John Williams

In a career spanning over six decades, John Williams has established himself as the best-known movie music composer of all time. Our Sunday afternoon series for February-May takes us from Williams’ jazzy origins in 60s comedies and capers to his iconic orchestral scores for some of the biggest blockbusters from the 70s onward, including several key pairings with Williams’ most celebrated collaborator, director Steven Spielberg. Please note: While Lucasfilm is currently not licensing the first six chapters of the Star Wars saga for theatrical viewing, a prelude to this series will be offered on Sunday, January 29 when we present a screening of the Williams-scored Star Wars: The Force Awakens as part of the "Cinematheque in 3-D!" series in our regular venue, 4070 Vilas Hall.

  • Sun., Feb. 5 | 2:00 PM

In one of the very best of all 70s blockbusters, an unusually large and vicious great white shark is devouring swimmers off the coast of a tiny New England resort town. It’s up to the newly appointed police chief (Scheider), an ichthyologist (Dreyfuss) and a salty fisherman (Shaw) to kill the ‘eating machine’. John Williams’ score, which takes inspiration from other classic seafaring adventures, as well as Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, made him the most sought-after composer in Hollywood.

  • Sun., Feb. 12 | 2:00 PM

Professor Bruce Patterson (quintessential uptight Brit Terry-Thomas) decides to lease the apartment of his fiancée (Celeste Holm) while she is abroad. Complications ensue when her teenage daughter (Weld) decides to visit. Tashlin’s hilarious CinemaScope sex romp comes complete with a pants-dropping finale and a jazzy early score from John (then Johnny) Williams!

  • Sun., Feb. 19 | 2:00 PM

In the third film in the series, Harry Potter fears the new threat of Sirius Black, a traitorous murderer who escaped from the magical prison Azkaban––and who happens to have a personal vendetta against the young wizard hero. Along with the excellent additions of Gary Oldman and Emma Thompson to the cast, Cuarón brings a tone of darkness and dread to the youthful mysteries at Hogwarts, marking a lasting shift for the franchise in one of its best entries. The Prisoner of Azkaban also contains the third and last of John Williams’ original scores for the saga. (MS)

  • Sun., Feb. 26 | 2:00 PM

An art forger’s daughter (Hepburn) teams up with a suave burglar (O’Toole) to retrieve a fake Cellini statue from a heavily secured museum. Director Wyler, re-teamed with his Roman Holiday discovery Hepburn, finds a suitably light touch for this entertaining caper. It is also helped along by the enormously charming cast, which also includes Eli Wallach, and Hugh Griffith, and bouncy John Williams music.

  • Sun., Mar. 5 | 2:00 PM

In a late career performance, Wayne plays an aging rancher who, abandoned by his usual employees, sets out on a massive cattle drive aided only by a group of young schoolboys. Dern is memorably creepy as a shaggy-haired rustler shadowing the herd. The music by John Williams, some of his very best, is alternately rousing and elegiac.

  • Sun., Mar. 12 | 2:00 PM

Indy (Ford) is recruited to infiltrate an ancient, evil cult that has kidnapped and enslaved all of the children from a small village in India. Spielberg's follow-up to Raiders of the Lost Ark adds a great deal more humor and even a musical number to its continuing tribute to classic Saturday matinee adventure films and serials, but it’s the brilliant action sequences, including a rollicking mine car chase, that makes this memorable and a must see on the big screen. This 35mm stereo print that will be shown provides a fine showcase for one of the very best scores of John Williams, who builds on the familiar Raiders march with a whole new set of themes and leitmotifs.

  • Sun., Mar. 19 | 2:00 PM

Real-life next-door neighbors Brando and Nicholson made only one film together, this dark and odd 70s Western from acclaimed auteur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde). Nicholson plays the leader of a gang of horse thieves who are hunted by Brando, a highly eccentric hired killer who occasionally works in drag. John Williams’ music is appropriately minimalist and moody.

  • Sun., Mar. 26 | 2:00 PM

Vietnam veteran Stone’s second movie to deal directly with the war is an adaptation of the autobiography of Ron Kovic. A gung-ho marine who was wounded and paralyzed during his second tour of duty, Kovic returned to the U.S. and became a leading anti-war activist. Born on the Fourth of July is solidly anchored by a powerhouse Cruise performance as Kovic and John Williams’ mournful Americana score, featuring trumpet soloist Tim Morrison.

  • Sun., Apr. 9 | 2:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

DiCaprio plays real-life all-American con artist Frank Abagnale, Jr., a teenager in the 1960s who made millions while variously posing as a pilot, a lawyer and a doctor. Hanks is the dogged FBI agent who chases Abagnale around the world and an Oscar-nominated Walken plays Abagnale’s father. Spielberg’s typically fleet-footed direction keeps this caper/character study fascinating throughout. John Williams’ Oscar-nominated score returns the composer to his jazz roots.

  • Sun., Apr. 16 | 2:00 PM

On New Year’s Eve, a tidal wave flips over a luxury ocean liner, leaving only its bottom sticking up above water. A small group of crafty survivors, led by Man-of-the-Cloth Hackman, face a number of deadly obstacles as they try to make it to the “top” of the vessel. The best-loved of the cycle of 70s disaster movies, this Irwin Allen production features a stormy score by John Williams, who also wrote the music for Earthquake and Allen’s The Towering Inferno.

  • Sun., Apr. 23 | 2:00 PM

Elliott (Thomas), the 10-year-old son of divorced parents, finds a unique friend in an alien visitor stranded on earth. An enduring fantasy, Spielberg’s enormously successful blockbuster is also one of the great movies about childhood. The director’s vision is aided immeasurably by one of the most emotional of all of John Williams compositions. The original 1982 release version will be shown.

  • Sun., Apr. 30 | 2:00 PM

Bram Stoker’s legendary bloodsucker saga is given a lush, fog-filled 70s update from Badham, director of Saturday Night Fever. The suave and sexy Langella, recreating his turn from a successful Broadway production, is the perfect Dracula for the disco-era and Olivier is an enjoyably hammy Van Helsing. Badham eschews a pop soundtrack, opting for a wonderfully doom-laden orchestral sound courtesy of composer John Williams.

  • Sun., May. 7 | 2:00 PM

Scientists, industrial spies, and two cute kids are let loose in a theme park stocked with real live dinosaurs and chaos (theory) ensues. Spielberg’s first real “monster” movie after Jaws provided the director, along with his longtime composer John Williams, bountiful chances to flex their action/suspense muscles. Williams also took the opportunity to create yet another of his grand, stirring, iconic themes. (BR)