The New PFA Schedule and the New New Deal

I got the new Pacific Film Archive schedule. As usual, there’s a lot of interesting stuff.

There’s Women’s Cinema from Tangiers to Tehran, a film-lecture course uses film to understand Buddhism, a screening of Reefer Madness with a “totally dope soundtrack by Cal student DJs,” and a retrospective of Agnès Varda, the one woman director of the French New Wave.

And, because that part of the past really is prologue these days, there’s a four-film series called From Riches to Rags: Hollywood and the New Deal. Seems like a good perspective to take: How did people in the last great depression deal with the economy cinematically.

Since I didn’t program that series (which is probably a good thing), here are some movies made during the last depression that may help us in this one:

  • Gold Diggers of 1933: A silly, escapist musical, but it never lets you forget that there’s a depression going on.
  • Our Daily Bread: King Vidor’s talkie sort-of sequel to The Crowd, about desperate people finding happiness in a communal farm. This one’s getting two local screenings, soon. It’s at the Stanford March 27, and, as part of the Rags to Riches series, at the PFA April 1.
  • My Man Godfrey: Screwball comedies often played with class issues, but none as bluntly as this one (although it blows it in the third act).
  • Grapes of Wrath: The masterpiece of the group.