For those who love old movies, plenty of classics are making their way to local theaters throughout the state, with, as MGM used to say, more stars than are in the heavens.
Among the stars on display are James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, Sonja Henie, Bill Murray, Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan and many more.
And the films include such beloved favorites as “Sun Valley Serenade,” “Destry Rides Again,” “The Princess Bride,” “Groundhog Day,” “Ivanhoe” and “Sleepless in Seattle.”
Time to forget about the potential Oscar nominees in theaters right now and gear up for a rare opportunity to see some golden oldies on the big screen. You can’t go wrong with any of these.
“Destry Rides Again” (1939, b/w). Stewart is a laconic sheriff who eschews violence as he takes the reins in a roughneck town, only to find his biggest obstacle is saloon singer Dietrich, which means both trouble and romance. This raucous comedy was a huge hit at the time and remains a funny, rowdy, action-packed farce. (Friday, Jan. 10, 7 p.m., free, BYU, Provo)
“The Sailor-Made Man” (1921, b/w, silent). Lloyd’s first feature film (a scant 45 minutes in length) is a very funny three-act yarn that pointed him toward the genius slapstick he would develop for later films. Here, he’s a playboy told by the father of his fiancée to go out and prove himself before he can marry her. So Lloyd joins the Navy. This is amusing stuff, but things really pick up in the third act when he must rescue his girl from a Middle Eastern maharaja. (Friday, Jan. 10, The Organ Loft, 7:30 p.m., with live organ accompaniment)
“The Princess Bride” (1987, PG-13). Hilarious, anachronistic fairy tale unfolds as a bedtime story read by Peter Falk to young Fred Savage about a swordsman rescuing his true love. Great comic cast is led by Robin Wright, Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin. (Sunday, Jan. 12, 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2 and 7 p.m., Cinemark Theatres)
“Tora! Tora! Tora!” (1970, PG). Excellent retelling of events leading up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, told from both U.S. and Japanese viewpoints. Exceptionally produced and gripping film is a wartime thriller that should more than please World War II buffs as well as movie fans in general. (Tuesday, Jan. 14, 10 a.m., SCERA Center, Orem)
“A Man Called Peter” (1955). Excellent biography of Peter Marshall, from his early life, his migration from Scotland to the United States, receiving his spiritual calling, ministering over small congregations to his eventually being called to the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., which leads to his being appointed twice as Chaplain of the Senate. A reminder that Hollywood was once respectful of religion and faith. (Tuesday, Jan. 21, 10 a.m., SCERA Center, Orem)
“The Chaplin Mutual Comedies” (1916, b/w, silent). Some critics feel the “middle period” of Chaplin’s output, when he made 12 shorts for the Mutual Film Corporation, remains unsurpassed. And the films are justly popular, highlighted by many of his most famous slapstick routines. This program is the first of four scheduled over the next couple of months, each highlighting a trio of hysterical shorts. Here you’ll find “The Floorwalker,” “The Fireman” and “The Vagabond.” (Thursday-Friday, Jan. 23-24, The Organ Loft, 7:30 p.m., with live organ accompaniment)
“Sun Valley Serenade” (1940, b/w). If you’re a fan of this film — and from the number of queries I’ve received about whether it will ever be released on DVD, there are a lot of you out there — here’s your chance to see this frothy winter romantic musical as Henie, John Payne, Milton Berle, Joan Davis, Lynn Bari and the incomparable Nicholas Brothers, along with Glenn Miller, come together at the titular Idaho resort. (Friday, Jan. 24, 7 p.m., free, BYU, Provo)
“Ivanhoe” (1952). Vividly and colorfully photographed in British locations, this adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s novel set in the Middle Ages is exciting stuff, with that MGM sheen and a rich cast, led by Robert Taylor, Joan Fontaine and Elizabeth Taylor. (Tuesday, Jan. 28, 10 a.m., SCERA Center, Orem)
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986, PG-13). Hugely popular, very funny John Hughes teen comedy starring Matthew Broderick as a wisecracking con artist skipping high school with friends for a day. Don’t leave before the end credits are completely over. (Sunday, Jan. 26, 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2 and 7 p.m., Cinemark Theatres)
“The Glenn Miller Story” (1954). One of Stewart’s biggest hits was this sentimental biography of the best-selling big-band leader who perished when his plane disappeared during a World War II European USO tour. Stewart is great, and June Allyson as his wife is very good, but the music’s the thing, and there’s plenty of it. (Tuesday, Feb. 4, 10 a.m., SCERA Center, Orem)
“Groundhog Day” (1993, PG). Murray is at his best playing a snarky, self-centered weatherman caught up in a time loop, doomed to repeat the same day over and over until he becomes a better person. Could have become redundant and boring but the comic fine-tuning of each repeated sequence is perfect from beginning to end. (Sunday, Feb. 2, 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2 and 7 p.m., Cinemark Theatres)
“The Farmer’s Wife” (1928, b/w, silent). This British rural romantic comedy was directed by none other than Alfred Hitchcock, and it’s a surprisingly pleasant endeavor about a widower wooing local ladies, only to be repeatedly turned down. Will he finally see his loyal housekeeper as more than just a cook and cleaner? (Friday, Feb. 6-7, The Organ Loft, 7:30 p.m., with live organ accompaniment)
“Sleepless in Seattle” (1993, PG). Unabashedly old-fashioned romantic comedy, the second of three pairings of Hanks and Ryan, is funny and sweet. Just-engaged Ryan hears widowed, single-father Hanks on a call-in radio show and has an epiphany that he’s her destiny. Lots of allusions to “An Affair to Remember.” (Sunday, Feb. 9, 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2 and 7 p.m., Cinemark Theatres)
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." Website: www.hicksflicks.com