Tuesday & Thursday   7:00 pm movies

Abstracts -- July

Adventures of Robin Hood
When Prince John (Claude Rains) and the Norman Lords begin oppressing the Saxon masses in King Richard's absence, a Saxon lord (Errol Flynn) fights back as the outlaw leader of a rebel guerrilla army.  This 1938 classic was one of the first full color movies, and has been loved ever since.  This version has been carefully restored to the same brilliance as when it broke records in 1938.

Grounded with a desk job by incompetent superiors, a clever CIA agent retires and writes a tell-all memoir that will embarrass his bosses, prompting him to go on the run and elude them.  In the process he hopscotches around the world in a hilarious adventure as he plays Mozart to accompany his typing, assisted by an old flame.

Chariots of Fire 
Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew (Ben Cross), and the other a devout Christian (Ian Charleson), compete in the 1924 Olympics.  Their struggles and conflicts build to a climax as they board a steamship to cross the English Channel and bear the load of preparations and tension under the pressure of world competition.

Analyze This
A psychiatrist (Billy Crystal), bored with his patients, finds himself forced to take on a mob Godfather (Robert de Niro) as a patient who has suddenly become soft and vulnerable in a world that solves differences with a gun. These two worlds clash at the psychiatrist’s wedding and the mobster’s Mafia meeting where weakness could prove fatal. The journey to a cure in these two worlds creates unique humor.

Absolute Power
A career thief (Clint Eastwood) witnesses a horrific crime involving the U.S. President.  To cover the crime the President (Gene Hackman) uses his power over the FBI and other agencies in an attempt to murder the thief and anyone he has contacted.  You are shocked by how such power can overwhelm opponents, but the thief outwits the President.

Driving Miss Daisy
An old Jewish woman (Jessica Tandy) and her African-American chauffeur (Morgan Freeman) in the American South have a relationship that grows and improves over the years.  Freeman’s unique performance and Tandy’s willful portrayal bring memorable comedy to the conflicted demonstrations of tolerance and prejudice and ultimately long-lasting friendship in this moving story.

The Goodbye Girl
After being dumped by her live-in boyfriend, an unemployed dancer (Marsha Mason) and her 10-year-old daughter are reluctantly forced to live with a struggling off-Broadway actor (Richard Dreyfuss).  The actor’s noisy habits and strange behavior irritate the dancer but eventually each shares in the struggles of the other as the daughter is the first to fall in love with the actor, reluctantly by the dancer because she fears being dumped again.

National Velvet
A jaded former jockey (Mickey Rooney) helps a young girl (Elizabeth Taylor) prepare a wild but gifted horse for England's Grand National Sweepstakes.  This classic movie exemplifies the homey goodness of general-audience productions of the era, including Lassie Come Home which introduced Taylor a year earlier.

North by Northwest
In this Alfred Hitchcock classic, a hapless New York advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies headed by Philip Vandamm (James Mason), and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive.  Thornhill is thrust from one surprising threat to another until he survives a harrowing climb down from atop the president monument on Mt. Rushmore with Mason’s beautiful girlfriend (Eva Marie Saint).


Abstracts -- August

Presumed Inocent
As lawyer Rozat [Rusty] Sabich (Harrison Ford) investigates the murder of colleague Carolyn Polhemus (Greta Scacchi), he finds himself more connected to the crime than anyone else.  Tension builds in this portrayal of Scott Turow’s* first novel as Rusty finds himself accused of the crime, in part because of his romantic involvement with Polhemus.  Rusty’s wife has borne the pain of this involvement and eventually the murder itself.
___*A student of famed Stanford writing teacher Wallace Stegner

Singin' in the Rain*
Long-time dancing partners Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Conner) put on a mesmerizing show of comedy dancing virtuosity as Lockwood fends off no-talent Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) and falls in love with upstart Kathy Selden (teenage Debbie Reynolds).  Jean Hagen’s Lamont is hilarious as her scatterbrain struggles with the introduction of talkies reveals Lamont’s squeaky voice, which must be replaced by Selden’s dubbed voice.
___*I had no idea when I watched this, my first movie in Los Angeles after driving from Chicago following graduation from Illinois Tech in 1952, that it would become a premier classic of the Hollywood musical comedy era. 

The Whole Nine Yards
Struggling dentist "Oz" Oseransky’s (Matthew Perry) life is turned upside down when famous gangster Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski (Bruce Willis) moves in next door, and his loathsome wife Sophie (Rosanna Arquette) convinces him to inform a notorious mob boss about the gangster's whereabouts.  The hapless Oz is caught between the murderous Tudeski and the mob boss as each plots to kill the other.  Eventually Oz sides with Tudeski and uses his dental skills to hide the body as he falls in love with the mob boss’s girlfriend.

Grumpy Old Men
A lifelong feud between two neighbors since childhood only gets worse when a new female neighbor moves across the street.  Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau take this inane plot and make it an uproarious rampage through their comic talents, knocking over garbage cans every time they stop at a bait shop for worms, tossing fish to rot in the other’s car, dragging an ice fishing shack to thin ice and generally being a thorn in the other’s side.  Their deep down love for each other comes out as Matthau saves Lemmon after he collapses with a heart attack. Both perform crazy antics from beginning to end, amended by gems from Burgess Meredith and sexy doings by Ann-Margret.

Two Weeks Notice
Harvard educated lawyer Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock) uses her career for social activism. George Wade (Hugh Grant) is the suave public face of a development firm that Lucy routinely opposes.  Wade has a reputation as a lady's man, with legal counsels a series of beautiful female lawyers with questionable credentials who have acted more as his casual sex partners.  Needing a real lawyer, he offers Lucy the job of his legal counsel on a chance meeting.  Lucy, who has no intention of being the latest of his bed partners, accepts the job as she feels she can do more good from the inside.  This oil and water relationship gives rise to many humorous conflicts and ultimately a love interest.

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Seven elderly Britons, for a variety of reasons, respond to an online ad and travel to Jaipur, India, where they find run-down hotel with a young, exuberant, and optimistic host.  Evelyn, newly widowed, wants low-cost experience, Graham seeks a long-ago love, Douglas and Jean have lost their pension in a family investment, Muriel needs cheap hip surgery, Madge seeks a rich husband, and Norman is chasing women. India affects each in different ways, enchanting Douglas and Evelyn while driving Jean deeper into bitterness. Their host, young Sonny, has dreams but little cash or skill; he also has a girlfriend whom his mother dismisses. Stories cross and discoveries await each one.  An outstanding cast fills the film with belly laughs and pathos.

Water For Elephants
After his parents' death, veterinarian student Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson) is left penniless and homeless.  Events lead him to joining the circus as their vet, working under their unstable boss August (Christoph Walzt whose violent tendencies give everyone reason to be cautious around him, including his beautiful and quiet wife Marlena (Reese Whitherspoon), whom August is very possessive of and who Jacob finds himself soon falling in love with.

When former journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) is dismissed from the Labour Party in disgrace, he is at a loss as to what do. That changes when a young Irish woman approaches him about a story of her mother, Philomena (Judy Dench), who had her son taken away when she was a teenage inmate of a Catholic convent.  Martin arranges a magazine assignment about her search for him that eventually leads to America.  Along the way, Martin and Philomena discover as much about each other as about her son's fate. Furthermore, both find their basic beliefs challenged.

The Quiet Man
Sean Thornton (John Wayne) has returned from America to reclaim his homestead and escape his past.  Sean's eye is caught by Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara), a beautiful but poor maiden, and younger sister of ill-tempered "Red" Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen). The riotous relationship that forms between Sean and Mary Kate, punctuated by Will's pugnacious attempts to keep them apart, form the main plot, with Sean's past as the dark undercurrent.

Abstracts -- September

The Untouchables
Federal Agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) sets out to stop Al Capone (Robert de Niro).  To work around rampant corruption, he assembles a small, hand-picked team, a Chicago beat cop (Sean Connery) among them.  With the team, Ness rapidly advances from abject failure to a series of busts that threaten Capone’s grip on the city. Capone’s most easily proven crime is Federal tax evasion, which the team accomplishes with testimony from Capone’s bookkeeper.  There is much intrigue and mob-instigated violence on the way.

Annie Hall
Alvy Singer (Woody Allen), a forty year old twice divorced, neurotic, intellectual Jewish New York stand-up comic, reflects on the demise of his latest relationship, to Annie Hall (Diane Keaton), an insecure, flighty, Midwestern WASP aspiring nightclub singer.  Alvy not only reviews the many ups and downs of their relationship, but also reviews the many facets of his makeup that led to him starting to date Annie.  Those facets include growing up next to Coney Island in Brooklyn, being attracted to the opposite sex for as long as he can remember, and enduring years of Jewish guilt with his constantly arguing parents.  Non-stop funny incidents and quips from beginning to end.

In the Heat of the Night
Detective Virgil Tibbs is caught up in the racial tension of the US South when he is arrested after the murder of a prominent businessman.  Tibbs was simply waiting for his next train at the station in Sparta, Mississippi and the confusion is soon resolved.  But when local police chief Gillespie learns that Tibbs is the Philadelphia PD's number one homicide expert, he reluctantly asks for his assistance.  The murdered man, Mr. Colbert, had come to Sparta from the North to build a new factory and his wife and business associates immediately point the finger at Endicott, the most powerful man in the county and the one who had the most to lose if a major new employer comes to the area.  Tibbs' life is clearly in danger but he perseveres in a highly charged and racially explosive environment until the killer is found.

Rear Window
Professional photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jefferies breaks his leg while getting an action shot at an auto race.  Confined to his New York apartment, he spends his time looking out of the rear window observing the neighbors.  He begins to suspect that a man across the courtyard may have murdered his wife.  Jeff enlists the help of his high society fashion-consultant girlfriend Lisa Freemont and his visiting nurse Stella to investigate.

Stuck as the last of six children at home with an overbearing Italian mother, the only child still unmarried, 34 year old socially awkward Bronx butcher Marty faces middle age with no prospects of marriage.  But when he is goaded by his mother into going to the Stardust Ballroom one Saturday night, Marty unexpectedly meets Clara, a lonely teacher.  Suddenly, Marty's future seems bright.

The Long Hot Summer
Sixty-one year old widower Will Varner, in ill health, owns many businesses and property in Frenchman's Bend, Mississippi, including a plantation.  His children are a disappointment to him, whom he sees as not being able to carry on the Varner name.  Son Jody Varner has no ambition and does not work, spending much of his time fooling around with his seductive wife, Eula. Twenty-three year old daughter Clara Varner is clever but stuck with a weak suiter, genteel mama's boy Alan.  Into their lives comes Ben Quick, self assured and aggressive, the man Clara needs and Jody should emulate.  Sparks fly as the characters sort things out.

Coal Miner’s Daughter
Biographical story of Loretta Lynn, a legendary country singer who came from poverty to worldwide fame.  She rose from humble beginnings in Kentucky to superstardom while changing the sound and style of country music forever.  At only thirteen years of age, Loretta Webb marries Doolittle Lynn and is soon responsible for a sizeable family.  Loretta appears destined to a life of homemaking  but Doolittle recognizes his wife's musical talent and buys her a guitar as an anniversary present one year. At eighteen, the mother of four children and busy housewife still finds time to write and sing songs at small fairs and local honky-tonks. This gift sets Loretta Lynn on the grueling, tumultuous path to superstardom and country music greatness.

The Contract
Ray Keene (John Cusack), a father who wants to redeem himself in the eyes of his son (Jamie Anderson), finds himself forced to bring Carden (Morgan Freeman), a world-class assassin, to justice.  All the while, he must protect his son and evade the assassin's team who are methodically hunting them down in the wilderness.  Brilliant acting and an entangled plot make for thrilling entertainment.

Abstracts -- October

Crocodile Dundee
Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee (Paul Hogan) is an Australian crocodile hunter who lives in the outback and runs a safari business with his trusted friend and mentor Walter Reilly.  After his surviving a crocodile attack, a New York journalist named Sue (Linda Kozlowski) arrives to interview Mick about how he survived and learns more about the crocodile hunter.  Their several adventures, including Mick saving her from a crocodile attack, inspires Sue to invite Mick to visit New York City, a new adventure for him.  Mick finds the culture and life in New York City vastly different from his home as he falls in love with Sue.  Many funny incidents occur during the cross culture adventures in Australia and New York.

Roman Holiday
Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) is a reporter for the American News Service in Rome. He is caught in a lie by his boss after sleeping in and missing an interview with HRH Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn), who is on a goodwill tour of Europe.  However, he thinks he may have stumbled upon a huge scoop. Princess Ann has officially called off all her Rome engagements due to illness.  He recognizes the photograph of her as being the young simply dressed drunk woman he rescued off the street last night, and who is still in his small studio apartment sleeping off her hangover.  Joe engages photographer friend Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert) to secretly photograph the princess as he takes her on an adventure-filled Roman holiday.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Brick (Paul Newman), an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor). His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.  Brick’s position in the largely dysfunctional family is restored as suppressed feelings burst out in a confrontation between father and son in a dying fit of rage and love between the two.

The Pink Panther
Bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Steve Martin) must solve the murder of a famous soccer coach and find out who stole the infamous Pink Panther diamond.  But the unlikelihood of his success is why he has been assigned the case by Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kevin Klein), so he can swoop in and solve the case himself and thus gain the elusive best inspector of the year award.  However, his plot is thwarted by Clouseau’s bumbling into solving the crime.  In many ways the plot and performances in this film outshine the classic 1963 Pink Panther film starring Peter Sellers and David Niven.

On the Waterfront

Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) dreams about being a prize fighter, while tending his pigeons and running errands at the docks for Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb), the corrupt boss of the dockers union. Terry witnesses a murder by two of Johnny's thugs, and later meets the dead man's sister (Eva Marie Saint) and feels responsible for his death. She introduces him to Father Barry (Karl Malden), who persuades him to provide information for the courts that will smash the dock racketeers.

Martian Child

What's the nature of being a parent and of being a child? David (John Cusack) is a widower grieving for two years. He writes science fiction and was considered weird as a boy. He meets Dennis (Bobby Coleman), a foster child who claims to be on a mission from Mars, stays in a large box all day, fears sunlight, and wears a belt of flashlight batteries so he won't float away. David takes the six-year-old home on a trial. His sister and his wife's best friend offer support, but the guys are basically alone to figure this out. Dennis takes things, is expelled, and is coached by David in being normal. Will the court approve the adoption, and will Dennis stay? Can a man become a father and a child become a son?

American Graffiti
A couple of high achieving high school grads, Curt Henderson (Richard Dreyfus) and class president Steve Bolander (Ron Howard), spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college. The buddies are a cast of characters we all remember from the 50’s and 60’s, including odd ball Terry Fields (Charles Martin Smith), blonde bombshell Debbie Dunham (Candy Clark) and hot rod king Bob Falfa (Harrison Ford). The sound track is a collection of the era’s hits played by real life disk jocky Wolfman Jack, who serves the plot in person.  I relive part of my Chicago life as Curt is taken hostage by a local gang to pull a daring prank on a police car.

The Kingston Trio Story

This is a comprehensive documentary of the well known folk singing group. It explores the trio’s history from before their first recording in 1958 as a young group, to separations and replacements, and finally re-assembling and family life in their mature years, all told by experts in the field and by Bob Shane, the long-term anchor of the group. It covers the group’s musical philosophy, work ethic, and precision in pitch and timing that made their records best sellers and led the trend to folk song groups as popular music.  Throughout the telling the video shows them playing many of their classics, like “Tom Dooley”, “M.T.A.”, “A Worried Man”, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”, “Sloop John B”, and Bob Shane’s signature song “Scotch and Soda.”

The Queen
Diana the 'People's Princess' has died in a car accident in Paris. The Queen (Helen Mirren) and her family decide that for the best, they should remain hidden behind the closed doors of Balmoral Castle. The heartbroken public do not understand and request that the Queen comfort her people. This also puts pressure on newly elected Tony Blair (Michael Sheen), who constantly tries to convince the monarchy to address the public. The multi-award winning film takes us behind the scenes of the sad and touching event we all remember so well.