West Orange Arts Council, West Orange, NJ 07052

West Orange Arts Council - 551 Valley Road, West Orange, NJ

West Orange Arts Council - 551 Valley Road, West Orange, NJ


West Orange Film Society

West Orange Classic Film Festival Announces 2022 Schedule: Tragedy Tomorrow, Comedy Tonight

After pandemic-related events resulted in a hiatus for 2021, the West Orange Classic Film Festival returns in the town where Thomas Edison invented movies, once again giving lovers of cinema a chance to experience their favorite films as they were meant to be seen— on the big screen.

In 2022, the comedy-focused festival screenings are at the AMC Theatre in Essex Green Shopping Center West Orange at 2 pm on six Sundays from January 30 through March 13 (no film Super Bowl weekend). Each film will be followed by a discussion led by a local film scholar/critic. Tickets are $14.00 and must be purchased in advance on Eventbrite 

The festival premiered on January 30 with “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” (1966), with screenwriter/playwright/stage director Joe Gilford, son of Jack Gilford, one of the film’s stars. 

February 6: The 197-minute reconstructed version of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963), with the Cinema Shorthand Society Facebook page curator John Chasse.  An all-star cast made up of film, television, and the stage’s greatest comedians are on the hunt for $350,000 in stolen cash under the watchful eye of police captain Spencer Tracy.

February 20: “Bringing Up Baby” (1938), with Edge Media Network film journalist and playwright/screenwriter Frank AvellaWhat many consider to be the definitive screwball comedy features Cary Grant as a paleontologist maneuvering through a number of predicaments involving a scatterbrained heiress (Katharine Hepburn) and a leopard named Baby.   

February 27: “Young Frankenstein” (1974), with an appearance by local film critic Stephen Whitty. Mel Brooks presents this parody of the classic horror film genre, with co-writer Gene Wilder as Frederick Frankenstein, Madeline Kahn as his fiancé, Teri Garr as his assistant, Marty Feldman as his servant, and Peter Boyle as his creation. 

March 6: “Some Like It Hot” (1959), with Stephen Whitty returning. What better way to start a comedy film festival than with the movie judged by the American Film Institute in 2000 to be the funniest film ever made?  Two musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) disguise themselves by dressing as women in order to escape gangsters whom they witnessed committing a crime. The film also stars Marilyn Monroe.

March 13: “Buck Privates” (1941), with comics writer/film historian Paul Castiglia, who has contributed commentary to the newly restored Season 1 of “The Abbott and Costello Show” DVD and Blu-Ray collections.  Jersey boys Bud Abbott (Asbury Park) and Lou Costello (Paterson) were launched into the comedy stratosphere with their roles in their first service comedy based on the peacetime draft of 1940. The Andrews Sisters and Nat Pendelton co-star 


The West Orange Film Society’s 15th annual West Orange Classic Film Festival ran from Sunday, January 5, 2020 February 23, 2020 at 2pm at the AMC DINE-IN Essex Green 9 Theatre in West Orange.



Held over eight Sundays throughout January and February in the town where Thomas Edison invented movies, the West Orange Classic Film Festival returns for its fifteenth season, once again giving lovers of cinema a chance to experience their favorite films as they were meant to be seen— on the big screen. We pause to look back at highlights of their first decade and a half, with each film followed by a discussion led by a local film scholar/critic. Three of the feature length films presented won the Academy Award for Best Picture for the year of their release, and were selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”


The festival premiered on January 5, 2020 with “North by Northwest” (1959), with an appearance by film critic Stephen Whitty, author of “The Alfred Hitchcock Encyclopedia.” A tale of mistaken identity, with an innocent man pursued across the United States by agents of a mysterious organization trying to prevent him from blocking their plan to smuggle out microfilm which contains government secrets, the film stars Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, and James Mason, and has been described as “the Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures.”


Film scheduled as follows:

January 12: “Casablanca” (1942), with Club Cinematheque founder Gerard Amsellem and Dr. William Bradley, West Orange High School media studies teacher. Set during World War II, “Casablanca” focuses on an American expatriate who must choose between his love for a woman and helping her and her husband, a Czech leader, escape from the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Germans. The film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid; it also features Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Dooley Wilson.


January 19: “West Side Story” (1961), with Cinema Shorthand Society curator John Chasse. An adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was inspired by William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet.” The film stars Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakaris. Nominated for eleven Academy Awards and winning ten, including Best Picture (in addition to a special award for choreographer Jerome Robbins), “West Side Story” remains, nearly fifty years later, the record holder for the most wins for a musical.


January 26: “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962), speaker TBD. Based on Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, the film stars Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Mary Badham as Scout. “To Kill a Mockingbird” won three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Peck, and was nominated for eight, including Best Picture.


February 2: “Duck Soup” (1933), with David Itzkoff, culture reporter for The New York Times. Starring what were then billed as the “Four Marx Brothers” (Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo), the film also features Margaret Dumont, Louis Calhern, Raquel Torres, and Edgar Kennedy. It was the last Marx Brothers film to feature Zeppo, “Duck Soup” is widely considered among critics to be a masterpiece of comedy, and the Marx Brothers’ finest film.


February 9: Black Maria Film Festival, with Jane Steuerwald, professor of film at New Jersey City University and Executive Director of the festival. The Black Maria Film Festival is an international juried competition that has been celebrating and preserving the diversity, invention, and vitality of the short film since 1981. The festival exhibits the work of diverse filmmakers from across the US and around the world. These artists often represent an under-served constituency who might not otherwise have the opportunity for live public exhibition nationwide or abroad. Several film makers are expected to attend.


February 16: “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), with EDGE Media Network film critic Frank J. Avella. Based on the life of T. E. Lawrence, the film depicts Lawrence’s experiences in the Ottoman Empire’s provinces of Hejaz and Greater Syria during World War I. Its themes include Lawrence’s emotional struggles with the personal violence inherent in war, his own identity, and his divided allegiance between his native Britain and its army and his new-found comrades within the Arabian desert tribes. The film stars Peter O’Toole in the title role, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, and Arthur Kennedy.


February 23: “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939), speaker TBD. James Stewart portrays the title role of a newly appointed United States Senator who fights against a corrupt political system. The film also stars Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold, and Thomas Mitchell. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, winning for Best Original Story.

All screenings held at the AMC Theatre in Essex Green Shopping Center on Prospect Avenue in West Orange at 2 pm. Tickets are $12 ($9 for members of the West Orange Arts Council, who must purchase tickets at the box office) and will be available at the theatre box office or through Fandango.

For further information, contact us or join the Facebook page “West Orange Classic Film Festival.”

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