The illuminati in charge of programming for Screen on the Green did not heed my advice and have therefore missed some great opportunities. They picked a disparate smattering of films, some good, some bad. They'll be shown weekly at dusk on the National Mall starting July 17. Here they are, with suggested replacements for the duds:
July 17. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). A pickled dash of kitsch borne out of post-war nuclear clothes-rending. Aliens come to Earth and tell us we must live in harmony or be destroyed! We're a danger to ourselves and to other planets! Agreed. But is a hokey, Robert Wise-directed black-'n'-whiter the right vessel to stimulate a flock of tired, humidified Districtians? No. Suggested replacement: Three Days of the Condor, with its no-longer-retro paranoid tendencies.
July 24. The Band Wagon (1953). Fred and Cyd, with Vincente and Adolph and Betty behind the scenes, in a backstage musical comedy. Haven't seen it, but it sounds grand. One of these years they have to bring Singin' in the Rain out, but this works for me.
July 31. Bullitt (1968). The famous car chase is better than the film. Steve McQueen, in a role that Brando would've turned into a magnum opus, plays the lieutenant in the lowest gear possible. Suggested replacement: The Blues Brothers, if you're looking for a populist, rousing (and better) movie with great car chases.
August 6. To Have and Have Not (1944). Screen on the Green loves them some Bogart. Last year, it was the grossly over-venerated Treasure on the Sierra Madre. Now we have Bacall, and blowing, and all. Works for me.
August 14. Rocky (1976). Definitely works for me. Great to watch with a crowd.
But why not show something galvanizing? What about Network, which an entire generation simply has not seen (or even heard of)? What about an Altman movie, like Nashville, a slanted slice of Americana that would be fantastic (and ironic) to watch on the Mall? Or The Conversation, Coppola's oft-forgotten masterpiece? All these are searing social commentaries in various guises from the golden age of the 1970s, but they all briefly exhibit the naked female torso. And, clearly, we can't expose our youth to such smut.
It could be worse, though. The lineup for the Comcast Outdoor Film Festival at Strathmore Hall in Bethesda is atrocious. Plus, Comcast sucks as a company, for reasons I won't get into here.
Upcoming topics: An open letter to Jennifer Aniston. The Tandy-Cronyn Geriatric Sci-Fi Legacy. Plus, a special report from inside the Tony Awards.