Movies to cool summer heat

In the Audience

By NICK ROGERS

The long, hot and in our case, rockin’ summer is slowly beginning to wind down to an end, and we can look forward, eventually, to some cooler temps and a brisk preview of those wonderful end-of-year holiday events at our beloved Historic USO Building.

Classic Movie Night’s next series, following our very successful annual “Summer of Movie Magic,” will feature one of the most beloved actors in the Hollywood firmament. The name of the series — “We (Heart) Cary Grant” — says it all! Well, who the heck doesn’t?

At the time of this reading, we will be looking forward to the second of our seven all-star film tributes to this true cinema icon on Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m. at the Historic USO Building. Our film schedule, by the way, has at this time, returned to its regular flex Wednesdays. This first screening, directed by famed George Cukor, co-stars Grant with two other film legends, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart, with Jimmy taking home an Academy Award for Best Actor of 1940 for his comedic-dramatic efforts in this smash-hit MGM adaptation of James Barrie’s successful Broadway show.

The story, both hilarious and touching, is about a socialite whose wedding plans are complicated by the simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband and a tabloid magazine journalist and photographer.

The film was Hepburn’s first big hit following several flops, which had led to her being included on a 1938 list that a Manhattan movie theater owner compiled of actors considered to be “box office poison.” (This silly list also included Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford, for gosh sakes!) Hepburn acquired the film rights to the play, in which she had also starred, in order to control it as a vehicle for her screen comeback. MGM purchased the film rights, but was skeptical about Hepburn’s box office appeal, so Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s Louis B. Mayer took an unusual precaution of casting two A-List male stars (Grant and Stewart) to support Hepburn. Wow! Some lucky break! In addition to Stewart’s Oscar win, the smash-hit film also won for Best Adapted Screenplay. It was successfully remade in 1956 as a musical, “High Society,” starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra.

Come on back for more Cary Grant hilarity on Sept. 18. This time, his co-stars are the fabulous Myrna Loy and the teen-aged Shirley Temple as a high school girl who falls for a playboy artist, Grant, with screwball results. Loy is Temple’s big sister — and a judge who has presided over a misconduct hearing involving Grant and several dubious characters at a local nightclub. Part of his sentence is to try to discourage Temple’s infatuation with his playboy image. Nonstop hilarity, thanks to an Academy Award-winning original screenplay by the gifted Sydney Sheldon, make this smash hit a real winner for lovers of film comedy. Four more Grant classics follow right up to November.

Now, I would like to take this opportunity to give a special shoutout to our 18 awesome local retailers and organizations who generously support our beloved film series, throughout the year — Baxendale’s, Cathy Kline’s Floral Accents, Center Pharmacy (a service of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital), Cordell Construction Co., Cosner-Neipp Corp., Dana Lyons-Best Realty, Kathy Walker’s Window Tinting, the Maturango Museum, the Museum of Western Film History—Lone Pine, Red Rock Books, Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Ridgecrest Cinemas, Ridge Writers, Roaming Dog Kitchen, Romancing the West, Tender Cuts Meats, S & M Coins and Collectibles and Warren’s Automotive. These community-minded movie lovers keep us “in business,” as it were, with their vital contributions to the renewal of our yearly exhibition license. We couldn’t do what we do without these folks!

O.K., let’s face it, good neighbors — it’s STILL just too darn hot to cook. So come on down early, at 6:30 p.m., to enjoy the incredible culinary treats available at our thrifty snack bar. As always, admission is free, but those wonderful donations make us feel warm as summer!

For film titles, call 760-375-8456 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., or stop by for a current schedule.

See you at the movies … all year long!

Story First Published: 2019-08-16