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Sam Elliott & Katharine Ross Introduce Movies at this Texas Festival

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El Paso’s historic Plaza Theatre is home to the world’s largest classic film festival each summer. This August 1-11, some of our favorite film stars will be on hand to introduce their works. Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross will appear with “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” August 2. The two stars will also appear with “The Legacy” at the August 3 matinee screening.

Victoria Riskin, daughter of Fay Wray and screenwriter Robert Riskin, will introduce several films. A restoration of “The Wedding March” at 1 p.m. and “King Kong” at 7 p.m. on August 6; and “You Can’t Take It With You” at 1 p.m. August 7. She will also attend a book signing for her book “Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir,” at 3:30 p.m. August 7.

Kathleen Quinlan appears with “Apollo 13” at 7 p.m. August 9. Quinlan also appears with “Clara’s Heart” at 3:30 pm August 10.

Classic Film Festival Themes

Sam Elliott & Katharine Ross Introduce Movies at this Texas Festival

Photo: Plaza Classic Film Festival

Program Director Doug Pullen said, “We are doing a one-year anniversary screening of Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ with El Paso author Ron Stallworth. He wrote the book upon which the film is based. Also producer Shaun Redick (instrumental in getting it to Jordan Peele, who brought in Lee) and possibly two or three of the screenwriters; they shared the Oscar for best-adapted screenplay. Also possibly one of the stars.”

One Giant Leap — Take a look at space exploration in fact and fiction, before and after the Apollo 11 landing on July 20, 1969. Movies include Georges Melies’ surreal silent fantasy from 1902, “A Trip to the Moon,” the 1956 sci-fi flick “Forbidden Planet,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Right Stuff,” “Apollo 13,” “Moon,” “Solaris” (Russian version); and the documentaries “Apollo 11” (2019) and “For All Mankind” (1989). They also have a Bond movie, “You Only Live Twice,” in which US and USSR space capsules are plucked out of orbit by SPECTRE to try to incite a war between the two countries.

1969: Everything Changed — Enjoy films released in 1969 that reflected that pivotal year and the rise of the anti-hero (“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Easy Rider”), incorporate elements of the counterculture (such as Disney’s “The Love Bug”) or connect to the year in some other way.

Sesame Street 1969 Debut

Sam Elliott & Katharine Ross Introduce Movies at this Texas Festival

Photo: Plaza Classic Film Festival

“Sesame Street” debuted in 1969, so they’re showing “Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird” (1985). They’re showing “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” because Austin travels back to 1969 to try to get his mojo back and confronts Dr. Evil (based on Blofeld in “You Only Live Twice”) at his secret moon base.

Mark Medoff: A Brilliant Mind — Enjoy three movies that were adapted for the screen by Medoff. He lived nearby in Las Cruces, was a friend of PCFF, and died on April 23, 2019. The movies are “Children of a Lesser God,” “City of Joy” and “Clara’s Heart,” which will feature an appearance by Kathleen Quinlan. She not only starred in the movie with Medoff-discovery Neil Patrick Harris (who was 12) but appears in the forthcoming faith-based movie “Walking With Herb,” Medoff’s last screenplay.

Musicals Glorious Musicals

Sam Elliott & Katharine Ross Introduce Movies at this Texas Festival

Photo: Plaza Classic Film Festival

MGM are the initials and what most people think of when they think of Hollywood musicals’ golden era. They have 14-15 musicals this year, more than normal, including “My Fair Lady,” “A Star Is Born” (the 1954 Judy Garland version), “Top Hat,” “On the Town,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Blues Brothers,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Grease,” and Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” “La La Land,” a love letter to the golden age of Hollywood musicals, closes out the segment. They’ve sprinkled in several musicals that informed and inspired “La La Land,” including France’s “The Young Girls of Rochefort,” “A Star Is Born,” “Top Hat,” and “On the Town.”

Smaller themes include 1939, often dubbed “Hollywood’s Greatest Year” (“Oz,” “Beau Geste” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”), and UA 100, the 100th anniversary of United Artists (Chaplin’s “City Lights,” “You Only Live Twice,” “Carrie,” and “Some Like It Hot”).

El Paso Community Foundation presents the annual Plaza Classic Film Festival. Tickets are on sale at Plaza Theatre Box Office with no service charges, and at Ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit plazaclassic.com.