Program Notes

From the Film Vault Blog

Program Notes: Ninotchka (1939)

Ninotchka movie poster

For most of her career, the great Swedish star Greta Garbo was known as a dramatic actress. A tragic actress, in fact. Few, then, were prepared for 1939’s brilliant comedy Ninotchka.

Program Notes: The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

The Life of Emile Zola movie poster

The Life of Emile Zola is anything but a conventional screen biography. This Oscar winner for best picture could more accurately have been entitled The Dreyfus Affair, for that notorious case of military injustice is the film’s centerpiece.

Program Notes: The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936)

The Story of Louis Pasteur movie poster

The work of scientists generally doesn’t lend itself to dramatization. The Story of Louis Pasteur is less about one man than it is about the bad old days of head-in-the-sand medicine.

Program Notes: I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang movie poster

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is the greatest of all the social problem pictures Hollywood produced during the Depression. It's one of the few feature films actually responsible for a major change in government policy.

Program Notes: Scarface (1932)

Scarface movie poster

Throughout the 1930s and into the ‘40s Paul Muni was considered America’s premier dramatic actor. Scarface was his breakout role, highly theatrical and bigger than life. Audiences found it wildly entertaining.