On June 18, 2008, the Palm Springs International Film Society will kick off their next series of free public film screenings with the classic film Now, Voyager starring Bette Davis, Paul Heinreid and Claude Rains.

As part of the Society's Educational/Community Outreach Program, Drama Queens will explore the role of women in the cinematic melodrama genre. With star-studded melodramas that vary from campy and vampy to weepy and wistful, the evolution of women in film will be discussed by experts in the know.

From George Cukor's "not-a-man-in-sight" catty comedy, The Women, to two versions of the racially charged Imitation of Life separated by 25 years, to films by the undisputed king of the melodrama, Douglas Sirk, and finally jumping into the 21st century with Todd Haynes' modern interpretations of the genre, these films deliver memorable female characters who are attempting to make their mark in the world. Ten films straddle seven decades and provide audiences with an education worthy of a degree in women in the cinema with a minor in histrionics.

Kathleen McHugh, UCLA professor and author of American Domesticity: From How-To Manual to Hollywood Melodrama, will present the kickoff film, Bette Davis' classic Now, Voyager. Catherine Jurca, California Institute of Technology professor, will discuss the postwar career woman in Mildred Pierce. Film historian Mark Vieira will follow the paths of Hollywood diva/siblings into less glamorous territory with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? James Morrison, Associate Professor at Claremont McKenna College, explores the topic through a modern lens with the contemporary film, Far from Heaven.

The series will alternate with screenings at the Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs and the Indian Wells Theater in Palm Desert. The use of the Indian Wells Theater has been partially underwritten by the Friends of the Palm Desert Campus. Bank of America is the lead sponsor for the expansion and enhancement of all Palm Springs International Film Society Community Outreach programs.

The following Wednesday screenings begin at 7 p.m.:

PAST: June 18
Now, Voyager (1942)

Directed by Irving Rapper
Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper

Guest speaker: Kathleen McHugh
Director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Women

PAST: June 25
The Women (1939)

Directed by George Cukor
Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard

Guest speaker: Annie Gregory
Filmmaker, instructor for Divas Direct: Film Workshops for Girls

PAST: July 16
Mildred Pierce (1945)

Directed by Michael Curtiz
Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott, Ann Blyth

Guest speaker: Catherine Jurca
Associate Professor of English, California Institute of Technology

PAST: July 23
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

Directed by Robert Aldrich
Bette Davis, Joan Crawford

Guest speaker: Mark Vieira
Film historian, author

PAST: Aug. 6
Imitation of Life (1934)

Directed by John M. Stahl
Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Louise Beavers, Fredi Washington

Guest speaker: Peter Debruge
Associate Editor of Variety's Features Department
(PCT) View in calendar

PAST: Aug. 13
Imitation of Life (1959)

Directed by Douglas Sirk
Lana Turner, John Gavin, Juanita Moore, Susan Kohner

Guest speaker: Barry Sabath
AFI Conservatory Senior Lecturer
(IWT) View in calendar

PAST: Sept. 10
Written on the Wind (1956)

Directed by Douglas Sirk
Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone

NOTE:: Special start time at 5 p.m.
Guest speaker: Barry Sabath
AFI Conservatory Senior Lecturer
(PCT) View in calendar

PAST: Sept. 17
All That Heaven Allows (1955)

Directed by Douglas Sirk
Rock Hudson, Jane Wyman, Agnes Moorehead, Conrad Nagel

Guest speaker: Joe Petricca
Executive Vice Dean at AFI Conservatory
(IWT) View in calendar

PAST: Oct. 1
Far from Heaven (2002)

Directed by Todd Haynes
Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert, Patricia Clarkson

Guest speaker: James Morrison
Associate Professor of Literature, Claremont McKenna College
(IWT) View in calendar

PAST: Oct. 8
Safe (1995)

Directed by Todd Haynes
Julianne Moore, Peter Friedman, Xander Berkeley

Guest speaker: John Anderson
Film critic
(PCT) View in calendar

*Palm Canyon Theatre
538 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs

** Indian Wells Theater
California State University San Bernardino's Palm Desert Campus
37500 Cook Street in Palm Desert
Note: $5-per-vehicle parking fee at the Indian Wells Theater

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