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MAY 7-MAY 28
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You might think that films as famed as The Maltese Falcon, The Bank Dick, and All Quiet on the Western Front would be as safeguarded as carefully as any cultural artifact, whether it be the Gutenberg Bible or Archie Bunker’s chair. In fact, these and many other Hollywood classics had to rescued from the brink of extinction by the Library of Congress’ Motion Picture Conservation Center in Dayton, Ohio. The center’s head, Ken Weissman, will appear after the Saturday, May 13, screenings to discuss the estimable work of film preservation, but this series is also a rare opportunity to see a baker’s dozen of ’30s and ’40s movies on a big screen. Most of the programs are linked double bills, beginning with two melodramas, Imitation of Life and Magnificent Obsession (at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 7), and continuing with two W.C. Fields comedies, The Bank Dick and It’s a Gift (at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 13), and two James Whale horror flicks, The Old Dark House (pictured) and Bride of Frankenstein (at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 14). Other pairings include Gold Diggers of 1933 and 42nd Street (at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 20), Cat People and The Maltese Falcon (at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 21), and His Girl Friday and Only Angels Have Wings (at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 27). The series ends with All Quiet on the Western Front, unveiled in its restored version just last year (at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 28). At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799. (Mark Jenkins)