Friday, March 11, 2005

Success, in spite of itself

"I have seen movies under lousy conditions and still loved them."

--Roger Ebert

This quote reminds me of the time I saw The African Queen in a screening presented by a tiny film society at the University of Chicago. The society was called, if I remember correctly, Outlaw Films, and it was the successor to the displaced Law School Films, which screened classic Hollywood movies in the auditorium of the lawyer factory. Both societies were shrinking violets compared to Doc Films, the campus's most prominent film group (and a superb one).

But I love watching old movies, so I sought out this African Queen presentation, which took place in a lecture hall in the biology building. Everything went wrong: two people showed up, the projector was missing at first, the print was a mess, the screen was too small, and the sound came from a single speaker all the way across the huge room from the image.

And the movie was great. I resigned myself to a unique experience (it pays to keep an open mind at student screenings), and even under those circumstances, the film was as delightful as everyone knows it is.

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