Program Details

From West 44th to the Sunset Strip: The Algonquin Round Table Goes Hollywood

Kurt F. Stone
Movies / Storytelling
Video Catch-up

Course Description

During the 1920s, there was no wittier gathering than the acerbic souls who made up the "Algonquin Round Table" in Manhattan.  At any given lunch one might find such wags as Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman, Alexander Woolcott, Harpo Marx, Robert Benchley and Robert Sherwood. Eventually, many moved west to Hollywood, where they would write some of the best screenplays of all time, drink a lot, and earn unheard of sums of money. In this series, we will view seven of the best, if not best known, movies written by the cynics of the Algonquin Round Table. Their stories, scripts and films would forever change and spice up Hollywood films.


  1. Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994): A film which introduces us to Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table.
  2. Topaz (1933): Screenplay by Ben Hecht, staring John Barrymore and Myrna Loy in which the “great profile” plays a naïve schoolteacher who gets a lesson in how the world really works.
  3. The Little Foxes (1941): Screenplay by Dorothy Parker, Starring Bette Davis and Herbert Marshall star in the story of the moneyed, conniving Hubbard clan in the early 20th century South. Nominated for nine Academy Awards.
  4. The Scoundrel (1935): Screenplay by Hecht & MacArthur. Noel Coward stars as a ruthless publisher who dies in a plane crash, but is given a one-month extension on life in which he must find one person to mourn his passing in order to get into heaven.
  5. Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940): Screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood. Raymond Massey and Ruth Gordon star. The young pre-presidential Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln gain the respect of their Illinois neighbors as they begin making their way up the political ladder. 
  6. A Night at the Opera (1935): Screenplay by George S. Kaufman. Generally considered the best of all Marx Brothers movies, co-starring Alan Jones, Margaret Dumont and Kitty Carlyle, the future wife of Kaufman's frequent collaborator, Moss Hart.
  7. An Affair to Remember (1957): Screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr star in one of the all-time great romance films.
  8. The Enchanted Cottage (1945): Screenplay by Herman Mankiewicz. Starring Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire. A homely maid and a battle-scarred soldier fall in love and move to a cottage where they look beautiful to one another – but no one else. Adapted from a play by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero.

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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