(Fritz Lang, 1931) · This expressionistic drama by the great Fritz Lang is the predecessor of the modern serial killer film but its strikingly bold visual designs and masterful use of black-and-white cinematography put it on a level that its imitators haven't been able to reach. Based on a true story, the film follows the attempt to track down a notorious serial killer who preys on children, with the crazed search soon threatening to engulf all of Berlin, from the police to the underworld. Print courtesy of the Chicago Film Archives
runtime: 99m format: 16mm
(Howard Hawks, 1941) · The last film Billy Wilder wrote before he started his directing his own films, Ball of Fire is one of Howard Hawks' most underrated comedies from the height of his career. This unorthodox adaptation of Snow White stars Gary Cooper as the youngest of a group of grammarians who are working to compile an encyclopedia. He meets a nightclub performer (Barbara Stanwyck) to learn about modern American slang, but soon becomes embroiled in the dealings of her mobster boyfriend.
runtime: 111m format: 16mm
(G.W. Pabst, 1934) · Pierre is a charming young circus performer with a penchant for womanizing but a heart of gold. When he unexpectedly falls in love, his overbearing mother reveals a secret to him that launches him into the upper ranks of the corporate world. But his newfound status as a captain of industry takes a toll on his personal life. Out of this moving and timeless story, Pabst crafts a disarmingly candid pre-Code Hollywood film with all of the delicious raunchiness that that entails. Print courtesy of the Library of Congress
runtime: 71m format: 35mm
(Nicholas Ray, 1958)· Directed by enigmatic filmmaker Nicholas Ray (until he was fired partway through production), Wind Across the Everglades is based on the life of Guy Bradley, a game warden who was shot by poachers. Christopher Plummer stars in his first leading role as a heroic schoolteacher-turned-warden who struggles to protect the title park's fauna against a band of poachers. The Everglades' imminent destruction from climate change means that this film's environmentalist message resonates even more today than it did when it was made.
runtime: 93m format: 16mm
(Frank Borzage, 1937) · Jean Arthur stars in this romantic drama a woman desperate to escape her possessive and wealthy husband. Matters are further complicated when she falls in love with a charming, French headwaiter and further enrages her husband. Directed by Frank Borzage, History is Made at Night chronicles how difficult it is to escape from the clutches of all-consuming jealousy.
runtime: 97m format: 35mm
(John Huston, 1941) · An adaptation of the classic detective novel of the same name, The Maltese Falcon follows Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart), a private investigator who becomes caught up in a search for the titular ancient bird statuette, and with femme fatale Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor). This classic marked John Huston's hard-boiled directorial debut, Bogart's rise to marquee stardom, and, being the earliest genre title designated by the French, the opening shot of film noir's whipsmart, world-weary uprising. Print courtesy of the Library of Congress
runtime: 100m format: 35mm
(Chris Bernard, 1985) · Set in Thatcher-era Liverpool, Letter to Brezhnev lends, with plenty of new wave tunes and heart, the Eighties' jubilant touch to its tale of friendship and love. Teresa and Elaine are drifting 20-somethings who flit through pubs, clubs, hotels, and streets looking for a good time and good old romance, respectively. They meet two Russian sailors, and it is love at first sight for Elaine and Peter--when he has to return to duty, she begins searching for ways to leave the gritty English docklands with him.
runtime: 94m format: 35mm
(John Sayles, 1991) · A film to which Roger Ebert granted the rare perfect star rating, John Sayles' City of Hope captures the entire essence of living life in an urban setting. Through the examination of more than three dozen characters, Sayles offers a look into the crime, political machinations, the cost of individual apathy, and the follies of late capitalism of the fictitious New Jersey metropolis Hudson City. Painting an expressionistic fresco of urban life, Sayles was able to foreshadow the cult classic The Wire that would define the next decade of television.
runtime: 129m format: 35mm
(Diego Arsuaga, 1997) · This thriller from Uruguay tells the story of a Spanish woman who hires a private detective to track down her missing husband, entangling herself in a criminal underworld and instigating a journey into the forgotten crevasses and unexpected beauty of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. You may have seen city symphony films (like Wings of Desire) before, but you probably haven't seen a Uruguayan one. We know we haven't, which is why we're so excited to pull this hidden gem from our vaults.
runtime: 94m format: 35mm