On Wednesday night, the Kentucky Theatre celebrates 25 years since its reopening with an event built around a screening of the 1988 Italian classic “Cinema Paradiso.” Then it is on to what has become a summer tradition in the Bluegrass: The Kentucky Theatre’s Summer Classics series. Bookended by a Woody Allen classic next week and a Coen Brothers icon the last week in August, the lineup boasts seven series premieres and four digital restorations.
Showtimes are 1:30 and 7:15 p.m. Wednesdays, and admission is $6. Open up you calendars for these red-letter dates.
May 24: “Manhattan” (1979). Woody Allen’s George Gershwin-soaked black-and-white comedy makes its Summer Classics debut to kick off the summer. Co-stars include Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway and Meryl Streep before she was MERYL STREEP. This is also a digital restoration.
May 31: “Casablanca” (1942). One of the most successful Kentucky offerings on and off the series, it’s time to get swept up in Bogie and Bergman’s wartime romance one more time.
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June 7: “My Fair Lady” (1964). It’s a little hard to believe that this is a Summer Classics premiere for the Audrey Hepburn-Rex Harrison classic, but it is, and it’s a great chance to see a full digital restoration of the film.
June 14: “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962). If you haven’t seen this Cold War classic, you have to — and read into it what you will. The stellar cast includes Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and Angela Lansbury in a performance that will change your Jessica Fletcher perception of her.
June 21: “Mary Poppins” Arrive early to the matinee, which always attracts lots of kids to the delightful tale of a magical nanny, shown this year in a digital restoration. Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke star.
June 28: “Vertigo” (1958). One of Alfred Hitchcock’s great collaborations with Jimmy Stewart, it is a classic drama of paranoia and fear.
July 5: “Beauty and the Beast” (1946). Long before Angela Lansbury voiced Mrs. Potts or Emma Watson played Belle, French filmmaker Jean Cocteau created this version, “La Belle et la Bête.”
July 12: “O Brother Where Art Thou” (2000). The first of two Coen Brothers movies on this year’s lineup. Our own George Clooney stars in this film that places Homer’s “The Odyssey” in the 1930s South and sparked a bluegrass and Americana music movement that endures to this day. This appears to be the first 21st-century offering on the Summer Classics series.
July 19: “Harold and Maude” (1971). Long a cult classic, the Ruth Gordon-Bud Cort film about the unlikely friendship, and ultimate romance, between a death-obsessed twentysomething and septugenarian woman makes its Summer Classics debut.
July 26: “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962). There is no bad time to see this classic, but it really feels right as July 4 has faded and we settle into the dog days of summer. Bring a fan.
Aug. 2: “The Glenn Miller Story” (1954). Jimmy Stewart stars in this biopic of the trombonist and bandleader whose music was a big part of the World War II soundtrack. This is the movie’s Summer Classics premiere.
Aug. 9: “The Lion in Winter” (1968). The ultimate palace drama. Peter O’Toole stars as King Henry II and Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine (in an Oscar-winning performance) leading a cast including Anthony Hopkins, Nigel Terry and Timothy Dalton. This is a digital restoration of the film and the last of this year’s Summer Classics premieres.
Aug. 16: “Night of the Hunter” (1955). This harrowing family drama focuses on a man (Robert Mitchum) who marries into a family to find the money that the late father stole and hid with one of his children.
Aug. 23: “Monty Python & The Holy Grail” (Sing-Along Version) (1975). Somewhere between the original and “Spamalot” lies this version, where we are invited to sing along to favorites like “Knights of the Round Table” and “Camelot.”
Follow Rich Copley on Facebook and Twitter, @copiousnotes.