Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday (Paramount Pictures Corporation/Movie Trailer Screen Cap /Wikipedia CC)
Armchair traveling—particularly if the armchair is in a cinema—is an irresistible way to experience the world’s great cities. In the right hands a city becomes an actual character in a film, its locations carefully selected and photographed not only for visual effectiveness but to enhance the narrative’s emotional impact.
In this entertaining 4-lecture series, film historian Max Alvarez presents movie scenes focusing on how the same world-famous city is portrayed, depending on the narrator’s message: Is it one of welcome or warning?
Specific location information is provided for many memorable and legendary scenes captured by filmmakers throughout the past century. No passports are required, and attendees need not worry about clearing airport security!
January 23 New York on Film
One of the most photographed cities in the world, the cinematic New York is always a city of extremes. Depending on the genre, decade, and filmmaker, The Big Apple is either for lovers (Annie Hall, You've Got Mail) or pathological loners (Taxi Driver). It is either dazzling (Manhattan), glamorous (The Devil Wears Prada), or dangerous (The Taking of Pelham One Two Three); and its inhabitants are either engaging in violent mayhem (The French Connection) or singing and dancing (West Side Story).
January 30 Paris on Film
As a film location, the stunning City of Light can be the subject of shamelessly romantic Hollywood love letters (Funny Face, Midnight in Paris) or caustic and gritty dramas from such French masters as François Truffaut (The 400 Blows), Jean-Luc Godard (Breathless), Agnès Varda (Cléo from 5 to 7), Jean-Pierre Melville (Le Samouraï), and Jean-Jacques Beineix (Diva).
February 6 Los Angeles: City of Angels (and Demons)
During the 1940s and ‘50s, the sprawling “city” housing Hollywood was long a favored locale for classic film noir thrillers (Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly). In subsequent decades, Los Angeles was featured as a symbol of both glamour and affluence (L.A. Story, La-La Land) and social crises (Falling Down, Boyz n the Hood). Highlights include selections from Los Angeles Plays Itself, Thom Anderson’s superb film essay on how filmmakers portray the City of Angels.
February 13 When (Filming) in Rome
After World War II, the world’s moviegoers fell in love with The Holy City as seen by Hollywood in Roman Holiday and Three Coins in the Fountain. Italian directors, however, were less beguiled by their metropolis as they captured warts-and-all views of mid-to-late 20th century Rome, including such iconic works as Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves and Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.