Before Monty Norman composed the James Bond theme music for Dr. No, and Sean Connery delivered the line, “It was a Smith & Wessen. “You’ve had your six,” Robert Donat played Richard Hannay, a British-ordinaire. In The 39 Steps, Hannay is an ordinary man thrust from his everyday life into an odyssey of adventure and excitement. The movie had everything: jumping off trains, womanizing and moderated violence.
Dr. Pease started this semester’s foreign film festival last Thursday with Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. The 1935 movie is a great look at pre-World War II Britain. There are nine more films to be shown this semester. They range from diverse time periods, 1949-1999, and countries, including the United Kingdom, Iran, and India.
The 39 Steps has a simple plot. An innocent man gets framed and gets caught in a murderous plot. He can only prove his innocence by exposing the true criminals and, of course, running into several beautiful women. Hitchcock isn’t a moralist, he is a storyteller and an excellent one at that.
Before the movie, Pease told the audience that, “Hitchcock perfected the storyboard.” Consequently, every scene has a purpose. Scenes can’t be cut, and they can’t be added.
This is the third semester in a row Pease has hosted this film festival. One of his inspirations was the Texas Theatre when he went to UT in Austin. There, he encountered movies unavailable anywhere else.
He explained, “Every college should have a movie theater showing something not found elsewhere.” Until that theater opens up in Huntsville and starts charging admission, Pease is offering that to Sam students and faculty for free.
The first thing that caught my attention was the extra credit awarded for attending these films. Before Pease started the film festival, my foreign cinema palette was limited to kung fu. Exposure to these films has helped broaden my understanding of different cultures and was what kept me going.
It is imperative that this opportunity is supported and encouraged by the faculty at Sam. Extra credit should be awarded to the students who deepen their education and understanding through this and other extracurricular activities. Offering incentives will create the habit that precedes genuine appreciation.
Everyone who can attend at least one of these movies should make the effort. When the general consensus says Huntsville lacks entertainment, this gemstone should be our panacea to ennui. At the very least, the 3:30 p.m. showing accommodates the students that need to make quarter night.
The film festival is continuing every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Evans Complex room 105. Admission is free and all students and faculty are encouraged to attend. Next Tuesday, Dr. Pease will be showing Children of Heaven, an Iranian film by Majid Majidi. Until then, see you at the movies!