), starring Henry Fonda, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944), which explores what happens when various characters are stuck in a lifeboat after their ship sinks.
Then we get a change in tone on Feb. 6, when the series screens the Howard Hawks film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). Starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, it tells the tale of showgirls heading to Paris. Then it’s time for a western starring Paul Newman with Martin Ritt’s Hombre (1967). Science fiction also gets a chance with Planet of the Apes (1968), directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. Yes, this is the one starring Charlton Heston.
We get to the 1970s, when one of the great directors, Robert Altman, came to attention with M*A*S*H (1970). This satire introduced us to the shenanigans of field hospital staff during the Korean War. Director William Friedkin gave Gene Hackman an Oscar-winning role in The French Connection (1971) as a New York cop. Paul Mazursky’s comedy-drama, An Unmarried Woman (1978), gives us Jill Clayburgh as a woman coming to terms with divorce.
Paul Newman returns in Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict (1982) as an alcoholic lawyer. From law we move to unnatural science experiments in David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986). Then it’s a still-timely look at television news in James L. Brooks’ Broadcast News (1987). On April 17, we get a Coen Brothers film about a Hollywood screenwriter with Barton Fink (1991). Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm (1997) is about a suburban family in 1973. The final film in the series is from 2002. Spielberg’s Minority Report, a film about a police officer in the future, explores what it means to be able to predict crime.
You can learn more about the College of Arts and Letters Classic Film Series at https://nau.edu/cal/events/cal-film-series/. Come enjoy some great movies.