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Albert Johnson: A Wonderful Life at the Movies

January 2, 1999

In October the Pacific Film Archive lost a great friend and mentor who made an extraordinary contribution to world cinema. All of us were privileged to share a part of Albert Johnson's life-a wonderful life.During January and February, we remember Albert, who was so much a part of PFA's life and history since the early 1970s, with a few of his favorite things-a selection of movies which represent his ten years as Program Director of the San Francisco International Film Festival; his film classes at Berkeley and PFA on Third World Cinema and Images of Ethnic Minorities in American Cinema, taught in the Department of African American Studies which he helped found in the 1970s; his memorable tributes to great filmmakers and actors; his special interest in the cinema of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; his love of literature. And of course we celebrate his lifelong passion for the musical film, on which he was recognized worldwide as the authority. More than that, he had a song in his heart. As British film critic and historian David Robinson wrote in The Guardian, London: "Albert Johnson...was a unique figure in the international film world-an all-singing, all-dancing scholar and a teacher who exerted the enchantment of a pied piper." The consummate showman whose joy in life and charm gladdened the hearts of audiences, students, colleagues, and friends, he was ever the articulate and cultured gentleman possessed of grace. PFA's future programs promise to continue Albert's interests and concerns, in particular his belief that cinema was not only an art but a path to better understanding among human beings. The cinema was an expression of Albert himself, a man who refused to allow or accept any barriers of race, creed, gender, ethnicity, or nationality.Quotations by Albert Johnson in the following program notes are from the Program Guides of the San Francisco International Film Festival, 1965 to 1972, and 1980-1981. They are reproduced here (in condensed form) by permission of the San Francisco Film Society.Thursday February 25, 1999

Sunday, January 3, 1999
Earth


Sunday, January 3, 1999
Story of the Flaming Years


Thursday, January 7, 1999
Closely Watched Trains


Sunday, January 10, 1999
Escape Me Never


Sunday, January 10, 1999
The Scarlet Letter


Sunday, January 10, 1999
The Letter


Thursday, January 14, 1999
Hunger


Sunday, January 17, 1999
Nights of Cabiria


Thursday, January 21, 1999
The Battle of Algiers


Sunday, January 24, 1999
Charulata


Thursday, January 28, 1999
The First Teacher


Sunday, January 31, 1999
Faces


Sunday, January 31, 1999
The Cool World


Sunday, February 7, 1999
Classified X


Sunday, February 7, 1999
The Scar of Shame


Sunday, February 7, 1999
My Brother's Wedding


Sunday, February 14, 1999
The Lady with the Dog


Sunday, February 14, 1999
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg


Thursday, February 18, 1999
Alambrista!


Thursday, February 18, 1999
Bushman


Sunday, February 21, 1999
Gold Diggers of 1933


Sunday, February 21, 1999
Swing Time


Thursday, February 25, 1999
Double Suicide


Sunday, February 28, 1999
Nadro


Sunday, February 28, 1999
Mandabi (The Money Order)