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Randolph Film Series Screens the Work of the Great Directors

Great directors are the stars of this season’s film series at the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph. From Akira Kurosawa’s great samurai film Yojimbo to Woody Allen’s valentine to movies The Purple Rose of Cairo to Michael Powell’s gorgeous color film A Matter of Life and Death , the series explores the best of the best.

It begins on Sunday, Sept. 15, with The Purple Rose of Cairo and concludes next April with one of Francis Ford Coppola’s earliest movies, The Conversation , starring Gene Hackman as a surveillance expert who learns that an overheard conversation may not mean precisely what he thought it did.

The series is fairly evenly divided between the drama of films like The Conversation and Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries , about an old man recalling his youth, and such classic comedies as Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels and Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove .

Films are shown on the third Sunday of each month in the Music Hall’s Upstairs Gallery, beginning with a pre-movie get-together at 7 p.m. A question and answer session follows each film. Rick Winston, the curator of the series and a former owner of the Savoy movie theater in Montpelier, will be on hand for three of the films to discuss “The Art and Craft of the Great Film Directors.”

It’s hard to elevate one film over another because all are exceptional, but having recently watched Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows for the umpteenth time, I still marvel at how delicately and effortlessly Truffaut interwove humor and pathos as he told the story of his alter-ego Antoine Doinel, the young boy neglected by his parents who gets into trouble and ends up in a reform school.

The 400 Blows won Truffaut the Best Director Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1959, and it was the first in a quartet of loosely autobiographical films Truffaut made starring Jean-Pierre Leaud, whom audiences saw mature on film from a boy to a man. The 400 Blows also has one of the most poignant musical scores in all of film, by Jean Constantin, which evokes the isolation, but also the spirited playfulness, of Doinel’s Parisian childhood.

This is the fourth year that the Chandler has run a film series, said its founder Anthony Keller, who lives in Randolph. Although Keller doesn’t consider himself an authority on film in an academic sense, he was, he said, “known to be the kid that loved anything that flickered.”

Given the dramatic changes in how the public now consumes films — on computers, through streaming, on iPhones — anybody who loves movies should jump at the chance to see them on a larger screen, with an engaged audience. Watching a Michael Powell or Kurosawa film on a device the size of your palm just doesn’t do it justice.

The schedule:

∎  Oct. 20, The 400 Blows, directed by Francois Truffaut.

∎  Nov. 17: Sullivan’s Travels, directed by Preston Sturges. Followed by discussion with Rick Winston.

∎  Dec. 15: Dr. Strangelove, directed by Stanley Kubrick.

∎  Jan. 19: Wild Strawberries, directed by Ingmar Bergman. Followed by discussion with Rick Winston.

∎  Feb. 16: A Matter of Life and Death, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

March 16: Yojimbo, directed by Akira Kurosawa. Followed by discussion with Rick Winston.

April 27: The Conversation, directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

For information about the seminar and the film series call or email Anthony Keller at 860-212-1403 or askeller@aol.com. Information is also available on the Chandler’s website: www.chandler-arts.org.

Nicola Smith can be reached at nsmith@vnews.com.