"Deep Blue"
"Deep Blue" on July 10.

A cornucopia of summer film

By Brooks Robards - July 6, 2006

The Martha's Vineyard Film Society, also known as the Silver Screen Society, celebrates its fifth summer season with a robust harvest of unusual films, ranging from science fiction/horror classics on Wednesdays to a Tuesday series about the sea. A special group of pieces by local filmmakers will be shown in August, and Hollywood Classics will return to the West Tisbury Grange Hall. Richard Paradise of Vineyard Haven is the man behind the screen, tirelessly tracking down quality films to entice local movie buffs throughout the year.

The film society has joined forces with Sail Martha's Vineyard, the organization that seeks to promote the Island's maritime traditions, to bring a variety of movies with nautical themes to the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs in conjunction with the Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association. The fun begins July 11 with "Deep Blue," a 2003 documentary narrated by actor Pierce Brosnan that gives a natural history of the ocean including the mammals and fish that live there.

Storyteller, singer, and photographer Mark Alan Lovewell will introduce the July 18 feature, "Moby Dick," in the 1956 John Huston version adapted by Ray Bradbury and starring Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab. Celebrating the 40th anniversary since its release in 1966 is the surfer documentary "Endless Summer," which will play on July 25.

On August 1, British director Michael Powell's 1937 masterpiece, "The Edge of the World," is scheduled. The story follows the lives of North Sea Scottish islanders, who must decide whether to abandon their idyllic life. Suspense master Alfred Hitchcock's 1944 "Lifeboat," with Tallulah Bankhead and a screenplay by John Steinbeck, follows August 8. The entire movie takes place in a lifeboat.

The sea series will end August 15 with Errol Flynn playing the original swashbuckling pirate in "The Sea Hawk," predecessor to "Pirates of the Caribbean." A group of Oak Bluffs merchants are sponsoring a special Treasure Hunt for children before the movie. These films all start at 8 pm, with admission beginning 45 minutes earlier.

Summer drive-in fun

Movies under the stars return to Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs, starting July 19 with "Jason and the Argonauts," the epic story of the search for the Golden Fleece. The first spaceship to land on Venus and discover a monster there is the storyline for the 1957 sci-fi/horror flick, "20 Million Miles to Earth," set for July 26.

On August 2, "The Day the Earth Caught Fire," about the fictional time U.S. and Soviet nuclear devices sent the earth hurtling toward the sun, will play. Boris Karloff and Elsa Lancaster join forces in "Bride of Frankenstein," to continue the story of the mad scientist and the monsters he created, screening August 9 to end this series. Cronig's Markets is co-sponsoring the "drive-in" series, where families are encouraged to come early and set up blankets or chairs any time from 7:30 pm until the movie starts at dusk (approximately 8:45 pm).

Classic Hollywood films will return for the eighth year, with cooperation from the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust. This series opens on July 20 with Carole Lombard and Jack Benny in "To Be or Not to Be," a comedy about stage hams battling Nazis.

On July 27, "My Favorite Blonde," starring Bob Hope in a secret-agent farce, will be featured. "Court Jester," a slapstick royal adventure with Danny Kaye, follows on August 3. Wendy Taucher, new managing director of the Yard, the Chilmark-based summer colony for dancers, will introduce the classic dance film, "The Red Shoes," a romance about a tyrant ballet master and his protégée, on August 10 for the final offering at the Grange Hall.

The month of August brings to the Katharine Cornell Theatre a special showcase of local filmmakers, along with the rough cut of a film made this summer on the Vineyard. First up on August 3 is "An Evening with Susanna Styron," featuring two of her recent films. Ms. Styron directed "Shadrach" in 1998, about a former slave who wants to be buried on the plantation where he was enslaved.

On August 11, the historical society's Linsey Lee will present her "Vineyard Voices" documentary interviews with Islanders. The film society's August 18 presentation will premiere a rough cut of the film made on-Island by participants in San Francisco-based film teacher Rick Schmidt's workshop held August 7 through 16. Finally, the Film Society will sponsor the first annual Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival September 14 through September 17.

For more information on any of these events, go to Established in 2002, the Martha's Vineyard Film Society is a non-profit, volunteer-run organization.

Brooks Robards is a poet, author, and former college film instructor. She frequently contributes stories on art, film, and poetry to The Times.