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Wexner Center to localize ‘Universal Pictures: Celebrating 100 Years’

Celebrating 100 Years.’

In a city that houses 200 years of stories and history, Universal Pictures is set to celebrate 100 years of telling tales on the big screen.

The Wexner Center for the Arts is slated to kick off “Universal Pictures: Celebrating 100 Years” at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Film/Video Theater with a showing of the 1985 film “Back to The Future.” The celebration is a tribute to Universal Pictures, which is the oldest continuously operating producer and distributor of film in the United States.

Presented by American Express in association with the University of California, Los Angeles Film & Television Archive, the tribute will present 13 films, all of which were produced by Universal Pictures, through Dec. 18.

“We wanted to have a good mix of films that are very recognizable and very well-known that would get people’s attention,” said Dave Filipi, director of Film/Video at the Wexner Center. “But I think the period of time that most people think of when they think of Universal Pictures is the great series of horror films that they made, so we thought it would be important to show at least a couple of films from that cycle of horror films, so we’re showing ‘Dracula’ and ‘Frankenstein.'”

Popular films won’t be the only ones shown, though.

“We thought it would be nice to include some lesser-known films like that, that are still very entertaining but very historically important as well,” Filipi said, adding there will be a screening of “Three Smart Girls Grow Up,” a musical from 1939.

Filipi said there are a few films he is looking forward to seeing during the tribute as well.

“There’s certain films that you can never see enough, like ‘Cobra Woman,’ just one of my favorite films from when I was a kid and I haven’t seen it in some time. ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man,’ it’s been at least 20 years since (I’ve) seen it,” he said. “I’ve seen all of them before but being able to see them again on a big screen and with an audience … I’m really looking forward to that.”

Peter Tonguette, a Columbus-based film critic who will be introducing the 1973 film, “The Sting,” Dec. 12 at 7 p.m., said he is also looking forward to seeing these films again because of the appeal the movies have to audiences.

“They’ve made so many films that have connected with the public, and I chose to introduce the ‘The Sting’ because it typifies the audience-friendly nature of the best Universal films,” Tonguette said. “I connect that with Universal in the sense that they’ve always sort of had that knack for tapping into the popular imagination, and I think that comes through in the program at the Wexner Center. All that are being shown were big popular successes.”

Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin is set to introduce the double feature of films “Where Are My Children?” and “Little Man, What Now?” 7 p.m. Dec. 6. Film critic Melissa Starker will be introducing the double feature of films “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” 7 p.m. Dec. 8. Frank Gabrenya, a film critic for Columbus Dispatch, will introduce “All Quiet on the Western Front” 7 p.m. Dec. 18.

John Davidson, program director for film studies at Ohio State, said Universal Pictures’ success is something to be celebrated.

“I think that if you look at the representation of Universal in all the award categories over the years, I think that it’s certainly worthy of that,” Davidson said. “It’s just a studio that’s been working all across the medium and for an astounding time with a great deal of success.”

Filipi said by showing this tribute at the Wexner Center he hopes to give the audience an admiration for film history throughout the studio’s past, while also giving a chance to see the films on a big screen like they were meant to be shown.

“The main reason we’re doing it is to give people a greater appreciation and awareness for film history,” he said. “But even more important, the opportunity for people to come and see classic films like this in a really nice print in a theater, seeing it the way it was always meant to be seen. I think those opportunities are getting so rare and it’s up to places like the Wexner Center to preserve that tradition and give people the chance to see it that way.”

Tickets for the films vary by showing from $3 to $8 and are available at the Wexner Center ticket office, located at 1871 N. High St.

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