Kentucky Theatre Summer Classics 2014

The original 1954 "Godzilla" by Ishiro Honda opens the 2014 Summer Classics series at the Kentucky Theatre. © Toho Co. Ltd.

The original 1954 “Godzilla” by Ishiro Honda opens the 2014 Summer Classics series at the Kentucky Theatre. © Toho Co. Ltd.

Film is said to be a director’s medium, and that plays out in this year’s Summer Classics series at the Kentucky Theatre. Even more striking than the titles is the list of esteemed directors the series boasts this year including David Lean, Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock.

In its second all-digital year, the series includes a number of anniversary editions and series premieres.

May 28: Godzilla: The Japanese Original (1954). This is a new digital restoration of Ishiro Honda’s movie that launched one of film’s most iconic monsters. It will come just after the opening of the new Godzilla starring Bryan Cranston, which even in the trailer makes direct references to the original. In Japanese with English subtitles.

June 4: Dr. Zhivago (1965). This is actually the series premiere for the World War I drama set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution. David Lean’s trademark epicness is definitely something to be seen on the big screen.

June 11: The Lady from Shanghai (1947). Orson Welles directed and starred in this film which features Rita Hayworth in the title role and the legendary shoot out in a  mirror maze.

 June 18: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). Or, how a lot of us got some good laughs out of the Cold War. After all, while you were sitting there worried about who was going to push “the button,” didn’t it feel better knowing nuclear annihilation could be launched by a crazy general, inept president, equally bumbling Soviet counterparts and a national security adviser who can’t quite control his hand?

June 25: To Catch a Thief (1955). An Alfred Hitchcock film has been a mainstay of the series since its inception, but this will be the first appearance for this Cary Grant-Grace Kelly classic about a retired cat burglar who has to find an active thief to preserve his own reputation.

July 2: Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). Many consider this to be the best of director Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns, and it launched his “Once Upon a Time” trilogy of WestOnce Upon a Time … The Revolution and Once Upon a Time in America. It stars Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards and Italian actress Claudia Cardinale, who will make another appearance in the series this year.

July 9: Mary Poppins (1964). This is consistently one of the most popular films on the classics series, and this time we’ll see a new digital restoration of the Disney classic.

July 16: A Hard Day’s Night (1964). Add the Summer Classics series to the list of groups recognizing The Beatles’ 50th anniversary with the series premiere of the Richard Lester classic about the Fab Four.

July 23: Double Indemnity (1944). Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson star in Billy Wilder’s classic film noir about the heretofore unexciting topic of insurance fraud. This is a 70th anniversary digital restoration.

July 30: Tootsie (1982). Dustin Hoffman stars as a frustrated actor who dresses up as a woman and ends up inadvertently becoming the Grand Dame of a daytime drama while falling in love with his co-star, Jessica Lange, who won one of her two Oscars for her performance. (It also has an under-appreciated performance by Bill Murray as Hoffman’s roommate.) Though it lost the Oscar for best picture to Gandhi, Sydney Pollack’s film is widely considered one of the best comedies in film history. This is Tootsie’s series premiere.

Aug. 6: Stop Making Sense (1984). If you don’t think this film version of Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues tour is the best concert film ever — which it is — you at least have to rank it up there with classics like The Last Waltz (The Band) and Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones). It has been a mainstay of midnight movie series for years, but this 30th anniversary edition of Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme’s document is making its Summer Classics premiere.

Aug. 13: The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944). You’ve gotta have a screwball comedy on the series, and this year, Preston Sturges’ classic is it, in Morgan Creek’s series premiere. Also showing is It’s a Frame-Up, a new comedy short lovingly created in the style of a 1938 short subject.

Aug. 20: Harvey (1950). If you know what a Pooka is, it may very well be because of this Jimmy Stewart classic in which his family is trying to have him committed because he claims to be hanging out with a giant talking rabbit.

Aug. 27: This is Spinal Tap! (1984). The film that launched the mockumentary craze has director Rob Reiner playing Marty DiBergi, a director following the faltering career of a once mighty metal band reduced to playing gigs like, as an amusement park marquee reads: “Puppet show and Spinal Tap.” It’s anchored by great performances by Christopher Guest and Michael McKean and includes cameos from a lot of stars we would hear more from later like Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Fran Drescher and of course, Paul Shaffer — “kick my ass.”

Sept. 3: 8 1/2 (1963). We told you there was another Claudia Cardinale film in the series. Here, she is part of director Federico Fellini’s film about a director, played by Marcello Mastroianni, who has lost interest in filmmaking as he endures marital trouble. This is a new digital restoration and it’s the series premiere for the film.

Rosa Goddard International Film Festival

The Fellini film also leads into the Rosa Goddard International Film Festival, which will fill out the Kentucky’s September Wednesday night calendar. The series, presented by Sqecial Media, features:

Sept. 10: Last Year at Marienbad (1961, French). Alain Resnais’s film is famous for its time shifting and truth-bending structure that has inspired lively debate among film fans for decades.

Sept. 17: Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970, Czech). Jaromil Jireš’ supernatural film features a 13-year-old girl who seems to be living in a dark dream.

Sept. 24: Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962, France-Italy). Director Agnès Varda explores themes of mortality and meaning in the story of a singer waiting to hear the results of a test that may say she has cancer.

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