Week of January 22, 2003

Salome. Charles Bryant. Alla Nazimova stars in this 1923 silent classic with accompaniment by the New Music Circle. Shows at 7 p.m. Friday, January 24, in the auditorium of the St. Louis Art Museum. $5; $3 members. NR

Smile. Michael Ritchie. Often compared -- not unfavorably -- to Robert Altman's Nashville, 1975's other multitextured satire of American culture, Michael Ritchie's Smile, filters middle-class values and vices through the medium of a small-town beauty pageant. While the judges and promoters (Bruce Dern and Barbara Feldon among them) use the event to mask their own dysfunctional lives, the contestants (including a very young Melanie Griffith) are revealed as baton-twirling Machiavellians, determined to smile, pad, flirt or use any other ability they can muster (one contestant's competitive "talent" is her skill for packing luggage) in their pursuit of the title of Young American Miss. Jerry Belson's script falls down in a few minor places, mostly when it strays from the contest and into the clichéd suburban angst of Feldon and Dern, but such moments are usually cut short. In its best and least self-conscious moments, Smile delivers a few sharp arrows into a peculiarly American intersection of sex, greed and ambition, with a performance by choreographer Michael Kidd that may well be the greatest unsung supporting role of the 1970s. First in a six-part "The 1970s: Cinema of Neglect" series. Shows at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 28, in the Fontbonne University library's Lewis Room. For information, call 314-719-8061. Free. (RH)

Stagecoach. John Ford. Western starring John Wayne shows at 2 p.m. Friday, January 24, in the auditorium of the Kirkwood Public Library, 140 East Jefferson. For information, call 314-821-5770, ext. 0. Free. NR

To Be or Not to Be. Ernst Lubitsch. Jack Benny and Carole Lombard star as a husband-and-wife acting team who perform with a Warsaw company during World War II. Members of the troupe inadvertently become involved in outwitting German fascists. The comedy classic offers a scathing satire of Nazi ideology. Robert A. Cohn, editor and publisher of the St. Louis Jewish Light, introduces the film. Shows at 2 p.m. Sunday, January 26, at the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. For more information, call 314-432-0020. Free. NR.

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