The Wheeling Film Society (WFS) is a cultural partnership between the Ohio County Public Library, Oglebay Institute's Towngate Cinema, and Wheeling Jesuit University's Fine Arts and Literature Departments to screen classics of cinema repertory as they were meant to be seen, on a theater-size screen, to promote continued interest in and appreciation of an indigenous American art form and industry. Each season offers the Ohio Valley community an opportunity to see four classic films of lasting cultural value and to discuss the films with WJU's film scholar, John Whitehead, on the Tuesday after the screening. All programming is free of charge and open to all, with a general encouragement for parental guidance to be exercised in the attendance of children.

Film Society Host
John Whitehead is Associate Professor and Chair of Fine Arts with a focus on film studies, contemporary literature, and creative writing. He has been at WJU since 1990. His book, Appraising The Graduate: The Mike Nichols Classic and Its Impact in Hollywood, was published by McFarland in 2011, and his second book, Mike Nichols and the Cinema of Transformation, will be published by McFarland in 2014. A native of Philadelphia, he did his graduate work at Temple University, and wrote a creative thesis from which several short stories were subsequently published, including "The Sins of the Father," which won the 1987 Best Fiction award from The Other Side. He has subsequently published 20 short stories, more than a dozen of them in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. He has written regularly on books and culture for scholarly journals such as Christianity and Literature and The Christian Scholar's Review and for major newspapers in California, West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Recent study trips have taken him to the American Southwest, subject of a book he is researching (on cinema masterpieces in the National Parks), and to Northern California, where Alfred Hitchcock filmed Shadow of a Doubt, subject of his next book.

3rd Annual Season: 2014-2015
Oct. 17 - Towngate at 7:00 p.m.
Screening: North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) - 136 mins.
Oct. 21 - Library at Noon
Conversation: North by Northwest
Unsurprisingly, when Hitchcock approached the National Park Service about dangling Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint from Abraham Lincoln's nose, Park officials declined. So Hitchcock filmed on location at the Visitor's Center and built a studio replica of the monument for his stars to climb on. As justly famous as this climactic scene is, it is less celebrated than the one in which Grant battles a crop duster in a cornfield. The spectacular success of North by Northwest, a love story masquerading as a spy thriller, made possible Hitchcock's next, riskier project, Psycho. Beloved but often marginalized as a mere entertainment, North by Northwest explores the same preoccupations with existential identity and intimacy as "serious" films like 1958's Vertigo.

Jan. 23 - Towngate at 7:00 p.m.
Screening: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (George Roy Hill, 1969) - 110 mins.
Jan. 27 - Library at Noon
Conversation: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid The star power of pairing Paul Newman and Robert Redford (Butch and Sundance, respectively) was irresistible: never did villainy look more fun or charismatic. Nor was the film ideologically out of sync with its era: the Closing of the West became a provocative metaphor for paranoia about nationalist overreaching both within and beyond our borders. Butch and Sundance swiftly assumed a counter-cultural status that made them not only romantic idols but political icons of the late 1960s. Whether you'll be delighted or annoyed to have "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" bouncing around your brain for several days, don't miss the opportunity to see Utah's canyon country (nearly) as large as life and Newman and Redford (much) larger than life!

Mar. 27 - Towngate at 7:00 p.m.
Screening: Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935) - 101 mins. Mar. 31 - Library at Noon
Conversation: Top Hat "Heaven - I'm in heaven, and the cares that hung around me through the week seem to vanish like a gambler's lucky streak when we're out together dancing . . ." So Fred Astaire sings in this most iconic of his 10 collaborations with Ginger Rogers, a mistaken-identity musical comedy with delirious dance numbers. Maybe even more ecstatic than his ballroom flourishes with Rogers during Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek" is his duet with his own walking cane. Nominated for four Oscars including Best Picture, Top Hat was a gift from Hollywood's fantasia factory during a decade when American (and international) audiences, both of whom attended in record numbers, needed all the fantasy they could get.

Apr. 24 - Towngate at 7:00 p.m.
Screening: The Purple Rose of Cairo (Woody Allen, 1985) - 82 mins.
Apr. 28 - Library at Noon
Conversation: The Purple Rose of Cairo Woody Allen's hybrid of romantic comedy and fantasy set in 1935 in a small, Depression-gripped New Jersey town, centers on Cecilia, who prefers the movies to her real life with an abusive, out-of-work husband. One of the two movies she goes to see during the film is Top Hat; the other is an equally frothy Hollywood confection, set in Egypt and Manhattan, called The Purple Rose of Cairo. Cecilia becomes unusually absorbed in this movie: one of the characters literally comes down from the screen to meet and fall in love with her, and eventually takes her back into his luminous black-and-white world of nightclubs and penthouse apartments. Allen has long maintained that this comes closest of all his films to accomplishing exactly what he'd set out to make.

Past Wheeling Film Society Events