"The Firm" fans around Harvard are in luck: director Sydney Pollack will visit the Harvard Film Archive tomorrow to discuss the hit film after a screening in the Carpenter Center.
The event will be the first in a new series titled "Private Screenings," organized by the archive and by Professor Richard W. Brown of the New School for Social Research.
Brown has received mention in the national press for his classes at the New School in New York, where adults pay $225 to attend a series of film screenings and discussions--always accompanied by the presence and opinions of a star of the film.
He has become especially well-known for his in-depth interviews with the stars who come to his class.
Brown will not only interview and moderate a discussion with Pollack after tomorrow's screening, but he will also show an interview with Tom Cruise that was videotaped earlier this week.
Cruise originally wanted to come to the Harvard screening as well, Brown said.
"When he heard about it, he asked if he could come. But he had to be on location," Brown said. "On Monday I flew out and interviewed him for about two hours about the movie."
About 45 minutes out of the interview will be shown to the audience tomorrow night, Brown said.
Brown originally wanted a career in film directing, which he studied at New York University almost three decades ago. "Just before I graduated, I went into the hospital with a cerebral hemorrhage," he said. "After the rehabilitation and retraining and surgery...when I came out, I had lost my love for directing."
But, Brown said, he still wanted a profession connected with the movie industry. He started the course, "The Filmmakers Series," 25 years ago after several years spent teaching film workshops with Martin Scorsese.
Although Brown usually shows what he terms "commercial" films to his students, he plans to choose more offbeat pieces for the Harvard series, he said.
"For Harvard I'm looking more for cutting-edge movies--really good festival films, for example," he said.
Bruce C. Posner, assistant curator of the Harvard Film Archive, said the "Private Screenings" with Brown will happen about once a month.
Brown said he and Posner decided upon the widely popular "The Firm" for the first film because of the availability of Pollock and the movie's Harvard connection. "It's about a Harvard student...and it was filmed [in part] at Harvard," he said. "And it raises issues I want to talk about."
The next film scheduled in the series, "Into the West," will be shown by Brown next Saturday in the Carpenter Center. One of the film's two primary stars, Ellen Barkin and Gabriel Byrne, might attend, Posner said.
Posner said the idea for the series was born when Brown visited a Harvard foreign film workshop in April.
And Brown said he is looking forward to the series because of his past experience with the Harvard community.
"I loved what I saw [in April]," he said. "There was an intense edge in the dialogue of the Harvard students. I found it absolutely exhilarating."