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Here are 30 must-see movies from the Paramount Summer Classic series

Joe Gross
jgross@statesman.com

More than 110 movies are screening this summer as part of the Paramount Summer Classic film series.

Here are 30 not to miss. There are others worth seeing, of course, but are 30 really good ones.

“Stormy Weather” (7 p.m. May 31)

This 1943 picture remains one of the most important musicals ever made (what with its staggering African-American cast). Starring  Lena Horne, Bill Robinson, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Dooley Wilson and the Nicholas Brothers. Tremendous stuff.  (A double feature with “Ziegfeld Follies.”)

“Planet of the Apes” (5:25 p.m. June 3)

Come on, when was the last time you saw the original of this ape-tastic classic on the big screen? Never, I bet. Ape shall not kill ape! (A double feature with “Back to the Future,” for some reason, which starts at 3:15 p.m.) (Would it kill them to play all five original Apes movies back to back?)

“The Hunger” (9 p.m. June 5)

OK, look, it’s the three-day Bowie tribute and “The Man Who Fell to Earth” is never as good as you remember or think it’s going to be and “Labyrinth” has its own cult so let’s all go see Tony Scott’s mondo vampire flick “the Hunger,” with its crazy hot opening sequence featuring Bauhaus, Bowie and Ann Magnuson as The Victim. Undead undead undead.

“Hairspray”“8 1/2” (7 p.m./8:45 p.m. June 15)

The theme of this double feature is “ beloved films that became Broadway musicals that became films of their own (phew!),” which seems a mighty sketchy premise on which to hang this totally brilliant double feature. First John Waters presents mid-century Baltimore as a Fellini-esque spectacle of the everyday, then we get actual Fellini. Good job!

“Orlando”/”Bluebeard” ( 7 p.m./8:50 p.m. June 19)

During “fantastic heroines” week, check out the pairing of Sally Potter’s still oddly underrated (or at least underknown) riff on Virginia Woolf’s brilliant novel and Catherine Breillat’s take on a particularly brutal fairy tale. Another really savvy pairing.

“Metropolis” (7:30 p.m. June 22)

Yes, you have seen it, in one of its five or six cuts, a million times. Yes, it is one of the most important sci-fi movies ever made. Yes, you should see the as-restored-as-it’s-going-to-get version on the big screen.

“Logan’s Run” (2 p.m. June 23)

As a good pal once noted, if you are younger than 30, “Logan’s Run” is terrifying. After 30, it is a scream. Starring Michael York and large parts of Dallas, which looked like a dystopia even in 1975. Paired with “Mad Max.” 

“Bringing Up Baby”/ “It Happened One Night” (7 p.m./ 9 p.m. June 27)

Here is a chance to see Howard Hawks’ “Baby” in 35mm (a really nice print, one hopes ) paired with Frank Capra’s still-perfect “It Happened One Night.”

“Brazil” (5:10 p.m. June 24)

Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece and one of the most insane movies ever lensed (that was almost mainstream or something). On 35 mm. Paired with “Blade Runner” for maximum muted-color sci-fi overload. 

“Fargo” (9 p.m. July 3, 7 p.m. July 5)

One of the best American movies of the 1990s and one of the best arguments against the idea the the Coens are cold to (or dislike, or condescend to) their protagonists. You don’t come up with a Marge Gunderson without adoring them, accent or no. Paired on both nights with the a-little-too-canonized “The Big Lebowski.” 

“Thelma and Louise” (7:30 p.m. July 10)

Probably Ridley Scott’s smartest film, due largely (if not completely) to Callie Khouri’s Oscar-winning script. Texas does not come off well. I took a date to this movie; not the best idea ever, even if the film did end up being the most significant movie of 1991. 

“Sunset Boulevard”/ “All About Eve” (1 p.m./3:05 p.m. July 15)

The theme here is “unforgettable dialogue,” which seems appropriate, but it could also be “is this melodrama or noir or what?” “Eve” is more the former while “Sunset” seems halfway between both.

“Sorcerer” (7:30 p.m. July 16)

At the time, this William Friedkin remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s “Wages of Fear” (or another version of Georges Arnaud's 1950 French novel “Le Salaire de la peur,” to hear Friedkin tell it) was an atomic bomb at the box office. But it has aged shockingly well, Roy Scheider or no Roy Scheider. Presented by former Austin resident Sam Beam, aka Iron and Wine.

“Late Spring”/ “An Autumn Afternoon” ( 7 p.m./9:05 p.m July 18)

Hot Ozu-on-Ozu action. Well, no, let’s go with temperate and impossibly controlled and precise and like nobody else -- the guy almost invented his own cinematic vocabulary. “Late Spring” is the first late period masterpiece, “Autumn Afternoon” his final film.

“Blazing Saddles” (4:45 p.m. July 21, 3:45 p.m. July 22)

File under: Movies that would be completely impossible to make today. Laugh uproariously and awkwardly with your fellow filmgoers! Paired with “Airplane,” which is a completely different (and much gentler) mode of comedy.

“Purple Rain” (7 p.m. July 24)

Nobody is ever going to call “Purple Rain” a masterpiece of cinema. But it is one of the most awesome movies ever made by a rock star who seemed to be topping himself on a yearly basis. The live footage (of both the Revolution AND the Time) is stunning and one mourns the lack of a Morris Day film career. One hopes this is incredibly loud.

“A Hard Day’s Night”/“Bob Dylan: Dont Look Back” (4 p.m./5:40 p.m. July 29)

This is another smart pairing. The Beatles were at their Beatlemania peak in ‘64, mere months before meeting Dylan, who changed their lives. Dylan, on the other hand, was on his final all-acoustic tour in ‘65, having already cut the Beatles/rock-influenced “Bringing It All Back Home.” Two utterly brilliant films.  No, the apostrophe should NOT be there.

“Do the Right Thing” (7 p.m. Aug. 1)

The entire People and Places run from July 30 to Aug. 3 is just tremendous. “The Last Picture Show”! “Daughters of the Dust”! “Monsoon Wedding”! Pairing “Killer of Sheep” with “Bicycle Thieves” is ingenious.  But if one is in one’s mid-40s, one remembers everything about seeing “Do the Right Thing” for the first time, from the greatest title sequence ever made to talking about it with your friends for days after. One of the most important American movies of the late 20th century, period, in a 35 mm print and everything.

“Rififi”/“Diabolique” (7 p.m/9:15 p.m. Aug. 7)

Having absorbed the style of 1940s American noir, the French managed to spit it back to us in the form of these totally excellent crime flicks, both from 1955, the first a perfect heist movie, the second a stunning psychological thriller. 

“Double Indemnity” (7 p.m. Aug. 8/8:55 p.m. Aug. 9)

Speaking of, here is one of the greatest noirs ever lensed. It’s funnier if you remember that Fred MacMurray was the model for the original Captain Marvel (the one who says “Shazam!”). With the totally awesome Edward G. Robinson talking about his gut instinct as “my little man.” Paired with “The Maltese Falcon,” which, you know, is also pretty good. 

“American Graffiti” (5:10 p.m. Aug. 11)

One of the coolest movies George Lucas ever made. Not the most successful (though it was), not the most game-changing (though it was one of the first movies of the 1970s to look fondly upon the ‘50s transformation into the ‘60s), but the coolest. There are no loose nuts in this cast, but pay special attention to Paul Le Mat, whose kindness and cool feels very proto-Han Solo. With a brilliant soundtrack and the loosest cinematography and editing Lucas would ever use, thanks (most likely) to Haskell Wexler as visual consultant. Imagine if Lucas had gone this route for the “Star Wars” prequels. (Paired with “Grease,” which should be considered a movie crime. I would love to see it paired with “Dazed and Confused.”) 

“Shadow of a Doubt” ( 7 p.m. Aug. 16, 9:45 p.m. Aug. 17)

Hitchcock week runs Aug 14 to 19 and it’s all great, from “The Lady Vanishes” to “Vertigo” and “Rear Window,” but this is always going to be my all-time favorite. It’s all here: duality, an incest implication, the corruption of the East vs. the purity of the West, Shakespearean comic relief and a young woman who is much, much tougher than she first appears. Joseph Cotten is That Dude. (Paired with “Vertigo,” which makes this one of the greatest double-features of all time, even if smushes together two distinct phases of Hitchcock’s filmmaking.) 

“The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (7:30 p.m. Aug. 28) 

John Houston directs his brilliant father Walter, Tim Holt and, oh right, Humphrey Bogart in this hardcore 1948 Western about three guys in search of gold (which always turns out well with no conflicts whatsoever). Can we call it the first neo-Western?