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The Big Chill

The Northern Arizona University College of Arts and Letters Film Series starts back up Tuesday, Jan. 14. It continues the theme of “Great Collaborations” with another stunning lineup highlighting cinema’s most celebrated and successful partnerships between directors, actors and other crew. From screwball comedy to espionage thriller, neo-noir to spaghetti Western, this semester’s series has something for everyone.

We start with The Scarlet Empress (1934), the sixth of director Josef von Sternberg’s seven pictures with Marlene Dietrich. Next up: one of the great romantic comedies of the era in His Girl Friday (1940), the second of Cary Grant’s five movies for Howard Hawks. Then on Jan. 28, the great star pairing—and Hollywood romance—of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy is highlighted with Adam’s Rib (1949), featuring the two as married attorneys who find themselves on opposite sides of an attempted murder case. 

Though Peter Sellers would only star in two Stanley Kubrick films, he played three roles in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), and it will be a joy to watch one of the greatest satires of all time on the big screen on Feb. 25. On March 3 comes a very different film from the same year: the first of Italian director Sergio Leone’s “Man with No Name” Western trilogy, A Fistful of Dollars, which would jump-start Clint Eastwood’s career on the world stage.

On March 10, see just how fun the Spanish Inquisition can be in Mel Brooks’ History of the World: Part I (1981). Frequent Brooks stars Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, Dom DeLuise and others join the director/star on a bawdy, shtick-y romp through history. Then after spring break on March 24, things turn serious in Three Days of the Condor (1975), the fourth of Robert Redford’s seven films with director Sydney Pollack. The following week Kevin Kline, William Hurt and Jeff Goldblum join writer/director Lawrence Kasdan in The Big Chill (1983) as a group of 30-something Michigan alumni gather for the funeral of a classmate where they’ll talk things out to one of the great movie soundtracks.

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In 1983 Frances McDormand auditioned for Blood Simple (1984), her first film role, and also the directorial debut of the Coen Brothers. She soon married Joel Coen and would go on to star in five more of the Coens’ films, two of which would earn her Best Actress Oscars. Don’t miss this fantastic noir thriller on April 7. And on April 30, you have a chance to see The Blues Brothers (1980) on the big screen. One of seven John Landis movies to feature Dan Aykroyd and/or John Belushi, it ends the semester with a zany, music-filled bang. For the full schedule, see www.nau.edu/cal/events/cal-film-series/.

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