Last year the Library launched Movies that Matter, a series of films essential to cinema literacy.
The big-screen wonders continue this fall with Movies That Matter -- The Sequel, which once again spotlights films that have stood the test of time.
Presented on select Sundays at 1:30 p.m. from September 2013 through June 2014 in the Truman Forum of the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St., this series offers 10 movie classics.
Each program features opening and closing remarks by Robert W. Butler, who for more than 40 years was a noted film critic for The Kansas City Star and now works in the Library's Public Affairs Department, where he programs film series and serves as senior writer/editor.
Featured are titles from many of the world's great filmmakers: John Ford, Jean-Luc Godard, Walt Disney, Jean Renoir, Michael Curtiz, F.W. Murnau, and Preston Sturges.
Movies That Matter covers a variety of genres: musicals, silent drama, animation, social satire, drama, horror.
Admission is free. The schedule:
The Grand Illusion (France; 1937) on September 29, 2013
It's a World War I escape movie about Frenchmen breaking out of a German POW camp. But Jean Renoir's The Grand Illusion is also a meditation on the inevitability of armed conflict and the changing face of European society. It was so effective that the Nazis declared this antiwar drama "Cinematic Public Enemy No. 1." Not rated. 114 minutes
The Bride of Frankenstein (USA; 1935) on October 27, 2013
The Bride of Frankenstein employed the same creative team that produced the original Frankenstein four years earlier. Yet this sequel is a much different animal -- and far superior. It's satiric, practically contemptuous of its horror origins, frequently over the top. It has more in common with Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein than with the original film. Director James Whale gave free rein to his camp impulses. The result: One fun movie. Not rated. 75 minutes.
1960) on November 17, 2013
Jean-Luc Godard's crime drama about a charismatic Paris thug (Jean Paul Belmondo) and a beautiful young American (Jean Seberg) is among the most influential films ever made, with its once-radical style totally now absorbed into cinema culture. But it still wows us with its "underground" approach, innovative editing, eroticism, and moral ambivalence. Not rated. 90 minutes.
Pinocchio (USA; 1940) on December 1, 2013
For a follow-up to his groundbreaking Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney needed something special. He found it in Pinocchio, the best animated film of his career. The story's thematic darkness is lightened by Disney's trademark song, dance, comedy, and melodrama. And while it can be enjoyed by all, the film's examination of free will and morality makes it almost too good for kids. Not rated. 88 minutes.
Sunrise (USA; 1927) on January 19, 2014
Called "the Citizen Kane of silent cinema," Sunrise was the last silent masterpiece, a bold visual experiment seething with human emotions. F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu) employed enormous stylized sets and wildly innovative cinematography to tell the simple tale of a man (George O'Brien), his wife (Janet Gaynor), and the seductive woman from the big city (Margaret Livingston) who threatens their rural happiness. Not rated. 94 minutes.
An American in Paris (USA; 1951) on February 16, 2014
The most famous movie about Paris was shot in Culver City, California. This joyous celebration of music and dance ultimately becomes high art when, in its audacious final 16 minutes, it delivers a dazzling wordless ballet that brought out the best in choreographer/star Gene Kelly and director Vincente Minnelli. Kelly has rarely been so infectious, while newcomer Leslie Caron (only 18 when she made the film) became an overnight star. Nominated for eight Oscars, An American in Paris won six, including best picture. Not rated. 113 minutes.
The Grapes of Wrath (USA; 1940) on March 9, 2014
John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath spends two hours rubbing our noses in poverty and economic exploitation, yet somehow sends us off with hope-filled hearts. The story of the Joads, who lose their Oklahoma farm and become migrant workers in California during the Great Depression, becomes a celebration of the resiliency and ultimate triumph of the American character. And in Tom Joad, Henry Fonda found the greatest character of his storied career. Not rated. 129 minutes.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (USA; 1948) on April 27, 2014
If only we could strike it rich, then our problems would be over. Right? Not according to John Huston's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which demonstrates that with newfound wealth comes plenty of bad baggage: bloodthirsty bandits, betrayal, and madness. Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, and Walter Huston (the director's father) are expatriate Yanks mining for gold in Mexico's rugged interior. They endure merciless weather, rugged mountains, and the occasional gila monster, and find that hitting the motherlode only creates a whole new set of problems. Not rated. 126 minutes.
The Lady Eve (USA; 1941) on May 18, 2014
For nearly a decade, writer/director Preston Sturges was allowed to create comedies virtually without studio interference. His triumph was The Lady Eve, a screwball masterpiece. Barbara Stanwyck is a con artist who sets her sights on the bumbling heir to a brewing fortune (Henry Fonda). Their on-and-off romance is both hysterically funny and astoundingly sexy. Toss into the mix great eccentric character actors like Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, and William Demarest, and you've got one of the great screen comedies. Not rated. 94 minutes.
The Adventures of Robin Hood (USA; 1938) on June 1, 2014
The greatest swashbuckling film of all time almost bit the dust with a mid-production change in directors. But from a potential disaster arose a spectacular Technicolor production with castles, pageantry, gorgeous costumes, and a style that is lighthearted yet mythic.
Errol Flynn was never more virile or charming, and his longtime screen partner, Olivia DeHavilland, made for a beautiful and spirited Maid Marian. After more than 70 years, The Adventures of Robin Hood seems not to have aged a day. Not rated. 102 minutes.
Admission is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407.