Friday nights at the State Capital Museum

Friday nights in August bring the return of the State Capital Museum’s annual film series Movies at the Mansion.  A series that showcases films of the 1930s-1960s, the ones you may remember or have always wanted to see.

In a time of economic recession we revisit films that brightened America’s depression years with either zany comedy or witty repartee, and others that address important social issues against the backdrop of the 1930s.  And we can’t forget fan favorite Humphrey Bogart, who returns this year with Lauren Bacall in the simmering resort drama Key Largo with Edward G.  Robinson in his well known role as the villainous mobster.

By far the film that has been most requested is To Kill a Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, the noble and heroic southern lawyer, and Peck’s favorite screen roll.  Peck won an academy award for this portrayal which is currently pictured on a commemorative postage stamp.    The film is based on the novel of the same name, written by Harper Lee and published in 1960 to great acclaim.  The story is set in a small southern town, against the backdrop of the Great Depression, and this provides the perfect location to explore the issues of race and justice that the mid-1960s would address in the civil rights movement.  This film ends our series of four Friday night presentations in August.

Between the second and third film is the Hepburn and Grant comedy Bringing up Baby.  A pet leopard on a leash, Cary Grant in Mr. Magoo glasses as a paleontologist(!?), and a “feather brained vixen”(!?)- as the film promotion stated-describing Katharine Hepburn’s character.  The clash of characters results in a series of love triangles, time in jail,  and nightclub misadventures.  Directed by Howard Hawkes, this is a classic screwball comedy produced in 1938.

Kicking off the series is the zany Mark’s Brother’s film A Night at the Opera made in 1935.  Set initially aboard ship, the stateroom scene has been characterized as the funniest five minutes in movie history and been copied in many films.  In this film the comedy characters developed by brothers Harpo, Chico and Groucho Marx become solidified; the child-like harpist (Harpo), the Italian-accented piano man (Chico), and the fast talking, cigar chomping heart-of-gold con-artist (Groucho).

There are four famous comedy sequences to watch for: Chico and Harpo contract signing with a “sanity Klaus;”  the previously mentioned  Stateroom scene; the hotel scene featuring all the brothers racing back and forth between rooms, switching furniture and personas; and of course Harpo swinging on the set backdrops during a performance at the Metropolitan Opera.  Here is a classic comic routine with Groucho as Otis P. Driftwood.

“Detective: You live here all alone? Driftwood: Yes. Just me and my memories. I’m practically a hermit. Detective: Oh. A hermit. I notice the table’s set for four. Driftwood: That’s nothing, my alarm clock is set for eight. That doesn’t prove a thing.”

As one film writer states “Young people should be treated to comedy as it once was when laughter depended upon uproarious wit and a brand of physical comedy perfected by comedians through years of refining their craft in vaudeville.”


AUGUST 5.        A Night at the Opera

AUGUST 13.      Key Largo

AUGUST 20.      Bringing up Baby

AUGUST 27.      To Kill a Mockingbird

Classic Movies at the Mansion.  Doors open at 8:30 PM.  Film history at 8:45 PM.

Museum front lawn with seating in Coach House in case of rain.

Bring a blanket and chair.  Snacks and drinks will be sold before and during the show.  Coffee provided.

$2 suggested donation.