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Meet me in the Cinematheque: A Fall 2009 preview
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<i>The Band Wagon</i> screens October 2
The Band Wagon screens October 2

I'm sad summer is ending, but crisp weather also portends the fall's entertainment options. Among them is the new calendar of free films at UW's Cinematheque. It starts Friday and offers weekend screenings at Vilas Hall through December. Did I mention it's free?

I'm a sucker for classic Hollywood cinema, and I'm most excited about the Vincente Minnelli series. He was famously married to Judy Garland, and she stars in the film screening Sept. 4, Meet Me In St. Louis. The world stops turning when she sings "The Boy Next Door." There are other musicals in the series, like Cabin in the Sky (Sept. 11), with its African American cast, and The Band Wagon (Oct. 2), starring Cyd Charisse's legs. And there is dramatic fare, including the Vincent Van Gogh biopic Lust for Life (Oct. 16) and the 1960 Cinemascope melodrama Home From the Hill (Dec. 4).

Also in a singing-and-dancing vein: Beginning in October Cinematheque presents the series Red Hollywood: The Musicals of Grigori Alexandrov and Lubov Orlova. At the direction of Stalin, Alexandrov made a series of escapist musicals starring wife Orlova, including 1936's The Circus (Oct. 10) and by reputation Stalin's favorite film, 1938's Volga Volga (Oct. 17).

Another director with a series of his own is France's incomparable Alain Resnais, represented first with a program of shorts on Dec. 5. The Resnais series concludes Dec. 19 with the 1997 musical On Connat la Chanson. In October and November, the series Crossing the Line: Border Films commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's falling with movies about dividing lines, including Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three (Oct. 23), starring James Cagney, and the 2002 French documentary De l'autre Cté (Oct. 30), about the U.S.-Mexico frontier.

Later this month, two Indian films, The Chess Players (Sept. 12) and Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (Sept. 18), tie in with the exhibition of Indian silver on display at the Chazen Museum of Art.

There's more, including the Polish Film Festival and the Tales from Planet Earth series, a collaboration with the UW's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Visit cinema.wisc.edu for details.

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