Fri, 19 Aug 1994

Film Week

I would like to reply to a couple of questions raised by Mr. Gus Kairupan in his article: Indonesians experience delightful encounter with American art songs (Aug. 11, 1994).

The Wizard of Oz: In the early 1980s, an appreciative audience of hundreds of Jakartans, not just sixty as in the recent event, saw the Judy Garland film (1939) in Studio V of the RRI building on Medan Merdeka Barat. It was one of the highlights of an American film week under the auspices of the United States Information Service (USIS). Evening after evening, Mrs. Lynn Sever of the USIS patiently introduced vintage Hollywood films including: silent film comedies showing us Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Harry Langdon; two Orson Welles films, Citizen Kane the film always on the ten best films list reviewed periodically, and the even better The Magnificent Ambersons (1941, 1942); the cult film Casablanca (1943); some Hitchcock from the 1950s and Days of Heaven (1978) in which a very young Richard Gere played a rough young man, very different from his suave roles nowadays.

An unbelievable treat! Never before had there been such a comprehensive anthology of excellent films covering a period of 50 years. There has not been a similar film week since and I do not understand why the USIS has never considered holding another. Half a dozen of Hollywood's best films would easily counter- balance most of the poor quality Hollywood films shown on local television. If an available venue is the problem, a film week courtesy of one of the television stations may be the way out.

Who wrote Smoke Gets in Your Eyes? It was Jerome Kern the composer of the songs featured in the musicals Show Boat, Swing Time, etc.. Till the Clouds Roll By made one year after the composer's death in 1945 was a "biopic" of Jerome Kern.