Jaws At The Ohio

IMG_5707The CAPA summer movie series is one of the great treasures of Columbus.  For several months the mighty Ohio Theatre becomes a repertory cinema, playing the best Hollywood has produced for your enjoyment in plush, opulent, air-conditioned comfort — with a plus.

This afternoon Kish and I went to see Jaws, which is the summer movie to end all summer movies.  Until you see Jaws again, on the big screen, in all of its colossal splendor, you forget what a marvelous film it is.  So believable in its portrayal of small-town provincialism, so well-acted by Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, and Robert Shaw, and so compelling in its set pieces — from the little scene between Captain Brody and his son at the dinner table, to the destroyed kid’s raft that washes ashore after one of the Great White attacks, to the bloody, horrible, screeching end for Quint in the shark’s mighty, threshing mouth.

It was telling that, even forty years after its release, the film still brought a gasp and shriek to the audience when the face of the dead fisherman drops into view in the hole of his ruined vessel.  Jaws is being released for a limited engagement, nationwide, next week, and if you get a chance to see it in a full-sized theater you have got to go and hear that familiar shark music again.  It really is a masterpiece of American cinema.  (If you live in Columbus, you can go catch Jaws at the Ohio Theatre tonight, at a 7:30 performance.)

IMG_5725And speaking of masterpieces, no description of the CAPA summer movie series would be complete without a mention of the “plus” that I was talking about — the “Mighty Morton” theatre organ that rises from the stage floor to entertain the audience with classic organ music and then sinks back down, with the organist still playing and pumping away, as the curtains open and the film credits roll.  The organ  alone is worth the price of admission — which is only $4 a person in any case.

Strangers On A Train At The Ohio Theatre

Richard had the excellent idea that we should eat downtown tonight and then watch Strangers On A Train at the Ohio Theatre.  Cath, Brittany, Mom, Richard and I had dinner at Dirty Frank’s, a downtown eatery that specializes in inventive hot dog-based concoctions, and then traveled over to the theatre for some organ music and some Alred Hitchcock mastery.  The hot dogs at Dirty Frank’s were really quite good (I had a chili dog and a combination of frankfurter, brisket, and barbeque sauce that really hit the spot) but the real highlight of the evening was the movie at the Ohio Theatre.

Strangers was being screened as part of the Summer Movie Series, which runs from early June to mid-July.  It is a popular series, I think in part because it is just enjoyable to watch a movie on a big movie screen, in a huge, ornate theatre, with organ music played on the theatre’s “Mighty Morton” organ.  Strangers is a classic part of the Hitchcock library, with all of the interesting camera angles, mounting suspense, tension-breaking humor, and stunning set pieces — in this case, a struggle to the death on an out-of-control carousel — that you expect from vintage Hitchcock.  Watching the film on a big screen, in a large theatre where the laughter rolls around the room like water being swirled in a basin, just makes the movie so much better.

No Summer Movie Series outing would be complete without some accompaniment by the Mighty Morton.  The organ is a massive white object that rises from and then descends into the floor of the stage.  It also is an astonishing musical instrument of great complexity and range; at one point the organist played Chattanooga Choo-Choo and delivered a very credible approximation of a steam engine, complete with whistle.  Watching the organ being played properly, as the organist strikes pedals, tabs and keys, is like watching some kind of intricate Russian ballet.

Events like the CAPA Summer Movie Series contribute mightily to making Columbus an interesting and fun place to live.