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BC History TV

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Boston College’s History Channel (Ch. 49) is broadcast to the entire BC campus community through closed-circuit cable. The History Channel serves primarily as a supplement to courses in the History Department; professors request certain films to be broadcast that correspond to the material being covered in their classes. In addition, the History Channel regularly features historical films that we hope will be of general interest to the BC community.

Each month, a listing of the films to be shown will be posted, along with links to a synopsis of each film. Weekly schedules will also be posted.

Showing in April

American Experience: Freedom Riders

This inspirational documentary is about a band of courageous civil-rights activists calling themselves the Freedom Riders. Gaining impressive access to influential figures on both sides of the issue, it chronicles a chapter of American history that stands as an astonishing testament to the accomplishment of youth and what can result from the incredible combination of personal conviction and the courage to organize against all odds. Originally produced as a documentary in 2010.

Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

In 1964, with the Cuban Missile Crisis fresh in viewers' minds, the Cold War at its frostiest, and the hydrogen bomb relatively new and frightening, Stanley Kubrick dared to make a film about what could happen if the wrong person pushed the wrong button -- and played the situation for laughs. Dr. Strangelove's jet-black satire (from a script by director Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, and Terry Southern) and a host of superb comic performances (including three from Peter Sellers) have kept the film fresh and entertaining, even as its issues have become (slightly) less timely. Loaded with thermonuclear weapons, a U.S. bomber piloted by Maj. T.J. "King" Kong (Slim Pickens) is on a routine flight pattern near the Soviet Union when they receive orders to commence Wing Attack Plan R, best summarized by Maj. Kong as "Nuclear combat! Toe to toe with the Russkies!" On the ground at Burpleson Air Force Base, Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) notices nothing on the news about America being at war. Gen. Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) calmly informs him that he gave the command to attack the Soviet Union because it was high time someone did something about fluoridation, which is sapping Americans' bodily fluids (and apparently has something to do with Ripper's sexual dysfunction). Meanwhile, President Merkin Muffley (Sellers again) meets with his top Pentagon advisors, including super-hawk Gen. Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott), who sees this as an opportunity to do something about Communism in general and Russians in particular. However, the ante is upped considerably when Soviet ambassador de Sadesky (Peter Bull) informs Muffley and his staff of the latest innovation in Soviet weapons technology: a "Doomsday Machine" that will destroy the entire world if the Russians are attacked. Author: Mark Deming

Little Dorrit

When Arthur Clennam returns to London after several years abroad, he wants to learn more about his mother's new seamstress, young Amy Dorrit. His search brings him to the Marshalsea Debtors Prison, where he learns the truth about struggle and hardship in 1820s England.

One Two Three

In his last starring film (it was supposed to be his last film, but Ragtime came along in 1981), James Cagney plays Coca-Cola executive C.R. MacNamara. Assigned to manage Coke's West Berlin office, MacNamara dreams of being transferred to London, and to do this he must curry favor with his Atlanta-based boss, Hazeltine (Howard St. John). Thus, MacNamara agrees to look after Hazeltine's dizzy, impulsive daughter, Scarlett (Pamela Tiffin), during her visit to Germany. Weeks pass, and on the eve of Hazeltine's visit to West Berlin, Scarlett announces that she's gotten married. Even worse, her husband is a hygienically challenged East Berlin Communist named Otto Piffl (Horst Buchholz). The crafty MacNamara arranges for Piffl to be arrested by the East Berlin police and to have the marriage annulled, only to discover that Scarlett is pregnant. In rapid-fire "one, two, three" fashion, MacNamara must arrange for Piffl to be released by the Communists and successfully pass off the scrungy, doggedly anti-capitalist Piffl as an acceptable husband for Scarlett. MacNamara must accomplish this in less than 12 hours, all the while trying to mollify his wife (Arlene Francis), who has learned of his affair with busty secretary Ingeborg (Lilo Pulver). Seldom pausing for breath, Billy Wilder's film is a crackling, mile-a-minute farce, taking satiric scattershots at Coca-Cola, the Cold War (the film is set in the months just before the erection of the Berlin Wall), Russian red tape, Communist and capitalist hypocrisy, Southern bigotry, the German "war guilt," rock music, and even Cagney's own movie image. Not all the gags are in the best of taste, and most of the one-liners have dated rather badly, but Cagney's mesmerizing performance holds the whole affair together. Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond adapted their screenplay from an obscure play by Ferenc Molnár. Watch for Red Buttons in an unbilled cameo as a military policeman, and listen for the voice of Sig Rumann, emanating from the mouth of actor Hubert Von Meyerinck (the Count von Droste-Schattenburg). Author: Hal Erickson

Too Big to Fail

Based on the bestselling book, this film offers an intimate look at the epochal financial crisis of 2008 and the powerful men and women who decided the fate of the world’s economy in a matter of a few weeks. Centering on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the film goes behind closed doors to examine the symbiotic relationship between wall Street and Washington.