Archive for the ‘News’ Category


Dear friends,

I regret to inform you that I will no longer be teaching courses in McNally Robinson’s Community Classroom, for the foreseeable future. A number of factors led to this unhappy decision, including the viral pandemic.

My sincere thanks for your interest and support during the eight years when I taught at McNally’s. I greatly enjoyed preparing and presenting all the courses and events, and interacting with you. Sharing the things I love is very important to me.

Please continue supporting the classroom and the many gifted folk who offer courses there.

Best regards,




Lubitsch created a catalogue of enchanting films that have retained their worldly-wise, old-world charm for many decades. He had enough faith in his audiences to not show them everything, and let them fill in the blanks of his bubbly, champagne plots. His protégé, the distinguished film maker Billy Wilder, posted a sign in his office that read, “What Would Lubitsch Do?” Bonus features including interviews and behind-the scenes anecdotes will enhance your enjoyment.

Trouble in Paradise (1932) Entanglements and jealousies develop when a gentleman thief and a lady pickpocket join forces to con a beautiful perfume company owner. Kay Francis, Herbert Marshall and Miriam Hopkins are featured, along with veteran scene-stealers Charlie Ruggles and Edward Everett Horton.
Ninotchka (1939) An unemotional Russian agent finds her state-dictated reserve melting in the warmth of a Parisian love affair. Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas headline this classic farce. “Garbo Laughs!”
The Shop around the Corner (1940) Two employees at a gift shop in Budapest can barely stand each other, without realizing that they are falling in love through the mail as each other’s anonymous pen pal. Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart and Frank Morgan star in this winsome story.
Cluny Brown (1946) A free-spirited parlor maid and a Czech refugee surprise an English village with their unconventional ways. Charles Boyer and Jennifer Jones head the cast of Lubitsch’s final completed film, an affectionate satire of all things English.

Four Tuesdays, October 13 to November 3, 2020
1:00pm to 4:00pm
Fee: $90


It’s glorious to hear great pianists play, but it’s even better to watch them, too! This magnificent keyboard feast brings you live video performances (concertos with orchestra, and solo selections) by Vladimir Horowitz, Artur Rubinstein, Glenn Gould, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Martha Argerich, Murray Perahia, Alfred Brendel, Marc-André Hamelin, Yuja Wang, Jan Lisiecki and more. Repertoire includes music by Chopin, Brahms, Beethoven, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Mozart, Schumann, Bach and more. Fascinating anecdotes and interview footage will add to your enjoyment.

Five Tuesdays, November 10 to December 8, 2020
1:00pm to 3:00pm
Fee: $125


A hugely entertaining and nostalgic double helping of the best in mid-twentieth-century popular American music! You’re guaranteed to leave humming.

Part One: The Great American Songbook
Drawing first and foremost upon the revered series of “Songbook” recordings that Ella Fitzgerald – the First Lady of Song – made in the 1950s and 1960s, you’ll enjoy a glorious sampling of the greatest works by celebrated American songwriters such as George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen and Irving Berlin. Also performing are a superlative lineup of other gifted singers who have mined this evergreen catalogue, ranging from Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett to Linda Ronstadt, k.d. lang, Diana Krall and Michael Bublé.

Part Two: Stormy Weather, the Movie
After lunch, you’ll enjoy the 1943 feature film Stormy Weather, featuring sensational performances by the crème de la crème of African-American performers, including Lena Horne, Cab Calloway and His Cotton Club Orchestra, and “Fats” Waller, as well as dancers Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and the Nicholas Brothers.

Monday, November 23, 2020
Music: 10:00am to 12:00pm
Movie: 1:15pm to 2:45pm
Fee: $50


Call it chemistry! When the right pair of actors share the screen (sometimes several times), especially bright fireworks go off, and going to the movies hits new peaks of enjoyment. These five prime pairings – in movies ranging from comedies and dramas to adventures and musicals – celebrate the special magic that bounces off the screen when made-in-movie-heaven team-ups take place. Plentiful behind-the-scenes information will increase your enjoyment.

Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in Adam’s Rib (1949)
Domestic and professional tensions mount when a husband and wife work as opposing lawyers in a case involving a woman who shot her husband. The sensational Judy Holliday co-stars in a film that received an Oscar nomination for screenplay.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Top Hat (1935)
An American dancer comes to England and falls for a model whom he initially annoyed, but she mistakes him for his goofy producer. This delicious song-and-dance confection received four Oscar nominations including best picture and best song for Irving Berlin’s classic, Cheek to Cheek.
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep (1946)
When hard-boiled private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a wealthy general to stop his daughter from being blackmailed over gambling debts, Marlowe finds himself deep within a web of love triangles, murder, gambling, and organized crime. “Bogie and Baby’s” second pairing delivers plenty of twists, suspense and smoldering romantic banter.
Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
While England’s King Richard is off on a crusade, it’s up to a brave band of outlaws to battle against the forces of wicked Prince John. The Warner Bros. studio gave this greatest of all swashbuckling movies the lavish production values and noble, joyous spirit it deserved. Chivalry and romance never burned so brightly, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Oscar-winning music score underscores every action and emotion brilliantly. It won additional Oscars for art direction and editing, and was nominated for best picture.
Paul Newman and Robert Redford in The Sting (1973) In this follow-up to Newman and Redford’s 1969 hit, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, two 1930s grifters team up to pull off the ultimate con. This hugely entertaining, light-hearted thriller received 10 Oscar nominations and won in seven categories: picture, director, screenplay, art direction, costumes, editing and music.

Five Tuesdays, January 26 to February 23, 2021
1:00PM to 4:00pm
Fee: $110


Nine hundred years of European history come vibrantly to life in this quartet of sweeping epic movies. A blend of straight-ahead action films and more thoughtful pictures, it’s anchored by two mammoth Samuel Bronston productions, directed by Anthony Mann. The Bronston films will be presented in their original “roadshow” format, complete with overtures and intermissions.

The Vikings (1958) Against the fierce background of the Vikings’ attempt to conquer England, two men who don’t know they’re half-brothers battle for the hand of the same English princess, in this hearty adventure that was glorious filmed on location in Norway. Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine and Janet Leigh head the cast. “A spectacular, brawling epic.” – Life magazine
The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) The first of the course’s Samuel Bronston spectaculars charts the power struggles, betrayals and wars that ushered in the final centuries of the Roman empire. The superlative cast includes Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Alec Guinness, James Mason and Christopher Plummer. Bronston’s stunning recreation of the Roman Forum remains the biggest set ever built for a movie. This film involves some of the same characters and events as Gladiator (2000). “Intelligent scripting and fine acting place this far above the usual empty-headed spectacular…A winner all the way.” – Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide
The Last Valley (1970) As the seventeenth century’s Thirty Years’ War ravishes central Europe, a band of mercenary German soldiers takes refuge with the inhabitants of a remote Alpine mountain valley in hopes of sitting out the remainder of the war in peace. Michael Caine and Omar Sharif head the cast of a film written, produced and directed by James Clavell (Shogun). “…a moving, unusually intelligent film of the same calibre as the later films of David Lean.” – DVD Talk
El Cid (1961) Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren star in the course’s second mammoth Samuel Bronston blockbuster. It tells the story of Spain’s greatest hero, an eleventh-century nobleman who united Christians and Moors to battle a common enemy for the destiny of their country. Spectacular in every way and sporting some of the most exciting action footage in screen history, this is an adventure for the ages. Oscar nominations: music (Miklós Rózsa) and art direction. “It is hard to remember a picture in which scenery and regal rites and warfare have been so magnificently assembled and photographed as they are in this dazzler.” – New York Times

Four Thursdays, March 4 to 25, 2021
6:00pm (class lengths vary, 2.5 to 3.5 hours)
Fee: $90


Tchaikovsky won his enduring popularity through his unsurpassed flair for melody, his rich style of orchestration, and the powerful emotions that flow from his finest scores. His six symphonies chart the unfolding of his creative and personal lives as clearly as anything he composed. Each session in this absorbing course will conclude with one of them, All of them will be live video performances led by some of the most illustrious of maestros, including Leonard Bernstein, Valery Gergiev and Herbert von Karajan. Other major works to be sampled will include concertos, ballets, operas and symphonic poems. Extensive readings from his correspondence will add further insights.

Six Tuesdays, April 13 to May 17, 2021
1:00pm to 3:00pm
Fee: $150

These events take place in the Community Classroom at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave. To register, please call 204 475 0483, drop by the store, or log on to and click on Community Classroom. Please note that contents, fees and dates are subject to change.



It’s a full-scale, multi-faceted tribute to the Chairman of the Board! First you’ll enjoy more than two dozen of Old Blue Eyes’ finest recordings, spiced with glimpses of his life and times. After lunch, you’ll watch his Oscar-winning performance in the classic film drama, From Here to Eternity (1953). This brilliant movie focuses on a group of American soldiers, stationed in Hawaii, leading up to the Pearl Harbour attack. The stellar cast includes Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Sinatra and Donna Reed (supporting actress Oscar). The movie received a stunning 13 Oscar nominations and won eight, including picture and director.

Thursday, November 21, 2019
Music: 10am to 11:45am
Movie: 1:00pm to 3:15pm

Fee: $45 (lunch not included)

This event takes place in the Community Classroom at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave. To register, please call 204 475 0483, drop by the store, or log on to and click on Community Classroom. Please note that contents, fees and dates are subject to change.


These six wonderful movies focus on humour but also have important things to say about love, kindness. conscience, self-esteem, moral principles and generosity. They’re guaranteed to leave you smiling but with food for thought, too. They feature some of the top screen talent of the day, headlined by legendary stars Cary Grant, James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Charles Laughton, Ronald Colman and Joel McCrea, and guided by top directors including Leo McCarey, Frank Capra, Preston Sturges, George Stevens and Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Interviews, documentaries and behind-the-scenes anecdotes will enrich your enjoyment.

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) A reserved English valet finds himself in the wild west when an uncouth nouveau riche American wins his services in a poker game. Charles Laughton gives an outstanding performance in this heartwarming movie that was nominated for the best picture Oscar.
You Can’t Take It with You (1938) Comic complications ensue when a woman from a blissfully eccentric family, and the son of wealthy snobs, fall in love. This classic received seven Oscar nominations and won for picture and director (Frank Capra). Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore and Edward Arnold head the cast.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) Will a good-hearted prize fighter, taken to heaven 50 years before his time and reincarnated as a millionaire playboy, find true love amidst all these complications? Robert Montgomery, Claude Rains and Evelyn Keyes head the cast of this whimsical and touching delight. It received seven Oscar nominations including picture, director, leading actor, supporting actor (James Gleason) and screenplay, and it won for screenplay.
Sullivan’s Travels (1941) Does comedy matter in an often sorrowful world? A movie director who’s made nothing but silly comedies vows to make his next picture serious and important instead. To learn about the destitute side of life, he takes to the road as a hobo, in this brilliant film that was written and directed by the astonishingly gifted Preston Sturges. Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake are featured.
The Talk of the Town (1942) An unjustly imprisoned radical escapes from jail and vies with a distinguished, tradition-minded jurist for the hand of a school teacher. Cary Grant, Jean Arthur and Ronald Colman star in a picture that proposes that sometimes the true spirit of the law lies beyond the letter of the law. It received seven Oscar nominations, including picture and screenplay.
People Will Talk (1951) An unconventional doctor defends his humanist practices and finds love within the walls of his own clinic, in this heartening film that’s anchored by Cary Grant’s stellar performance. Jeanne Crain, Walter Slezak and Hume Cronyn co-star.

Six Tuesdays, Oct 29 to Dec 3, 2019
1:00pm to 4:00pm
Fee: $130

This course takes place in the Community Classroom at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave. To register, please call 204 475 0483, drop by the store, or log on to and click on Community Classroom. Please note that contents, fees and dates are subject to change.



A fascinating and different way to learn about great composers! For every pair of front-rank composers who couldn’t stand each other and despised each other’s music, there have been many groups of two or more who have inspired and encouraged each other in various ways. A wide range of musical selections will illustrate these composers’ common traits and examine how the composers may have influenced each other’s music: Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi; Carl Maria von Weber, Hector Berlioz and Franz Liszt; Edvard Grieg, Frederick Delius and Percy Grainger; Johannes Brahms and Antonín Dvořák; Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Modest Mussorgsky; Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss; Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky; Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst; Dmitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten. Their personal relationships with each other will also be discussed, including excerpts from their correspondence.

The stellar roster of performers on DVD and CD includes conductors Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan, Sir Thomas Beecham, Bernard Haitink, Neeme Järvi, Carlos Kleiber, Kurt Masur, Sir Simon Rattle, Pierre Boulez, Valery Gergiev, Sir Georg Solti and Rafael Kubelik; pianists Alfred Brendel, Marc-André Hamelin, Martha Argerich, András Schiff, Denis Matsuev, Leif Ove Andsnes and Emil Gilels; violinists Hilary Hahn, James Ehnes and Julia Fischer; and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. The course includes the film Song of Summer, which dramatizes the final years of Frederick Delius’s life. “An immensely moving story of sacrifice, idealism and musical genius” – DVD Beaver

Five Tuesdays, Sep 24 to Oct 22, 2019
1:00pm to 3:00pm
Fee: $125

This course takes place in the Community Classroom at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave. To register, please call 204 475 0483, drop by the store, or log on to and click on Community Classroom. Please note that contents, fees and dates are subject to change.



This course proved so popular that I’m offering it again! If you missed out the first time, here’s your chance to take it in.

Five masterclasses in the art of screen acting! Five illustrious actresses who have each won two or more Academy Awards are seen in one of their Oscar-winning performances. These films received a total of 33 Oscar nominations and won 11 awards. Biographical information, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, interviews and documentaries will enhance your enjoyment.

Bette Davis in Jezebel (1938) In mid-nineteenth century New Orleans, a headstrong southern belle outrages polite society with her willful behavior. Henry Fonda costars as her long-suffering beau in this excellent film directed by the great William Wyler.
Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight (1944) A young, innocent wife begins to suspect that her suave, mysterious husband may be plotting against her, in this thrilling Victorian-era mystery. Charles Boyer and Joseph Cotten co-star. The film received six Oscar nominations and won for Bergman and for art direction. Angela Lansbury, making her screen debut at 19, received a nomination for supporting actress.
Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) A supremely self-confident teacher in a private girls’ school in 1930s Edinburgh ignores the curriculum and imposes her over-romanticized world view upon her impressionable young charges. Robert Stephens and Pamela Franklin co-star.
Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Tennessee Williams’ classic drama centres on Blanche DuBois, a faded socialite whose visit to New Orleans to see her sister and her sister’s brutish husband leads to conflict and tragedy. Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter (supporting actress Oscar) and Karl Malden (supporting actor Oscar) co-star.
Katherine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter (1968) Over a raucous Christmas “holiday” in 1183, England’s King Henry II (Peter O’Toole) and his estranged wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, engage in a scorching battle of wits and words with their sons, to decide who will succeed Henry as king. Hepburn brilliantly demonstrated why she is Oscar’s only four-time winner for acting, and Anthony Hopkins made his screen debut as Prince Richard.

5 Tuesdays, Mar 12 to Apr 9, 2019 @ 1:00
Fee: $110
This course takes place in the Community Classroom at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave. To register, please call 204 475 0483, drop by the store, or log on to and click on Community Classroom. Please note that contents, fees and dates are subject to change.



Fred who? High Noon, From Here to Eternity Fred, that’s who! Immensely successful during his lengthy career, but largely neglected in recent years, director Fred Zinnemann created a superlative body of work that excels in powerful emotions, excellent acting, literate, mature scripts and meticulous production values. In short, he was a class act all the way, and this enormously entertaining course gives him the retrospective tribute he richly deserves. Don Anderson will enhance your enjoyment of the films with extensive background information, including absorbing interviews and numerous excerpts from Zinnemann’s autobiography.

The Search (1948): This deeply moving drama follows a Czech boy’s search for his mother in the rubble of post-second-world-war Germany. Eleven-year-old Ivan Jandl received a special outstanding juvenile performance Oscar for this film, and Montgomery Clift made his screen debut as a kindly American soldier who helps him. It brought Zinnemann the first of his seven nominations for the best director Oscar.
High Noon (1952): On his wedding day, the principled marshal of a small western town (Gary Cooper) must face a gang of vengeful outlaws without help from the people he protects, in this heart-pounding suspense classic. Co-starring Grace Kelly and Lloyd Bridges, it won four Oscars, including best actor for Cooper.
From Here to Eternity (1953): This searing drama focuses on a group of American soldiers, stationed in Hawaii, leading up to the Pearl Harbour attack. The stellar cast includes Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Frank Sinatra (supporting actor Oscar), and Donna Reed (supporting actress). It received 13 Oscar nominations and won eight, including picture and director.
A Man for All Seasons (1966): Sixteenth-century English statesman Sir Thomas More wrestles with his conscience as King Henry VIII pressures him to approve the king’s divorce. Paul Scofield’s towering lead performance won an Oscar, and the film received five additional Oscars including picture and director. The exceptional cast includes Wendy Hiller, Susanna York, Robert Shaw, John Hurt, Leo McKern and Orson Welles.
The Day of the Jackal (1973): Zinnemann’s gripping, semi-documentary-style suspense drama details the intricacies of a plot to assassinate French president Charles de Gaulle. Edward Fox stars as The Jackal, an exceptionally resourceful and determined hit man.
Julia (1977): Based on renowned author Lillian Hellmann’s book of character sketches, this compelling drama follows her relationship with a childhood friend who draws her into a dangerous political mission to Europe on the brink of the Second World War. Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave head the cast. The film received 11 Oscar nominations, including picture and director, and it won for supporting actress (Redgrave), supporting actor (Jason Robards), and adapted screenplay.

Six Tuesdays, Oct 24 to Nov 28, 2017
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Fee: $100

This course takes place in the Community Classroom at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave. To register, please call 204 475 0483, drop by the store, or log on to and click on Community Classroom. Please note that contents, fees and dates are subject to change.



Savour some of the grandest music composed between 1600 and 1750, in this gloriously entertaining music appreciation course. You’ll hear a wide-ranging assortment of instrumental and vocal works that exemplify the German, Italian, French and English schools of the period: music by more than 20 composers, including Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, Corelli, Pachelbel, Telemann, Gabrieli, Pergolesi, Scarlatti, and many others. You’ll also learn about these composers’ lives, and delve into the artistic and social forces that shaped their era.

The superlative lineup of performers on CD and DVD includes singers Cecilia Bartoli and Karina Gauvin; orchestras such as Tafelmusik, Academy of Ancient Music, Musica Antiqua of Cologne, and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; conductors Trevor Pinnock, Sir Simon Rattle, Christopher Hogwood, Sir Neville Marriner, Frans Brüggen, and Sir Charles Mackerras; piano and harpsichord soloists Glenn Gould, Angela Hewitt, Kenneth Gilbert and Igor Kipnis; violinist James Ehnes; trumpeter Maurice André; The Canadian Brass; and the choir known as The Sixteen.

Four Mondays, April 17 to May 8, 2017, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Fee: $80



English filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (together known as The Archers) pooled their superlative talents to create some of the most imaginative, colourful, and emotionally satisfying films made anywhere in the world during the 1940s. This course celebrates five of their finest movies, which they created in the incredibly brief period of just five years. Don Anderson will introduce each film with extensive background information and trivia. Fascinating behind-the-scenes documentaries and interviews will further enhance your enjoyment.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) follows the colourful adventures of a career English soldier (Roger Livesey) from the Boer War to World War Two, as the concepts of warfare, friendship, love, and honour underwent enormous changes. Deborah Kerr co-stars as the love(s) of his life.
I Know Where I’m Going! (1945): A headstrong young English woman (Wendy Hiller) journeys to Scotland to marry her wealthy fiancé, but love and Mother Nature may have other plans for her.
A Matter of Life and Death (1946): An English World War Two flying ace (David Niven) is mistakenly sent to heaven before his time. He seeks to resume his life on earth, with the help of the American soldier (Kim Hunter) he has fallen in love with.
Black Narcissus (1947): A Mother Superior (Deborah Kerr) and her fellow English nuns seek to establish a mission in the Himalayas, with disturbing and uniquely atmospheric results. The breathtaking cinematography and art direction won Oscars.
The Red Shoes (1948): Powell and Pressburger’s most famous movie, an absorbing look behind the scenes at a world-class ballet company, inspired countless young women to try their hands at becoming a ballerina. Moira Shearer and Anton Walbrook head the cast. The number one box office film in North America for 1948, it won Oscars for art direction and musical scoring, and received nominations for picture, writing, and editing.

Five Thursdays, January 29 to February 26, 2015
Please note the 12:30 pm start times for The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and The Red Shoes. All other classes run from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Fee: $80

This course takes place in the Community Classroom at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave. To register, please call 204 475 0483, drop by the store, or log on to


I’m delighted to announce that through my recently established relationship with New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, I will be writing program notes for two touring concerts by world-class orchestras: the London Symphony Orchestra (Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor) and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra (Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor). The concerts take place in February and March 2015.