[Above] The Art Deco Mount Pony Theater operated by the Library of Congress
With archive materials housed in five separate location,the audio-visual department of the Library of Congress has now unified their collection in Culpeper, Virginia, approximately 70 miles to the west of Washington DC. Inheriting a radiation hardened facility at Mount Pony from its former owners the Federal Reserve Board, the location has been redesigned and rebuilt with a state of the art Art-Deco 200-seat movie theater.
Originally built in 1969 to act as an emergency headquarters and a high-security currency warehouse, the facility features a 400 foot long steel reinforced bunker with 30-centimeter thicks walls and lead-lined shutters for its windows. In 1997 the United States Congress approved the transfer to the Library of Congress, and funded by a private foundation, has set up the Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, featuring 90 miles of shelving for the extensive collection of film elements, video tape, photographs, recordings and odds-and-ends chronicling the film and recording arts in America.
The collection is home to more than 1.1 million film, television, and video items, and 3.5 million audio recordings. Motion pictures date from the 1890s, and audio recordings date back 110 years.
The Library of Congress runs two movie theatres:
The Mary Pickford Theatre on the 3rd floor of the Madison Building in Washington DC (schedule online)
The Mount Pony Movie Theater near Culpeper, Virginia (schedule online)
Library of Congress Online A/V Conservation Home Page
Forbidden 1932 - Barbara Stanwyck throws away her career as a librarian for a more exciting lifestyle, but gets bogged down in a long-running relationship with a married statesman (Adolphe Menjou) and director Frank Capra has a hard time making sense of it all in this "weeper" from 1932.
Ball of Fire 1941 - Barbara Stanwyck introduces Gary Cooper to "yum-yum" and it turns his world upside down. Why did she do this? He was perfectly happy secluded in an old house with 7 other bachelors working on writing an encyclopedia. She, however, needed a place to hide from the police and these "eight fish in a barrel" seemed like the perfect cover. Mayhem ensues.
Penguin Pool Murder, 1932 - James Gleason and Edna May Oliver star in a wise-cracking murder mystery set in the New York City Aquarium. He's a police detective and certain she's a meddling old maid until he notices she's not only smarter than everyone else in the room, but she's going to solve the case with or without his help.
The Killing -1956 - Sterling Hayden leads a group of small-time crooks in executing a daring precision racetrack robbery, until a few tiny details screw everything up. A fast-action, time-bending story of an (almost) perfect crime. Marie Windsor and Coleen Gray also star. Kubrick's direction is tight and as efficient as the crime being shown onscreen.
3 Days of the Conder, 1975 - Robert Redford as CIA analyst Joe Turner, trapped between warring factions within the CIA itself. Confused by why everyone is shooting at him, he goes on the run with kidnapped Faye Dunnaway in tow. Sydney Pollack's direction is tense and has clear storytelling. Max von Sydow is on hand as an amused veteran hitman who learns Joe Turner a thing or two. A great big slice of 1970s paranoia powers the film and lays down the template for many films that have followed afterward.
Easy Living, 1937 - Jean Arthur is poor Mary Smith who suddenly becomes the target of every salesman in town trying to gain access to the wealthy, all because of her impromptu friendship with millionaire investor J. B. Ball (Edward Arnold) who she meets by accident when he tosses his wife's fur coat off the top of an apartment building. Classic screwball comedy with script from Preston Sturges.
The Alligator People, 1959 - Tragic case of a man slowly becoming an alligator, and his determined wife (Beverly Garland) who wants to find him (he's in hiding) and get answers. With a hook-handed Lon Chaney Jr as a maniacal alligator hunter in the bayou. Appeared the same year as the famous Elizabeth Taylor film Suddenly Last Summer, and shares many remarkable similarities.
The Last Valley 1971 - Michael Caine and Omar Sharif find refuge in a valley untouched by the ravages of the Thirty Year War devastating Europe. As the snow flies, a peaceful calm settles over the encamped soldiers (who are really more like bandits) and villagers (who have secrets), but Spring is coming.
Heaven Knows, Mr Allison - 1957 - Deborah Kerr and Robert Mitchum. He's a marine and she's a nun on a Japanese occupied island during World War II. Well-done John Huston directed film that somehow finds a way to square a circle when we see that our two characters are completely unable to pursue the love they obviously share.
The Quiet Man, 1952 - Director John Ford's favorite personal project and a comic masterpiece (which he was afraid he had botched while filming it in Ireland) with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara as newlyweds who must battle their village and themselves to achieve marital peace.
Bachelor Mother 1939 - He's (Niven) the son of the owner (Coburn) of a department store who thinks he's doing a good deed by reuniting an employee (Ginger Rogers) with her child given up to an orphanage. Only the kid isn't hers, and nothing she does can convince anyone of the truth. A screwball comedy classic.
The Lady Eve - 1941 - Preston Sturges directed this most stately of his farcical comedies as a personal challenge to tailor a comedy around Barbara Stanwyck. He provides so much ammo she needs to play two characters, with a befuddled Henry Fonda in tow.
Night of the Hunter 1955 - British arch-actor Charles Laughton directed only one film, and it features Robert Mitchum as a demented and homicidal preacher (with "love" and "hate" tattooed upon his hands) who is trying to chase down a pair of orphaned children who know the location of hidden bank loot. The only thing standing in his way is a determined Lillian Gish with a shotgun.