Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth.
The Chicago Outdoor Film Festival kicks off on July 17 at sunset, so it's time to once again grab your picnic basket, blanket and—if you're one of those inconsiderate types—tall folding chairs, and head to Butler Field, 100 S. Lake Shore. Here's the schedule:
—July 17 at 8:56 p.m.-Young Frankenstein ( 1974 ) : Mel Brooks' best movie is also my all-time favorite comedy and a perfect way to kick off the fest. Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman and Teri Garr—along with the late, great Madeline Kahn and the recently departed Peter Boyle—all hilariously enact this parody of Universal Studios classic monster movies, which was shot in glorious black and white. Put ze candle beck!
—July 24 at 8:50 p.m.-Double Indemnity ( 1944 ) : Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray are, respectively, a blonde tramp and a cagey insurance salesman who plot to kill her husband for the insurance money in this adaptation of James M. Cain's masterful novel. With its ominous black-and-white cinematography and terse dialogue, director Billy Wilder created what is acknowledged as the first real example of film noir.
—July 31 at 8:42 p.m.-Written on the Wind ( 1956 ) : Gay actor Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, hunky Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone ( in her Oscar-winning role ) chew up a lot of scenery in Douglas Sirk's melodramatic tale of the wanton offspring of a rich Texas family two decades before the TV serial Dallas. Syrupy, kitschy fun.
—Aug. 7 at 8:34 p.m.-The Awful Truth ( 1937 ) : Cary Grant and the delightful Irene Dunne shine in Leo McCarey's wacky screwball comedy of a couple who decide to divorce on a whim. A custody battle over their pet terrier ( played by The Thin Man's Asta ) and mutual sabotage efforts over their new romantic interests keeps things zipping along.
—Aug. 14 at 8:24 p.m.-Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ( 1969 ) : Paul Newman and Robert Redford provide major eye candy in George Roy Hill's early example of the buddy picture, an easygoing version of the notorious Old West outlaws who relocated to South America when things heated up in the States. Gorgeous Katharine Ross and the Oscar-winning, quintessential '60s score by Burt Bacharach ( which includes the song Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, also an Oscar winner ) add plenty of visual and audio panache to the proceedings. Cloris Leachman has a tiny bit at the outset and actor-playwright George Furth ( Company, Twigs ) is memorable in a supporting role.
—Aug. 21 at 8:13 p.m.-Sweet Smell of Success ( 1957 ) : 'You're a cookie full of arsenic' is just one of the memorable lines from this bitter behind-the-scenes tale of J.J. Hunsecker ( Burt Lancaster ) , a viscous, all-powerful New York gossip columnist. The movie was based on real-life writer Walter Winchell and obsequious press agent Sidney Falco ( Tony Curtis ) , who is desperate for some of the reflected glory Hunsecker can provide him and his clients. Decades later, a hit-and-miss musicalized version by Marvin Hamlisch and Sweet Smell's original writer Ernest Lehman had a brief Broadway run.
—Aug. 28 at 8:01 p.m.-The Sound of Music ( 1965 ) : Get out your wimples, girls; the film fest ends with the queer-friendly musical that has a running time of over three hours. The film features Julie Andrews as the singing nun/governess/stepmother; Christopher Plummer as the severe wealthy widower; Eleanor Parker as the bitchy countess ( in those fabulous couture fashions ) ; Peggy Wood as the sensible mother abbess with a twinkle in the eye; Richard Hadyn as the gay-in-all-but-name festival producer; and, oh yeah, all those kids in those outfits made out of drapes. Loads of singing.
Joshua is the story of a sophisticated little boy who suffers from a really bad case of sibling rivalry. Or so it would appear from this latest entry in the killer-kid movie genre that offers a few nice twists and turns ( including one that will be of interest to gay audiences ) as it wends along. When the anxiety-prone Abby ( Vera Farmiga, who sports the worst movie wig since Meryl Streep's in Silkwood ) and easygoing husband stockbroker Brad ( Sam Rockwell ) bring home their new baby girl, they don't initially notice any changes in their preternaturally neat and tidy son. Über-sophisticate Joshua continues to share piano duets with his gay uncle ( the droll Dallas Roberts ) and otherwise act the perfect gentleman, although he does try to clue in his distracted dad that things are off by asking, 'Do you ever feel weird about your weird son?' Dad doesn't take the hint but, as Abby's postpartum depression escalates along with pressures on Brad, suspicions do finally kick in.
The audience, of course, sees right through this little bad seed ( to employ the title of a similar film ) from the get-go. However, Joshua has no trouble convincing the adults that he's just a harmless, normal kid. Not as fun as other movies of the genre ( it's too high-falutin' ) , Joshua does have moments of genuine creepiness, another over-the-top performance from Farmiga and a literal carbon copy of Celia Weston's evangelical mother character from Junebug. There is also an effective thriller score by Nico Muhly.
Check out my archived reviews at www.windycitytimes.com or www.knightatthemovies.com . People can leave feedback at the latter Web site, where there is also find ordering information on my new book of collected film reviews, Knight at the Movies 2004-2006.