Dartmouth Film Society plays it again

by Colin Grey | 6/23/95 5:00am

It seems the secret cabal at the Dartmouth Film Society has decided that the sophomore class does not want to quit the outdoors for the sake of four-hour silent Swedish films.

So, instead, they have scheduled only proven hits for their summer "Blockbusters" film series.

From The Beatles in 1964's "A Hard Days Night" to Tom Hanks in last year's "Forrest Gump," the current series will pay tribute to giants past and also stars from the present.

True, they have included such recent smash hits as "Like Water for Chocolate" and "The Lion King" -- not to mention a rather timely showing of the first two "Batman" movies, just as the third installment in that series has begun to break attendance records across the United States.

There are plenty of warriors: Indiana Jones, the rugged archaeologist played by Harrison Ford in popular Steven Spielberg tryptic; Martin Sheen as a U.S. military assassin in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 film "Apocalypse Now;" and Kirk Douglas as an aggrieved Roman slave in Stanley Kubrick's "Spartacus," from 1960.

And there are also plenty of big names among the directors. Besides the three mentioned above, this summer's roster includes films by Bernardo Bertolucci, Tim Burton, David Lean and Mike Nichols.

The society, however, has not sacrificed quality simply for the sake of a large box-office draw.

"It's not just commercial success," said Mobina Hashmi '96, Director of the Dartmouth Film Society.

Hashmi, who helped put the series together, continued, "We tried to pick films that were box office hits of their time, but they also had to pass the critical test."

For example, Bertolucci's "Last Tango in Paris" never brought in huge grosses, but the film resonates with the public for reasons other than its popularity at the time of release.

"It was not a big commercial hit, but it was a big film of its time -- mostly because it was so scandalous," Hashmi said of the highly erotic film, in which a middle-aged man played by Marlon Brando has a "no questions asked" affair with a young woman in Paris.

For instance, Akira Kurosawa's epic about a band of medieval Japanese warriors, "The Seven Samurai," is, as the brochure puts it, undoubtedly more attuned to the tastes of "cineastes" rather than mere filmgoers. Still, this Japanese version of our own spaghetti westerns will undoubtedly thrill audiences.

They have also thrown into the mix some films that, though acclaimed universally by critics, are perhaps lesser known among the general public.

Whether or not Humphrey Bogart could compete today with the Steven Segals or Jean-Claude Van Dammes of the world, his steely performance in "Casablanca" is a testament to an era when class and acting ability, not the size of your biceps, was enough to win over audiences during World War II.

Aptly, the Dartmouth Film Society has chosen to close their homage to the silver screen with a film that is equally celebratory of the medium, "Cinema Paradiso," a film about a young boy who apprentices to become a projectionist in a small Italian hamlet.

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