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Laugh away your financial woes during the “What Depression?” film series

Dryden Theatre will screen musicals, fantasies, and screwball comedies of the 1930s; kicks off Aug. 2

Rochester, N.Y., July 14, 2009— Enjoy a throwback salute to the films of an era when times were really tough: the Great Depression. Comedy is the best remedy during an economic recession and a summer film series at the Dryden Theatre serves as a distraction from the current problems facing the world, titled What Depression? Musicals, Fantasies, and Screwball Comedies of the 1930s. While generally upbeat, the films selected for this series aren’t strictly escapist; rather, the breadlines and vast unemployment often provide the motivational force for snappy characters and stories. Titles include the Oscar©-winning It Happened One Night and the Busby Berkeley musical 42nd St.

Carole Lombard, a popular comedienne of Depression-era cinema, appears in three movies in this series. First, as the fiancée of a spoiled soap fortune heir who must look for a real job in It Pays to Advertise — co-starring Rochester’s own Louise Brooks in a rare sound-era appearance — and screening as part of a double bill with White Woman (starts at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2), which features a desperate, out-of-work Lombard who agrees to marry a whacked-out Charles Laughton. Then, it’s a wealthy Lombard who learns a little something about the common man when her screwy family adopts homeless William Powell as My Man Godfrey (8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6).

Another pair of iconoclastic leading ladies, Joan Crawford and Gloria Swanson, is teamed up in a double feature ofPossessed and The Trespasser (starts at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9). Crawford and Swanson both play women from the wrong side of the tracks who find love and happiness on their own terms. Unequal distribution of wealth, and city living versus country living, are the themes from which great romantic comedy emerges in two other classics of the screwball comedy — Frank Capra’s OscarÒ-winning It Happened One Night (8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13) and the underratedTheodora Goes Wild (8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20).

You won’t find any signs of economic blight in Cecil B. DeMille’s positively loopy musical Madam Satan (7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16). A moralistic yet lighthearted story of infidelity among the filthy rich, DeMille concludes Madam Satan with a visually spectacular set piece: a costume ball set aboard a crashing zeppelin. Also dazzling to the eye is 42nd Street (8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 27), the best known of the Busby Berkeley-choreographed Warner Bros. musicals, whose heroine is played by Ruby Keeler, a hard-working dancer looking for her big break in a Broadway show.

Admission to each screening is $7 general admission and $5 members and students. Complete listings and information can be found at dryden.eastmanhouse.org. The Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House is located at 900 East Ave., Rochester.

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