The Painted Veil (1934) 85 min | Mechanics' Institute

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The Painted Veil (1934) 85 min
February 2020 - Salka Viertel and Hitler's Exiles in Hollywood

Directed by Richard Boleslawski | Greta Garbo, Herbert Marshall

Katrin Koerber’s search for excitement leads her to marry a man she does not love and travel with him to Hong Kong. When her husband immerses himself in his medical work, she turns to a handsome – and married – customs official. Somerset Maugham’s novel about infidelity is adapted, with a few changes, into a solid, well-acted drama set in an exotic locale with the usual Hollywood flourishes. (A selling point in 1934 was a sequence that allegedly depicted a local festival but is straight out of an MGM musical.) The excellent cast includes George Brent, Warner Oland, Jean Hersholt. Asian actor Keye Luke made his film debut here in a small role.

Matthew Kennedy, CinemaLit’s new 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. 

“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."

The films Matthew will introduce this winter include Scarface: The Shame of the Nation for January’s film theme Speakeasy: Prohibition at 100Queen Christina opens February, with special guest Donna Rifkind, author of The Sun and her Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler’s Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood. March will be dedicated to pre-code Barbara Stanwyck films.

“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.”

Please join us in welcoming Matthew as he engages members and the public through our ongoing series of Friday night film screenings.

CinemaLit Films

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Public $10 (suggested donation)
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Location: 
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Pam Troy - 415-393-0116
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