July CinemaLit - Hairspray (1988) | Mechanics' Institute

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July CinemaLit - Hairspray (1988)
American Musicals: Doo Wop and Divas!

Friday, July 19, 2024 - 6:00 pm

July 19 - Hairspray (1988), 90 minutes, directed by John Waters, starring Divine, Ricki Lake, and Ruth Brown.

This is the original - before the Broadway touring musical or its 2007 film adaptation. John Waters fashioned this affectionate funny feel good tribute to his hometown of Baltimore in the early 1960s, when record hops were all the craze. But they had yet to racially integrate, and a group of teens set out to remedy a social injustice. Waters’s trademark louche style is on display here; there’s not a lot of subtlety. And the original Hairspray is not a traditional musical, but it’s infused with so many hip swaying toe-tapping songs by doo wop and rock and roll master Kenny Vance that it might as well be.

July 2024 CinemaLit- American Musicals: Doo Wop and Divas!

This month we explore American life through history and musical genres. One of our films, Dreamgirls from 2006, comes from that most American of art forms, the Broadway musical, while another, Hairspray from 1988, became a later musical triumph on stage. Come finish the 2023/2024 season with tuneful films with heart and substance.

Joe Wicht, local pianist and popular music expert, will co-host the July 19 screening of Hairspray. There may even be some live music on tap.

Matthew Kennedy, CinemaLit’s curator, has written biographies of Marie Dressler, Joan Blondell, and Edmund Goulding. His book Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s, was the basis of a film series on Turner Classic Movies. His most recent book, On Elizabeth Taylor: An Opinionated Guide, examines the screen legend's entire career.

I don't have a favorite film,” Matthew says. "I find that my relationships to films, actors, genres, and directors change as I change over the years. Some don't hold up. Some look more profound, as though I've caught up with their artistry. I feel that way about Garbo, Cary Grant, director John Cassavetes, and others."

Classic films have historical context, something only time can provide,” Matt observes. “They become these great cultural artifacts, so revealing of tastes, attitudes, and assumptions.”

Mechanics' Institute Members Free

Non-Members $10

Cafe opens at 5:30 pm with wine, beer, sparkling water, juice, and fresh-popped popcorn for sale.

Register with Eventbrite below.

Please note: Photos and/or video may be taken during this event.

CinemaLit Films

Members Free
Non-Members $10
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4th Floor Meeting Room
Information Desk - 415-393-0102
Register now by using the form below or calling 415-393-0116.


Future CinemaLit Films

Jul 26 - 6:00 pm

July CinemaLit - Dreamgirls (2006)
American Musicals: Doo Wop and Divas!