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Classic films highlight film seminars’ lineup

Film poster from "Notorious." .

The Alfred Hitchcock thriller "Notorious" starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains is among the films in this semester's edition of the Buffalo Film Seminars.

By SUE WUETCHER

Published January 12, 2022

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The classic films “The Maltese Falcon” and “Notorious” are among the offerings this spring for the 44th edition of the Buffalo Film Seminars.

The popular series, hosted by UB faculty members Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian, will continue remotely this spring, with online screenings and discussions of the films.

The weekly discussions will take place via Zoom at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays from Feb. 1 through May 10.

An email notification about each film will be sent out on the Saturday before the Zoom discussion date to students registered for Christian and Jackson’s “Film Directors” class (ENG 381), as well as to the Department of English’s Discussion List and to the Buffalo Film Seminars’ listserv (email Jackson or Christian to get on the BFS listserv). That notice will include a URL for the pair’s Vimeo introduction to the film and a PDF of that week’s Goldenrod Handout. The notice will also include an invitation to the Zoom discussion.

All films in the series but two  (“Notorious” and “The Power of the Dog”) are available from Criterion or Netflix — C after the title in the list below indicates it is available on Criterion, P: Amazon Prime, P$: Amazon Prime with an extra $4 fee. “The Power of the Dog” is available, for now, only on Netflix; “Notorious” is available only on FlixFilm (low-resolution versions are on YouTube). All four subscription services permit cancellation at any time, so all 14 films should be available for under $100.

Nine of the films — all with “UB” after the title — are available free to anyone with a UB email account via the UB Libraries’ Swank and Kanopy portals. The five films not available via the UB Libraries are “Le Corbeau,” “The Gunfighter,” “Naked,” “Salesman” and “The Power of the Dog.” The Swank titles will be available via the UB Libraries for a year; the Kanopy titles for three years.

While the films’ availability should remain through the semester, if a service’s license to stream a film expires, participants will be notified about substitute programming.

The spring 2022 schedule, with descriptions culled from the IMDb online movie database and other sources:  

Promotional image from "The Phantom Carriage" featuring a horse-drawn carriage carrying a hooded figure with a scythe.

Feb. 1: “The Phantom Carriage,” 1921, directed by Victor Sjöström, C UB-Kanopy. On New Year's Eve, the driver of a ghostly carriage forces a drunken man to reflect on his selfish, wasted life.

Feb. 8: “It Happened One Night,”1934, directed by Frank Capra, C P$ UB-Swank. A renegade reporter trailing a young runaway heiress for a big story joins her on a bus heading from Florida to New York, and they end up stuck with each other when the bus leaves them behind at one of the stops.

Still from the film, "The Maltese Falcon" featuring Humphrey Boggart.

Feb. 15: “The Maltese Falcon,” 1941, directed by John Huston, P$ UB-Swank. San Francisco private detective Sam Spade takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette, with the stakes rising after his partner is murdered.

Movie poster of "Le Corbeau.".

Feb. 22: “Le Corbeau,” 1943 directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, C. A French village doctor becomes the target of poison-pen letters sent to village leaders, accusing him of affairs and practicing abortion.

March 1: “Notorious,”1946, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, FlixFilm YouTube UB-Swank. The daughter of a convicted Nazi spy is asked by American agents to gather information on a ring of Nazi scientists in South America.

March 8: “The Gunfighter,”1950, directed by Henry King, P$. Notorious gunfighter Jimmy Ringo rides into town to find his true love, who doesn't want to see him. He hasn't come looking for trouble, but trouble finds him around every corner.

March 15: “Touch of Evil,” 1958, directed by Orson Welles, P$ UB-Swank. A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping and police corruption in a Mexican border town.

Promotional image for the film "An Autumn Afternoon.".

March 29: “An Autumn Afternoon,” 1962, directed by Yasujirô Ozu, C P$ UB-Kanopy. An aging widower arranges a marriage for his only daughter.

Movie poster for "Amarcord" directed by Federico Fellini.

April 5: “Amarcord,”1973, directed by Federico Fellini, C P$ UB-Kanopy. A series of comedic and nostalgic vignettes set in a 1930s Italian coastal town.

April 12: “Naked,” 1993, directed by Mike Leigh, C. An unemployed Mancunian vents his rage on unsuspecting strangers as he embarks on a nocturnal London odyssey.

April 19: “Rabbit-Proof Fence,”2002, directed by Phillip Noyce, P$ UB-Kanopy. In 1931, three half-white, half-Aboriginal girls escape after being plucked from their houses to be trained as domestic staff, and set off on a journey across the Outback.

April 26: “Salesman,”2016, directed by Asghar Farhadi, P. While both are participating in a production of “Death of a Salesman,” a teacher’s wife is assaulted in her new home, which leaves the teacher determined to find the perpetrator over his wife’s traumatized objections.

Promotional poster for the 2021 film, "Power of the Dog.".

May 3: “The Power of the Dog,”2021, directed by Jane Campion, Netflix. Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.

May 10: “Hugo,”2011, directed by Martin Scorsese, P$ UB-Kanopy. In 1931 Paris, an orphan living in the walls of a train station gets wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.