wWhen it comes to cinema in this day and age of gross-out gags, sophomoric one-upmanship and shock humor, it's easy to pine for the Golden Age of the screwball comedy.

That distinctly American filmic genre reigned darn near supreme on the silver screen in the 1930s and 1940s, and although it long ago fell out of favor (in fact, screwball features can seem downright twee alongside modern comedies), hearty echoes of that style can be found in plain sight in most every corner of lighthearted celluloid - especially on television.

The lightning-fast, snide ripostes epitomized in sitcoms like "Friends" and "Seinfeld?" Check. The stubborn, headstrong and dominant female who coyly toys with a formidable male cohort's emotions and sense of self-worth, a la "Castle" or "Moonlighting?" Check. The classic screwball comedies of their day were not merely zany, romantic romps.

They often contained more provocative subtexts which tweaked issues of social strata and marital and sexual conventions when such topics were still something of a third rail in U.S. popular culture.

One of the greatest of the first wave of screwballs is surely 1935's "Top Hat," starring the iconic silver screen team of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Considered one of the all-time great films of its time, it received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Art Direction, Best Original Song and Best Dance Direction. In 2006, the American Film Institute named it the 15th best movie musical ever made. Its soundtrack contained the debut of the timeless Irving Berlin tune "Cheek To Cheek," the No. 1 song of that year.

The film also features "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails," which many call Astaire's greatest filmed tap dance solo.

RKO Pictures' most popular and profitable feature of the 1930s, "Top Hat" was the second highest grossing picture worldwide in 1935.

It's the absolutely charming tale of an American dancer (Astaire) who travels to Britain and unexpectedly falls in love with a beautiful model (Rogers).

Unfortunately, the model mistakenly believes the dancer to be the husband of one of her married friends - which makes his amorous pursuit of her in extremely poor taste, and causes no small number of awkward situations.

As if the delightful and clever script and wondrous song and dance numbers weren't enough, the movie also stars the reliably excellent character actor Edward Everett Horton as the hapless husband who's mistaken for Astaire's dancer.

Devotees of "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show" will know Horton as the narrator of that 1960s animated gem's "Fractured Fairy Tales" segment - as well as other assorted characters' voices.

The film screens at 7 p.m. June 28 at the Lucas Theatre. Admission is $8 or $5 for students and seniors with ID.

The following night, around the corner at Broughton Street's Trustees Theater, SCAD's Summer of Spielberg Series continues with that superstar filmmaker's family-oriented sci-fi blockbuster "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial."

This incredibly beloved and acclaimed 1982 movie stands as one of the most financially successful motion pictures in history.

Starring an incredibly young Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace and real-life former '60s radical Peter Coyote (as a threatening government agent, no less) it's the fantastical tale of a young, lonely boy who discovers and befriends a diminutive space alien who's been shipwrecked on earth, and does his best to hide and protect the seemingly benevolent creature from both marauding government agents and his own, easily agitated mother.

But you knew that already, right? Showtime is 7 p.m. June 29. Admission is $8.

And finally, the Psychotronic Film Society unearths another unjustly unknown piece of foreign cinema when it screens an uncut, widescreen print of the "lost" French thriller "La Traque" aka "The Track," on July 3.

This tense 1975 drama stars the lovely Mimsy Farmer ("Riot On Sunset Strip," "More," "Four Flies On Grey Velvet") as a young British woman who is assaulted by two well-connected criminals in the French countryside, and winds up pursued by a hunting party determined to eliminate the only witness to the assault - her.

Several cuts above most "revenge" flicks of this era, such as "I Spit On Your Grave," "Straw Dogs," and "Last House On The Left," it's filled with ruminations on the European class system, and is something of a minor forgotten gem and has never been released in the USA.

In French with English subtitles. 8 p.m. showtime. $6 admission for mature audiences only.

Thanks for supporting indie cinema, and don't forget to turn off your cellphone.

Jim Reed directs the award-winning Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah, presenting indie, foreign, classic and cult cinema year-round. Read more from Jim on Savannah's film scene at filmsavannah.com.

What: "Top Hat"

When: 7 p.m. June 28

Where: The Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn, St.

Cost: $8 or $5 for students/seniors

Info: www.lucastheatre.com

What: "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial"

When: 7 p.m. June 29

Where: Trustees Theater, 216 E. Broughton St.

Cost: $8

Info: www.trusteestheater.com

What: "La Traque"

When: 8 p.m. July 3

Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.

Cost: $6, mature audiences only

Info: www.sentientbean.com