Jason Fraley, WTOP film critic
WASHINGTON – You don’t need a ticket. Just bring a blanket, lay it on the grass of the National Mall and watch some of history’s best movies on a giant screen — with a Capitol Dome backdrop.
The annual Screen on the Green series kicks off Monday night. Due to construction on much of the Mall, this year’s movies will be shown on a giant 20-foot by 40- foot screen between 7th and 12 streets in Northwest.
The films screen at dusk, around 8 p.m., but folks usually start claiming their spots on the lawn as early as 5 p.m.
The series kicks off at sundown Monday night with “Sundance.”
July 16 – “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969)
Paul Newman and Robert Redford team in arguably the greatest “buddy movie” ever made, a film that brought a new sophisticated humor to the Western. The WGA ranked it the No. 11 greatest script of all time, and Redford enjoyed the experience so much that he named the Sundance Film Festival after his character, The Sundance Kid.
July 25 – “It Happened One Night” (1934)
Romantic comedies don’t go around sweeping the Academy Awards — unless you’re Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night.” The movie joins “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) and “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) as they only three films to ever win the Big 5 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director (Capra), Best Actor (Clark Gable), Best Actress (Claudette Colbert) and Best Screenplay (Robert Riskin).
July 30 – “From Here to Eternity” (1953)
Fred Zinnemann’s tale of love and loss at Pearl Harbor features one of the deepest casts in movie history: Burt Lancaster (“Sweet Smell of Success”); Montgomery Clift (“A Place in the Sun”); Deborah Kerr (“The King and I”); Frank Sinatra (“The Manchurian Candidate”); Donna Reed (“It’s a Wonderful Life”); Jack Warden (“The Verdict”); George Reeves (TV’s “Superman”); and the late Ernest Borgnine (“Marty”).
Aug. 6 – “Psycho” (1960)
Voted No. 1 on the AFI’s 100 Thrills, Alfred Hitchcock’s classic was the original “slasher” film, featuring arguably the greatest twist in movie history. Sexy thief Marion Crane doesn’t know what she’s in for when she stops for a night at the Bates Motel, run by the mother-obsessed Norman Bates. Audiences of the 1960s also didn’t know what they were in for, screaming so loud that you couldn’t hear Bernard Herrmann’s now-famous slashing violins. Hitchcock’s directorial eye is apparent in every frame, from the symbolic opening credits to double reflections in windows.
Click here for a full list of outdoor summer screenings.
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