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Lecture to explore the great love stories of Hollywood history

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A Valentine’s Day date is not complete without a good romantic movie–and why not make it a classic? Or perhaps even a work of cinematic art?

‘Romance On The Silver Screen’ will be presented at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 12 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2301 Deltona Blvd. in Spring Hill through the Academia Hernando lecture series, a not-for-profit lifelong learning organization that seeks to inform, educate and inspire adult learners in this area through a series of weekly lectures. 

“A look at romantic love in the movies, from the first shocking silent screen kiss through the great love stories of Hollywood history. Classic film clips illuminate the backstory of these unforgettable looks at love,” reads an event description. “We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll sing along with such greats as Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Doris Day, Cary Grant, Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and more.”

Romance on the Silver Screen will be presented by Jason Fortner, who works as Creative Director of Wizard Studio International and Producer and Director for Clearwater’s Francis Wilson Playhouse. He is also a major fan of classic romance movies. “In the class, we will look at classic scenes in such films as Camille with Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story, and my personal favorite film, Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman,” said Fortner. “We’ll look at comedies too, from Chaplin to modern romantic comedies.”

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Camille, starring the legendary Garbo and Robert Taylor, is a tragically romantic costume drama concerning a Parisienne who must choose between love and money. The Philadelphia Story is a spirited romantic comedy starring Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart. Casablanca is the timeless tale of love, war, and loss. Between them, these films earned numerous film awards and even more hearts–winning new fans to this day, when cinematic romantic escapes are more needed than ever. “Romance films, be they dramatic, comedic, or epic -provide true escapism from the everyday problems of real life,” said Fortner. “They elevate us above the mundane and help us celebrate life through love.”

And beyond being great romances, these flicks are exceptional movies and cinematic art. On the American Film Institute’s list of “The 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time,” Casablanca ranks no. 2; The Philadelphia Story ranks no. 51; and Chaplin’s City Lights ranks no. 76.

The Academia Hernando adult education program claims its origins as a division of the learning in retirement unit of the University of South Florida and originally was called “Mondays in Brooksville.” Incorporated as a 501(c) 3 domestic non-profit business Nov. 18, 2010, Academia Hernando this year features an itinerary of nine guest speakers/educators.  The program is overseen by board President Marge Griffin; booking is conducted by Sharon Printz and Mickey Mandel, board members of Academia Hernando, backed by a board that provides speaking leads and other valuable support.

“Jason Fortner previously spoke to our Academia Hernando audience on the topic of The Irish on Broadway. Many guests said it was their favorite program,” said Printz. “He really cares about his subject, and really gets into the presentation.” Printz looks forward to Fortner’s take on romance at the movies; one she says is custom scheduled for the Valentine’s Day holiday. “He has a genuine love for old films, and gives an excellent presentation,” she said.

Other upcoming Academia Hernando presentations will include Catch Me If You Can: Inside The Mind of the Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy, presented Friday, Feb. 19, 10 a.m., by David Hachmeister; Key West-Pirates, Patriots, and Painters, presented Friday, Feb. 26, 10 a.m., by Cathy Salustri; The Colorful Life of Georgia O’Keeffe, and Friday, Mar. 5 at 10 a.m., by Nan Colton. A Mystery Excursion will round out this year’s schedule Friday, March 12.

All presentations will be conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines in a theater booked to half capacity. Masks will be worn by all audience members, who will be socially distanced from one another and the stage. Hand sanitizer will be available.

An Academia Hernando series subscription is $70 per person and includes all lectures and a Mystery Excursion for subscribers only. For more information, visit www.academiahernando.org or call 352-515-0300 or 352-686-4035. Advance registration is strongly recommended, but walk-in visitors are invited to attend at a cost of $10 per presentation if space is available.

Regarding the appeal of romantic movies during troubled times, Fortner leaves us with the words of a legend.

“As Bette Davis says in Now, Voyager,” he quoted. “Oh Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon… we have the stars.”


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