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AUG. 2-AUG. 31
While other studios sought to distract Depression-era moviegoers with tales of the idle rich, Warner Bros. told stories that resembled its films: lean, scrappy, and unglamorized, although often with a streak of hard-boiled sentimentality. Such Warners directors as Mervyn LeRoy and William Wellman were known for gangster pictures, but they also made films about laborers, the unemployed, and victims of the American justice system (as well as the occasional musical). This selection of early-’30s WB movies restored by the Library of Congress’ Motion Picture Conservation Center includes such exemplary double bills (at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9) as Wellman’s Public Enemy, with James Cagney as an ambitious Chicago hood, and LeRoy’s Hard to Handle, in which Cagney plays an unscrupulous PR man. The series features some of the best-known Warners films of the era, such as LeRoy’s Little Caesar (at 5:10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10), with Edward G. Robinson as a doomed mobster, and the same director’s I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24), based on a real account of an innocent man brutalized by the law. Among the lesser-seen offerings are LeRoy’s Five Star Final (pictured; at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2), with Robinson as a tabloid editor and Boris Karloff as a former priest; Howard Hawks’ Tiger Shark (at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9), a love triangle set among immigrant fisherman; and Wellman’s Wild Boys of the Road (at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16), set among impoverished freight-hoppers. The series opens Saturday, Aug. 2, at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799. (Mark Jenkins)