This weekend, SCAD's Cinema Circle kicks off its 2013-14 film series at Trustees Theater with a showing of the Steven Spielberg/George Lucas collaboration "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."
This WW II-themed adventure yarn was the third (and many say the most enjoyable) entry in the extremely popular Raiders of the Lost Ark saga, and brought plenty of much-needed backstory to Harrison Ford's iconic characterization of dashing archeologist and explorer Professor Indiana Jones through the introduction of his previously unmentioned father Henry, played with gusto by a slyly comedic Sir Sean Connery (of "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" fame).
Coming, as it had, on the heels of the disappointing sequel "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," the Oscar-winning "Last Crusade" was seen by many critics and fans alike as a welcome return to form for the unapologetically campy series which paid gleeful homage to the thrills, chills and spills of vintage B&W chapter serials of the 1930s and '40s.
It features solid supporting performances by Denholm Elliot, Julian Glover and the late River Phoenix, was filmed on location in Spain, Italy, England, Turkey and Jordan, and stands as 1989's highest-grossing film worldwide.
Sheila Lynne Bolda, programming director at Trustees Theater, said the film is a perfect choice to launch the latest season of Cinema Circle selections, which have historically included both critically acclaimed classics as well as crowd-pleasing box office hits from decades past. She had additional reasons, however, for presenting "The Last Crusade" first.
"We showed the original 'Raiders' a year or so ago, and we've just finished up our 'Summer of Spielberg," she said.
"But we ended that batch of his films on a more somber note with 'Saving Private Ryan.' Because the theme of this year's series is 'Dynamic Duos,' I've been choosing films with well-known pairs of actors or roles, and the team-up of Ford and Connery is a major one-two punch. It's a great way to unofficially end our Spielberg series on a higher note."
Oddly enough, the screenplay for this installment, which finds Ford's intrepid academic searching (alongside his estranged father) for the fabled Holy Grail while battling Nazi forces, was secretly co-written by famed playwright Sir Tom Stoppard (best known for such theatrical hits as "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead," "Shakespeare In Love" and the Terry Gilliam film "Brazil") under an assumed name.
"Most folks agree that the first and third 'Indiana Jones' films are the best, and so we're thrilled to show this one as a follow-up of sorts to the original," Bolda said.
SCAD Cinema Circle's Dynamic Duos series features a dozen more titles after this one, and stretches all the way through late July of next year. Watch this column in the coming weeks for a more in-depth look at their complete and impressive lineup.
"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" is recommended for ages 14 and older. It screens at 7 p.m. Sept. 21. Admission is $8.
On Sept. 22 at The Sentient Bean, the Psychotronic Film Society presents a memorial tribute to one of Hollywood's greatest talents and philanthropists, Academy Award-winner Paul Newman, who died of lung cancer on Sept. 26, 2008.
In honor of his enduring legacy (you may recall the Lucas Theatre showed his 1967 star vehicle "Cool Hand Luke" a few months back), the PFS will screen one of Newman's most unusual movies, and one which has never been officially released on DVD, despite garnering strong, positive reviews from critics at the time of its initial release.
The exact title of this "Mystery Screening" will not be revealed until showtime. Will it be a film starring Newman, or rather one of the handful that he himself directed? Adventurous film fans are encouraged to show up prepared to be surprised.
Showtime is 8 p.m., admission is $7 and the feature is suitable for mature audiences. In addition to award-winning vegetarian food, craft beer and wine are available during films at the Bean.
On Sept. 25, the PFS hosts another memorial tribute screening at the Bean - this time, in honor of the unforgettable Bette Davis, who died in early October 1989.
The first female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, she won the Oscar for Best Actress twice, was the first person to accrue 10 Oscar nominations for acting and was also the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, an organization which in 1991 named her the second greatest female film star of all time, just behind Katherine Hepburn.
In keeping with the PFS' ethos of showcasing movies which are either "very good" or "very bad," they'll present a rare public viewing of Davis' psychedelic-era comedy "Bunny O'Hare," an incredibly obscure picture that some feel is a hilarious slice of crass-but-kitschy counterculture hokum, but others say is an embarrassing dud that marks the nadir of Davis' amazing career.
It also stars Oscar-winner Ernest Borgnine ("The Poseidon Adventure," TV's "Spongebob Squarepants" and "Airwolf") as penniless senior citizens who go on a bank-robbing crime spree disguised as hippies on motorcycles. It's every bit as ridiculous as it sounds, which may be the reason the 1971 film has never been released on DVD anywhere in the world and is hardly ever broadcast. Davis herself was so unhappy with the final version of the movie that she sued the film studio that made it for $3.3 million.
Make up your own mind if this forgotten film is a shiny gem or a dried-out turkey. Showtime is 8 p.m. and admission is just $6.
Thanks for supporting independent cinema.
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.