The 1959 romantic comedy "Pillow Talk" is not the kind of movie Dave Johnson would pick for himself. Fortunately for Johnson, he has the Atlantic City Free Public Library's Film Society to help him expand his theatrical horizons.
Johnson, who has been a member of the group since its founding seven years ago, said he hardly expected the Doris Day/Rock Hudson vehicle to become one of his favorites - but nevertheless, it did.
"A '50s romantic comedy? I didn't expect I'd be laughing out loud at that," Johnson said.
Since 2006, the group has met one Saturday afternoon a month to view and discuss a film, reconvening the following Monday for a classroom lesson on the film taught by group coordinator and Senior Library Assistant Theresa Hawkins, who founded the Film Society. The group will watch "Monsieur Verdoux," a lesser-known Charlie Chaplin film, at 1 p.m. Aug. 10 and will discuss it at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 12.
The Film Society celebrated its seventh anniversary with a party July 15, with about 15 members of the group turning out for snacks, trivia and the chance to reminisce about the films they've watched together over the years. Many of those attending were, like Johnson, founding members, and they said one thing has kept them coming back, month after month - Hawkins.
A graduate of Hunter College with a degree in filmmaking, Hawkins has an intimate experience with filmmaking and an expansive knowledge of Hollywood history, both of which have earned her the accolades of group members.
Founding member Tinker Lonergan said he always looks forward to the Monday classes for behind-the-scenes tidbits and directing insights he can't get on his own.
"Nobody is more knowledgeable than she is," Lonergan said. "She's amazing with the stuff she tells us."
Hawkins got the idea to start the group when, while manning the circulation desk, she noticed the library had several members who would frequently come in to check out movies.
At the same time, she noted that while the library has daily offerings for kids and seniors, it had little in the way of groups and classes for adults. Seeing an audience and an opportunity, she made the group, and it has proven successful.
"We have such a nice, diverse group," Hawkins said. "Younger, older. All different nationalities and everything, their one common thing is a love of movies."
Hawkins selects a wide variety of films to showcase, from classic comedies to modern thrillers. With such a broad backlog of watched films, Johnson's experience in finding a gem he would usually overlook is the norm for members. Lonergan had a similar experience with the 1994 crime film "Shallow Grave," and, after viewing it, purchased other movies in director Danny Boyle's catalog.
The 1959 James Stewart courtroom drama, "Anatomy of a Murder," which features a score by Duke Ellington, proved to be a favorite of member Sylvia Carter. A relatively new member of the group at three years, Carter said she is glad she joined.
"Even if you've seen the movie before and you come here, it's so different," Carter said. "(Hawkins) just lays it all out and you meet great people and you make new friends."
Contact Braden Campbell:
If you go
What: 'Monsieur Verdoux' screening and classroom session.
When: Screening: Aug. 10, 1 p.m. Classroom session: Aug. 12, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Atlantic City Free Public Library, 1 N. Tennessee Ave.
How much: Free.
More info: Call 609-345-2269 x3112 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.