The double bill is almost a lost art, but this month you can find many excellent examples at the Castro.
Let’s start with Hitchcock Wednesdays (my label). Each Wednesday in August, San Francisco’s best movie theater matches a feature from the master of suspense with an appropriate non-Hitchcock title:
- August 7: Strangers on a Train and Curtis Hanson’s Bad Influence
- August 14: Psycho and Alan Rudolph’s Remember My Name
- August 21: Frenzy and Richard Fleischer’s largely forgotten The Boston Strangler
- August 28: Vertigo and Mel Brooks’ Hitchcock parody, High Anxiety. They’ll be screening a rare, pre-restoration print from Vertigo’s 1983 reissue.
They’re missing my favorite, Rear Window. I wonder what would make the right second feature for that one?
Strangers on a Train
On Sunday, August 4, you can watch The Princess Bride with Max Reinhardt‘s 1935 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This flawed but fascinating movie gives James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Joe E. Brown, and other Warner Brothers stars a chance to do Shakespeare, and most of them do it quite well. Mickey Rooney makes the perfect Puck.
You want tough-as-nails women caught in organized crime? On Thursday, August 15, John Cassavetes’ Gloria plays with Quentin Tarantino’s overlooked Jackie Brown.
And speaking of Tarantino, Pulp Fiction screens on Friday, August 16
with Jean-Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders play.
Cool police detectives make an appearance on Thursday, August 29 with Bullitt and Dirty Harry. In one, Steve McQueen became the first person to say bullshit in a Hollywood feature. In the other, Clint Eastwood created a franchise.
I haven’t yet seen Jim Jarmusch’s new horror comedy, The Dead Don’t Die. You can not only see it at the Castro, but you can make your own choice of second feature. On Thursday, August 8, it’s screening with the movie that started it all, Night of the Living Dead (you can read my essay). The next day, you can see Jarmusch’s version along with The Return of the Living Dead.
Night of the Living Dead
The year 1982 saw a lot of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror – all with cutting-edge special effects. So, for three days in a row, the Castro will screen big titles from that year:
- Thursday, August 22: Blade Runner (the final cut) will run with Tron. If you’re not familiar with them, Blade Runner is the ultimate science fiction noir. Tron is a light show with a little bit of a plot.
- Friday, August 23: The Thing and Cat People. Both are remakes of low-budget, post-war horror movies, remade major directors of the time: John Carpenter and Paul Schrader.
- Saturday, August 24: This day we have a triple bill; but a strange one. Poltergeist and Halloween III: Season of the Witch are horror films. If there’s an opposite of horror movies, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is it.
Speaking of triple features, on Sunday, August 25, you can watch three James Bond movies with three different James Bonds: Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Moonraker. None of them are amongst my favorites in the series.
Some movies are just too long to be part of a double bill. So Lawrence of Arabia, a masterpiece that comes to the Castro frequently, is playing by itself on the weekend of August 10 and 11. It’s being projected, as it should be, in 70mm (I also accept 4K DCP).
Another film playing all by itself is the most beloved Star Trek feature, The Wrath of Khan (Saturday, August 17). But this is more than just the movie. This Drag hosted Oasis Presents event will have costume and Captain Kirk impersonation contests.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
And that’s not the only Star Trek movie on the schedule. On Friday, August 30, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home will play with Nicholas Meyer’s time travel, romantic comedy thriller Time After Time. And that is a damn near perfect double bill.