Manhattan's Popular Bryant Park Summer Film Festival
Returns in '98 with a Focus on NYC-themed Classics
by Mark Rabinowitz
On Monday, June 15th, probably as early as 3:30 in the afternoon,
several thousand New Yorkers will begin their weekly trek to a patch
of grass called Bryant Park to lay out their blankets, open their wine,
cheese and baguettes, and jockey for space with their neighbors in
preparation for a couple of hours of classic films in the great outdoors.
June 15th brings the return of a New York institution to Midtown
Manhattan with the first installment of the 6th Annual Bryant Park
Summer Film Festival, a weekly exhibition of classic American film,
this year starring Gary Cooper, Katherine and Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant,
Jack Lemmon, Jimmy Stewart and Marilyn Monroe in films by directors
George Cukor, Frank Capra and Blake Edwards, among others.
This year's fest is sponsored by HBO and Banana Republic and runs on
Mondays from June 15-August 24. To celebrate the Centennial of the
incorporation of Greater New York (the 5 boroughs became a city in
1898), the 1998 selections all reflect a New York theme. The festival
"kicks" off with the classic 1933 Lloyd Bacon musical "42nd Street,"
with songs by Harry Warden and Al Dubin including "Shuffle Off to
Buffalo" and "You're Getting to be a Habit With Me." This screening will be
preceded by a performance from the cast members of the off-Broadway
"Bryant Park is the place to be on Monday nights in the summer," said
HBO chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes in a prepared statement, adding, "In
celebration of the Greater New York Centennial this year, we're proud to
show some of the greatest, timeless movies set in New York -- with the
skyline as a backdrop." The festival continues on June 22nd with a
showing of the 1957 Twentieth Century Fox film, "An Affair to Remember."
Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr star in this timeless romance that inspired
scenes in films like "Sleepless in Seattle" and even an entire mediocre
1994 remake, "Love Affair," starring Warren Beatty and Annette Benning.
(The latter film has little to offer, but does enable the viewer to
watch a spirited Katherine Hepburn say "fuck" in her last big screen
July 6th features the 1936 Frank Capra comedy, "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,"
starring Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur and Lionel Stander (Max from "Hart to
Hart"), while July 13th's program features a 1938 George Cukor screwball
comedy, "Holiday," starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. (She
doesn't swear in this one!) The comedies continue on July 20th when
Marilyn Monroe, Betty "Million Dollar Legs" Grable and Lauren Bacall hit
the Big Apple on the hunt for rich husbands. William Powell co-stars.
July 27th's entry in the fest is Elia Kazan's directorial debut, 1945's
"A Tree Grows In Brooklyn," starring Dorothy McGuire, Joan Blondell,
James Dunn, Lloyd Nolan, and Peggy Ann Garner. Jack Lemmon's big screen
debut, 1954's "It Should Happen To You" screens on August 3rd. This
second Cukor film in the fest stars Judy Holliday as a young woman who
will do a lot to see her name in lights in New York...like rent
billboard space in Columbus Circle. The film also stars Peter Lawford.
Jack Lemmon is back in August 10th's "Bell, Book and Candle," a 1958
comedy starring Jimmy Stewart as a New York book publisher enchanted,
literally, by the most beguiling witch on film, Kim Novak. Co-starring
Lemmon, Hermione Gingold and Elsa Lanchester as Novak's witch family and
Ernie Kovacs as a skeptical "expert" on witches.
August 17th's entry is "Stage Door," a comedy/drama starring Katherine
Hepburn, Eve Arden, Lucille Ball, Adolphe Menjou and Ginger Rogers, and
the series rounds out with Blake Edwards' classic 1961 film, "Breakfast
at Tiffany's" the following week. The film stars Audrey Hepburn and
George Peppard in a film that spawned theme parties and hundreds of
pet felines named "Cat." Moon River indeed.
[For festival information and raindates, call 212-512-5700.]