Pictured Above: A scene of Jaws being constructed with cameras, large equipment, and of course the big shark named Bruce! Photo Credit:  Sourced.

A Summer of Silver Screen Classics at the Princeton Garden Theatre

By Anthony Stoeckert

Arts News Now Features Writer Anthony Stoeckert describes the Princeton Garden Theatre’s Jaws Fest event that begins on July 13th and other classic movies that will be screened at the Garden later this month. 

When it comes to summer movies, most people tend to think of expensive, action-filled spectacles filled with characters they have seen before, even some they have been watching on the big screen for decades. The movies range from wildly entertaining (Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse) to wildly disappointing (Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny). Then there is the occasional miracle, like when Past Lives found its way into multiplexes in July.

But patrons of the Princeton Garden Theatre know there is an option that pretty much guarantees you’ll see a good movie, and that’s the Hollywood Summer Nights series, during which the Garden showcases classic movies, giving cinephiles the opportunity to see some of the all-time great movies on a big screen in a theater filled with fellow movie lovers for that shared experience that Nicole Kidman waxes poetically about in those AMC ads.

Pictured Above: Another scene from Jaws, this time beachgoers can be seen escaping the water. Photo Credit: Sourced

And while the movies change from year to year, one perennial at Hollywood Summer Nights is Jaws, which the Garden will showcase during its first Jaws Fest event on July 13, which in addition to the movie, will offer trivia, prizes, and custom T-shirts for sale. The Garden also will screen Jaws on July 19, and no movie says summer like Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic about a beach community that is terrorized by a great white shark.

Roger Ebert once wrote that if you asked people to simply name a movie, the response you’d get the most is Casablanca. That was probably true then, but I think all these years later, Jaws might take the lead. It essentially created the summer blockbuster, something that has earned it credit and blame over the decades, and even after 48 years, it’s still about as much fun as you can have at the movies.

Of course, the stars of the movie are Roy Scheider as the water fearing sheriff; Robert Shaw as the grizzled shark fisherman; Richard Dreyfuss as the rich fish expert; and the shark, but Jaws also includes some minor characters who add to the movie’s fun.

There’s the old woman who tells Chief Brody about the kids who are breaking fences with their karate (she reminds me of the kind of characters who add comic relief to Alfred Hitchcock movies); the old man who mocks Brody for being afraid of the water; and the fisherman who when told the shark he caught is a tiger shark responds with utter confusion, “A whaaat?”

Pictured Above: Another scene of Jaws being constructed with cameras, large equipment, and of course the big shark named Bruce! Photo Credit:  Sourced.

I saw a screening of Jaws at the Garden a few years ago, and even though most people in the crowd had surely seen it before, everyone laughed at the funny moments and jumped at the scary scenes (especially when Dreyfuss’ character comes across a sunken boat while scuba diving). Seeing it in Princeton offers another cool twist, because Peter Benchley, who wrote the novel, made his home in Princeton for
many years. If you’ve never seen Jaws in a movie theater, don’t let this chance pass you by.

Other movies that will be showcased as part of Hollywood Summer Nights include one of the all-time great romantic comedies, The Philadelphia Story, with Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart (in an Oscar winning role), on July 12; one of the greatest musicals of all time, Singin’ in the Rain (with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor), on July 20 and 25, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which was voted the best movie of all-time in Sight and Sound’s prestigious poll of critics in 2012 (it fell to No. 2 in 2022).

James Bond fans won’t want to miss the Battle of the Bonds, which will showcase Sean Connery on From Russia with Love and Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights, on Aug. 17. Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart return to the Garden in Rope on Aug. 23, and wouldn’t it be loverly to see My Fair Lady on Aug. 31?

Pictured Above: A scene from Vertigo, which will be showcased at the Garden on July 20th and 25th. Photo Credit: Sourced.

For a full Hollywood Summer Nights Schedule, along with other movies playing at the Princeton Garden Theatre, go to princetongardentheatre.org. The County Theater in Doylestown also offers Hollywood Summer Nights programming. Go to www.countytheater.org for a schedule and information.

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