Chuck Jaffee: Classics moviegoers suggested what they wanted next |

Chuck Jaffee: Classics moviegoers suggested what they wanted next

Take advantage of the latest classic films series at the Del Oro Theater. (It started Sept. 20 with “Ben Hur.”) The eight films in eight weeks were selected based on audience input.

My first reaction seeing, “The Godfather” (Oct. 18-19) on the list was, “Why? It’s on television every week, it seems.” Then the ready realization, “It’s one of the best films ever. What an opportunity, to see it on the big screen, in the dark, alongside hundreds of people who are as familiar and primed as you are.”

How great is it, lavishing in front of the big screen to immerse in the counter-iconic American West of “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” (Nov. 1-2). It’s piercing musical tag line gets to fill a whole theater. Clint Eastwood defined a certain stature in film decades before redefining his stature as a director.

No discussion of classic movie stature can travel far without the roly poly image of Alfred Hitchcock. The intrigue never lets go in his playful contrivance, “North by Northwest” (Oct. 11-12). Cary Grant is a cinema flavor like no other.

There are more distracting flavors at the movies than there are at an ice cream shop. Mixing sophistication and girlishness, vulnerability and strength, Audrey Hepburn is also like no other. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (Nov. 11-12) probably has lost more of its oomph than any of the other films in this series, but it’s still memorable Audrey Hepburn.

Classic cinema runs in categories. No mention of dancing in movie history can sidestep top dog Fred Astaire. Curiously, all these films at the Del Oro first played between 1951 and 1972, except Astaire in “Top Hat.” It’s quite forgivable to be reminded that filmmaking in 1935 was already well on its way toward being the preeminent modern art form.

What about Gene Kelly? If all you cared about was athletic grace, creativity and one of the glowingest smiles of all time, you might ask Fred Astaire to move over. “An American in Paris” (Oct. 4-5) shows Kelly to be more a consummate movie maker than Astaire, who tended toward being a consummate dancer in entertaining movies.

Up next in the series (Sept. 27-28), “Giant.” This big sky, big oil flick is a notch below other films in this series. All I’ll say is James Dean’s last film. The guy starred in only three movies. More than 50 years later, he’s still one of the biggest money-making dead actors.

Chuck Jaffee of Nevada City likes to plug people into the grand spirit our local film purveyors provide. Find his other articles for The Union at See for more details on the classic film series.

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