Winston-Salem, NC – Temple Emanuel and RiverRun International Film Festival welcome Christopher Hart and Foster Hirsch for a RiverRun Retro screening and discussion of “Gentleman’s Agreement” on January 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the Temple. This special presentation is presented free to the community. The following day, January 14, at 5:00 p.m., both guests will participate in a screening and discussion of “A Night at the Opera” at RED Cinemas in Greensboro. Tickets for “A Night at the Opera” are $12 and available at the RED Cinemas box office or at redcinemas.com.
“Gentleman’s Agreement” is the1948 Academy Award-winning “Best Picture,” which concerns a journalist (played by Gregory Peck) who poses as a Jew to research an exposé on anti-Semitism in New York City and the affluent community of Darien, Connecticut. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and also starred Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield and Celeste Holm. Moss Hart wrote the screenplay, which was based on Laura Z. Hobson’s best-selling novel of the same name.
The film was one of 20th Century-Fox’s most popular films when it was released and was nominated for eight Oscars, winning three for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm) and Best Director (Elia Kazan). Reviewing the film for The New York Times, Bosley Crowther wrote, “every point about prejudice which Miss Hobson had to make in her book has been made with superior illustration and more graphic demonstration in the film, so that the sweep of her moral indignation is not only widened but intensified thereby.”
“A Night at the Opera” was released in 1935 and was the first Marx Brothers film for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Their co-stars in the production include Kitty Carlisle, Allan Jones and Margaret Dumont, a regular comic foil for the Marx Brothers who Groucho Marx once described as “practically the fifth Marx Brother.” One of the brothers’ most famous scenes is featured in the film as a stateroom on a ship gets overly crowded with a variety of individuals. The film was adapted by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind, and Al Boasberg (uncredited) from a story by James Kevin McGuinness and was directed by Sam Wood.
The film was a huge box office success and well received by the critics. The reviewer for Variety noted, “The comedy material is always good and sometimes brilliant.”
Special guests for the screenings are Christopher (Chris) Hart and Foster Hirsch. Kitty Carlisle Hart had a career that encompassed, films, television, the Broadway stage and the Metropolitan Opera. Additionally, she was very active in historic preservation and served as chair of the New York State Council on the Arts. Mrs. Hart was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1991 and was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1999. Chris Hart is the son of actress Kitty Carlisle Hart and writer and director Moss Hart. In addition to “Gentleman’s Agreement,” Moss Hart’s screenplay credits also include “A Star is Born” (1954), as well as writing such stage hits as “You Can’t Take it With You” and “The Man Who Came to Dinner” (both with George S. Kaufman). Among his Broadway directing credits are “My Fair Lady” and “Camelot.” Chris is a noted producer and director for the stage and television. His Broadway productions include the 2012 revival of the Gershwins’ “Porgy and Bess” starring Audra McDonald, which won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, and the 2009 production of “Hair,” which won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Musical.
Foster Hirsch is professor of film at Brooklyn College and the author of 16 books on film and theatre including Film Noir: The Dark Side of the Screen and Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King. He has curated and produced film programs for the American Film Institute, the American Cinematheque, Film Forum and the National Arts Club among many other organizations.
SPONSORS: This season of RiverRun Retro is sponsored by Nelson Mullins and the hospitality sponsors for this event are Fairfield Inn and Suites Downtown and McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks.
ABOUT RIVERRUN: RiverRun International Film Festival will celebrate its 20th year in 2018 and will run April 19 – 29 in downtown Winston-Salem. The RiverRun International Film Festival is a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to the role of cinema as a conduit of powerful ideas and diverse viewpoints.
ABOUT TEMPLE EMANUEL: Temple Emanuel is a Jewish home of worship, study and gathering, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Top Photo: “A Night at the Opera” The famous stateroom “crowd” scene from the Marx Brothers’ classic “A Night at the Opera.”
Bottom Photo: “Gentleman’s Agreement” Left to right: John Garfield, Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Celeste Holm in “Gentleman’s Agreement.”