- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The late New York architect and real estate developer Ian Woodner, an extraordinary wheeler-dealer, left much of his collection of old master drawings to the National Gallery of Art. The gallery now celebrates the 15th anniversary of the gift with Touch of the Artist: Master Drawings from the Woodner Collections, an exhibit replete with names such as Durer, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Goya and Picasso. The star of the exhibit, and the work Mr. Woodner considered his collection’s “crown jewel,” is Giorgio Vasari’s “Page from ‘Libro de’ Disegni’,” with drawings by High Italian Renaissance greats Sandro Botticelli, Filippino Lippi and Raffaellino del Garbo. Fourth Street at Constitution Avenue Northwest. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 1. Free. 202/842-6176 or www.nga.gov.

— Joanna Shaw-Eagle

The American Film Institute Silver Theatre and the Landmark E Street Cinema will share a revival of a famous French movie beginning tomorrow. Jean-Pierre Melville’s Army of Shadows, about the French Resistance in World War II, failed to attract an American distributor when it was new in 1969 and had a mixed reception in France: Its pro-Gaullist outlook may have become a liability given President de Gaulle’s political setbacks in 1968. The movies of Mr. Melville made little headway in the American market until after his death in 1973.

As a former participant in the Resistance, Mr. Melville took his source material, a 1943 novel by Joseph Kessel, very seriously. “Army of Shadows” was regarded as a remarkably authentic work of fiction, and the movie proves an uncompromising immersion in the tension and peril that shadow the lives of operatives played by Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Simone Signoret and Jean-Pierre Cassel. There are no pitched battles or heroic payoffs. Outbreaks of violence are sudden and shocking. It’s the sense of pervasive dread and danger that gives the movie a haunting and powerful identity.

— Gary Arnold

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