Cathy Callaway has gotten surprisingly good at drawing connections between Cary Grant films and Museum of Art and Archaeology exhibitions. Callaway has been curating the museum’s film series since she became the museum educator in 2006.
It might sound farfetched at first, but Arsenic and Old Lace, a black comedy about a homicidal family, was tied in to the museum’s exhibition Final Farewell: The Culture of Death and the Afterlife. And To Catch a Thief, a 1955 film starring Grant, has an elaborate ballroom scene that Callaway used to promote the museum’s annual Paintbrush Ball (happening March 21 this year).
“Any excuse to show Cary Grant films,” Callaway said with a smile.
Callaway’s love for movies started at the Downer Theatre in Milwaukee, where she worked throughout high school and college selling popcorn and tickets. As a graduate student in MU’s classics department, she enjoyed volunteering at the Museum of Art and Archaeology and attending films at Pickard Hall. So when she returned to campus nearly 25 years later as museum educator, the first thing on her to-do list was to restart the defunct film series.
“That’s what’s fun about this: to try to think back about my film knowledge and to pick something that really ties in with what we’re doing at the museum,” Callaway said. “The whole goal is to get people into the museum.”
The Ad Hoc Film Series
For years, at 7 p.m. every third Thursday of the month, Callaway opened the museum so visitors could tour the collections before viewing the scheduled film. But that changed when the museum moved in September 2013 to Mizzou North due to Renew Mizzou construction. No longer able to screen the films in Pickard Hall, Callaway had to improvise.
First, she partnered with Nancy West, director of the Honors College. West was teaching a course called Colors, which looked at the science of color and its uses in film. Callaway instantly thought of Technicolor. That semester, she screened the Technicolor flicks Meet Me in St. Louis and All That Heaven Allows at the MU Student Center.
She then drew inspiration from Men and Women, Myth and Movies, a course she was teaching, and screened the following films in Lefevre Hall: Ever After, a remake of the Cinderella story starring Drew Barrymore, and Orpheus, the 1950 French film by Jean Cocteau that updates the ancient Greek myth to contemporary Paris.
“It was so gratifying to have students come to the films,” she said. “A couple of them had never seen a black-and-white film or one with subtitles.”
Other than its Cast Gallery, the museum has been closed for more than a year, but staff is hopeful for a reopening in April at Mizzou North. Callaway knew it was time to bring the film series back to the museum. She renamed it the Ad Hoc Film Series; it was formerly called the Museum’s Film Series.
“I just started to call it Ad Hoc because I was moving it to campus to coincide with Nancy West’s class and to teach my class,” said the former Latin teacher. Ad Hoc in the Latin means “for this,” or done for a particular purpose only.
A Happy Filmgoer
Mike Trial, a Mizzou alumnus and retired engineer, has been a regular since the film series began. Some of his favorite films have been the ones he and his wife, Yolanda Ciolli, had never heard of previously.
“There was one that was really off the wall called Buena Vista Social Club,” Trial said. “Between the music and the snapshot of Cuba, that thing was terrific.”
The documentary about Cuban musicians in the 1940s and ’50s tied into the museum’s exhibition of artist books by a collective in Cuba.
“It’s well worth the museum’s investment,” Trial said. “Having Cathy do the films keeps us energized with staying in touch with the museum. And you can’t argue with the price,” which is free.
Trial is happy that the series is at Mizzou North because there is plenty of parking and the building is easily accessible.
Tonight’s film is Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, which Callaway chose because of the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and because February is Black History Month. “At the end of the movie, there’s a riot and a tragedy, so I think Spike Lee’s asking, ‘What is the right thing?’ ” she said.
Some people might say that drawing a connection between film themes and exhibitions at an art and archaeology museum is a stretch, Trial said. “But in point of fact, art is art.”
— Kelsey Allen
Ad Hoc Film Series Spring 2015
The following films will be shown at 7 p.m. in Room 707 at Mizzou North. The series is free and open to the public. Guests should enter at the east doors (the main entrance with the overhang) and follow the hallway past the first set of elevators to the west elevators.
Do The Right Thing (1989)
Directed by Spike Lee, starring Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Spike Lee
- March 19
Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990)
Directed by James Ivory, starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward
- April 16
Russian Ark (2002)
Directed by Alexander Sokurov, starring Sergei Dontsov and Mariya Kuznetsova
- May 21
The Best Offer, La Migliore Offerta (2013)
Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, starring Sylvia Hoeks, Geoffrey Rush and Donald Sutherland
- June 18
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)
Directed by Pedro Almodovar, starring Antonio Banderas, Carmen Maura and Julieta Serrano
- July 16
Directed by William Wyler, starring Bette Davis and Henry Fonda
- Aug. 20
The Graduate (1967)
Directed by Mike Nichols, starring Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman