Jack Garner (1945–2020) was a pillar of Rochester for more than forty years. From his first Democrat & Chronicle film review (Star Wars, in May 1977) through his decades of support for Rochester arts organizations and his advocacy for film festivals and theaters throughout the region, Jack was there to light the way.
Jack Garner was particularly special to the George Eastman Museum both as a member of the Eastman Museum Council, a volunteer fundraising arm, and then as a member of the Board of Trustees. For decades, Jack could be seen regularly at the Dryden, taking in silent films with live music or classic Hollywood fare—or perhaps introducing a film program, often even one he had collaborated on with the curator. He had a favorite seat in the Dryden, personally picked out for the legroom and the sightlines. His passion for cinema never wavered and was as catholic in its scope as the first director of our department, James Card. Regardless of release date, genre, or budget, if Jack liked a film, he’d let you know.
This spring, we remember Jack with a series of films that were either featured in his book, From My Seat on the Aisle: Movies and Memories, or that have a significance in Jack’s history with the Dryden. We have pulled films from the last century of cinema, from many genres, that you may know well or perhaps are seeing for the first time. All of these films meant something to Jack, and we hope they will mean something to you.
Events in this Series
We Knew Jack The last time Jack Garner graced the Dryden Theatre in the course of a public program was in 2019 when we honored Robert Forster with a double feature of some of the actor’s most iconic roles. Jack considered Forster a friend for several decades and was honored to introduce these two films to the audience that day.
By Popular Demand | We Knew Jack | Orson Welles’s Birthday! “I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I couldn’t stop watching. I submit that that’s one definition of an essential film.” Jack Garner would often cite Citizen Kane as his favorite film—he taught it in classes and brought it up in conversation.
By Popular Demand/We Knew Jack Hitchcock was one of Jack Garner’s favorite directors, but when it came time to include an article about the director in his book From My Seat on the Aisle, there was only one title to choose: “Rear Window . . . [is] pretty special in the theater."