Paramount’s Summer Classic film series kicks off week one with stunning performances

If this summer brings anything close to the heat we’ve already seen this month in Austin, two or three hours (or four – I’m looking at you, Lawrence of Arabia) a respite in an air-conditioned room, a cold drink in one hand and the other dipped deeply in a jar of buttered popcorn, will be one way to cool off.

Just in time, the Paramount Theater on Wednesday unveiled the first third of this year’s lineup for its Summer Classic film series. The summer movie series kicks off with the traditional opener, casablanca. The fun part for film programmer Stephen Jannise is then finding a way to choose a theme from the film that can tie together the first week of screenings.

This year, that theme is “How to Steal a Movie” — not literally, of course, but rather highlighting the actors whose performances go hand-in-hand with the hottest stars they share the screen with. The first set of films in this year’s lineup includes a stacked Saturday with two French new wave films celebrating their 60th anniversary, in addition to a series of six screenings in partnership with the Hyperreal Film Club, all of which will be paired to a locally produced film. short film.

The film series opens Thursday, May 28, and tickets for the first series of films are on sale now.

We spoke with Stephen Jannise about this year’s series. The conversation has been slightly edited for clarity.

KUT: For our new listeners and those who may not be familiar with the summer movie series, can you give them a brief overview of what they can expect?

Janise: Every summer, for about three and a half months, we show between 90 and 100 films that range from the silent era until a few years ago. Obviously, as with any cinematic experience, the draw is to see these films – some of which you may have seen before or at home – on the big screen with a live audience. I think for us, in particular, the draw is to see them in these amazing old movie theaters. The Paramount, built in 1915, is a large cinema palace with 1,200 seats. And there just aren’t many spaces like this that still show movies on a regular basis.

So having close to 100 chances to see a movie in a space like that over the summer is always a real treat.

KUT: This year’s series kicks off with the classic casablancaand one of my favorite parts of the show is that the movies are usually scheduled around themes. casablanca launches the week “How to steal a film”. Can you tell us more about this and the theme of the flight following the second week?

casablanca is the film with which we open each year. It’s sort of become an annual tradition, and a fun challenge for me is always to find a new way to contextualize this movie or an interesting new theme around this movie.

This year I decided to go with my favorite supporting actor in this movie, who for me steals the movie, which is Claude Rains playing the French captain. I think he has all the best one-liners, definitely the ones you haven’t heard till nausea in popular culture. He’s probably why I come back to this movie every year, and I figured we’d do a whole theme around some of the great supporting performances that stole the movies from the most prominent actors.

We have other tracks in this theme like “Singin’ in the Rain”, which has a great supporting performance from Jean Hagen as the villainous Lina Lamont. She steals this movie. And of course you have Joe Pesci in Freedmenwhich won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and has probably some of the most quoted lines from that film.

Next week, we’ll continue with “How to Steal Everything Else,” which is really about the heist genre, something that’s never really gone away for moviegoers. Everyone likes to root for a good heist. We have movies ranging from Italian work at Wes Anderson bottle rocket to “How to Steal a Million,” which is kind of a heist romance with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole.

Paramount film programmer Stephen Jannise recommends moviegoers check out “Paris Is Burning,” a documentary about New York’s drag ball culture in the ’90s.

KUT: There are quite a few blockbusters on the schedule so far, but is there a movie with a lesser-known name that you think people absolutely shouldn’t miss?

We are showing a documentary titled Paris is burning, which I think is easily one of the best documentaries of all time. I think it’s one of the great movies ever made. It was made in 1990, and it’s all about drag ball culture in New York. So aside from the art of dancing that takes place at these events, it’s really about the community that’s been built around these events. The LGBTQ+ community kind of created this space where, you know, when the rest of the world around them didn’t treat them very well, they had this space to retreat.

It’s an incredibly moving film, as well as an incredibly exhilarating film to watch. Voguing has kind of been co-opted into our culture to some degree, and you see some of that happening in the movie. The film really introduces you to it, I think, in a very pure way. So, I highly recommend this one.

KUT: The movie schedule until July 1 has been revealed. Any clues as to what we can expect in the next lineup?

I think our regular attendees know that we will always do a Hitchcock Week every year, bringing some of the best known films, as well as some you may not have seen before. We’ll also be bringing back a lot of epics – movies like Lawrence of Arabia and The Godfather Part II — those really long movies that I think are getting harder and harder to watch at home with all the distractions we have. I think these are films that, more than any other, are worth seeing for the first time on the big screen.

For more information and session times, go here.

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