The Alfred Hitchcock film series wraps up with three great suspense-filled thrillers opening today at the Tower Theater and playing for a week — the 1934 version of “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” and two of Hitch’s certifiable classics from the late 1950s, “North By Northwest” and “Vertigo.”
And if you miss “Vertigo” at the Tower, it will also play at several Cinemark theaters at the end of September.
In addition to the Hitchcock films, over the next few weeks local theaters will be playing an eclectic collection of terrific movies spanning several decades, including one of the all-time great fantasies, “Lost Horizon”; one of the most popular comedies of all time, “Some Like it Hot”; and a superlative drama about race relations, “To Kill a Mockingbird” — all three in glorious black and white.
Hitchcock Series: “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1934, b/w, noon): Later remade by Hitch, this one is about a young girl kidnapped to keep her parents from revealing an assassination plot, with Peter Lorre as a villain impressing in his first English-language effort. “North By Northwest” (1959, 4 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.): Innocent man (Cary Grant) accused of murder goes on the run, with famous Mount Rushmore finale. “Vertigo” (1958, 7 p.m.): Critics consider this Hitch’s best, as a retired police detective (James Stewart) is unable to save a troubled woman (Kim Novak) and later meets someone who seems to be her double. (Friday, Aug. 30-Thursday, Sept. 5, Tower, http://saltlakefilmsociety.org/)
“The French Connection” (1971, R for violence and language). Gene Hackman won a well-deserved best-actor Academy Award for his kinetic performance as a New York police detective tracking international heroin smugglers in this action-filled thriller (with one of the all-time greatest chase scenes). Roy Scheider co-stars as his partner. Also won Oscars for best picture, director, screenwriter and editor. (Sunday, Sept. 1, 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Cinemark Theatres, www.cinemark.com/cinemark-classic-series)
“The Perfect Clown” (1925, b/w, silent). This slapstick farce starring Larry Semon is a bit atypical of the comic’s usual shtick, a more straight-ahead 55-minute “feature” that has him as a clerk trying to get $10,000 to the bank but arriving after it closes. Mistaken identities and chases ensue. Oliver Hardy has a supporting role, two years before joining Stan Laurel as an official comedy team. (Thursday-Friday, Sept. 5-6, The Organ Loft, 7:30 p.m., www.edisonstreetevents.com/silent-movies)
“Some Like It Hot” (1959, b/w). Billy Wilder’s classic farce about two Prohibition-era musicians (Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis) who inadvertently witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and hide out by dressing as women and joining an all-girl band, where they meet an alluring singer (Marilyn Monroe). Hilarious from the first scene to the last; a definite must-see. (Sunday, Sept. 8, 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Cinemark Theatres, www.cinemark.com/cinemark-classic-series)
“Lost Horizon” (1937, b/w). Frank Capra directed this thrilling adaptation of James Hilton’s story about the city of Shangri-La, high in the Himalayas, where no one ever ages. When adventurer Ronald Colman and friends show up, love and loyalties are tested until Colman discovers he hasn’t come upon this magical city by chance. Brilliantly conceived and performed, with a great music score by Dimitri Tiomkin. Another must-see. (Friday, Sept. 13, BYU, Provo, 7 p.m., free, http://lib.byu.edu/sites/artcomm/)
“To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962, b/w). Yet another not-to-be-missed classic, one of those rare films that doesn’t seem to age, with a superb Oscar-winning performance by Gregory Peck at its center and a story that transcends time to be just as relevant today as it was in 1962. Also an unusual example of a great book being turned into an equally great movie. (Sunday, Sept. 15, 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Cinemark Theatres, www.cinemark.com/cinemark-classic-series)
“Peter Pan” (1924, b/w, silent). This was the hit of the 1924 Christmas season, a surprisingly subtle and still highly entertaining adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s work about the boy who declines to grow up (played wonderfully by Betty Bronson, hand-picked by Barrie), as he brings Wendy and her brothers from London to Neverland, rescues Tiger Lily (played by Anna May Wong), battles Capt. Hook and receives invaluable aid from Tinker Bell. (Thursday-Friday, Sept. 19-20, The Organ Loft, 7:30 p.m., www.edisonstreetevents.com/silent-movies)
“Barbary Coast” (1935, b/w). Howard Hawks directed this action-packed, witty, entertaining melodrama starring Miriam Hopkins as an opportunistic woman who arrives at San Francisco’s notorious Barbary Coast at the height of the 1849 gold rush, discovers her fiancé has been killed and heads for a disreputable gambling house where she takes up with the wealthy owner, her fiance’s presumed killer (Edward G. Robinson). Then in walks chivalrous miner Joel McCrea and all bets are off. Walter Brennan co-stars. (Friday, Sept. 27, BYU, Provo, 7 p.m., free, http://lib.byu.edu/sites/artcomm/)
“Vertigo” (1958). See description in “Hitchcock Series” at the top of this column. (Sunday, Sept. 29, 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Cinemark Theatres, www.cinemark.com/cinemark-classic-series)
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parents Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is www.hicksflicks.com