Epic Theatres’ New Classic Movies on the Big Screen Program

Epic Theatres

Epic Theatres is running a nice lineup of classic movies. Unlike the once a month TCM showings through Fandango, Epic is showing their shows every week and at regular ticket price. As is typical with these classic movies, the advertising is not what it could be so catch them when and where you can or they will stop running.

Epic classic showtimes are 2 and 7 on Sunday and Wednesday (much like their TCM counterparts).

Psycho

10/25 & 10/28 – Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

11/01 & 11/04 – Back to the Future (for those who missed the triple feature)

Princess Bride

11/08 & 11/11 – The Princess Bride (my wife’s absolute favorite movie of all time)

11/15 & 11/18 – The Wizard of Oz

11/22 & 11/25 – Spaceballs

11/29 & 12/2 – A Christmas Story

 

Woohoo Made it to the Half Century Mark!

Probably no more posts for June as my wife has something big planned for my birthday. Here are a few more of the little goodies that she got me this month.

Marathon

 

My new favorite T-Shirt and my apologies to those of you who actually run…

Old Man and Predator

 

…and a few more dolls for the movie shelf. Shown: Old Man (from A Christmas Story) and Predator. Not shown: Sheriff Ralphie and General Ursus. I would never have imagined myself to be someone who collects figures but Dorothy and I like lining them up on the shelf.

Hope the rest of your June is fantastic and filled with movies.

See you in July!

Christmas week – A Christmas Story

Up until 1983, my favorite Christmas movie was Frank Capra’s classic It’s a Wonderful Life (sadly not available on instant play). In 1983, A Christmas Story replaced it as my favorite Christmas movie. A Christmas Story is currently available on Netflix instant play.

A Christmas Story

WATCH: A Christmas Story (1983) – Rated PG

“Humorist Jean Shepard’s nostalgic view of Christmastime in Indiana during the 1940s is a holiday classic. Nine-year-old Ralphie desperately wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas and wages an all-out campaign to convince his reluctant parents (Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon) that the toy is safe. Meanwhile, as Ralphie prepares for the big day, his brother has a strange relationship with food, and his dad fights the never-ending furnace battle.”

This film is an absolutely incredible celebration of nostalgia and family. One doesn’t have to have grown up in the 40s to appreciate the detail that went into this film (although there are a few anachronisms such as a battery-powered clock and a colored bowling ball), just a sense of whimsy. Unabashedly schmaltzy, A Christmas Story is also genuinely heartwarming.

There are many wonderful family details that reflect most people’s family experiences with just the details changed. It’s obvious that both Mom and Dad dearly love their children and each other even as they struggle over the ‘major award’. Ralphie and Randy love each other even if Randy is annoying (as younger siblings often are) and Ralphie as the older brother is a bit of a bully. Who didn’t have a relative who sent wildly inappropriate gifts?

Melinda Dillon and Darren McGavin are perfectly cast as the loving parents. Peter Billingsley steals the show as Ralphie and Jean Shepherd’s narration is amazing.

It seems a bit contradictory to applaud both yesterday’s anti-consumerism documentary, What Would Jesus Buy? and A Christmas Story whose central plot point is a celebration of consumerism (as well as the side story of the decoder ring – a lesson in disillusionment). On the other hand director Bob Clark made both A Christmas Story and its near opposite, Black Christmas. Black Christmas is as mean-spirited as A Christmas Story is warm-hearted.

The characters in this story are also featured in Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss (1988) and It Runs in the Family (1994). Sadly neither of these are available on Netflix in any form.

People Watch: Author Jean Shepherd is the angry man waiting in line for Santa Claus as well as the narrator.

Darren McGavin

Darren McGavin was one of my favorite character actors especially in his big starring role as Carl Kolchak. He was also a great narrator – he did a number of John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee books on tape. His gravelly voice was wonderful for those long car rides. In addition to the below Instant Netflix, Darren McGavin also appears in two episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents season 1 (1955), one episode of Magnum P.I. season 2 (1981) and one episode of Murder She Wrote season 8 (1991).

Kolchak the Night Stalker

1. Kolchak the Night Stalker (1974) – “Independent News Service reporter Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) investigates the supernatural in this 1970s series. Kolchak has his work cut out for him as he tracks down Jack the Ripper, aliens, zombies, werewolves, vengeful spooks, Satanic dogs and a boogeyman from the Louisiana bogs. Guest stars include Richard Kiel, Phil Silvers, Keenan Wynn, Jamie Farr, Bernie Kopell, Tom Skerritt, Scatman Crothers, Dick Van Patten and Erik Estrada”

This was my favorite TV series growing up and I find it to be great campy fun now. The monsters are laughable and the plots are half-baked but Darren McGavin is simply delightful as Kolchak. This does not include the 2 TV movies that preceded the series – The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler (both of which are more serious than the series). I loved the series so much that one evening as a child I cut short trick or treating to watch Kolchak. While this is Darren McGavin’s signature role, most people nowadays remember him for…

A Christmas Story

2. A Christmas Story (1983) – “Humorist Jean Shepard’s nostalgic view of Christmastime in Indiana during the 1940s is a holiday classic. Nine-year-old Ralphie desperately wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas and wages an all-out campaign to convince his reluctant parents (Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon) that the toy is safe. Meanwhile, as Ralphie prepares for the big day, his brother has a strange relationship with food, and his dad fights the never-ending furnace battle”

I generally try to avoid this film 364 days of the year as every year I look forward to one of the Turner stations playing “24 hours of A Christmas Story”. I’ll have that on in the background all day. This film is an absolute classic. If you haven’t seen it yet – why haven’t you?

The Natural

3. The Natural (1984) – “A bat made from a tree struck by lightning and a passion for baseball define Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford). But when he’s shot and severely wounded, his career gets cut short. Years later, Hobbs tries out for a struggling team. He steps to the plate and knocks the ball out of the park in this mythic film that’s as epic as America’s national pastime”

I don’t care for sports so I really don’t care for sports movies. Having written that, this is the best baseball movie I’ve ever seen. It is not really a Darren McGavin film – he’s only in a tiny portion of the movie but this a truly poetic film.