The Films of Charles Brackett

Fridays, March 13, 20, 27 at 6:00pm; FREE to attend

Charles Brackett was an exceptional individual: a Williams College graduate and Harvard-trained lawyer who joined the Allied Expeditionary Force during WWI and received the French Medal of Honor. A novelist with 5 published books and New Yorker drama critic, Charles was an Algonquin Roundtable regular. He collaborated with writing partner Billy Wilder on 13 feature films, and was a writer and/or producer of more than 40. His films won 4 Oscars including Best Picture for The Lost Weekend; Best Original Screenplay for Sunset Boulevard and Titanic; and Best Adapted Screenplay for The Lost Weekend—and six Oscar nominations. He served as president of the Screen Writers Guild and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awarded him an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 1958. 

An undergrad member of Cap and Bells who graduated in 1915, Charles was a life-long devoted Williams alum. He frequently visited Williamstown during his long career, and its significance for him is reflected in the fact that when he first traveled East with his new writing partner, Billy Wilder, one of his stops was Williams. All 3 films will be introduced by Jerry Carlson ’72, film historian and Chair of the Department of Media & Communication Arts at The City College of CUNY.  For Titanic we will be joined by Jim Moore, Brackett’s grandson and biographer.

March 13 - Ninotchka (1939)

Written by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and Walter Reisch, "Ninotchka" is a romantic comedy starring Greta Garbo in her penultimate role. Garbo plays the title character, a Soviet envoy sent to Paris on official business, who becomes unexpectedly involved with the debonair Count Leon d'Algout (Melvyn Douglas).  Their ensuing romance pits the excess of Parisian life against the austerity of Russian communism, and the film's satirical politics caused it to be banned in the U.S.S.R.  

"Ninotchka" was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Original Story, and Best Screenplay, and in 1990 was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress

March 20 - Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Their final collaboration as well as their most enduring, "Sunset Boulevard" was directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, and produced and co-written by Charles Brackett. Hailed by Roger Ebert as " the best drama ever made about the movies," "Sunset Boulevard" received 11 Academy nominations and 3 awards, including Best Writing, Story and Screenplay.

The film stars Gloria Swanson as an aging and all-but-forgotten silent film star, and William Holden as a struggling writer who becomes swept up in her dreams to return to stardom. Their tragic tale is a bleak and scathing examination of Hollywood's dark side, and society's dangerous fixation on celebrity and youth. In 1998, it was named by the American Film Institute as the 12th greatest American film of the 20th century.

March 27 - Titanic (1953)

Produced and co-written by Brackett, 1953's "Titanic" follows the final days of an estranged couple before the infamous sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. It stars Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwick, and won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

In "Titanic," Bracket found a clever way to sneak in a subtle homage to his alma mater, as well as its rival; the ship's orchestra is heard to play the fight songs of both Williams ("Yard by Yard") and Amherst Colleges ("Lord Jeffery Amherst"), the former mere minutes before the sinking of the ship.

Registration Form

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