Every Tuesday, Landmark’s E Street Cinema screens a classic film as part of its “Retro Replay” series, and each month brings a different organizing theme.
On Tuesdays in July, for example, the venue screened a different road movie in its #RoadLife series, with films as varied as Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, The Hangover, and Mad Max: Fury Road.
August brings with it a celebration of Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic achievements, not least for the fact the Master of Suspense was born on the 13th of the month in east London.
Kicking off the “Happy Birthday, Mr. Hitchcock” series at downtown D.C.’s E Street Cinema is a screening of one of the filmmaker’s most ambitious and entertaining works, North by Northwest (1959).
Cary Grant plays a Madison Avenue ad man who is mistaken for a CIA operative by some very bad men, led by the silken-voiced James Mason, while Eva Marie Saint steps into the role of blonde femme fatale. A thin, equine Martin Landau is chilling as Mason’s No. 1 (and yes, there is a distinct whiff of homoeroticism between the pair).
The movie is known for its larger-than-life set pieces, including a silent seven-minute stunner set in a cornfield, and a breathtaking scuffle atop Mount Rushmore. Bernard Herrmann’s memorable score all but shoves the action forward, and Saul Bass’s opening credits rank among his finest. (Aug. 2)
The next week brings Strangers on a Train, a masterful 1951 thriller starring Farley Granger as an amateur tennis star unwittingly dragged into a murder scheme by the psychopathic Robert Walker. The film is well-known for its sly gay undertones and is based on a novel by the groundbreaking lesbian author Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley). (Aug. 9)
One of the greatest films of all time swoops in midway through the month. And if you’ve never seen The Birds on the big screen with an audience, you should consider it, as it only adds to the power of this harrowing cautionary tale in which our fine feathered friends rage against humankind.
Tippi Hedren (eventual mother to Melanie Griffith) and Rod Taylor star, but the best performances hail from Jessica Tandy as a mistrustful mother and Suzanne Pleshette, as a jaded schoolteacher. Also, the birds themselves are pretty damned terrifying. (Aug. 16)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) has been called Hitchcock’s “first indisputable masterpiece” and the most “intimate and heart-wrenching” film in his repertoire. With a script co-written by Thornton Wilder, the thriller revolves around a calculating and charming killer (Joseph Cotten) hiding out in the small idyllic hometown of his sister and her family. His young niece (Teresa Wright) grows increasingly suspicious of her uncle, who, in turn, plots to kill her in order to protect his secret. (Aug. 23)
Last but not least to screen is Vertigo, one of Hitchcock’s most complicated films, considered by most cinephiles to be one of his finest achievements. Jimmy Stewart stars as a detective whose fear of heights leads him into a dangerous obsession with Kim Novak, a dead ringer for a woman he couldn’t save from a suicidal jump years before. (Aug. 30)
Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. Landmark’s E Street Cinema is at 555 11th St. NW. Tickets are $7. Visit www.landmarktheatres.com or call 202-452-7672.