Published on April 20th, 2013 | by Zach Cheney


Incredible Films All Day & Night at The Grand Cinema

The Grand Cinema Presents: The 24 Hour Movie Marathon

April 20-21, 10 a.m. – 10 a.m. at the Grand Cinema

24 Hour Movie Marathon

 The 24 Hour Movie Marathon is happening now at the Grand Cinema: A number of classic films will be screened, along with important new movies like 42, No, and A Place Beyond the Pines.

All proceeds from the ticket sales go toward The Grand Cinema’s Digital Conversion Campaign. You can purchase full or half marathon tickets here, and all screenings between 10am and 11:30pm are open to the general public at the Grand’s normal prices.

Since we don’t often have the opportunity to endorse the works of both Billy Wilder and Mel Brooks, here are a few teasers to entice you, in the order in which the Grand will play them.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (directed by Terry Gilliam, 1975) – For the best (or close to it) in sophisticated fart jokes, look no further than the Monty Python crew. Holy Grail is their magnum opus, released the same year as the sketch-comedy American equivalent first aired on TV: Saturday Night Live. If you haven’t seen this movie, you’ve certainly heard it quoted, and it would do you well to bolster your cultural cache by finally realizing where “Bring out your dead” comes from.

Scene to watch for: King Arthur vs. the Black Knight.

 Reefer Madness (directed by Louis J. Gasnier, 1936) – Now that Vitamin M is more-or-less legal in Washington, you owe it to yourself to understand the frightful hazards of nature’s chillest herb. Produced as a propaganda film to warn parents about the slippery slope of marijuana, Reefer Madness has since become a classic for indirectly promoting precisely the intoxicating agent it set out to nip in the bud. The boys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 got their hands on it, but it doesn’t take a legendary riff-master for this train wreck to draw laughs.

Scene to watch for: teenagers uncontrollably laughing, dancing, kissing, and dying directly from smoking weed (actually, this is the whole movie).

Rear Window (directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) – “Tell me everything you see and what you think it means.” Thus commands Grace Kelly in Alfred Hitchcock’s great parable of cinema itself. Rear Window is a masterpiece at every level, a case study in suspense and a consolidation of Hitchcock’s mid-career themes and obsessions. Famously, it’s also one of those Hitchcock films in which nearly the entire story is shot from within one room (see also Lifeboat and Dial M for Murder.) If you haven’t seen it and have even considered watching Disturbia, do yourself a favor and go see Rear Window. If you have seen it, you should already know that this is a film that rewards repeat viewings.

Scene to watch for: the impotent Jimmy Stewart going berserk while Grace Kelly is being attacked.

Harvey (directed by Henry Koster, 1950) – Following Arsenic and Old Lace a few years earlier, Harvey is a slightly more touching comedy-drama that taps into the postwar American anxiety toward mental institutions (or, as they tend to be called in these movies, “nuthouses”). Elwood (Jimmy Stewart) has an invisible, 6-foot rabbit friend named Harvey, whom friends have no trouble accepting as real but who causes Elwood’s family plenty of concern. If Rear Window paints an image of Jimmy Stewart as insane by virtue of extreme paranoia, Harvey paints an inverse picture of him as lovably insane through his entirely carefree attitude toward life.

Scene to watch for: Elwood explains to a psychiatrist, “For years I was smart. I recommend ‘pleasant.’ You may quote me.”

 Napoleon Dynamite (directed by Jared Hess, 2004) – While not exactly a “classic” like those above, Napoleon Dynamite was an unforgettable moment in recent popular culture, one that many of us clearly remember experiencing at the Grand Cinema for the first time. In the middle of the “quirky” indie movie revolution, this film amped up the weird and did so shamelessly. Featuring a cast of unknowns and maximizing the comedic effects of silence, Napoleon Dynamite would go on to inspire other “quirky” movies like Little Miss Sunshine and Juno. And like at least one of those films, there’s a payoff at the end of this one that you don’t see coming.

Scene to watch for: the time machine.

Blazing Saddles (directed by Mel Brooks, 1973) – At every level, this is worthy of your time. Even before Monty Python Anglicized the fart joke, the Americans had perfected it through the genius of Mel Brooks. Beyond that, film is genre deconstruction of the cleverest variety, not to mention a scathing commentary on American racism. But let’s be real: Blazing Saddles is in the running for funniest movie ever made. I don’t want to see a single unoccupied seat at the Grand during this one.

Scene to watch for: when Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder make idiots of the KKK.

 Spaceballs (directed by Mel Brooks, 1987) – Okay, maybe we would’ve chosen Young Frankenstein before Spaceballs, but we’ll just assume that the Grand is saving the former for a special midnight Halloween screening. If you’ve got a fever from all the recent hype about the new Star Wars movies, Spaceballs is the prescription for you. Mel Brooks isn’t just a comedian. As Blazing Saddles shows us, he’s a master at critiquing film genres. That film went after the Western, Young Frankenstein went after the horror film, High Anxiety went after the Hitchcockian thriller and Silent Movie went after, yep, you guessed it. Spaceballs’ greatest piece of genius may be the casting of the spectacled Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet (“I can’t breathe in this thing!”). Ride out the story: it’s regressive (one character will actually eat himself), and it deconstructs itself (a cameraman is mortally wounded). This is Mel Brooks fifteen years after Blazing Saddles, and he hasn’t lost his touch.

Scene to watch for: Lord Helmet’s dolls.

 Some Like It Hot (directed by Billy Wilder, 1959) – Some would say, without stretching it much, that Billy Wilder was the greatest American director (though he immigrated from Austria). To pick which film was his masterpiece is a rather impossible task, but Some Like It Hot is surely in the running. I will now speak to the generations born post-1959: you may think you know what comedy is, but unless you have seen Some Like It Hot, you are like those who think they know great rock/pop music but haven’t listened to the Beatles. This is as important as comedies get. Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe: what’s not to like?

Scene to watch for: Tony Curtis does his best Cary Grant impression.

 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (dir. Michel Gondry, 2004) – We should also acknowledge that this is from a script penned by the great Charlie Kaufman. Heartbroken? Lovelorn? Ready to patch up a damaged relationship or embark on a brand new one? Eternal Sunshine should put things into perspective. This isn’t “quirky” like Napoleon Dynamite, but rather wonderfully brutal, punctuated with moments of happy and comic relief, moving toward a satisfying ending in the form of a new beginning. Aside from the story and thematic stuff, lovers of beauty will appreciate this film. It’s just a pretty thing to behold.

Scene to watch for: Joel and Clementine in the disintegrating beach house.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (directed by John Huston, 1948) – Humphrey Bogart is at the top of the American Film Institute’s list of male screen legends, and perhaps rightly so. But if you want to see Bogie lose his cool the way a great actor sometimes should, go see this movie. This isn’t the relatively cool and collected Bogart you remember from Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon. This is a Bogie at the end of his rope, acting alongside the great Walter Huston, father of this film’s director. In a sense, here we have a similar theme begun in John Huston’s directorial debut, The Maltese Falcon. Huston goes after the notion of the American Dream, dismantling it and showing the dependence of that dream on our rather fragile minds and bodies.

Scene to watch for: laughter – wait for it.

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About the Author

Zach Cheney, a longtime Tacoma resident, teaches and studies film at the University of Oregon. He can be found on Twitter at @zacheney and at

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