Thursday, March 3, 2011

Classic Movie Fans at Midnight Showing

On February 26, 2011, I presented the Academy Award winning film classic Johnny Belinda (1948), starring Jane Wyman at Facet Film School, Chicago. Wyman won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance as Belinda MacDonald, a poor deaf mute living with her father and aunt on a farm in Novia Scotia.

The midnight crowd right before the screening of Johnny Belinda
Introducing a Classic
The crowd of 22 was wide awake (accept for one man who fell asleep) and ready to see a film that they had never seen before. Instead of being disappointed by this (although some had heard of it), I enjoyed introducing the film to an audience without any preconceptions. As a classic movie fan, I sometimes think I know it all, but I'm always surprised and impressed by the insights "newbies" share during the after-film discussions. The screening of Johnny Belinda was no exception. Many appreciated Wyman's inspired performance, but they also noticed the beautiful black and white cinematography, the effective use of closeups, and the contrast between Belinda and the townspeople. Belinda, to many viewers, was almost angelic compared to some of her self-righteous neighbors.

Jane Wyman (left) as Belinda and Charles Bickford as Black MacDonald, her father in Johnny Belinda
Midnight Series Continues at Facets Film School
Johnny Belinda was part of a midnight series of films: Heroine Addicts. The series features women as the main protagonists in a wide range of film genres. For a complete schedule of the films being screened, click here.


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