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Course Catalog

Cinema Classics Seminars

  • BMFI at the Barnes Seminar: Grand Illusion


    Grand Illusion (1937)

    Taught by Paul McEwan, Ph.D., Film Studies Program, Muhlenberg College

    This series presents screenings of essential works of world cinema enhanced by lectures and discussions that utilize diverse critical perspectives to enrich viewers' appreciation of the films. Instructors will explore cinematic technique, artistic tradition, cultural context, and historical perspective to inform and intensify the audience's engagement with these exceptional motion pictures.

    Join us for a lecture, screening, and discussion of a true masterpiece of world cinema, Grand Illusion (1937), directed by Jean Renoir. It is a war film that does not depict any scenes of battle, yet is considered one of the most haunting members of its genre, and becomes, in the words of one critic, an 'oasis of subtlety, moral intelligence, and deep emotion on a cinematic landscape.' Renoir creates a tragic chamber drama of prison camp life and death in World War I, in which he uses the POW encampment as a microcosm of Europe, studying the interplay of a motley group of French officers forced to live together under the eyes of their German captors.

    In doing so, the filmmaker examines issues of class, race, and nationalism, and in the process celebrates the universal humanity that transcends such categories, suggesting that mankind's common experiences should prevail above political divisions, and their natural extension: war. Grand Illusion is a film that elicited the admiration of many viewers upon its American release, less than a year before the start of World War II, among them President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who declared that "all democracies in the world must see this film."

  • BMFI at the Barnes Seminar: Rashomon


    Rashomon (1950)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    This series presents screenings of essential works of world cinema enhanced by lectures and discussions that utilize diverse critical perspectives to enrich viewers’ appreciation of the films. Instructors will explore cinematic technique, artistic tradition, cultural context, and historical perspective to inform and intensify the audience’s engagement with these exceptional motion pictures.

    Join us for a lecture, screening, and discussion of Rashomon (1950), Akira Kurosawa’s masterwork of post-war Japanese film that introduced that nation’s cinema—and one of its most skilled practitioners—to Western audiences. Set in feudal Japan, this tense exploration of the subjective nature of truth and the meaning of justice centers on four individuals who give differing accounts of a bandit’s attack on a married couple. Starring the iconic Toshiro Mifune and featuring ingeniously subtle editing to showcase, among other elements, cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa’s inventive use of natural light, Rashomon is an aesthetic and intellectual achievement that has inspired filmmakers, composers, and playwrights for generations.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: 8 ½


    8 ˝ (1963)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,
    Temple University

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn’t commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining and engaging way to spend an evening?

    If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then this Cinema Classics Seminar is for you. It features a stand-alone class built around Federico Fellini’s visually stunning 1963 flight of cinematic fancy, 8 ½, starring Marcello Mastroianni as a director at a creative and personal impasse, exhausted by his frantic efforts to keep his life in order, yet teeming with imagination. Proclaimed by Roger Ebert to be “the best film ever made about filmmaking,” 8 ½ has inspired the likes of François Truffaut, Bob Fosse, and Woody Allen.

    This one-night seminar offers an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about a true classic of world cinema. Students receive a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: A Hard Day's Night


    A Hard Day's Night (1964)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    Grumpy, befuddled parents hoped A Hard Day's Night (1964) would mark the end of the irritant known as "Beatlemania," while their swooning daughters were thrilled at just the chance to scream at the boys on the big screen. Hardly anybody anticipated that a film project launched primarily to boost sales of the group's upcoming album would be viewed, fifty years later, as a cinematic landmark.

    American director Richard Lester's brand of surreal anarchy was a perfect match for the cheeky irreverence of the mop-topped Liverpudlians whose most endearing attribute, aside from their talent, was their refusal to take their fame (or much of anything else) all that seriously. Just a few months after invading America, John, Paul, George, and Ringo conquered the silver screen; the rest of the world would soon follow. A promotional piece, a time-capsule documentary, a hilarious comedy, and a heck of a concert movie, A Hard Day's Night is the whole package. Put another way, by Village Voice critic Andrew Sarris, the film is "the Citizen Kane of jukebox musicals."

    These one-night seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: A Night at the Opera


    A Night at the Opera (1935)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    After Duck Soup (1933) failed to connect with critics, the Marx Brothers left Paramount for MGM. Would their brand of anarchic humor survive studio head Irving Thalberg's plan to anchor their zaniness with a more traditionally structured narrative and even a love story? For A Night at the Opera (1935), at least, the answer was "yes."

    With Zeppo leaving the act to become an agent, the Marx Brothers were down to three (or four if you count their ever-reliable "straight man," Margaret Dumont). Groucho, Chico, and Harpo were still a force sufficient to take on the world of opera, deflating (or knocking cold) every stuck-up snob unfortunate enough to cross their paths, while also making sure two young, aspiring singers (Kitty Carlisle and Allan Jones, in early roles) found both love and success along the way. From the "Sanity Clause" to the most crowded ship's stateroom in maritime history, A Night at the Opera features some of the boys' most memorable film gags and clicked in a big way with Depression-era audiences eager for a good laugh. Come spend a night with the Marx Brothers to find out why.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: All About Eve


    All About Eve (1950)

    Taught by Alice Bullitt, M.A., BMFI

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn’t commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining, engaging, and comfortable way to spend a hot summer evening?

    If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then our Summer Classics Seminars are for you. This one focuses on All About Eve, the dramatic tale of an aging star and her conniving rival, written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and starring Bette Davis in what Roger Ebert calls "her greatest role."

    Just like our regular courses, each class will offer students a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see the film on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: All That Heaven Allows


    All That Heaven Allows (1955)

    Taught by Alice Bullitt, M.A., BMFI

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn't commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining, engaging, and comfortable way to spend a hot summer evening?

    If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, then our Summer Classics Seminars are for you. This one focuses on All That Heaven Allows, a lush melodrama about social mores and forbidden love. It was directed by the master of the Technicolor weepie, Douglas Sirk, and stars Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman.

    Just like our regular courses, each class will offer students a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see the film on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Apartment


    The Apartment (1960)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn't commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining, engaging, and comfortable way to spend a hot summer evening?

    If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, then our Summer Classics Seminars are for you. This one focuses on The Apartment, the sardonic tale of isolation and infidelity that strikes, in the words of Roger Ebert, "a precise balance between farce and sadness". It was co-written and directed by Billy Wilder, and stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray.

    Just like our regular courses, each class will offer students a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see the film on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Back to the Future


    Back to the Future (1985)

    Taught by Valerie Temple, M.F.A., Programming Manager, BMFI

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn't commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining, engaging, and comfortable way to spend a hot summer evening?

    If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, then our Summer Classics Seminars are for you. This one focuses on Back to the Future, the ingenious and hilarious time-travel adventure combining dazzling effects with old-fashioned fun to create a flawlessly constructed film that is at once nostalgic and new. It was co-written (with Bob Gale) and directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Flight), whom, according to Roger Ebert, "shows not only a fine comic touch but also some of the lighthearted humanism of a Frank Capra," and stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Crispin Glover.

    Just like our regular courses, each class will offer students a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see the film on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Battle of Algiers


    The Battle of Algiers (1966)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini University

    Banned in France for years after its 1966 release, Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers remains not only one of cinema's greatest achievements, but also ranks among its most timely and resonant. Building on the traditions of Italian neorealism and then complicating them with an urgency born out of post-colonial turmoil, the film depicts three crucial years in the Algerian war of independence against French domination (1954-62).

    Pontecorvo's effort at times adopts the style and ethos of documentary; yet, at key moments, it is unapologetically passionate about the carnage it captures. The film throughout is resolutely clinical in its dissection of the escalating conflict as a bloody chess match between increasingly radicalized Algerian insurgents and the increasingly reactionary counter-insurgency of the French military. Ingeniously edited, the film features a mostly non-professional cast of Algerian actors, including actual participants in the struggle. Its score, by legendary composer Ennio Morricone, blends orchestral and indigenous music. The film's treatment of the realities and costs of insurgency and counter-insurgency has remained so powerful that it was screened at the Pentagon in advance of American involvement in Iraq, and it continues to be a touchstone for both aspiring filmmakers and policymakers around the globe.
    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Battleship Potemkin


    Battleship Potemkin (1925)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn’t commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining and engaging way to spend an evening?

    If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then this Cinema Classics Seminar is for you. It features a stand-alone class built around the landmark 1925 work of Soviet propaganda, Battleship Potemkin, directed by Sergei Eisenstein in true montage fashion.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Beauty and the Beast


    Beauty and the Beast (1946)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program, Temple University

    Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast (1946) is one of the most magical of all films, but also one with a timely message. As Roger Ebert wrote, "Cocteau . . . was not making a 'children's film,' but was adapting a classic French tale that he felt had a special message after the suffering of World War II: Anyone who has an unhappy childhood may grow up to be a Beast."

    This adaptation of the traditional fairy tale, written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont and published in 1757 as part of an anthology, welcomes us into a world not of sweetness and light, but of conflict and corruption, with Belle (Josette Day) a lone island of virtue. It is a "fallen world," the iniquity of which is so effectively conveyed by Cocteau as to make Belle's (and our) introduction into the Beast's (Jean Marais) domain all the more wondrous.

    But the Disney version, this is not, and for all of its romance and ethereal beauty, the film has its share of dark eroticism and tragic isolation. In the words of critic Geoffrey O'Brien, Beauty and the Beast "has been praised as lyrical, almost unbearable in its ethereal gorgeousness, a triumph of the imagination—even when it may just as accurately be described as tough-minded, down-to-earth, ferociously unsentimental." Join us to learn how it is that within these stark contrasts, the film's brilliance lies.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration. In addition, this film screening is open to the public, and you may purchase a regular ticket for the movie (seminar not included) here or at the box office. 

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Birdcage


    The Birdcage (1996)

    Taught by Gary M. Kramer, Author and Film Critic

    Join us for a stand-alone class built around Mike Nichols's hilarious 1996 comedy The Birdcage. An Americanized version of Edouard Molinaro's 1978 French farce La Cage aux Folles, which was also the source for the 1983 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, its screenplay was written by Nichols's longtime collaborator, Elaine May. The director's comic touch is—pardon the pun—light as a feather, especially when applied to veteran performers Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, who star as (personal and professional) partners Armand and Albert, respectively.

    The film plays up gay stereotypes as the flamboyant South Beach couple must repress their sexuality—and contain their sassy Latino houseboy, Agador (Hank Azaria)—when Armand's son (Dan Futterman) gets engaged to the daughter (Calista Flockhart) of a conservative senator (Gene Hackman) embroiled in a scandal. Can "traditional family values" exist when the in-laws visit a household where drag is the order of the day? We open The Birdcage to explore issues of gender, sexuality, and morality, why drag queens make for good comedy, and how things have changed in this era of marriage equality.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the exceptional works of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    This seminar is sponsored in honor of philosopher, educator, author, and filmmaker Jose Ferrater-Mora.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Birth of a Nation


    The Birth of a Nation (1915)

    Taught by Paul McEwan, Ph.D., Department of Media & Communication, Muhlenberg College

    "The Birth of a Nation is not a bad film because it argues for evil. Like Riefenstahl's The Triumph of the Will, it is a great film that argues for evil. To understand how it does so is to learn a great deal about film, and even something about evil." —Roger Ebert

    D.W. Griffith's 1915 racist epic The Birth of a Nation is easily the most controversial film in the history of American cinema. In the 100 years since it was released, it has been attacked, vilified, celebrated, and re-evaluated nearly continuously, and has been the troublesome example everyone has been forced to confront in order to talk about cinema as an art form.

    Griffith was already the leading American director of his day when he began his adaptation of Thomas Dixon's popular novel and stage play, The Clansman. Much more ambitious than any previous American film, this project was a culmination of everything Griffith learned in his years making one- and two-reel films. Birth was critically acclaimed and earned the filmmaker a fortune, most of which he sank into his next picture, Intolerance.

    Griffith never accepted that The Birth of a Nation was racist or apologized for it in any way. A century later, this seems inconceivable to nearly all viewers. Nevertheless, the film is crucial for understanding the intertwined histories of race, cinema, and art in America. Join us to learn about (and through) the work that, in the words of film scholar David Bordwell, "is often considered cinema's first masterpiece."

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Black Girl and "Borom Sarret"


    Black Girl (1966)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    It is difficult to identify any single person as "the father of African cinema," as Ousmane Sembene has often been called, but his influence on both African film and filmmakers throughout the world over the past half century is enormous, yet still greatly underappreciated. Born in southern Senegal in 1923, Sembene was raised as a fisherman, trained as an auto mechanic, drafted by the French army in World War II, and worked on the docks of Marseilles before publishing his first novel, The Black Docker, in 1956.

    A successful literary career in hand, he then studied cinema in Moscow and produced his first short film, "Borom Sarret," in 1963. In 1966, he shot his debut feature, the crisp and devastating Black Girl (1966), the story of a young Senegalese woman (Mbissine Thérèse Diop) who moves from Dakar to France to work for a French couple. Dreaming of glamor on the Riviera, she instead finds a life of drudgery where she is seen only as "the black girl."

    Both early works demonstrate Sembene's ability to balance a perceptive critique of Western colonialism with empathetic portraits of richly drawn characters in crisis. Sembene died in 2007, leaving behind a legacy matched by few directors. Come see where it all started.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration. In addition, this film screening is open to the public, and you may purchase a regular ticket for the movie (seminar not included) online or at the box office.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Blade Runner


    Blade Runner (1982)

    Taught by Benjamin Eldon Stevens, Ph.D., Department of Classical Studies,
    Bryn Mawr College

    First released in 1982, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner helped redefine the science fiction film by offering a vision of the future that remains influential to this day. In contrast to near-contemporary films like George Lucas's Star Wars or Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, both family-friendly epics released in 1977, Blade Runner offered a vision of a dystopic future—a world where advanced technology has failed to solve present-day problems like pollution and economic disparity, yet has succeeded in creating new ones. By focusing on working-class characters in a setting where the line between 'natural' and 'artificial' life is left deliberately unclear, the film leaves viewers wondering what it means for people to become only cogs—or perhaps, ghosts—in a machine.

    Adapted from Philip K. Dick's 1968 novella "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" in part through the astonishing cinematography of Jordan Cronenweth and breathtaking art direction of David L. Snyder, Blade Runner was at the forefront of a new sub-genre of science fiction: tech noir. Such movies are just as lurid and alluring, and just as dangerous and gorgeous, as any femme fatale. Join us to explore the film's vision and influence, which, over the past three decades, has hit a little too close to home.

    One-night seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    Dr. Stevens is co-editor of Classical Traditions in Science Fiction, published in 2014 by Oxford University Press.

    This seminar is sponsored in honor of philosopher, educator, author, and filmmaker Jose Ferrater-Mora.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Blue Velvet


    Blue Velvet (1986)

    Taught by Marc Lapadula, M.F.A., Film Studies Program, Yale University

    David Lynch is known for his unique cinematic style and mode of storytelling in which he exhumes, and then deftly dissects, the dark underbelly of American culture. The director was in rare form when he made what many believe to be his most stunning and provocative achievement, Blue Velvet (1986), a riveting tour-de-force that, more than a quarter-century later, remains fresh and daring for its unflinching take on the nightmarish world that can lurk behind the white picket fences of suburban America.

    This one-night seminar offers an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about one of the films from David Lynch's fascinating body of cinematic work. Students will receive a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Brief Encounter


    Brief Encounter (1945)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn't commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining, engaging, and comfortable way to spend a hot summer evening?

    If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, then our Summer Classics Seminars are for you. This one focuses on Brief Encounter, David Lean's quietly poignant romance that is, in the words of The New York Times, "presented in such a delicate and affecting way—and with such complete naturalness in characterization and fidelity to middle-class detail." Based on Noël Coward's 1936 one-act play, Still Life, and adapted for the screen by him, it stars Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard.

    Just like our regular courses, each class will offer students a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see the film on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid


    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Along with The Wild Bunch, also released in 1969, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid marked the beginning of the end of the western in Hollywood, as the once routinely produced, reliably bankable, and thoroughly crowd-pleasing genre entered the final, "revisionist" phase of its life.

    But what a way to go! Despite the middling reviews it earned, the film was highly regarded within the industry, earning four Oscar nominations, and with audiences, who made it the highest-grossing western'and one of the most successful pictures'of all time. Certainly, some this popularity can be attributed to the inaugural pairing of two of Hollywood's biggest stars, as well as to the panache of William Goldman's exceptional screenplay and the beauty of Conrad Hall's cinematography, but there are other factors at play, too. Join us to explore the significance of the film to its industry, and the ways in which it created connections to a culture in transition.

    These one-night seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Casablanca (Summer 2014)


    Casablanca (1942)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    Some films linger so strongly in our collective memory that we lose sight of their original timeliness'the ways in which they are born out of particular moments of crisis and transition. In the case of Michael Curtiz's Casablanca (1942), we have a film shaped by the upheaval in both American cinema and in the war-torn world beyond the United States. In remembering a film that has been embraced as a star-crossed romance, and as the iconic Hollywood statement about love and loss, we too often forget how deeply political and provocative Casablanca really was—not only for its impact on American involvement in the global struggle against fascism, but also in its engagement with issues ranging from stateless refugees and immigration, to colonialism and the role of "asymmetrical warfare" in the anti-Nazi resistance movements of Europe. In this seminar, we will revisit Casablanca in an effort to feel once again its immediacy, both as an entertainment and as a document in the rhetorical battles that defined World War II nearly as much as bullets and bombs.

    These one-night seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Casablanca (Summer 2015)


    Casablanca (1942)

    Taught by Paul McEwan, Ph.D., Department of Media & Communication, Muhlenberg College

    No one involved in the making of Casablanca, which was filmed on the Warners lot during the summer of 1942, would have guessed that it would turn out to be among the most lasting of Hollywood classics. Made in the era of the studio system, during which movies were churned out in something like assembly-line fashion, the film earned solid box office and garnered generally positive reviews from critics when it was released in January 1943. Indeed, director and film historian Peter Bogdanovich regards what he calls the most 'enduring cosmic lucky accident in picture history' as 'the single favorite vindication of the studio system . . . because there is no other way Casablanca could have been made and worked as well.'

    Today, it stands as a captivating portrait of America's reluctance to get involved in World War II, even if the bombing of Pearl Harbor had resolved our ambivalence by the time the film was made, and as a reminder that sometimes the problems of three little people do, after all, amount to more than a hill of beans in this crazy world.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the exceptional works of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    This seminar is sponsored in honor of philosopher, educator, author, and filmmaker Jose Ferrater-Mora.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Casablanca (Summer 2016)


    Casablanca (1942)

    Taught by Andrew M. Karasik, Film Producer, 30th Street Entertainment

    Many critics have described Casablanca (1942) as a film that comes as close to perfection as any in history. Attempts to recreate that perfection'see Sydney Pollack's Havana (actually, don't)'or to 'improve' upon it (the film was infamously colorized by Ted Turner in the 1980s) have not only been poorly received by critics, but have enraged its fans the world over. As Roger Ebert often noted, there have been better films made than Casablanca, but no film is more loved than Casablanca. Even Pauline Kael'a contrarian film critic if there ever was one'acknowledged that despite its perceived unoriginality, Casablanca has a special quality. '[It] is far from a great film,' she wrote in a review, 'but it has a special appealingly schlocky romanticism.'

    Perhaps part of that 'schlocky appeal' lies in what Casablanca does possibly better than any other movie: It tells a story, albeit one that is not particularly profound or remarkably unique. After all, as the lyrics of 'As Time Goes By' cannily remind us, 'it's the same old story, a fight for love and glory.' While this revisiting of familiar narrative territory was standard practice in Hollywood, what director Michael Curtiz (The Adventures of Robin Hood, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Mildred Pierce) did better than most was stay out of the way of a fast-moving story. As Umberto Eco wrote, Casablanca 'unfolds with almost telluric force, the power of Narrative in its natural state, without Art intervening to discipline it.'

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Casablanca--SOLD OUT!


    Casablanca (1942)

    Taught by Paul McEwan, Ph.D., Department of Media & Communication, Muhlenberg College

    No one involved in the making of Casablanca, which was filmed on the Warners lot during the summer of 1942, would have guessed that it would turn out to be among the most lasting of Hollywood classics. Made in the era of the studio system, during which movies were churned out in something like assembly-line fashion, the film earned solid box office and garnered generally positive reviews from critics when it was released in January 1943. Indeed, director and film historian Peter Bogdanovich regards what he calls the most "enduring cosmic lucky accident in picture history" as "the single favorite vindication of the studio system . . . because there is no other way Casablanca could have been made and worked as well."

    Today, it stands as a captivating portrait of America's reluctance to get involved in World War II, even if the bombing of Pearl Harbor had resolved our ambivalence by the time the film was made, and as a reminder that sometimes the problems of three little people do, after all, amount to more than a hill of beans in this crazy world.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Cat Ballou


    Cat Ballou (1965)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    Why should you spend an evening with Cat Ballou (1965)? For starters, the movie features a winsome Jane Fonda in one of her earlier starring roles as Catherine Ballou, the prim and proper schoolteacher turned Wild West outlaw on the warpath for revenge. There's also the rousing theme song performed on-screen by the unforgettable Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye. But the showstopper is the legendary Lee Marvin as Kid Shelleen, the hard-drinking, crooked-shooting gunman hired by Cat to serve as a bodyguard against a villain played by . . . Lee Marvin!

    Director Eliot Silverstein's comedic western, adapted from a more serious western novel by Roy Chanslor, did not reinvent the genre, offer deep philosophical insight into the human condition, or even take itself particularly seriously. The film did, however, pack audiences into theaters as one of the year's biggest box office hits, and netted the great Lee Marvin his only Oscar win for his dual role. It also changed the trajectory of his and Fonda's careers and inspired a cycle of western comedies in Hollywood. Big laughs, great music, (a modest) impact on the industry, and prime Fonda and Marvin'join us for the whole shebang!

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the exceptional works of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    This seminar is sponsored in honor of philosopher, educator, author, and filmmaker Jose Ferrater-Mora.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Chimes at Midnight


    Chimes at Midnight (1965)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    In so many ways, Orson Welles is remembered and revered as the Shakespeare of American cinema—as the kind of creator who not only defines, but transforms the state of the art. And yet, Welles was also very much cut from the same cloth as one of Shakespeare's greatest characters, Falstaff, the larger-than-life, charismatic, and yet deeply flawed creature of appetites whose presence hovers over the theatrical tradition since the time of the Bard. Similarly, Welles continues to call out to us like the ghost in the machine of Hollywood itself, reminding us of both Hollywood's potential to produce genuine art and the grinding mercilessness of Hollywood's commercial imperative—the very thing that haunted the entire career of Welles from Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) on.

    In this seminar, we will spend an evening with the Welles film that brought Shakespeare, Welles, and Falstaff into delirious collision: Chimes at Midnight (1965). An adaptation of material from Shakespeare's history plays and other sources on the life of King Henry V, Chimes at Midnight depicts how the price of power and leadership is often the rejection of youth and friendship. A study in mentorship and betrayal, Welles's film is both a worthy exploration of classic Shakespearean themes and a resonant commentary on his own career and image.

    One-night seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: City Lights


    City Lights (1931)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    Though City Lights (1931) began shooting in 1928, when theaters were furiously converting to sound, Charlie Chaplin never even considered making his 'Comedy Romance in Pantomime' a talkie. Self-financed at great expense, this film was an all-in bet on the enduring appeal of both silent cinema and the Little Tramp. Chaplin's gamble paid off handsomely, both for him and for generations of viewers as his virtuosic take on the simplest of premises (boy meets girl), and his deft juggling of pathos and slapstick have yet to be matched.

    This one-night seminar offers an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about a true classic of world cinema. Students receive a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Cries and Whispers


    Cries and Whispers (1972)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program, Temple University

    Haunting. Poetic. Indelible. The films of Ingmar Bergman would come to define European art cinema and elevate the Swedish director to a position of prominence where he would eventually be recognized as one of the world's most important filmmakers.

    As writer-director, Bergman produced dozens of films that explored the fundamental subjects of human existence: The quest for love and faith, the meaning of suffering and pain, the mystery of death, the solitary nature of being, the hell and paradise of marriage, and the struggle to find meaning in a seemingly random and capricious universe. For many, Bergman was the first to bring metaphysics—meditations on religion, death, existence—to the screen; but equally important was his ability to explore the psychology of women, and to examine the relationship between the sexes. His films, with few exceptions, are chamber pieces, paying careful attention to metaphoric detail and visual rhythm. Within this approach, his most expressive technique is his use of the facial close-up. For Bergman, the face (especially a woman's) and the hands are keys to revealing the innermost aspects of human emotion.

    As such, Cries and Whispers is considered one of his greatest films, as it examines the interrelationships of four women brought together by death. The story focuses on Agnes, who has been ravaged by illness for twelve years, and attends to the last stages of her agony and death, and the days that follow. At her bedside are her sisters Maria (Liv Ullmann), "the most beautiful one," Karin (Ingrid Thulin), "the strongest one," and the family servant, Anna, "the serving one." As the film moves among the three sisters and their servant, it summons episodes from the past, and as it does, uses time, mortality, and death as revelatory moments for all the characters—all underscored by Bergman's striking, pervasive use of the color red, which informs the overall mise-en-scene, providing further, rich insight into the lives of these characters.

    In both structure and sensibility, then, Cries and Whispers creates a nineteenth-century world of melancholy that has been compared to Chekhov's The Three Sisters, Ibsen's A Doll House, and Bergman's favorite writer, August Strindberg. Join us as we experience this deeply powerful film and, with it, the cinema of a director once described as a "poet with the camera."

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Diabolique


    Diabolique (1955)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    Since director Henri-Georges Clouzot beseeched audiences at the time of Diabolique's 1955 release to not "be devils" by spoiling the ending, we'll respect his wishes and simply mention that this internationally acclaimed suspense thriller was a significant influence on a little film called Psycho (1960) just a few years later.

    Coming off the grueling white-knuckle ride of Wages of Fear (1953), Clouzot upped the ante with this tale of a villainous boarding school principal (Paul Meurisse) who torments both his students and his shrinking violet of a wife (Vera Clouzot, the director's wife). When she joins forces with her husband's former mistress (the always formidable Simone Signoret) to turn the tables on him, this immaculately paced, cold-blooded puzzler leads to... well, we promised we wouldn't be devils. You'll just have to see for yourself.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration. In addition, this film screening is open to the public, and you may purchase a regular ticket for the movie (seminar not included) online or at the box office.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Dial M for Murder


    Dial M for Murder (1954)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Join us to get the "411" on the film that began Alfred Hitchcock's vibrant, though short-lived, collaboration with Grace Kelly. Dial M for Murder was the only time the director worked in 3-D, yet even though only a portion of its 1954 audience saw it that way, Hitchcock still managed, in the words of Leonard Maltin, 'to squeeze every drop' of suspense out of Frederick Knott's popular stage play.

    This one-night seminar offers an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about a true classic of world cinema. Students receive a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Divorce Italian Style


    Divorce Italian Style (1962)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program, Temple University

    Infidelity. Divorce. Murder: All the elements for a comedy? Yes, and a brilliant one at that. Divorce Italian Style (1962), directed by Pietro Germi, is a devastating satire about Sicily's male-dominated culture that also ridicules Italy's hypocritical judicial system, which could forgive violent crimes of passion but not divorce. Marcello Mastroianni is Fefe, a faded nobleman infatuated with his sixteen-year-old cousin, whom he intends to wed. But Fefe is already married, and since the Vatican doesn't condone divorce, he comes up with an ingenious plan—manipulate his wife into an affair with her former admirer, Carmelo, catch them in a compromising situation, and kill them in a burst of passion, which would free Fefe while only earning him a light prison sentence.

    Bosley Crowther of The New York Times offered high praise when he wrote: "Not since Charlie Chaplin's beguiling Verdoux have we seen a deliberate wife killer so elegant and suave, so condescending in his boredom, so thoroughly and pathetically enmeshed in the suffocating toils of a woman." Join us to learn why it's so deserved.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration. In addition, this film screening is open to the public, and you may purchase a regular ticket for the movie (seminar not included) online or at the box office.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Elephant Man


    The Elephant Man (1980)

    Taught by Louise Krasniewicz, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology,
    University of Pennsylvania

    David Lynch's remarkable 1980 film, The Elephant Man, has been discussed as a tale about voyeurism, a type of horror film, and as one of the director's more accessible productions. Still another way to approach it is suggested by the title character himself in the movie's most famous scene, in which he proclaims to a hostile crowd, 'I am not an animal! I am a human being!' The movie asks viewers to contemplate what makes a being human, how we maintain our humanity in the face of challenges to it, and other existential questions. John Merrick's dignified and heartbreaking struggle to prove his own humanity provides a rich starting point for such considerations.

    This one-night seminar offers an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about one of the films from David Lynch's fascinating body of cinematic work. Students will receive a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Elevator to the Gallows


    Elevator to the Gallows (1958)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    After plunging under the ocean with Jacques Cousteau on the Oscar-winning documentary The Silent World (1956), twenty-six-year-old director Louis Malle rode the Elevator to the Gallows (1958) in a solo feature debut that would kick off one of the most remarkable and eclectic careers in French cinema.

    Adapting a pulp novel by Noel Calef, Malle and his team relate a noir-ish crime story involving murder, stolen cars, and illicit love affairs. Military veteran-turned-businessman Julien (Maurice Ronet) will do anything to be with his lover Florence (Jeanne Moreau), who just happens to be the wife of his shady industrialist boss. A simple crime soon splinters into multiple narrative strands, contrasting the tense, claustrophobic action of Julien's attempts to escape a stuck elevator with Florence's trek through the rainy streets of nighttime Paris. Brilliantly shot in grainy black-and-white footage by veteran cinematographer Henri Decae, their stories are set to the now-legendary score by jazz titan Miles Davis.

    Ronet is riveting and Davis's score still thrills, but the singular Jeanne Moreau winds up being the main attraction. Some critics credit this as the film that made Moreau a star; let's think of it instead as the film where everyone finally realized she had been a star all along.


    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Exorcist


    The Exorcist (1973)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    Join us for a stand-alone class built around this landmark horror film. William Friedkin's adaptation of William Peter Blatty's popular novel transgressed and shocked in equal measure when it burst onto the scene in 1973. In this seminar, we will explore the movie's enduring capacity to unnerve, its production history, and its unique blending of post-1960s angst and insurgent 1970s filmmaking.

    This one-night seminar offers an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about a true classic of world cinema. Students receive a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet


    Romeo and Juliet (1968)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program, Temple University

    Roger Ebert proclaimed that Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet (1968) is the most exciting film of Shakespeare ever made: "Not because it is greater drama than Laurence Olivier's Henry V, because it is not. Nor is it greater cinema than [Orson] Welles' Falstaff. But it is greater Shakespeare than either because it has the passion, the sweat, the violence, the poetry, the love and the tragedy in the most immediate terms I can imagine." Ebert and countless others—both young (especially so) and the young at heart—have felt this way for generations, because Zeffirelli's adaptation broke new ground, for the movie was less concerned with translating a stage adaptation to a film set, but rather drawing upon cinematic realism for its impact.

    For example, the casting broke with the tradition of having the roles played by adults, rather than, faithfully to the text, by teenagers, which leads Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey both were. Another instance of this cinematic realism involved the climactic duel between Tybalt and Mercutio, which forms the centerpiece of the play and film. It is not done in a flamboyant, swashbuckling style, but instead with a great deal of loose fencing amidst a crowd of hooting young men, allowing Zeffirelli, over the course of several minutes, to delicately transform the scene from one filled with light banter to one that subtly progresses toward its inevitably disastrous conclusion.

    The location shooting in Italy (in such places as Artena, Tuscania, Pienza, Gubbio, and Montagnana), the brief, beautiful nude scene, and the lavish costumes provide yet other rich dimensions, all rendered in colors both specific and vivid: Everything is red and brown and yellow, dusty and sunlit, except for the fresh green of the garden during the balcony scene and the darkness of the tomb. All of these elements are photographed with great beauty and intensity (including the use of a hand-held camera for the dueling scenes), giving the film its poignancy and power.

    The evocative musical score by composer Nino Rota (The Godfather) features the "Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet," of which various versions have been recorded and released, including a hugely successful one by Henry Mancini, whose instrumental rendition was a chart-topping success in the United States during June 1969. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards—Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Costume Design—winning in the latter two categories. For all these reasons and more, Zeffirelli's film remains important, for it establishes a bridge between earlier Shakespearean films, such as Olivier's Richard III, and the more realistic interpretations of the Bard, such as Kenneth Branagh's Henry V. As Ebert noted, and audiences have echoed, "[Romeo and Juliet] is a deeply moving piece of entertainment, and that is possibly what Shakespeare would have preferred."

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The French Connection


    The French Connection (1971)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini University

    Forty-five years after its release to critical and popular acclaim, William Friedkin's Oscar-winning masterpiece, The French Connection (1971), remains as bracing and influential as ever. While the film is usually remembered for its dangerously executed, spectacularly kinetic car chase under the elevated tracks of Brooklyn, it is also a case study in artfully sustained tension and the slow burn of the crime film genre at its best.

    With its cat-and-mouse confrontation between Gene Hackman's obsessive narcotics detective and Fernando Rey's suave European drug kingpin, The French Connection boasts iconic performances. As a key artifact of American cinema's most recent "golden age," the movie also oozes 1970s-era angst about institutions and urban decay—preoccupations that resonate with the disquiet of our own troubled times, and throw into sharp relief both a film industry in transition and a culture in crisis.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: From Here to Eternity


    From Here to Eternity (1953)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn’t commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining, engaging, and comfortable way to spend a hot summer evening?

    If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then our Cinema Classics Seminars are for you. Just like our regular courses, each class will offer students a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see the film on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    About the Film:
    One of the most popular and critically lauded films about the military, From Here to Eternity compassionately depicts the complicated lives of soldiers stationed on Hawaii in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Based on James Jones's acclaimed 1951 debut novel, the film was characterized in The New York Times as nearly "as towering and persuasive as its source . . . a portrait etched in truth." Known today as grist for (untrue) rumors about Frank Sinatra, this picture should be appreciated for its moving performances (especially Sinatra's), the skilled direction, by Fred Zinnemann (High Noon), that guided them, and Daniel Taradash's insightful script.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Gaslight


    Gaslight (1944)

    Taught by Lisa DeNight, Discussion Moderator, BMFI

    Join us for a one-night seminar on Gaslight (1944), George Cukor's utterly unnerving portrayal of a young wife wrestling with childhood trauma and assiduously led to the precipice of insanity by her scheming husband. Ingrid Bergman won her first Academy Award for her magnificent turn in this second of two big-screen adaptions of the 1938 play of the same name by Patrick Hamilton (Rope).

    Gaslight'so indelible that it entered the cultural lexicon as a verb'does, in some respects, gel with the 1940s film noir movement, where the human capacity for malevolence and manipulation runs deep, and deception seeps into intimate sources of ostensible safety, such as the home, the people and things that fill it, and the bond between spouses. Bergman's exquisite descent into addled paranoia by her husband's hand is perfectly heightened by the film's incrementally stifling set design, and highly controlled, yet emotionally expressive, cinematography. Come for the rich opportunities to mine the formal elements and psychological layers of this film, and stay for young Angela Lansbury's film debut as a deliciously cheeky Cockney maid.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Gimme Shelter


    Gimme Shelter (1970)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    After the Rolling Stones saw what they missed by not being invited to Woodstock, the band was eager to take center stage at a free concert that was coming together on the West Coast. It seemed like the natural place to end their 1969 US tour, which was being documented by filmmakers Albert and David Maysles (Grey Gardens, 1976), and Charlotte Zwerin, who collaborated with the brothers on Salesman (1969) and Running Fence (1978). Little did anyone know that this endeavor would end in tragedy, and leave an indelible mark on film history.

    Join us to learn how Gimme Shelter (1970) took shape, and about its specific form of documentary filmmaking, direct cinema, of which the Maysles are among the most prominent and skilled practitioners. This movement, which relies on hand-held camera work and thoughtful editing to achieve its purely observational tone and aesthetic of spontaneity, would be put to its ultimate test during one fateful autumn night at the Altamont Speedway.

    These one-night seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Goodfellas


    Goodfellas (1990)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster." Ray Liotta endows Henry Hill's voiceover with a mundanity that punctuates the grisly pre-credits sequence of Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Equally indelible is Joe Pesci's Tommy DeVito: "I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?" The histrionic bluster playfully masks and confirms an even more irrational and impulsive menace. Completing the trio is Robert De Niro's coldly calculating Jimmy Conway: "Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut."

    Goodfellas grows in stature every year, rife as it is with dynamic cinematography, spirited editing, and an infectious gallows-humor. In making a film as artful as it is anarchic, Scorsese embraced a studied detachment that screams contempt for the implicit social commentary of the time-honored gangster genre that he had inherited. Join us for a screening and in-depth discussion of this modern masterpiece.




  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Graduate


    The Graduate (1967)

    Taught by Andrew M. Karasik, Film Producer, 30th Street Entertainment

    Mike Nichols's 1967 masterpiece is a film of brutal honesty. As the story unfolds, the director—working from a sharp screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry—holds nothing back in depicting the struggles of maturation faced by young Benjamin, the troubles at home confronting Mrs. Robinson, and the . . . complicated relationship between them. But the film is about so much more than a proto-cougar and her youthful conquest. It is about an era that was arguably our nation's most tumultuous and the generation that was facing it head on. Indeed, at times, The Graduate is a painful film to watch, and it so by design.

    Through Nichols's masterful direction, the indelible songs by Simon & Garfunkel, and the revelatory freshness of 60-year-old Robert Surtees's cinematography, what unfolds before us is not so much the story of one young man frantically worrying about his future, as it is an allegory for an entire generation desperately struggling to avoid the past.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the exceptional works of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    This seminar is sponsored in honor of philosopher, educator, author, and filmmaker Jose Ferrater-Mora.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Harold and Maude


    Harold and Maude (1971)

    Taught by Andrew M. Karasik, Film Producer, 30th Street Entertainment

    Originally released to lackluster reviews, Harold and Maude has become something of a cult classic and is arguably more relevant now than it was 44 years ago. After all, Harold is as much an embodiment of today's "boomerang generation" as any cinematic character before or since, living at home under the security blanket of his overbearing mother while indulging in his odd obsession with death until he bonds with an iconoclastic woman more than 50 years his senior. It is the juxtaposition of these otherwise incongruous characters that makes Harold and Maude so impactful. Harold's morose search for meaning stands in stark contrast to Maude's effervescent optimism'an outlook she maintains despite having experienced things far worse than Harold can even imagine. In a time when the Vietnam War was dividing the generations, this film endeavors to bridge this gap through its story of an unlikely, yet powerful, connection.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the exceptional works of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    This seminar is sponsored in honor of philosopher, educator, author, and filmmaker Jose Ferrater-Mora.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Hidden Fortress


    The Hidden Fortress (1958)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    This seminar features a stand-alone class built around this masterful work by Akira Kurosawa.


  • Cinema Classics Seminar: I Confess


    I Confess (1953)

    Taught by Lisa DeNight, Discussion Moderator, BMFI

    In Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess (1953), Montgomery Clift plays Father Logan, a priest who becomes suspect number one in a murder case because he is sealed by the sanctity of the confessional from divulging the true identity of the killer. Unable to reveal evidence that would absolve him from suspicion, Clift uses the palette of his deeply expressive face to convey the inner turmoil within.

    Shot on location in Quebec City, the film is imbued with noir-like elements and is one of the ultimate cinematic crystallizations of some of Hitchcock's pet themes and archetypes, particularly the transference of guilt and the "wrong man." The film also reverberates with what was happening outside of American cinemas in the early '50s, the height of the Hollywood Blacklist era, when many in the film industry were wrestling with moral quandaries regarding confession. Join us for this seminar on I Confess to explore one of the more personal films in Hitchcock's oeuvre.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Imitation of Life


    Imitation of Life (1959)

    Taught by Alice Bullitt, M.A., Programming, BMFI

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn't commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining, engaging, and comfortable way to spend a hot summer evening?

    If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, then our Summer Classics Seminars are for you. Just like our regular courses, each class will offer students a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see the film on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    About the Film:
    Questions of race and class are woven throughout Douglas Sirk's expertly crafted melodrama, which follows an aspiring actress and her housekeeper as they achieve upward mobility, but suffer from personal struggles with their daughters.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Innocents


    The Innocents (1961)

    Taught by Lisa DeNight, Discussion Moderator, BMFI

    "All I want to do is save the children... not destroy them. More than anything, I love children."

    Join us for a one-night seminar on Jack Clayton's luminous and relentlessly spooky psychological horror classic, The Innocents (1961). Based on Henry James' 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw, it tells the tale of a sheltered spinster (played masterfully by Deborah Kerr) who is hired to be a governess for two orphaned children by their emotionally and geographically distant bachelor uncle. Kerr's Miss Giddens is initially charmed by the uncle's august estate and by her two charges, but as time passes, she becomes convinced that snaking through this Eden is a sinister presence, threatening to corrupt the innocence of the children.

    The film trades Henry James's opulent prose for a ravishing black and white visual palette, courtesy of cinematographer Freddie Francis (The Elephant Man, Sons and Lovers), through whose lens it seems as if there's always a palpable malevolence lurking in the farthest corner of the eye. Truman Capote, who largely wrote the film's script along with playwright William Archibald, is credited for weaving an encroaching Freudian subtext and rich strains of Southern Gothic into this Victorian-set drama. Stir in a heady thematic cocktail of isolation, decadence, and contaminated purity, and you have an unforgettable movie-going experience—one with an ending you'll be dying to discuss.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Jaws


    Jaws (1975)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn't commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining, engaging, and comfortable way to spend a hot summer evening?

    If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, then our Summer Classics Seminars are for you. Just like our regular courses, each class will offer students a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see the film on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    About the Film:
    When a man-eating great white shark terrorizes a beach town, its police chief, an oceanographer, and a grizzled fisherman join forces to hunt the beast in Steven Spielberg's sophomore feature. Considered the first blockbuster, Jaws features an iconic, Oscar-winning score by John Williams.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Lady Eve


    The Lady Eve (1941)

    Taught by Ian Abrams, College of Media Art and Design, Drexel University

    This seminar features a stand-alone class built around this masterful work by writer/director Preston Sturges.


  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Man Who Fell to Earth


    The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    The most straightforward aspect of The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) is that David Bowie plays an alien. That's practically typecasting. In virtually every other fashion, director Nicolas Roeg (Don't Look Now) presents an immensely strange, often perplexing, and endlessly fascinating adaptation of the science-fiction novel by Walter Tevis (author of The Hustler and its sequel, The Color Of Money) that defies easy description.

    Thomas Jerome Newton (Bowie) is a rail thin, orange-haired man on a mission, though the exact nature of that mission doesn't become apparent for some time, if at all. Enlisting the assistance (and sometimes hindrance) of a patent attorney (Buck Henry), a womanizing former professor (Rip Torn), and a hotel maid (Candy Clarke), Newton builds a multinational technological corporation with designs on . . . well, no spoilers here. Shot mostly in New Mexico and edited in Roeg's signature elliptical style, the film suggests that the strangest aliens of all are right here on Earth, and that of all the fates that might befall Newton, the most tragic would be to become all too human. After all, when Thomas Jerome Newton fell to Earth, he fell a long, long way.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Marnie


    Marnie (1964)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Author and Film Critic

    Marnie (1964) has long proven to be one of Alfred Hitchcock's more divisive films, and it is certainly one of the most disturbing. It is viewed by detractors as the beginning of a late-career decline, and by boosters as one of his most intensely personal and unfairly maligned masterworks.

    Marnie (Tippi Hedren) is a slick con artist who enjoys ripping off her employers (a series of men who fail to take her seriously) and scampering off to find her next mark. Unfortunately, her next mark turns out be Mark (Sean Connery), a Philadelphia publisher who isn't quite the fool Marnie takes him to be. As Mark and Marnie forge a tentative, unstable life together, each pursuing separate and mysterious agendas, the film delves into some of the darkest psychological territory in the entire Hitchcock canon.

    Is Marnie a noble failure, a flawed masterpiece, or perhaps even the creepiest Hitchcock film you haven't yet seen? Find the answer to this complex question by joining us for this thought-provoking seminar.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Metropolis


    Metropolis (1927)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn’t commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining and engaging way to spend an evening? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then this Cinema Classics Seminar is for you. It features a stand-alone class built around a newly restored version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, the groundbreaking science-fiction classic.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Modern Times


    Modern Times (1936)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn’t commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining, engaging, and comfortable way to spend a hot summer evening?

    If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then our Summer Classics Seminars are for you. Just like our regular courses, each class will offer students a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see the film on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    About the Film:
    One of Chaplin’s masterpieces, Modern Times is a direct assault on the modern age. Chaplin plays a factory worker who goes crazy from his repetitious job and its demand for ever greater speed. This was the last of the filmmaker’s silent films, made well after the advent of sound, and it features Chaplin’s own musical score and sound effects.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Mulholland Drive


    Mulholland Drive (2001)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    Segments of David Lynch's Mulholland Drive were shot as early as 1999'back when the project was still envisioned as a television pilot for a series that would have been a kind of spiritual follow-up to Lynch's iconic Twin Peaks (1990-91). When the pilot and series were rejected, Lynch proceeded to complete the project as a fully realized film, thereby bringing to life one of the most evocative, erotic, and Freudian dreamscapes in contemporary American cinema.

    Ever since, Mulholland Drive has had its share of detractors and champions, but as the 2000s came to a close, numerous film critics and journals from Cahiers du Cinema to Time Out New York embraced it as the film of the decade. J. Hoberman of The Village Voice famously and glowingly called the film 'a poisonous love letter to Hollywood' in the tradition of Sunset Boulevard (1950). By riffing on archetypes from the ingenue to the femme fatale and the embattled director, the film transcends these archetypes to build a new postmodern aesthetic for the Hollywood dream factory and its often nightmarish demimonde.

    This one-night seminar offers an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about one of the films from David Lynch's fascinating body of cinematic work. Students will receive a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Murder on the Orient Express


    Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

    Taught by Gary M. Kramer, Film Critic and Author

    Join us'and an all-star cast'for a stand-alone class built around Sidney Lumet's 1974 adaptation of Agatha Christie's sparkling whodunit, Murder on the Orient Express. This first filmed version of the classic Hercule Poirot mystery has since been joined by a 1992 radio play, a 2001 made-for-TV movie, an episode of the television series Poirot, and another feature film to be released next year. What is it that makes this cold-blooded tale of murder aboard the title train so appealing?

    It is more than just the complex plot of revenge and subterfuge. Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express is a faithful adaptation'deemed one of the best based on Christie's work'as well as a handsomely staged period piece, beautifully paced and superbly acted. Albert Finney earned an Oscar nomination for his turn as Poirot, and Ingrid Bergman received the Best Supporting Actress prize for her work as Miss Greta Ohlsson, a Swedish missionary.

    For those new to Murder on the Orient Express, this intriguing film will keep armchair detectives guessing right up to the end. For fans already familiar with the story, we will investigate the construction and adaptation of the Christie novel, as well as the various elements that make this diabolical thriller so evergreen.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Night of the Hunter


    The Night of the Hunter (1955)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn't commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining and engaging way to spend an evening?

    If you answered 'yes' to any of the questions above, then this Cinema Classics Seminar is for you. It features a stand-alone class built around the only film directed by acclaimed actor Charles Laughton (Witness for the Prosecution), The Night of the Hunter (1955), starring Robert Mitchum (Cape Fear) as an iniquitous reverend, Shelley Winters (Lolita) as the naive woman he marries, and Lillian Gish (Intolerance) as the elderly, Bible-fearing lady who sees through the preacher's charm. Shot in a boldly expressionistic style by cinematographer Stanley Cortez (The Magnificent Ambersons) and written by critic James Agee (The African Queen), Roger Ebert considered this innovative and influential work to be "one of the greatest of all American films . . . compelling, frightening, and beautiful."

    Just like our regular courses, students will receive a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to the in-theater screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: On the Waterfront


    On the Waterfront (1954)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Join us for a stand-alone class built around Elia Kazan's powerful 1954 drama, On the Waterfront. Inspired by journalist Malcolm Johnson's Pulitzer Prize-winning series on the corruption that permeated New York's port, Budd Schulberg (The Harder They Fall, A Face in the Crowd) crafted a memorable screenplay that Kazan (Gentleman's Agreement, A Streetcar Named Desire) brought to life through such 'Method' acting stalwarts as Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden, and Eva Marie Saint, in her film debut, and with the artful technique of cinematographer Boris Kaufman (12 Angry Men, The Pawnbroker) and Leonard Bernstein, composing his only score for a non-musical film.

    But even beyond these unimpeachable cinematic bona fides, On the Waterfront is an essential cultural text of the post-World War II era as an allegory for its director's involvement with HUAC (House Committee on Un-American Activities), and as something of a response to one-time friend and collaborator Arthur Miller's own take on the period, The Crucible (1953).

    These one-night seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the screening. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    On July 14, 2010, BMFI offered the Summer Classics Seminar: On the Waterfront, and our first one-night class filled to capacity. Since then, BMFI has presented more than 40 such seminars, and for BMFI's 10th anniversary, we are bringing back this initial foray to celebrate all the classic films--and all the great film fans (that's you)--that have made this format so popular.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Paths of Glory


    Paths of Glory (1957)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    Join us for a stand-alone class built around Stanley Kubrick's timeless 1957 film, Paths of Glory, an adaptation of the 1935 novel of the same name, which itself was based loosely on actual events that befell a group of French soldiers during World War I. With its roving, deep-focus cinematography, uncompromising anti-war message, and a powerful, barely restrained performance by Kirk Douglas, Kubrick's stark, unsentimental work condemns, with brutal efficiency, the injustice one sees unfolding on screen. As Roger Ebert wrote, "Paths of Glory was the film by which Stanley Kubrick entered the ranks of great directors, never to leave them."

    These one-night seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Philadelphia Story


    The Philadelphia Story (1940)

    Taught by Alice Bullitt, M.A., BMFI Board Member

    Adapted from Philip Barry's 1939 Broadway play of the same name, The Philadelphia Story is an effervescent romantic comedy based on the life of Main Line socialite Helen Hope Montgomery Scott.  Katharine Hepburn delivers a career-defining performance playing Tracy Lord, a recently divorced woman whose plans to remarry are hilariously stymied by complications with her ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) and tabloid journalist Macaulay "Mike" Connor (James Stewart). 

    The film earned six Academy Award nominations and two Oscars (Best Actor for James Stewart and Best Screenplay for Donald Ogden Stewart), and revitalized Hepburn's flagging career. It's a prime example of "the remarriage comedy," a subgenre of the screwball comedy, wherein the protagonists divorced, flirted with new potential partners, realized the error of their ways, and then reunited. Join us for fun and engaging foray into this winning film that holds a special place in the annals of Hollywood, as well as in the history of our region.



    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.  In addition, this film screening is open to the public, and you may purchase a regular ticket for the movie (seminar not included) here or at the box office.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Princess Bride


    The Princess Bride (1987)

    Taught by Andrew M. Karasik, Film Producer, 30th Street Entertainment

    After achieving cult success with This Is Spinal Tap (1984) and touching mainstream audiences with his coming-of-age tale, Stand by Me (1986), Rob Reiner would try his hand at directing an adaptation William Goldman's beloved fantasy-romance fable, The Princess Bride (1987). In so doing, he combines the film the comedic genius he demonstrated in his debut film with the sheer humanity on display in his adaptation of Stephen King's story to create one of the most indelible screen romances of any era.

    With its beautiful scenery and rousing score, The Princess Bride takes viewers on an unforgettable journey, one that is cleverly bookended by a grandfather (Peter Falk) reading the story on which the film is based to his precocious grandson (Fred Savage). The result is a movie that wins over audiences, just as it does the cynical child.

    These one-night seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Pulp Fiction


    Pulp Fiction (1994)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini University

    MIA: Marsellus throwing Tony out of a four-story window for giving me a foot massage seemed reasonable?

    VINCENT:
    No, it seemed excessive. But that doesn't mean it didn't happen.

    — Pulp Fiction (1994)

    As this excerpt from Quentin Tarantino's Palme d'Or winner reminds us, the themes of violent excess and subjective reality have never been far from the writer/director's restless and inventive mind—one seemingly hard-wired for cross-pollinating cinematic genres, themes, and techniques. Tarantino also embodies and champions—as the now legendary account of his cinematic education as a video store clerk attests—the aesthetic of the first truly post-film-school wave of directors in the American tradition. In an interview with the BBC, he famously offered: "When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, 'No, I went to films.' "

    In this seminar dedicated to a close reading of Tarantino's most influential film, we will pay special attention to the complex matrix of cultural influences that found their way into the cinematic DNA of Tarantino's signature effort. These influences include, among many others, the French New Wave, exploitation films, film noir, television, pop music, the Bible, and the important literary traditions of pulp novels that gave rise to the underworld charmers whom Tarantino revived and reinvented so memorably in this contemporary classic.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Rear Window


    Rear Window (1954)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Inaugurating the ten-year period during which Alfred Hitchcock would make his most enduring American films, Rear Window has everything one would expect from a movie by the Master of Suspense: a leading man (James Stewart) in a bind, an impossibly beautiful blonde (Grace Kelly) in danger, and plenty of . . . well, suspense. But there is more to Rear Window than a rollicking good time, though it certainly is that. Join us to learn about the making of the film, specific aspects of the auteur's technique, and some of the more substantial themes that run through this Hitchcock masterpiece.

    One-night seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Rebecca


    Rebecca (1940)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Author and Film Critic

    After suspenseful hits like The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938), director Alfred Hitchcock was already known as "Alfred the Great" in his native England, but he had yet to solve at least one great mystery: Could the Master of Suspense master Hollywood as well?

    Hitchcock certainly had plenty of support for his American debut, including the financial backing of super-producer David O. Selznick and the good fortune of working from Daphne du Maurier's brilliant gothic mystery novel. The relatively faithful 1940 film adaptation features Joan Fontaine as the young bride of Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier), a stylish but morose widower whose first wife (the title character) has recently died in a tragic accident . . . or did she?

    Fontaine finds being "the second Mrs. de Winter" increasingly difficult as she tries to create a home at Manderley, her husband's sprawling estate. Met with considerable resistance from housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), who makes it abundantly clear that she preferred the first Mrs. de Winter, our heroine begins to suspect that precisely nothing in her new life is as it seems.

    Rebecca earned eleven Oscar nominations, including Hitchcock's first for directing, and a win for Best Picture: not too bad for a Hollywood debut. Join us to learn why the film was so well received in its time, and to discuss its lasting impact.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Reservoir Dogs


    Reservoir Dogs (1992)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini University

    MR. BLONDE: You kids don't play so rough. Somebody's gonna start crying.

    —Reservoir Dogs
    (1992)

    Cultural critic Todd Gitlin once observed of Quentin Tarantino: "His open secret is attitude. His funkiness is stylishly anti-stylish. Offhand cruelty is his route to the absurd." In this special seminar celebrating the 25th anniversary of Tarantino's controversial and explosive directorial debut, we revisit the film that introduced a distinctive new voice in American cinema. Tarantino's was an approach born of influences ranging from European arthouse films to Asian action vehicles to American grindhouse cinema. 


    This grisly masterpiece of murderous thieves with and without honor established the director's signature and oft-imitated style. Reservoir Dogs remains an intoxicating achievement of violent spectacle and narrative improvisation—with a script and a stellar cast in love with the rhythms and cadences of artful vulgarity—that, to the delight and consternation of many, created the template for an entire era of filmmaking that followed in its wake.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Rome, Open City


    Rome, Open City (1945)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,
    Temple University

    "All roads lead to Rome, Open City," Jean-Luc Godard once said, playing on the old Italian proverb, and meaning that when thinking about modern cinema, one always has to come to terms with Roberto Rossellini's seminal film. Indeed, Rome, Open City is not just a milestone in the history of Italian Cinema, it is also one of the most influential and symbolic films of its age, a work about 'reality' that has left a trace on countless cinematic movements since its release in 1945.

    The film, which unfolds over several days during the Nazi occupation, was shot with electrifying urgency months after the city's liberation using non-professionals, as well as trained actors, with scavenged film stock, partly on location in tenements and ruined streets. The action is set over the winter of 1943-1944; Rome is an "open" city because this was the wartime status conferred on it. In return for the cessation of bombing, the authorities would abandon its military defense. This was a concession to the Allies, but Rossellini's irony is that Rome is "open" to Italy's occupier—Germany.

    The former stronghold of an empire is unprotected, vulnerable to the forces of history'and to a new kind of filmmaker. The visceral cinematography blends the grit of a documentary with the heart and soul of a drama (Federico Fellini collaborated on the screenplay) as the people of Rome wrestle with the constraints, compromises, and collusions of life during wartime. The first film in Rossellini's powerful war trilogy—he followed with Paisa (1946) and Germany, Year Zero (1948)—Rome, Open City became a cinematic landmark for bringing Italian neorealism to worldwide attention, a development described by Martin Scorsese as "the most precious moment of film history."

    These one-night seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the screening. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., one of our most popular instructors, first taught at BMFI in the fall of 2006. His inaugural class was an introduction to Italian film, so it's only fitting that Maurizio helps celebrate BMFI's 10th anniversary by offering a seminar on—and introducing a screening of—one of that nation's true cinematic gems, Rome, Open City.


  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Some Like It Hot


    Some Like It Hot (1959)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining and engaging way to spend an evening?

    If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then this Cinema Classics Seminar is for you. It features a stand-alone class built around the iconic 1959 comedy, Some Like It Hot, directed by Billy Wilder and starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon.

    Students will receive a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Taxi Driver


    Taxi Driver (1976)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn’t commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining and engaging way to spend an evening?

    If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then this Cinema Classics Seminar is for you. It features a stand-alone class built around Martin Scorsese’s definitive tale of urban desolation, Taxi Driver, winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival.

    Just like our regular courses, students will receive a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Third Man


    The Third Man (1949)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    This seminar features a stand-alone class built around this masterful work directed by Carol Reed and starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten.


  • Cinema Classics Seminar: This Is Spinal Tap


    This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

    Taught by Andrew M. Karasik, Film Producer, 30th Street Entertainment

    Perhaps no film better epitomizes the mockumentary genre than Rob Reiner's directorial debut, This Is Spinal Tap (1984). Bringing together some of the most influential comic talents of its time, Spinal Tap brilliantly satirizes the outlandish personas and wild penchants of the heavy metal bands that ruled the rock 'n' roll roost in the 1980s.

    But just as important, the film lampoons the techniques and motifs of the era's rockumentaries, such as Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz (1978) and Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense (1984), and in so doing, raises an interesting question: Is the mockumentary its own creative form or just a derisive jab at the efforts of serious documentarians? Well, in addition to referring to it as "one of the funniest movies ever made," Roger Ebert praised Spinal Tap's humanity. He considered it the film's strongest asset, perhaps thereby suggesting an answer.

    These one-night seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: To Kill a Mockingbird


    To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    While nobody could top writer Harper Lee's groundbreaking accomplishment, To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) is the rare case of a landmark film adapted from a landmark novel. The credit belongs to many collaborators (including director Robert Mulligan and screenwriter Horton Foote), but the film's success begins with star Gregory Peck, whose heroic small-town Alabama lawyer, Atticus Finch, was named by the American Film Institute as the greatest movie hero of all-time. Atticus is appointed to defend Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), a black man falsely accused of raping a white girl, and gamely takes on a case virtually doomed to failure by the racism embedded deeply in the legal system and the townsfolk.

    The central focus, however, is on Atticus's children, Scout and Jem, in a story that combines the tropes of the courtroom drama and the coming-of-age story into an angry, sweeping indictment of prejudice that still moves audiences half a century later. Add in the opportunity to see Robert Duvall in his first big screen role, and you have all the reasons you need to join us to learn more about one of the most influential and critically acclaimed American films ever made.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the exceptional works of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    This seminar is sponsored in honor of philosopher, educator, author, and filmmaker Jose Ferrater-Mora.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Tokyo Story


    Tokyo Story (1953)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    Have you wanted to take a film class at BMFI but couldn’t commit to multiple sessions? Are you interested in learning more about a particular classic film? Do you want an entertaining and engaging way to spend an evening?

    If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, then this Cinema Classics Seminar is for you. It features a stand-alone class built around Yasujiro Ozu’s 1953 landmark of Japanese cinema, Tokyo Story, a subtly moving tale of kinship and grief that continuously occupies the top spots on critics’ and filmmakers’ lists of the world’s best films. A prime example of the shomingeki (home drama) genre for which Ozu is renowned, this film’s long takes and restrained cinematography present a contrasting—and some would say more authentic—take on Japanese cinema than Akira Kurosawa’s widely exported work (e.g., Rashomon) from the same era.

    Students will receive a reading about the film, an introductory lecture before the film, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Tombstone and the Western in the 1990s


    Tombstone (1993)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Sometimes a film on the BMFI schedule affords the perfect opportunity to discuss a specific topic in cinema. The picture itself may be emblematic of a certain genre or movement, or may serve as an example of a particular trend in the film industry, and as a result, it generates a stand-alone class.

    This seminar considers the fragile state of that durable and uniquely American genre—the western—at the end of the twentieth century. Our discussion will focus on the vibrant and rousing Tombstone (1993), one of the more conventional westerns made during a time when most of Hollywood had a rather tenuous grasp of the genre, and a film that Variety described as “entertaining in a sprawling, old-fashioned manner.”

    Just like our regular courses, students will receive a reading, an introductory lecture before the screening, and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, your ticket to see Tombstone on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Wait Until Dark


    Wait Until Dark (1967)

    Taught by Gary M. Kramer, Author and Film Critic

    There have been many stage and screen versions of Frederick Knott's tense and terrific play Wait Until Dark, but arguably the best is Terence Young's 1967 adaptation. Susy (Audrey Hepburn) is a blind woman who is threatened by three brutish criminals (Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, and Jack Weston) who enter her apartment in search of a doll filled with heroin. The film crackles with tension as Susy is alternately conned and stalked by the hoods before the film's breathtaking "blackout" climax. Learn why Wait Until Dark remains a classic thriller with this informative seminar that will discuss the adaptation of the play for the screen, how director Young (Dr. No), sound man Everett Hughes, and legendary cinematographer Charles Lang (The Big Heat, Some Like It Hot) use sound and light to create drama, as well as Hepburn's gift for playing steely vulnerability, which earned her an Oscar nomination for the very challenging role.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Wicker Man


    The Wicker Man (1973)

    Taught by William Tortorelli, Ph.D., Department of Classics, Haverford College

    Join us for a stand-alone class built around Robin Hardy's 1973 British film, The Wicker Man, a movie that defies easy allocation to any single genre. It has elements of horror, comedy, crime drama, psychological thriller, and morality play, and it might best be described as a Classical tragedy. It borrows heavily from Euripides' Bacchae, the story of the coming of Dionysus to the Greek world, and explores the same themes we find at the core of every Greek tragedy: a world in which questions of cause and effect, and right and wrong, never have simple answers.

    By transporting the story to a remote Scottish isle in the 20th century, writer Anthony Shaffer crafts these ancient mythographic elements into a baffling scenario with a missing young girl, ancient gods, and the tensions that run beneath the surface of what we call "civilized society." Through the film, we will explore the deepest roots of myth and religion as ritual plays itself out in a meeting of dueling polarities that hints at a fundamental schism in human nature itself.

    These one-night seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the screening. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: Working Girl


    Working Girl (1988)

    Taught by Alice Bullitt, M.A., BMFI Board Member

    This 1988 Cinderella story set on Wall Street tells the tale of Tess McGill (Oscar-nominated Melanie Griffith), a smart and ambitious Staten Island native working as a secretary in Manhattan, who climbs the corporate ladder through a combination of deception, charm, and ingenuity. Sigourney Weaver and Harrison Ford depict denizens of the executive suite as Tess's polished but underhanded boss, and her business partner and potential paramour, respectively, while Joan Cusack steals scenes playing her supportive friend and working-class conscience. We will discuss Working Girl as a film that—in true Mike Nichols fashion—expertly balances humor and deft social commentary, and as one of several Reagan-era comedies to explore the world of high finance with wit, ambivalence, and more than a touch of cynicism (e.g. Baby Boom, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and The Secret of My Success).

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the exceptional works of world cinema. Students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after. In addition, your ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included.

    This seminar is sponsored in honor of philosopher, educator, author, and filmmaker Jose Ferrater-Mora.

  • Cinema Classics Seminar: The Wrong Man


    The Wrong Man (1956)

    Taught by Gary M. Kramer, Author and Film Critic

    Influenced by Hitchcock's own experience of having being sent to jail (briefly, by his father) as a child, this suspenseful drama—based on actual events—follows one of Hitchcock's favorite themes: an innocent man wrongly convicted of a crime he didn't commit. A perfectly cast Henry Fonda plays Manny Balestrero, a jazz musician who is identified as a suspect in a series of neighborhood hold-ups and, despite vehement protests and claims of innocence, is seen as guilty by the authorities and sent to jail. Though Manny harbors a secret, he is hopeful that the truth will set him free. Meanwhile, his wife (Vera Miles, in a remarkable performance) starts to lose her mind in despair.

    Hitchcock said he created "absolute authenticity" by shooting on locations where the real events took place, including an empty jail cell, and by casting real doctors to play psychiatrists. The result is a thriller with a compelling, documentary-like aesthetic, heightened by the auteur's patented sensibility. One of Hitchcock's most restrained and cerebral films, The Wrong Man is an underrated gem worthy of exploration. Join us to learn why.

    Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.