There are few things we love more than grabbing our buds, some blankets, and a basket of eats and soaking up a movie under the stars. So since UCSB’s Arts & Lectures teamed up with the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission for their summer cinema series, we haven’t been happier. For the past two years running, the free series has brought a bevy of beloved American classics back to the big screen, both at the S.B. County Courthouse Sunken Gardens and A&L’s home turf, Campbell Hall. This Wednesday, July 6, year three kicks off with Top Hat, just one in a long line of great American musicals scheduled to screen this season. Films play Wednesday nights at 7:30 p.m. in UCSB’s Campbell Hall and Friday nights at 8:30 p.m. at the Courthouse. For info, visit artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu. And for a couple highlights, read on below.
1. Top Hat: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers star in this 1935 tale of unlikely love and mistaken identity. Astaire plays showman Jerry, who catches the eye of hotel-mate Dale (Rogers). The only problem: She thinks the lowly showman is actually a wealthy producer. Wednesday, July 6, and Friday, July 8.
2. The Ziegfeld Follies: A follow-up to 1941’s Ziegfeld Girl, this 1945 Technicolor feast finds the late, great stage producer looking down from the heavens to create a new show in his over-the-top and dazzling style. In addition to the theatrics, Follies features some of the era’s biggest names, including Astaire, Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, Lena Horne, Gene Kelly, and Red Skelton. Wednesday, August 3. (No Friday Courthouse show due to Fiesta.)
3. Singin’ in the Rain: Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor in what is no doubt one of the most memorable films of the American musical era. The story follows the trials and tribulations of a silent film company and its cast as they try to make the transition to moviemaking with sound. And the title tune—well, it’s about as culturally ubiquitous as they come. Wednesday, August 17, and Friday, August 19.
4. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: Two bombshell singers (played by the iconic Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell) travel to Paris to perform. Little do they know they’re being followed by a private detective, hired by one of the girl’s disapproving fathers to keep an eye on her and her many suitors. Of course, it’s Monroe’s oft-copied performance of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” that makes this one a summertime must-see. Wednesday, August 24, and Friday, August 26.