Cool Off With Classic Films at Sunrise
BY RON SUTTON
Special to The Pilot
Get ready to cool off in a Russian ice house, fly through the California sky on a -bicycle, and watch the crazy groundskeeper at a Midwestern county club try to blow up a gopher!
Yes, that's right, you got it: The three Sunrise Classic Films for July are "Dr. Zhivago" (July 11), "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" (July 18) and "Caddyshack" (July 25).
"Dr. Zhivago" - July 11
There's no question that "Dr. Zhivago" is a classic film. Released in 1966, its renown has increased with the years.
Based loosely on the novel by Boris Pasternak, the film tells the story of an innocent Russian poet-intellectual caught in the furor and chaos of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Set against this background, the film at heart is a poignant love story shot as a historical epic.
Graced by gorgeous scenery, a memorable "ice house," and the haunting music of "Lara's Theme," the lengthy (three hours and 17 minutes) work was directed by David Lean immediately after his smash hit "Lawrence of Arabia."
An irreverent critic quipped, "Lean got so hot filming Lawrence he plunged into 'Zhivago' to cool off."
An outstanding international cast includes Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, Rod Steiger, Alec Guinness, Klaus Kinski, Ralph Richardson, Rita Tushingham, Siobhan McKenna and Tom Courtenay.
Some critics did not feel this immensely talented cast was an effective ensemble acting group, especially in comparison with the smaller, tighter scenes of "Lawrence."
Nonetheless, "Zhivago" endures as an ever more revered and honored classic created some 50-plus years ago.
"E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial"
When the alien creature says forlornly, "E.T go home!" feelings of sadness and loss arise in all those who have come to value, respect and love him.
He must leave. Like Peter Pan and Dorothy in Oz, he cannot survive on Earth. He must go home.
"E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" was released in 1982. The film portrays a limpid-eyed alien stranded accidently on Earth and his special bonding relationship with a lonely young boy, Elliott. As the film unfolds, it provides warmth, humor and sheer wonder with its simple, straightforward appeal to our hearts and feelings.
Director Stephen Spielberg readily admits the film is based on his own boyhood memory of an invisible friend he created at the time of his parents' divorce in 1960. He described the "friend" as "the brother I never had and the father I had no more."
"E.T." was indeed heart-warming and beloved by audiences throughout the world. It is alleged that the Reagans were emotionally touched when the film was screened in the White House in June 1982. Princess Diana was in tears when she saw it. And on Sept. 19, 1982, it was shown at the U.N. and Spielberg was given a UN Peace Medal. It also won a slew of awards for its makers and broke all existing records of gross profits. The film it surpassed at the time was "Star Wars," and "E.T." held the top grossing film record for 10 years, yielding its first-place standing to another Spielberg film, "Jurassic Park."
Nominated for nine Oscars, it won four for its rich score by John Williams and its sound and visual effects artistry. Shot from September to December of 1981 for $10.5 million, it grossed on its opening and subsequent rereleases some $792 million.
This film is appropriate for the family.
The third film in the series might be questioned by some regarding its standing as a "classic film."
But not in North Carolina, and certainly not in Moore County - home of Pinehurst, "the golf capital of the U.S," and 40 other courses.
Written by Brian Doyle-Murray, Harold Ramis and Douglas Kenney, and released in 1980, this film enshrines some of the most memorable ad-libbed comedy of the time. Described as a "sublimely moronic comedy," it features some really outstanding and -outrageous improvised scenes and lines.
The performances by Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight and Bill Murray have solidified the film as a cult classic, nowhere more so than in the newsroom of The Pilot.
"The guys quote liberally from this film," says Faye Dasen, features editor. "It's my guess that they probably know the entire thing from start to finish."
A couple of years back, when PineStraw was re-creating scenes from movies, "Caddyshack" was one of the first films chosen.
"As I recall, Steve Bouser (then the editor) was Judge Smails, publisher David Woronoff was caddy Danny Noonan, sports editor Hunter Chase was Bill Murray's character Carl Spackler, David Sinclair, the managing editor, was Ty Webb, played in the film by Chevy Chase, and Jim Dodson was Al Czervik, the Rodney Dangerfield character," says Dasen. "I'm guessing that some of them will find their way to the Sunrise to see this on the big screen."
All three films begin at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the Sunrise Theater in downtown Southern Pines. Tickets are $5.
Call (910) 692-8501 for information.
Pinehurst resident Ron Sutton is professor emeritus of film at American University in Washington, D.C.
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