Film Series: When L.A. Grew Up: Galka Scheyer’s Hollywood on the Eve of World War

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Maven of Modernism: Galka Scheyer in California, critic David Kipen organizes a film series that charts the years between Hollywood’s 1930s embrace of European exiles and its eventual engagement in the battle against fascism. This retrospective includes all-star Shakespeare by way of Berlin, an anniversary screening of a landmark Spanish Civil War documentary, a classic Paris-set romantic comedy and, finally, a thriller about an assassination that might have stopped a world war. Angelenos by choice, Scheyer’s fellow émigrés helped make them all. 

Each film begins with an introduction by Kipen at 5:15 p.m.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935), NR
Directed by Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle
Friday, July 7, 5:15–7:45 p.m.

Max Reinhardt’s legendary Hollywood Bowl production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was adapted for the screen by Warner Bros. This classic Shakespeare play tells of a mystical and comedic experience in the forest, where romantic entanglements are resolved through the mischief of fairies. Starring James Cagney (Bottom), Mickey Rooney (Puck), Olivia de Havilland (Hermia), Dick Powell (Lysander), Billy Barty (Mustard-Seed), this adaptation includes music by Felix Mendelssohn, arranged by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. 

         
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The Spanish Earth (1937), NR
Directed by Joris Ivens
Friday, July 14, 5:15–6:30 p.m.

Eighty years ago, the documentary The Spanish Earth, narrated by Orson Welles and featuring war heroine Dolores Ibárruri, “La Pasionaria,” showed the struggle of the Spanish Republican government against a rebellion by ultra-right-wing forces led by General Francisco Franco and backed by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Music arranged by Virgil Thomson and Marc Blitzstein. Written by Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos.

Special guest Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, Shotgun Freeway: Drives Through Lost L.A.) with Kipen at 5:15 p.m. 

         
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Ninotchka
(1939), NR

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Friday, July 21, 5:15–7:20 p.m.

A no-nonsense diplomat of the Soviet Union, Nina Ivanovna “Ninotchka” Yakushova (Greta Garbo) arrives in Paris to ensure the sale of jewels seized during the Russian Revolution. Meanwhile, carefree bachelor Count Leon d’Algout (Melvyn Douglas) attempts to intercept the valuables on behalf of their former owner, the Grand Duchess Swana (Ina Claire). Despite their conflicting allegiances, the icy Ninotchka soon warms to Leon’s charms, reluctantly going against her better judgment.

         
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Man Hunt
(1941), NR

Directed by Fritz Lang
Friday, July 28, 5:15–7:15 p.m.

Renowned big-game hunter Captain Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon) is hunting in the Bavarian forest when he stumbles upon Adolf Hitler’s vacation residence. Tempted by the idea of assassinating the dictator, he’s apprehended and beaten before escaping and stowing away on a steamship back to England. Onboard, Thorndike has his identity stolen by the smooth-talking con man Mr. Jones (John Carradine). Both men soon discover that Gestapo agents are swarming London, looking for the would-be assassin.

         

 

Photo credits: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Warner Bros. Pictures/Photofest, © Warner Bros.; The Spanish Earth, Amkino/Photofest, © Amkino Corporation; Ninotchka, MGM/Photofest, © MGM, Photographer: Milton Brown; Man Hunt, 20th Century Fox/Photofest, © 20th Century Fox