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JUNE 9-AUGUST 21
This summer, the long-dark Mary Pickford Theater returns to life with an ambitious program of films (and some vintage TV shows) on the role of religion in American society. The series begins with the 1926 version of The Scarlet Letter (June 9 & 26) and includes both Biblical epics like 1923’s The Ten Commandments (August 18) and such recent films as 1996’s The Crucible (July 16). Also featured are some pictures inspired by Depression-era religious charlatans, including Frank Capra’s surprisingly caustic The Miracle Woman (July 21) and the 1960 film of Sinclair Lewis’ Elmer Gantry (June 11), as well as 1933’s Gabriel Over the White House (Aug. 19), which scandalized producer Louis B. Mayer with its controversial New Deal message. The program also includes such quaint period pieces as The Next Voice You Hear…, the tale of a struggling ’50s couple who hear the voice of God on their radio (pictured, Aug. 5), and some early silent films, including Edison’s 1915 The Landing of the Pilgrims and The Stoning (shown with the 1917 A Mormon Maid, July 1). Among the documentaries and docudramas are Say Amen, Somebody, a study of African-American church music (June 18); Sacred Ground: The Story of the North American Indian’s Relationship to the Land (June 25); and “The Salem Witch Trials,” an example of CBS’s acclaimed ’50s series You Are There (July 8). At 7 p.m. at the Pickford Theater, Madison Building, Library of Congress, 1st & Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Free, but reservations required. (202) 707-5677. (Mark Jenkins)