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Monday, September 1, 2008

Free Movies at Mary Pickford Theatre, Library of Congress

By the Queen of Free

Yes, they are free.

No, you can’t just walk in and expect a seat if all the reservations are taken and there are no seats left. Call 202-707-5677 no more than one week ahead to make a reservation for no more than two shows.

Yes, without a reservation it is possible to get a seat since they are released 10 minutes before show time, but there are only 60 seats.

Last Friday night ”Rock Around the Clock,” released in 1956 in black and white was first up, and starred, of course, Bill Haley and the Comets.

In 25 words or less: The plot depicts the group’s growth from a small town band to the country’s most popular, led by a developing promoter who forms a romantic relationship with the young female dancer of the group, complicated by money and “another woman.” (Well, all right: 40 words.) Imagine. Who in 2008 is watching this for plot?

Moviegoers want to hear and see the music, and we were satisfied. You rock in your seat and love it. Who were Freddie Bell and The Bellboys? Just hearing their name suggests music which was delightful, and their antics! Try “riding” a base, why don’t you? Why didn’t they “make it”? Maybe they did, and I just never heard of them.

Anyway, the original Platters sing several numbers in their distinctive style showing their grace and class. Wikipedia lists the songs sung in the movie.

The second feature, “That’ll Be the Day” also features 1950s music and stars David Essex who delivered an incredible, magnificent performance. Good night; I am still thinking about the movie two days later.

Remember the song? I always associated it with a happy message. Not! Music of the 50s era infuse the movie throughout. It is a British film set along a coast, and several paintings came to mind while watching the show. Have I ever seen a British film I didn’t like?

Although it was produced in 1973 , the cinematography, the sepia tones, the quick changes from one scene to the next, give it a contemporary air. The acting and direction are absolutely superb.

It’s a haunting story about a characterless, shallow man raised by a single mom. Through flashbacks and chronology his life from a young boy to a 20-something evolves, and he always takes the low road. The movie is quite disturbing about his lack of moral fiber which never improves. Ringo Starr plays a major part in about one-third of the film and performs flawlessly. Despite the dark nature of the movie, I found it astonishing , and evocative of personalities encountered today. Highly recommended!

These two movies are part of the series devoted to films before the Beatles (but 1973 came after the Beatles' advent). Check out the schedule for other upcoming films, but please: Do not take my seat. Thank you. (September is included in the schedule section "July - August 2008".)

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