Program Details

Cinematic Chemistry: That Inexplicable "Something"

Kurt F. Stone
Movies / Arts & Letters

Course Description

Since the days when movies were called flickers, “cinematic chemistry” has been as profitable as it has been elusive. The public has eagerly lapped up certain pairings – actors who together created a chemistry which fairly explodes off the screen. Sometimes the chemistry was physical (Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello); sometimes it was playfully romantic (Walter Pidgeon / Greer Garson, William Powell / Myrna Loy), occasionally it was the chemistry of opposites (Spencer Tracy / Katherine Hepburn). Regardless, the final arbiter of "cinematic chemistry" is today what it has always been: the ring of the cash register.


  1. William Powell / Myrna Loy: Evelyn Prentice (1934): The neglected wife of a high-profile attorney dallies with an unscrupulous womanizer.
  2. Janet Gaynor / Charles Farrell: Seventh Heaven (1927): A street cleaner saves a young woman’s life and the pair slowly fall in love.
  3. Clark Gable / Joan Crawford: Possessed (1931): Crawford is a factory worker who hopes to trade the assembly line for a beautiful penthouse apartment. Gable, a wealthy and influential lawyer.
  4. James Cagney / Pat O'Brien: Angels With Dirty Faces (1938): These two consummate Irish-American actors, made nine movies together.
  5. Errol Flynn / Olivia de Havlland: The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938): They just don’t make films like this anymore.
  6. Fred MacMurray / Claudette Colbert: No Time For Love (1943): Colbert plays an upper-class female reporter who is, despite herself, attracted to MacMurray, a hulking laborer.
  7. Clark Gable / Jean Harlow: Red Dust (1932): The second of their legendary six pairings. Gable stars as the owner of an Indochinese rubber plantation and Harlow, a floozy.
  8. Barbara Stanwyck / George Brent: So Big (1932): The first of their five pairings has Stanwyck playing a once well-to-do young lady who is now a teacher in a small rural community.

About the Instructor

  • Kurt F. Stone, DD, is now in his 23rd year with Lifelong Learning. His passion for film is, he says, "genetic," having been born in Hollywood, CA, and raised both in and around the movie industry. Stone is a multi-disciplinary sort of man, who has also written two well-received books on Congress, published nearly 900 essays, is an ordained rabbi and earns his living as a medical ethicist.

    Recipient of the 2004 Excellence in Teaching Award

Upcoming programs presented by Kurt F. Stone.

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