It Happened One Night, Dinner At Eight and The General screening at the Loew’s Jersey

The Loew’s Jersey continues its classic film screening series, with a trilogy of legendary comedies starring Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, John Barrymore, and many more. Things kick-off this coming Friday, with It Happened One Night, and continue Saturday, with two more genre-defining screen classics.

The Friends of the Loew’s, who run the The Loew’s Jersey, honor the theatre’s heritage as a Movie Palace, by screening a range of classic cinema for the community to enjoy.

The schedule for the films is below, along with a synopsis and some trivia related to each.

Friday, May 15, 8 PM

It Happened One Night

Cast: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly
Director: Frank Capra
(1934, 105mins.)

Directed by Frank Capra and scripted by his frequent collaborator Robert Riskin, It Happened One Night defined the screwball comedy. The film features a gruff, down-to-earth reporter (Clark Gable) and a spoiled runaway heiress (Claudette Colbert) determined to defy her father’s wishes and marry a famous but vacuous aviator. The two meet on a cross-country bus, fight (literally) their way through a series of travails, and despite themselves fall in love. Will Colbert change her plans and marry the down-at-the-heels Gable? Will Gable swallow his disdain for Colbert’s upper class? Overt lustiness barred by the 1934 Production Code was skillfully transmuted into clever banter and suggestion, and the romance conveyed an ideal Depression-era fantasy. A critical and commercial hit, It Happened One Night was the first film to sweep the top five Oscars, rewarding Capra, Riskin, Gable, and Colbert, and fulfilling Columbia impresario Harry Cohn’s desire to turn his B-picture “poverty row” studio into a class act.

Saturday, May 16, 6 PM

Dinner At Eight

Cast: Marie Dressler, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore
Director: George Cukor
Producer: David O. Selznick
(1933, 113mins.)

Social butterfly Mrs. Oliver Jordan (Billie Burke) arranges a dinner party that will benefit the business of her husband (Lionel Barrymore). Among the invited are a crooked executive (Wallace Beery), who is in the process of ruining Jordan; his “trophy” wife (Jean Harlow), who is carrying on an affair with a doctor (Edmund Lowe); a fading matinee idol (John Barrymore), who has squandered his fortune on liquor and is romantically involved with the Jordans’ daughter (Madge Evans); and a venerable stage actress (Marie Dressler), who since losing all her money has become a “professional guest.” Nothing goes as planned, due to various suicides, double-crosses, compromises, fatal illnesses and servant problems. But dinner is served precisely at eight. It may be tempting to think all this sounds dated, but it isn’t. For one thing, there is enough of a serious and familiar edge to the humor – the reality that we are all susceptible to the vagaries of change that is unforeseen and not always kind – to keep the barbed comedy relevant even to today’s jaded audiences. The film boasts a script by Herman Mankiewicz, Frances Marion and Donald Ogden Stewart that is a virtual encyclopedia of witty lines and scenes.

Saturday, May 16, 8:30 PM

The General

Cast: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender, Jim Farley, Joseph Keaton
Directors: Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman
(1927, 74mins., B&W)

Musical accompaniment for this silent classic will be performed on the Loew’s Wonder Morton Pipe Organ!
PLUS — a classic Keaton short is also included in this special screening.

More than eighty years since the advent of “talking pictures,” there are few remaining titles from the silent era that still command instant, widespread recognition. Keaton plays Johnny Gray, a Southern railroad engineer who loves his train engine, The General, almost as much as he loves Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack). When the opening shots of the Civil War are fired, Johnny tries to enlist – but is deemed too useful as an engineer to be a soldier. All Johnny knows is that he’s been rejected, and Annabelle, thinking him a coward, turns her back on him. When Northern spies steal The General (and, unwittingly, Annabelle), the story switches from drama and romance to adventure mixed with Keaton’s trademark deadpan and astonishingly physical humor as he uses every means possible to catch up to The General, thwart the Yankees, and rescue his darling Annabelle. As always, Keaton performs his own stunts, combining his prodigious dexterity, impeccable comic timing, and expressive body language to convey more emotion than the stars of any of the talkies that were soon to dominate cinema. Keaton spared no effort or expense in making the movie. Having based the story on a true incident involving a hijacked Confederate train, he strove for historical accuracy by building period-looking buildings and train cars, precisely recreating uniforms and even shooting on location in Oregon to get the proper track gauge. And the spectacular climactic scene was reportedly the most expensive single take in the silent era. Yet The General was a critical and financial failure when it was released. Today, The General is widely considered to be the greatest work of one of the greatest comedic talents the screen has ever known.

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