Local theaters have culled a truly eclectic mix of vintage movies for various “classics” series, ranging from Ferris Bueller skipping school, Dirty Harry cleaning up the Bay Area and Judy Garland heading West to a disparate pair of Bette Davis performances — and two versions of the beloved tale of Santa Claus going to work for a Manhattan department store.
The showplaces range from a local Megaplex theater, several Cinemark theaters, the Egyptian in Ogden and the SCERA in Orem to an auditorium on the Brigham Young University campus.
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986, PG-13). Hugely popular, very funny John Hughes teen comedy starring Matthew Broderick. Don’t leave before the end credits are completely over. (Friday, Nov. 1-Thursday, Nov. 7, various times, Jordan Commons, www.megaplextheatres.com/D-Theatre_Movietimes/Sandy_Jordan_Commons_UT)
“Grease Sing-Along” (1978, PG). John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John play 1950s teens in the popular, somewhat naughty, musical, and, as the title suggests, this is the sing-along version with lyrics displayed on the screen. (Friday, Nov. 1-Thursday, Nov. 7, various times, Jordan Commons, www.megaplextheatres.com/D-Theatre_Movietimes/Sandy_Jordan_Commons_UT)
“Dirty Harry” (1971, R for violence, nudity, language). Clint Eastwood’s San Francisco cop Harry Callahan is arguably his most indelible character. This first entry in the franchise has Harry going up against a serial sniper while hindered by City Hall. Influential hit spawned four sequels and myriad rip-offs. (Sunday, Nov. 3, 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2 and 7 p.m., Cinemark Theatres, www.cinemark.com/cinemark-classic-series)
“The Harvey Girls” (1945). Colorful Western musical partly filmed in Monument Valley stars Judy Garland in the story of waitresses traveling by train for innovative restaurant chain Harvey’s House. Cast includes Ray Bolger, Angela Lansbury, Cyd Charisse. (Tuesday, Nov. 5, 10 a.m., SCERA Center, Orem, www.scera.org/events/view/322)
“Brother Orchid” (1940, b/w). Edward G. Robinson is a hood who retires to get some “class” in this crime comedy, but after being swindled he returns to his gang. When new boss Humphrey Bogart throws him out, Robinson organizes a rival mob. Great fun with snappy patter from Ann Sothern as Robinson’s girl. (Friday, Nov. 8, 7 p.m., free, BYU, Provo, http://lib.byu.edu/sites/artcomm/)
“Bataan” (1943, b/w). Robert Taylor leads soldiers on a mission in the Philippines to blow up a bridge and then prevent the Japanese from rebuilding it. Solid studio picture made while World War II was still raging. Co-stars include George Murphy, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Nolan, Robert Walker and Desi Arnaz. (Tuesday, Nov. 12, 10 a.m., SCERA Center, Orem, www.scera.org/events/view/322)
“Driving Miss Daisy” (1989, PG). Poignant, funny, thoughtful and highly entertaining adaptation of the stage play, with Morgan Freeman in top form as a chauffeur, matched by Oscar-winner Jessica Tandy as the irascible title character, forging an uneasy friendship over many years. (Tuesday, Nov. 19, 10 a.m., SCERA Center, Orem, www.scera.org/events/view/322)
“The Letter” (1940, b/w). From the startling opening moments, Bette Davis dominates this highly charged W. Somerset Maugham story of a socialite who pleads self-defense to try to get away with murder. Riveting all the way. (Friday, Nov. 22, 7 p.m., free, BYU, Provo, http://lib.byu.edu/sites/artcomm/)Comment on this story
“Pocketful of Miracles” (1961). Set against the Christmas season in Manhattan, Frank Capra’s thickly sentimental and broadly comic remake of his earlier “Lady for a Day” would be his last film and Ann-Margret’s first. Glenn Ford is a gangster trying to give street peddler “Apple Annie” (Bette Davis) a makeover before a visit from her daughter, who is unaware of her mother’s destitute circumstances. Peter Falk leads a sterling cast of supporting players. (Tuesday, Nov. 26, 10 a.m., SCERA Center, Orem, www.scera.org/events/view/322)
“Miracle on 34th Street” (1947/1994, G/PG). The “real” Santa Claus (Oscar-winner Edmund Gwenn/Richard Attenborough) faces a challenge when an adorable little girl (Natalie Wood/Mara Wilson) refuses to believe in him. Both theatrical versions of the classic story will be shown, the black-and-white original at 1 p.m. and the color remake at 7 p.m. (Wednesday, Nov. 30, Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Ogden, egyptiantheaterogden.com/calendar/2013-11-30?mini=calendar%2F2013-11)
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is www.hicksflicks.com