We never need much convincing to pack up our blankets and our picnic baskets and head to the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival on a warm summer night. (What's not to love about seven weeks of free classic movies under the stars?) But this year's schedule is particularly inspired.Flipping the script on the past couple of years, which featured not-so-distant classics like "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial," the 2007 fest features only flicks more than 30 years old.
So what do we think of the Tuesday-night lineup for the summer? No complaints here. These films will look great on the big screen in Grant Park, and each should draw a different crowd--if we're correct in thinking that Paul Newman and Julie Andrews don't have the same fan base, that is. But enough with the previews! Here's the lineup:
July 17, 8:56 p.m.
Dr. Frankenstein's grandson ( Gene Wilder) retraces his grandpa's steps to bring to life another monster ( Peter Boyle) in this 1974 Mel Brooks film. It's silly and pure in the way that comedy used to be. With memorably eccentric characters--including Teri Garr as a German bombshell and Gene Hackman as a lonely guy who thinks the creature has been sent to him for companionship--it sweetly and hilariously touches on the father-son bond between a mad scientist and his creation.
July 24, 8:50 p.m.
Love makes people do crazy things, as insurance salesman Walter Neff ( Fred MacMurray) learns the hard way when he and expert manipulator Phyllis Dietrichson ( Barbara Stanwyck) plot to kill her husband and collect on his policy in this 1944 noir. It's one of the all-time great stories of a murder plot gone awry, driven by a brilliant script from Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler--the Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen of screenwriting teams if ever there was one.
Written on the Wind
July 31, 8:42 p.m.
Rock Hudson's in a pickle: His best bud's sister ( Dorothy Malone) loves him, but he loves his friend's wife ( Lauren Bacall). And the alcoholic pal (Robert Stack) isn't pleasing any of them. Wealth, betrayal, sex and booze are recipe for fistfights and fallings out in Douglas Sirk's deliciously over-the-top 1956 melodrama, which drives home the old adage that money can't buy happiness.
The Awful Truth
Aug. 7, 8:34 p.m.
Cary Grant and Irene Dunne prove that it ain't over till it's over as a husband and wife who sabotage each other's new relationships while they wait for their divorce to be finalized. This 1937 screwball comedy is fluffy, fun and loaded with lighthearted romantic appeal.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Aug. 14, 8:24 p.m.
Movie stars don't get much cooler than Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and two-man teams don't get any better than amiable outlaws Cassidy (Newman) and Sundance (Redford). We're not sure what we like best about this 1969 Western-comedy: the scene where Newman and Katherine Ross ride a bicycle to the tune of "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," or the moment Newman wins a knife fight by saying he wants to talk about the rules and then delivering a swift kick to the groin.
Sweet Smell of Success
Aug. 21, 8:13 p.m.
Anyone who watches "Entourage" knows there's a thin line between charm and sleaze in the world of publicists and agents. The same dog-eat-dog attitude prevails in the 1957 drama "Sweet Smell of Success," starring Tony Curtis as a hungry press agent and Burt Lancaster as a nationally syndicated columnist with "the morals of a guinea pig and the scruples of a gangster." As the pair conspires to break up the relationship of the columnist's sister, they discover how empty success can be when there's no one to share it with.
The Sound of Music
Aug. 28, 8:01 p.m.
Confession: The songs in "The Sound of Music" are not some of our fav-o-rite things. But the Julie Andrews fans and von Trapp kids-wannabes who show up for this three-hour Oscar-winning musical from 1965 are probably going to know them all by heart. And so what if the rolling fields of Grant Park are just a bit flatter than the Austrian hills? We're betting an inpsired audience singalong will bring them to life all the same.
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.