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OCT. 15–NOV. 7

Among the best-loved of all French films, Marcel Carne’s The Children of Paradise (at 6:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28; 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30) provides a fanciful history of Parisian popular theater in the 1840s, a backdrop for anecdotes of love and crime and philosophical questions of performances and reality. Despite its enchanted outlook, the movie was shot while the swastika still flew over Paris. If the film is grander than most made during the German occupation, its interest in fantasy, escape, and guilt is characteristic. In Henri-Georges Clouzet’s The Raven (pictured; at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15; 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19; and 7:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20), a village is convulsed by accusations against its residents, contained in letters signed only “The Raven.” The movie, banned after the war as “anti-French,” is typical of those that depict the country as a provincial town gripped by paranoia and violence. Another example is Jacques Becker’s It Happened at the Inn (at 2:50 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24), set mostly in a country hotel where an extended family closes ranks after a murder. While such contemporaneous films as Marcel L’Herbier’s Fantastic Night (at 2:40 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, and 7:10 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7) escaped into fable, Clouzet and Becker showed uneasy viewers a France that was far from innocent. The series opens Saturday, Oct. 15, and runs through Monday, Nov. 7 (see Showtimes for a weekly schedule), at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Mark Jenkins)