Concerts from the Library of Congress, 2013-2014

All films will be shown in the Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd floor of the Library of Congress James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E. (view map) Doors open 30 minutes before screening. For information: call (202) 707-5502. All events are free but require tickets, learn more

“Directed by Ken Russell” Film Series

The late Ken Russell (1927-2011) had a vividly colorful, operatic vison of cinema, and was attracted to music that was similarly bold and romantic. We present four evenings of Russell’s most outrageous musical films.

Lisztomania (1975) *

Film posters - montage

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5 at 7 PM

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(tickets available 09/03/2014, beginning at 10 AM)

Women hurl their undergarments at a long-haired pretty boy musician. This is not just a tale of the 21st century, but of 19th-century composer Franz Liszt, and Ken Russell, alchemical wizard of the outré and outrageous, was the obvious choice to put his version of the life of Liszt (as played by The Who’s Roger Daltrey) onscreen. (103 min.)

The Music Lovers (1970) *

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 at 7 PM

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(tickets available 09/03/2014, beginning at 10 AM)

Ken Russell was incapable of making an ordinary biopic, and his life of Tchaikovsky (played by Richard Chamberlain) is no exception, filled with nightmarish dream sequences and fantasies set to the master’s music. (123 min.)

Mahler (1974)

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 at 7 PM

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(tickets available 09/03/2014, beginning at 10 AM)

The director continued his streak of surreal biographies of the great composers with this wildly inventive fantasia on Gustav Mahler (Robert Powell) and his wife Alma (Georgina Hale). The film ostensibly takes place entirely on a single train ride, with the kind of over-the-top flashbacks and dream sequences that make Russell so unpredictable. (115 min.)

Tommy (1975)

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 at 7 PM

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(tickets available 09/03/2014, beginning at 10 AM)

Russell used The Who’s seminal rock opera as a template for what Roger Ebert called the director’s gift for “three-ring cinematic circuses with kinky sideshows.” Roger Daltrey leads the cast of all-stars, including Ann-Margret as Tommy’s mother. (111 min.)

* [R-rated] - No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.

The 80s: The Decade the Musicals Forgot

The movie musical was in its death throes in the 1980s, with many of the era’s contributions to the genre considered gaudy jokes. But these films have a vibrant, colorful energy and a core optimism that contemporary musicals would do well to emulate.

Streets of Fire (1984) *

Film posters - montage

FRIDAY, JANUARY 16 at 7 PM

Directed by Walter Hill
Fans of classic musicals know that RKO Pictures produced the great Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies, but they may not know that a later incarnation of the company produced this ill-fated musical made by a director normally associated with action movies. Diane Lane and Willem Dafoe star in this dystopian rock ‘n’ roll fantasy. (93 min.)

Xanadu (1974)

FRIDAY, JANUARY 23 at 7 PM

Directed by Robert Greenwald
Critics raved about the ironic Broadway revival of this notorious box-office bomb, which cast Gene Kelly in a supporting role as a nod to the classic musical. But the original has a winning sincerity largely missing from its better-reviewed stage cousin. (93 min.)

Breakin' 2 (1984)

FRIDAY, JANUARY 30 at 7 PM

Directed by Sam Firstenberg
The movie’s title has since become a nickname for unwanted sequels, and its dance movies and Day-Glo fashions have not aged well. But the movie has an innocent energy that is hard to resist. (111 min.)

* [R-rated] - No one under the age of 17 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.

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