"Adolph Hitler and his Minister of Propaganda were keenly aware of film's ability to mobilize emotions and immobilize minds," says Eric Rentschler, director of film studies at the University of California-Irvine, who's in town in conjunction with a monthlong series of prewar and Nazi-era German films rarely screened in the United States. If you missed his opening-night presentation last night at the Film Center, which hosts the series, you can still catch him today at 2 at the University of Chicago's Film Studies Center, where he'll give a free lecture on the 1937 Douglas Sirk film La Habanera. It's in room 307 of Cobb Hall, 5811 S. Ellis. Call 702-8596. You can catch La Habanera at 8 tonight at the Film Center, Columbus and Jackson. Admission is $5; $3 for members. Call 443-3737.
Once a year Victory Gardens Theater convinces three local celebrities to write ten-minute plays for its annual Chicago Stories benefit. Past contributors include Roger Ebert, Phil Jackson, and Mike Royko; this year they've lined up 'BEZ's Aaron Freeman, orchestra leader Stanley Paul, and Channel Seven's Harry Porterfield for an event featuring cocktails, dinner, a silent auction, and premieres of the three plays. Tickets are $150. It's tonight at 6 at the Standard Club, 320 S. Plymouth Ct. Call 549-5788 for more.
The Old Town School of Folk Music's Dylan tribute class performs the songs of Bob Dylan's 1978 album Street Legal tonight at the school's monthly "First Friday" party and concert. The affair kicks off with a song circle and jam at 6:30; the Dylan songs come at 8 PM, and an open "strumathon" follows. It's at the school, 909 W. Armitage; admission is $4. Call 525-7793 for more.
You can savor the culcha of Wicker Park two ways this weekend. The West Side Gallery District has decided to make its D-Tour gallery walk into a monthly event. Starting tonight D-Tourists will be able to meander through 12 participating galleries from 6 to 9 the first Friday of every month. You can stop in at Idao, 1616 N. Damen, for a map, or call 235-4724 for info. Also this weekend is the first annual On and Around Division arts fest. Participants include Leo's Lunchroom, 1809 W. Division, the Polish Museum of America, 984 N. Milwaukee, the Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division, and a dozen others. Events are scheduled today through Sunday. Call 409-5338 for details.
Chicago's Lynn Book and New York's Theo Bleckmann, a German vocal artist, have been collaborating for several months through phone calls, correspondence, faxes, and audio letters. This weekend they're presenting In Passing, a work in progress, at the N.A.M.E. gallery, 1255 S. Wabash. Shows are tonight and tomorrow at 8; admission is $10, $7 for students and gallery members. Call 554-0671.
Reader staff writer Ben Joravsky, author of a book based on the acclaimed documentary Hoop Dreams, screened hundreds of hours of rough footage to reconstruct the stories of the high school basketball players profiled in the film. Joravsky will talk about his research and the book at a free reading today at 11 at Borders Books and Music, 830 N. Michigan. Call 573-0564 for details. You can also see him next Saturday, May 13, at 7 PM at the Deerfield Barnes and Noble, 7 N. Waukegan. Call 708-374-0320.
Joe Mantegna, the epitome of tortured cool in plays like Glengarry Glen Ross and movies like House of Games and Things Change, reads from "literature he admires" today at 2 at a Poetry Center of Chicago event in the Rubloff Auditorium of the Chicago Historical Society, 1601 N. Clark. It's $15. Call 368-0905.
At this year's Salsedo Press dance party organizers will show off the cooperative print shop's new digs at 3139 W. Chicago. For $13 you get live African music from Ghanatta and Zahzil and free beer. It starts at 9:30 and lasts until dawn. Call 533-9900 for details.
The Landmarks Preservation Council's 13th annual Tour of Chicago's Historic Churches and Neighborhoods includes five classic Chicago churches--some more than a century old, all still catering to a diverse body of parishioners--in Pilsen and on the west side. Registration is from 12:30 to 1 at the Monadnock Building, 53 W. Jackson. Tix are $25, $23 in advance, $20 in advance for members. Call 922-1742 for more.
Last week we had the 20th anniversary of the fall of Saigon; this week it's the half-century mark of a less morally muddled occasion: V-E Day. To observe the anniversary, today at noon at the Daley Center, Washington and Dearborn, Jack Brickhouse will give a dramatic reading of the address President Truman gave to the nation in the wake of Germany's unconditional surrender. V-E Day at the Daley Center also includes a performance by the Chicago City Orchestra. It's free. Call 642-5392.
The organizers of a fake ID seminar in Lincoln Park have smartly limited attendance to restaurant and bar owners and their employees, lest would-be forgers take advantage of the tips. The free session is being hosted by Bill McNicholas, head doorman of the Four Farthings bar. His guest, Paul Froehlich of the secretary of state's office, will show examples of fake IDs, talk about laws relating to them, and offer tips on spotting them. It's from 5:30 to 7 tonight at Four Farthings Tavern & Grill, 2060 N. Cleveland. Call 935-2060 for reservations.
If you have a hankering for some Shakespeare but you're a bit pressed for time, you might want to check out performer Joe Falocco's 28-minute version of Henry V. Performances are Mondays at 9 through June 5 at Cafe Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark. Tickets are $3; call 929-4510.
John Callaway and his two daughters host a spring benefit dinner for the Chicago Child Care Society tonight. Callaway, of course, is the longtime host of Chicago Tonight, but his daughters look like the real draw. Liz Callaway plays Grizabella in the current Broadway production of Cats, and Ann Hampton Callaway is a singer-songwriter who composed and performs the theme to the TV show The Nanny. Things get under way at 5:30 at the Palmer House, 20 E. Monroe. Tickets, which start at $200, can be had by calling 643-0452.
The annual Friends of Downtown awards salute those who've made the city a better place architecturally. Categories include best new building and best new open space. This year's ceremony is tonight at 5:30 at the Chicago Athletic Association, 12 S. Michigan. Admission is $15. Call 726-4031.
Sue Miller, fiction's reigning dissector of the emotional complexity of family life, comes to town tonight to read from her newest novel, The Distinguished Guest, in which an aging parent suffering from Parkinson's moves in with her son. The free reading starts at 7:30 at Women & Children First Bookstore, 5233 N. Clark. Call 769-9299 for more.
Sholom Glicksman gives an overview of the information superhighway and its benefits and implications for Jews--including the possibility of a new global shtetl--tonight at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. Jews in Cyberspace is at 6 at the institute, 618 S. Michigan. Admission is $5 and includes refreshments. Call 322-1769.
Thousands of visitors and 165 art dealers from around the world will take over Navy Pier's newly renovated exhibition facility for Art 1995 Chicago. The international art show kicks off tonight at 6:30 with "Vernissage '95," a benefit for the Museum of Contemporary Art. Tickets start at $125; call 280-2660 for info. Hours for the exhibition are noon to 8 tomorrow through Monday, May 15, and noon to 6 on Tuesday, May 16. Admission is $10, $7 for students and seniors. Three-day passes are available for $20 and five-day passes for $30. Navy Pier is at Illinois and the lake. Call 587-3300 for more.
Samuel Johnson famously said, "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." You can test the truth of this maxim tonight at 7 when advanced students from Columbia College's graduate and undergraduate fiction-writing programs read their works at the college's Hokin Center Gallery, 623 S. Wabash. It's free. Call 663-1600, ext. 615.