Fifty Years of Janus Films

The NCMA’s second annual Fall Film Series presents a feast of art house classics, courtesy of Janus Films, the pioneering US distributor of foreign cinema. Their massive DVD box set of fifty films, with hundreds of hours of superlative extras, retails for almost $1000, but Janus, partnered with the Criterion Collection, has made new 35mm prints of a select number of these world cinema masterpieces, and we are pleased to be able to show nine of these sparkling prints, completely restored and with retranslated subtitles.

Although films are unrated, older children and teens will find all titles in the series enriching and challenging. If you are looking for a way to introduce your children to the joys of going to art museum movies, Boston Globe film critic, Ty Burr, in his new book The Best Old Movies for Families recommends La Belle et La Bête for children as young as three; “Watching it is like reading a beautifully illustrated Grimm’s fairy tale to your kids.” Thanks to Sarah Finklea at Janus Films for the prints.

On the weekend of October 19-20, we welcome Margaret Parsons, Film Curator at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. She will host a selection of her favorite films from last year's Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival, in Bologna, Italy.

The magic begins on Fridays at 8:00 pm.

September 14

La Regle du Jeu (The Rules of the Game) (1939) Written and directed by Jean Renoir. Marcel Dalio, Nora Gregor, Roland Toutain, Jean Renoir (110 min).

Superficially an upstairs-downstairs farce, The Rules of the Game was banned after its premiere for “demoralizing” French society. Satire skewers a decadent upper crust, and a senseless rabbit hunt foreshadows the carnage of the looming European war. “Far and away the cinema’s greatest midsummer night’s dream” (Entertainment Weekly). Film notes for The Rules of the Game.

Saturday, September 15
: 3 PM--Free Film!

Fully Awake: Black Mountain College (2007) Written and directed by Cathryn Davis Zommer and Neeley House. (60 min.)

Black Mountain College existed for only 24 years, from 1933 to 1957, but its influence lives on in the works of artists and visionaries who participated in this grand experiment in creative education set in the calm and beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Alumni include Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Willem de Kooning, and Robert Motherwell. N.C. filmmakers Cathryn Davis Zommer and Neeley House will be present at the screening to talk about the project.

September 21

Walkabout (1971) Directed and photographed by Nicolas Roeg. Jenny Agutter, Lucien John, David Gumpilil (100 min).

Two prim English school children, lost in the rugged Australian outback, encounter an Aborigine boy on his six month “walkabout” his journey to adulthood. Incapable of taking care of themselves, he becomes their spirit guide, illuminating the clash between nature and civilization. “Walkabout is one of the great films” (Roger Ebert). Film notes for Walkabout.

September 28

High and Low (1963) Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Toshiro Mifune, Kyoko Kagawa, Tatsuya Mihashi (143 min).

A child is kidnapped and a rich industrialist faces ruin in this tense adaptation of Ed Mc Bain’s potboiler King’s Ransom. Japan’s most Westernized director collaborates with his favorite actor to excoriate modern morality and 60s Japanese culture. “High and Low is a thriller flush with needle-spiking tensions and bullet-train exhilarations” (Film Comment) Introduced by Marsha Orgeron, Chair of the NC State Film Studies Department.

October 5

La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) (1946) Written and directed by Jean Cocteau. Jean Marais, Josette Day, Marcel Andre (93 min).

An 18th century fairy tale written for the amusement of the French court, Cocteau’s vision beguiles dreamers of all ages—even the youngest!--with its magical aura and exquisite design. Conjured while France was still suffering from wartime privations, the artist wanted his enchanting film "not to be admired, but to be believed." Film notes for La Belle et la Bête.

October 12

The Lady Vanishes (1938) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Michael Redgrave, Margaret Lockwood, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty (97 min).

Dotty Miss Froy disappears, and a raffish folklorist (Michael Redgrave, father of Vanessa and Lynn) and a plucky deb must prove she even existed. “The first time or the hundredth, the special alchemy of laughs, love and terror keeps its spell. The lady may vanish, but the movie stays with us always.” (Chicago Tribune). Film notes for The Lady Vanishes.


Homage to the Bologna Film Festival: Il Cinema Ritrovato

For the past 20 years, an exclusive midsummer film festival dedicated to “the unknown, little-known, rediscovered, and restored” has flourished in the beautiful Italian city of Bologna . Il Cinema Ritrovato attracts cinephiles, historians, and archivists from many countries—specialists who delight in the classic, the uncanny, and the arcane. Margaret Parsons, who heads the film department at the National Gallery of Art, will introduce three American-made films highlighted by the 2006 festival.

Friday, October 19:

Home from the Hill (1960) Directed by Vincente Minnelli. (150 min.)

Minnelli was a master of operatic Scope cinema, and Home from the Hill is one of his best. In his only foray into Texas culture, Minnelli crafted a tragedy of classic proportions with rich father Robert Mitchum, alienated wife Eleanor Parker, and their two sons—the illegitimate George Peppard and the legitimate George Hamilton—feuding it out to the bitter end.

Saturday, October 20: Double Feature--Two movies for the price of one!

1 PM Jimmy the Gent (1934) Directed by Michael Curtiz.

Hilarious pre-Code Warner Bros James Cagney vehicle (a gorgeous young Bette Davis co-stars). Jimmy the Gent is a spoof on the American urge to upgrade one’s social status overnight. Cagney plays his usual cocky gangster self, running a racket that tracks down beneficiaries to unclaimed estates; inventing them if they don’t exist. Library of Congress archival print.

2:45 PM My Son John (1952) Directed by Leo McCarey. (122 min.)
A rare chance to see an archival 35mm print of this powerful Cold War melodrama starring the superb Helen Hayes as mother, Dean Jagger as the diehard anti-intellectual father, and Robert Walker as the commie sympathizer son, a “pink sheep” in an otherwise respectable American Catholic family. “My Son John is all about loyalty, the great concept of the time,” writes critic Peter von Bagh. Paramount Pictures archival print.


October 26

Knife in the Water (1962) Directed by Roman Polanski. Leon Niemczyk, Jolanta Umecka, Zygmunt Malanowicz (94 min).

Oozing undercurrents of sex and violence, Polanski’s debut film witnesses an ominous yacht trip with a discontented married couple and a dangerous hitchhiker. This psychological thriller foreshadows the director’s later US films like Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby. “…an example of how a superlative director makes a film from the simplest materials” (Guardian UK). Introduced by Devin Orgeron, NC State Film Studies professor.

November 2

Sansho the Bailiff (1954) Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Hanayaki (124 min).

A widow and her children are abducted and sold into slavery in 11th century Japan. This historical epic of formal beauty and raw emotional power pleads for compassion in midst of brutality. “Sansho the Baliff is one of those films for which cinema exists—just as it perhaps exists for the sake of its last scene” (Gilbert Adair). Film notes for Sansho the Baliff.

November 9

Wild Strawberries (1957) Written and Directed by Ingmar Bergman. Victor Sjostrom, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin (90 min).

Awakened from a premonition of death, a renowned professor drives to a career award ceremony with his daughter in law and suffers her rebuke for his chilly emotions. His day long reflections are “a poem…that wanders through the borderland between the dream world of life, and the real world of dreams” (Newsweek). Film Notes for Wild Strawberries.

November 16

La Strada (The Road) (1954) Written and Directed by Federico Fellini. Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina Richard Basehart (107 min).

The tale of a simple minded girl’s devotion to her brutish master, a circus strong man, catapulted Fellini to international fame. La Strada won a Best Foreign Film Oscar for this haunting exploration of loyalty, shattered faith and redemption. “An unforgettable experience…a picture to place among the deathless masterpieces” (New York Post). Bring your hankies. Film Notes for La Strada.


All films will be shown in 35mm prints and begin Fridays at 8:00 pm, except the Saturday matineés on September 15, and October 20.

The galleries and the Blue Ridge Restaurant will be open prior to screenings

Box Office: (919) 715-5923

Tickets: $5.00/$3.50 NCMA Members

Series Passes $35/$25 NCMA Members

Introductions are by Film Curator Laura Boyes unless otherwise noted.

For more information about the NC Museum of Art: