Movies and Community at Your Local Library

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We may not have had a huge crowd for our Film Noir Double Feature yesterday at the Severna Park Library, but those who came had a great time and enjoyed some great discussion.

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We kicked things off at 11am with The Big Clock (1948) starring Ray Milland, Charles Laughton, George Macready, and Elsa Lanchester. After the film, we discussed how some noir themes (murder, deception, etc.) were certainly essential to the story, but also the presence of satire, something you don’t often see in film noir. Others mentioned how things have changed (and perhaps haven’t) in the publishing industry and the superb performances by all. (I think everyone was most impressed with Laughton’s performance.)

When my co-worker Julia and I were planning our double feature series months ago, we considered showing the movies back-to-back, but we decided instead to build in an hour or so for a lunch break in between. We encouraged people to visit one of our local restaurants (many within walking distance of the library) or get it to go and bring it back to the library. (Some did!) Then we would show the second feature at 1:30pm, which in this case was The Narrow Margin (1952) directed by Richard Fleischer, starring Marie Windsor and Charles McGraw.

I introduced the film by talking about how RKO owner Howard Hughes shelved the completed film for 18 months, wanting to reshoot it with Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell. I think everyone in the audience was glad it was released as it was, especially with Windsor and McGraw. Everyone was impressed with the film, especially the suspense, the tension and the ending.

While the turnout wasn’t as big as we’d hoped for (13 for the first film, 12 for the second; 5 people attended both), it was still respectable, especially considering that this was a Saturday and the first time we’d attempted a double feature at the library. We have a second double feature next week, a Western Double Feature starting at the same times, 11am and 1:30pm. I can’t tell you the titles, but I can say that both films are well-known westerns and that there’s a time element in both titles. Then on October 22, we’ll have a Forgotten Horror Double Feature, again at 11am and 1:30pm. These two films both feature a producer whose last name rhymes with Newton.

Although the numbers weren’t spectacular, the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that these screenings – and especially our Great Movies series the first Thursday of each month – are building community. There’s just nothing like having a room full (or partially full) of people who love films and love talking about them. I always look forward to the discussion just as much as I do watching the films. I love hearing the passion that these movie fans have and are willing to share. That’s what it’s all about.

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I know that most of you reading this probably don’t live in or near Anne Arundel County, Maryland, but wherever you are, I urge you to find out if your local library is showing movies. If they’re not, contact someone at your local library and ask them if they can. I’ll tell you right now that although the films are free to the public, they’re not free to libraries. Libraries have to purchase a licensing agreement in order to show these films. We are very fortunate that our Library Foundation has acquired the licensing of these films so that we can show them to the public. Again, please ask your local library if they can show movies at the library.

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