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The Reel McCoy Film Group

Screening world cinema and forgotten gems since 1990

The Reel McCoy Film Group is a not-for-profit film society that since 1990 has been catering for people interested in cinema, particularly those who like to see timeless classics and overlooked gems at low cost.

Membership is $50 per annum, $35 for 6 months, or $20 for 3 months. Membership runs from the date of joining.

With very grateful support from

Canberra Museum and Gallery
Members of CMAG are welcome to join the Reel McCoy at a substantial discount:
membership for a year for only $20.

Screenings are held in the Theatre of Canberra Museum and Gallery (corner of London Circuit and City Square, Canberra City), usually on the second and last Sundays of each month at 12:30 pm.

Next screening:

Sunday, 8 October 2023 at 12:30 pm

Japan · 1952 · 143 min.
Director Akira Kurosawa
Cast Takashi Shimura, Nobou Kaneko, Kyoko Seki

Mr Watanabe (Shimura) is a bureaucrat who has worked at Tokyo City Hall for more than thirty years without accomplishing anything. He learns he is dying and realises that he has never really been alive. Now he must learn how to confront death and how to find meaning in his life. Although this was recently remade as the English film Living (2022) the original is still considered better. Celebrated director Akira Kurosawa fashioned not only a penetrating study of a man's last days, but a brilliant commentary on middle class life and bureaucracy that is universally understood.

For more information, e-mail us or come along to a screening

The Reel McCoy Film Group is a member of the Australian Film Societies Federation. Contact them to learn how to start and run a film society or group of your own.

Programme for the second half of 2023:

Sunday 12 February 2023

USA · 1954 · 112 min.
Director Alfred Hitchcock
Cast James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr, Wendell Corey

L. B. Jefferies (Stewart) is at home with a broken leg. He passes the time with visits from his girlfriend Lisa (Kelly) and his nurse (Ritter), and spying on his neighbours. Jefferies comes to believe that one of his neighbours (Burr) has killed his wife. But can he prove it? Like Jefferies, the audience is trapped in the apartment and can only see what he sees. Like him, we play the voyeur and are forced to watch rather than act. Alfred Hitchcock was the master of suspense, and many scholars, critics, and filmgoers consider this to be the most suspenseful film he made.

Sunday 26 February 2023

USA · 2009 · 106 min.
Directors Ethan and Joel Coen
Cast Michael Stuhlbarg, Sari Lennick, Fred Melamed

Larry Gopnik has "always tried to be a serious man". But he doesn’t seem to live in a serious community – or a serious universe. This is simultaneously the Coens’ most serious film and their most absurd – or at least, their most Jewish. It opens with a vignette of one of Gopnik’s ancestors who may – or may not – have encountered a dybbuk; then showing us how Gopnik himself is perpetually in the same state of quantum uncertainty as the subatomic particles he lectures about. A Jewish proverb asserts: "the whole world’s not crazy". But in some sense, the whole world seems to be having Gopnik on.

Sunday 12 March 2023

Spain, Mexico · 2001 · 106 min.
Cast Marisa Paredes, Fernando Tielve, Federico Luppi

Del Toro's gothic horror film is set in 1939, in the dying days of the Spanish Civil War. 12-year-old Carlos is sent to a boys' orphanage in a remote part of Spain. Upon arrival, he is aware that dark secrets lie hidden, finding manifestation in a haunting. Although initially preyed upon by the other boys, Carlos is driven to discover the cause of the haunting and wins their help in resolving the mystery. As in his later film Pan's Labyrinth, the director examines the effect of such dark histories through children's eyes, but always with compassion and tenderness.

Sunday 26 March 2023

UK · 1961 · 100 min.
Director Jack Clayton
Cast Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave, Pamela Franklin

In this Victorian period piece, Deborah Kerr plays Miss Giddens, the daughter of a vicar, accepting her first employment as a governess to two orphaned children. Their remote palatial home is staffed to ensure they're well cared for, but they are kept at arm's length by their wealthy but neglectful uncle. Miss Giddens begins to suspect that the house is haunted by spirits with a troubling connection to the children themselves. Based on the Henry James story The Turn of the Screw, the film's cinematography and Truman Capote's screenplay deliver lashings of gothic horror to spice up the psychological elements.

Sunday 9 April 2023

Italy · 1954 · 108 min.
Director Federico Fellini
Cast Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, Richard Basehart

Gelsomina (Masina), a naïve and simple young woman, is purchased by brutish circus strongman Zampanò (Quinn) to be his wife and partner. She loyally endures her husband's coldness and abuse as they travel the Italian countryside performing together. Soon Zampanò must deal with his jealousy and conflicted feelings about Gelsomina when she finds a kindred spirit in Il Matto (Basehart). An early masterpiece by Fellini and the first-ever winner of the Oscar® for Best Foreign Film, this folktale-like odyssey through the waste grounds of post-war Italy combines Italian neo-realism with Fellini’s style of surrealism.

Sunday 30 April 2023

Australia · 1996 · 101 min.
Director Shirley Barrett
Cast Miranda Otto, Rebecca Frith, George Shevtsov

This warm, funny film is probably the best-known work of the late Australian director, Shirley Barrett (1961 – 2022). It follows the exploits of two decidedly strange young sisters in the sleepy Murray River town of Sunray. Dimity works in the local Chinese restaurant, while Vicki-Ann is a romantically-minded hairdresser. When a new disc-jockey comes to town to join the radio station, they both take a fancy to him and set about attracting his attention. Unfortunately, his character is decidedly seedy. The result: conflict, misunderstanding, some great music, and plenty of laughs.
Introduced by film historian Marilyn Dooley.

Sunday 14 May 2023

Germany, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia · 2007 · 126 min.
Director Sergei Bodrov
Cast Tadanobu Asano, Sun Honglei, Chuluuny Khulan

In the late 12th century, nine-year-old Mongol princeling Temujin (the future Genghis Khan, played by Tadanobu Asano) selects Borte as his bride. After his father is killed Temujin is enslaved. He escapes, finds Borte and prepares to go ahead with the marriage. When Borte is kidnapped, Temujin and a friend rescue her but later fall out, leading to civil war. Temujin is again sold into slavery. This time Borte rescues Temujin who later defeats his rivals. An ambitious epic about fidelity and endurance related in an appealing style reminiscent of the very best historical dramas.

Sunday 28 May 2023

USA · 1974 · 105 min.
Director Billy Wilder
Cast Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Susan Sarandon

Hildy (Lemmon), an ace Chicago journalist, plans to get married and leave the cut-throat world of the yellow press – but his editor (Matthau) has other ideas. And with a hot story breaking, Hildy soon has other ideas too. The original 1928 play (by Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht, both seasoned reporters) on which this is based had been adapted for the screen twice, in 1931 and 1940, with both versions considered classics – but both toned down MacArthur and Hecht’s brazen cynicism. Billy Wilder, revisiting the material in 1974, takes the gloves off, and gives perhaps the definitive (if least well-known) version.

Sunday 11 June 2023

Germany · 1944 · 111 min.
Director Helmut Käutner
Cast Hans Albers, Ilse Werner, Hans Söhnker, Hilde Hildebrand

Great Freedom (Große Freiheit) is a Hamburg street, famous for its cabarets, theatres, and clubs. Number 7 is the location of a nightclub where a sailor from the nearby docks starts a singing career and gets caught in a love triangle. This straightforward, semi-tragic musical was made in the last years of the Nazi regime by a director whose films were apolitical enough to get made — but who never really gave Goebbels what he wanted, either. Goebbels thought this particular movie was not quite "German" enough, and banned it from release in Germany for the few months he still had the power to do so.

Sunday 25 June 2023

USA · 1942 · 127 min.
Director Sam Wood
Cast Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan, Betty Field, Claude Rains, Nancy Coleman, Charles Coburn

Growing up together in the small town of Kings Row are Parris Mitchell (Cummings), an aspiring doctor; wealthy orphan Drake McHugh (Reagan); Louise Gordon (Coleman), the daughter of sadistic Dr. Henry Gordon (Coburn); and Randy Monaghan (Sheridan), whose father is a railroad worker. The film that made the future President Reagan a movie star is a sweeping melodrama based on a dark, soapy bestselling novel. The film got Oscar® nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best black and white Cinematography for James Wong Howe. It is also well known for its score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

Sunday 9 July 2023

USA · 1956 · 119 min.
Director John Ford
Cast John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Ward Bond

A special commemoration screening for the late Richard Keys, co-founder of the Reel McCoy Film Group. One of Richard’s favourite films, The Searchers is an American classic, a complex western, beautifully written, directed, and photographed. It follows two men, Ethan Edwards (Wayne) and Martin Pauley (Hunter), as they search for a young girl, Debbie, abducted by Indians following a massacre. Ostensibly, Debbie is Ethan’s niece, but is she more, a daughter perhaps? And his motive for the search seems more like revenge than rescue. And what is the role of Martin, who is part Indian?

Sunday 30 July 2023

Lebanon · 2017 · 112 min.
Director Ziad Doueiri
Cast Adel Karam, Kamel el Basha, Diamand bou Abboud

Tony (Karam), a right-wing Christian and Salameh (el Basha), a Palestinian refugee, argue, and an insult leads to violence and a court case. The following legal drama examines and exacerbates long-festering wounds from the 1970s' Lebanese Civil War and causes political upheaval in an already unstable country. This film is Lebanon's first Oscar® nomination. David Stratton said: "Provocative and inclusive. A tense courtroom drama that seems certain to open the eyes of viewers to some of the Middle East’s most intractable situations. Superbly acted by all concerned. Anyone interested in political cinema should rush to see this fine movie."

Sunday 13 August 2023

USA · 2018 · 103 min.
Director Pamela B. Green
Cast Alice Guy-Blaché, Pamela B. Green, Jodie Foster

As an employee of Gaumont, Alice Guy-Blaché was present at the Lumière brothers' first screening in 1895 and was captivated by the possibilities of film. From the very next year she went on to produce and direct approximately 1000 films, first in France and later in her studio in the USA. Her position in Gaumont and then as head of a studio meant that she had a unique opportunity to experiment not only in narrative but also to explore innovations in camera work, editing, and sound. Pamela Green's documentary does much to re-discover this largely forgotten and certainly innovative filmmaker.

Sunday 27 August 2023

USA · 1954 · 103 min.
Director Stanley Donen
Cast Howard Keel, Jane Powell, Russ Tamblyn

Mountain farmer Howard Keel comes to town to get himself a wife. Dancing, singing Jane Powell says yes and back to the mountains they go. When they arrive, there are six brothers who decide to do exactly the same thing – only they forget to get permission from the girls’ parents. The politically incorrect plot is handled with a wholesome humour that makes this film irresistible. Add infectious music (by Johnny Mercer and Gene DePaul), a funny script (by Dorothy Kingsley, Frances Goodrich, and Albert Hackett), and the most fabulous dance sequences by Michael Kidd. Audiences so loved it, it became a popular Broadway show.

Sunday 10 September 2023

France · 1939 · 113 min.
Director Jean Renoir
Cast Marcel Dalio, Nora Gregor, Jean Renoir, Mila Parély, Julien Carette, Gaston Modot, Roland Toutain

A marquis organises a weekend shooting party and among the guests are: Genevieve, his mistress; Christine, his wife; André, the aviator in love with his wife; and his friend Octave. Over the weekend the upper class and their servants play the game of love which leads to comedy and tragedy. This is a scathing attack on a social system that the director was vehemently against. It is such a portrait of the selfishness and decadence of the French upper class that the French Government banned it out of fear that it would demoralise the French population on the eve of World War 2.

Sunday 24 September 2023

USA · 1997 · 110 min.
Director David Mamet
Cast Campbell Scott, Rebecca Pidgeon, Steve Martin

Joe (Scott) has invented "the process", a very clever, ground-breaking innovation that stands to make his company, and of course him, a fortune. But his innovation is simply far too good: everyone wants it, and someone wants to steal it. With this film, writer and director David Mamet initiated a retreat from the more acerbic, foul-mouthed plays and films he was well known for up to this time; and in doing so creates a delightfully serpentine, off-balance story, where Joe can’t be sure of anything he sees – and nor can we.

Sunday 8 October 2023

Japan · 1952 · 143 min.
Director Akira Kurosawa
Cast Takashi Shimura, Nobou Kaneko, Kyoko Seki

Mr Watanabe (Shimura) is a bureaucrat who has worked at Tokyo City Hall for more than thirty years without accomplishing anything. He learns he is dying and realises that he has never really been alive. Now he must learn how to confront death and how to find meaning in his life. Although this was recently remade as the English film Living (2022) the original is still considered better. Celebrated director Akira Kurosawa fashioned not only a penetrating study of a man's last days, but a brilliant commentary on middle class life and bureaucracy that is universally understood.

Sunday 29 October 2023

UK/France/Germany · 2010 · 128 min.
Director Roman Polanski
Cast Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams

Adam Lang (Brosnan) was "not a politician – he was a craze". Most of Britain loved him once; but now he’s hiding out in the United States, not daring to travel to anywhere else, lest he be arrested. He’s hired a ghost writer (McGregor) to tell his side of the story – but it looks like the former ghost writer was killed, for reasons unknown, by person unknown. And his successor, The Ghost, is, perhaps unwisely, unable to avoid investigating why. This story may be tailor made for the director, Polanski, who infuses supernatural dread into every scene – without a single actual ghost.

Sunday 12 November 2023

USA · 1982 · 109 min.
Director Robert Altman
Cast Sandy Dennis, Cher, Karen Black, Kathy Bates

Members of the Disciples of James Dean fan club gather on the pre-arranged 20th anniversary of their idol's death. The small dusty Texas town with the faded 5 & Dime store is close to the town of Marfa where Dean died while filming Giant. Tensions build amongst the fan club members as their reminiscences reveal confronting truths long hidden. The Jimmy Dean of the title is the reputed love child of one of the Disciples and Dean himself. Altman shot this film version soon after the successful Broadway production of the play. The film is an ensemble piece with an almost totally female cast, all at their best.

Sunday 26 November 2023

Australia · 1997 · 95 min.
Director Sue Brooks
Cast Tony Barry, Vikki Blanche, Paul Chubb, Lynette Curran

One of three carloads of lady lawn-bowlers, returning from a tournament in Quambatook, has an accident. The word gets back to the sleepy rural town of Pyramid Hill, population 550, generating multiple rumours as to which car was involved, much confusion on the accident's actual location, and resulting in chaotic search and rescue efforts. This quirky, gentle, rustic comedy boasts a large ensemble cast of well-known Australian film and television character actors and is the product of the feminist production team, Gecko Films. One reviewer described the film as "set in a timeless Australia of stoic women and easy-going men".

Sunday dd month 202y

Country · year · mm min.

Please note that programme details are subject to change without notice

List of films screened by Reel McCoy Film Group and Big House Film Society,
2000 - 2022 (PDF format)

Copyright © 2023 Reel McCoy Film Group


Country · year · mm min.