The Classic Film Club at SouthBank Arts Bar and Cafe, in Bristol, UK, meets on the first Sunday of every month at 5.30 for a 6.00pm screening. All the films we choose are made between 1930 and 1960. The aim is to appreciate films from around the world made in this classic period, by seeing them in the way they were meant to be seen – that is, in the dark, on a large screen and with other people.
Our rationale (those calling it a “mission statement” should come only to SciFi films) came about after a most enjoyable, chance screening of a 1939 screwball comedy starring Don Ameche and Claudette Colbert. Following the travails of a young woman in transit through Paris, Midnight was written by the young Billy Wilder, who had passed through Paris having fled an increasingly dangerous Germany and recently arrived in Hollywood. It prompted spontaneous applause from club members, who were surprised and delighted at the discovery of a pleasure from the past.
Since then, rather than continue with what we had been doing as a cinema club (searching out recent films – which it turned out many had already seen), we decided to hunt down classics – films which people may have noticed on TV (but which cannot be enjoyed between advert breaks, chatter or cups of tea), or which people may have heard of but never seen (or not for a long time).
These are films that are classics because they remain affecting when viewed in the right way and … well … because they are masterpieces of 20th century entertainment worth seeing again.