What a great weekend to check out some favorite films on broadcast and cable television stations. Here are the highlights of what’s showing.
What summer would be complete without a July 4th visit to Amity Island? This classic thriller from Steven Spielberg – based on the novel by Peter Benchley – is about much more than the threat of a killer shark. The film effectively explores how people fear and how fear can spread. Rather than try to teach a lesson on what prompts a shark to attack, Spielberg focuses on what makes people afraid, and how a community copes with real and imagined concerns. The movie stands the test of time because its issues never go out of style.
Friday, July 3, 12 noon and 7:45 p.m., AMC
What start to a presidential campaign season would be complete without wishing better candidates would magically appear? This thought-provoking comedy from director Ivan Reitman asks us to imagine people who so badly want to lead that they create a national fiction. Kevin Kline perfectly captures the innocence of a man who wants to do what’s right and the savvy of a politician who knows that appearnces matter. With Charles Grodin in yet another delightful comic role, this gem of a film says as much about voters as it does about the candidates they support.
Friday, July 3, 1:30 p.m.; Saturday, July 4, 5:30 p.m., Sunday, July 5, 2:30 p.m., POP
Air Force One (1997)
What summertime celebration would be complete without an action thriller? And what better choice than an exciting story about a President of the United States? Harrison Ford is perfectly cast as a chief executive with a sense of humor, a strong commitment to his family, and a personal history as a tough guy. That comes in handy when the villains take over his airplane. As the President who knows what it takes to save the day, Ford brings his trademark humility and appeal to a role that could have backfired in the wrong hands. Glenn Close is just right as the Vice President, too.
Friday, July 3, 5:30 p.m., TNT
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
What movie weekend would be complete without a musical from the golden age? This highly original musical about a band of brothers who decide it’s time to get married offers everything that’s right when movies sing and dance. The songs are memorable, the dances innovative, the characters appealing and the narrative just complicated enough to keep our attention between the songs. Of course, the mountains do look painted (because they are) but we can’t get everything we want from a musical! Location shooting was expensive in 1954.
Saturday, July 4, 10 a.m., Turner Classic Movies (TCM)
What July 4th would be complete without celebrating the birth of the United States? This musical return to Philadelphia on that inspiring date in our nation’s history was created by a history teacher named Sherman Edwards who always loved musical comedy. After winning the Tony Award as the Best Musical on Broadway in 1969, the movie version appeared three years later with most of the original cast repeating their performances. While the content may not help you pass an exam in school, it will remind you what this holiday we celebrate is all about.
Saturday, July 4, 3 p.m., Turner Classic Movies (TCM)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
What patriotic weekend would be complete without a salute to the “citizen soldiers” who made an Allied victory in World War II possible? One year after the end of the war, director William Wyler paid tribute to veterans in this moving tale of the difficulty three soldiers encounter when they return home. With Oscar-winning performances from Frederic March and Harold Russell, this important film wonders if a nation can ever do enough to help its heroes adjust to the realities of the homefront. Yes, this was an issue in 1946, too.
Sunday, June 28, 4 p.m. Turner Classic Movies (TCM)
Sharing movies can be as easy as turning on the television or going online. And, when you watch as a family, take the time to chat about what you’re seeing. That makes it even more fun.