As I have mentioned before in previous Film Scene columns, it is extremely cool that the Lucas Theatre has begun to offer high-definition digital streams of acclaimed Broadway and off-Broadway stage dramas.
It's worth saying again: It's extremely cool that they're offering such esoteric and unusual fare on the giant screen of a restored 1920s movie palace in the heart of Savannah's downtown Historic District.
What's even cooler is the fact that they have priced these streaming events - many of which are actually simulcast live, as opposed to having been recorded at an earlier date - at far less than is the case at most other venues across these United States which carry this sort of programming.
However, without widespread support from the community, it is a forgone conclusion that the folks who finance such expensive ventures won't see fit to keep such a series running. In other words, if you'd like to have top-quality streaming stage shows become a regular fixture of downtown Savannah's alternative cinema scene, then step up and take in one or more of these events.
Your next chance to do so comes Aug. 17, when the Lucas offers a one-show-only BroadwayHD presentation of iconic playwright Arthur Miller's rarely performed one-act play "Incident at Vichy." It is set during WWII in a drab and grim German detention center in occupied France and focuses on a group of nine men and one young boy who have been rounded up by the Nazis for reasons unknown to them. Over the course of the 90-minute drama, they find themselves interrogated by both soldiers and a German professor who specializes in what he terms "racial anthropology."
The piece trades on the heavy themes of guilt, honor and depravity, and considering the ugly blossoming of racial hatred and Aryan ideology taking place across the USA of late, it may be more timely now than when it premiered in 1964. Richard Thomas, best known as John Boy on the 1970s TV series "The Waltons," stars as an Austrian prince who himself is swept up in the Nazi net. Showtime is 7 p.m.
An hour later that same night, the Regal Stadium 10 multiplex, behind the Savannah Mall, and the Cinemark in Bluffton, both present a digital streaming event from the folks at RiffTrax - a successful spinoff of cable TV's Mystery Science Theater 3000, which finds snarky comedians making snarky comments on top of the soundtracks to campy flops or otherwise ridiculous motion pictures. This time out, they've made a somewhat surprising choice. It's the 90-minute made-for-TV feature film "Doctor Who: The Five Doctors," which was originally broadcast on the BBC and PBS in the fall of 1983.
Meant as a 20th anniversary tribute to the pioneering and much adored British sci-fi time travel TV series "Doctor Who," it's filled with inside jokes geared toward longtime fans and appearances by several of the different actors who had portrayed the title character over the course of the show's run up until that point. In case you can't make this screening, both venues will show an encore of this on Aug. 24.
Looking ahead to next week, on Aug. 23 at the Sentient Bean Coffeehouse on Forsyth Park, the Psychotronic Film Society's Wednesday night series of overlooked and underappreciated feature films from around the globe continues with one of the stranger foreign horror flicks they've presented in the organization's 14 year existence. It's the forgotten, low-budget 1968 Mexican thriller "Dr. Satan vs. Black Magic."
Filled with amateurish acting, mediocre special effects and a flat-out ridiculous plot about the "King Demon of Hell" ordering a guy named "Dr. Satan" (who looks an awful lot like Dracula) to return to Earth and battle an Asian wizard, who himself plans to rule the world by utilizing a mysterious formula that can turn any metal into gold, it's rarely been seen in public since its initial release. Still, it has earned a small yet devoted cult following for its sheer wackiness. The PFS has unearthed the highest quality version of this obscurity known to exist and will screen it in the original spoken Spanish, with English subtitles. Showtime is 8 p.m., with discounts on craft beer and organic wine during the film. Come prepared to laugh.
And finally, the next night, Aug. 24, Tybee Island's historic Post Theater hosts a one-night-only engagement of beloved Tinseltown Director William Wyler's B&W 1953 romantic comedy "Roman Holiday," which earned the great Audrey Hepburn ("Breakfast at Tiffany's," "My Fair Lady") an Oscar for Best Actress, as well as the one-and-only Edith Head an Oscar for Best Costume Design.
Shot on location in Rome, it finds Hepburn playing a crown princess who longs to break free from the rigors of royal life, and does so - briefly - by posing as an anonymous tourist and dallying with Gregory Peck's American reporter character (who's on assignment and meant to cover the very same princess).
It's a hoot and a half, and doubles as a lovely, moving picture postcard of early '50s Italy. It's also the movie that began America's infatuation with Italy's hippest method of personal transportation, Vespa scooters. Showtime 7 p.m., and admission includes a free glass of wine (if you're old enough) and a package of tissues in case you've been chopping onions.
Until next issue, see you at the movies, be kind to those around you and don't forget to turn off that cell phone.
Jim Reed directs Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah. Email email@example.com.
IF YOU GO
What: BroadwayHD: "Incident at Vichy"
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 17
Where: Lucas Theatre, 32 Abercorn St.
Cost: $15 adults; $10 for military/seniors; $5 students, kids under 15 (Free with SCAD ID)
What: "RiffTrax Live: Doctor Who: The Five Doctors"
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 17, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 24
Where: Regal Savannah Stadium 10 & Cinemark (Bluffton, S.C.)
What: "Dr. Satan vs. Black Magic"
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 23
Where: The Sentient Bean Coffeehouse, 13 E. Park Ave.
What: "Roman Holiday"
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 24
Where: The Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.