Doc's diamond


At Monday’s opening of the Regenstein Library’s summer exhibition, Doc Films at 75, approximately 30 students, alumni, and staff surveyed curiosities of America’s oldest student film society.

Doc Films was formally established in 1940 as the International House Documentary Film Group; its antecedents date back to 1932. Doc's leftist founders created the society as a venue for films that, according to the exhibition notes, “extolled cooperative living and critiqued American capitalism” through “socialist realist” documentaries. Groups accused the film society of communist sympathies through the 1950s—letters from the society’s records, such as a 1952 request for Soviet films from the Chicago Council of American-Soviet Friendship, support the charge.

Other objects displayed include Doc member passes from 1941, a poster advertising a 1950 showing of Jean Cocteau’s Les Parents Terribles (1948) for $0.65, and photos of Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, and John Ford speaking to Doc Films crowds. Director Fritz Lang’s martini recipe is written on the back of a picture of a stuffed monkey, whom Lang alternatively refers to as “Peter the gin-panzee” or, more affectionately, as “son.”

The exhibition runs through August 31.

Ethan Frenchman, '08

Photos: Vistors survey Doc Films history; Fritz Lang and "Peter the gin-panzee's" martini recipe is preserved for the historical record.

July 20, 2007