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Chris Hicks: ‘Double Indemnity,’ ‘Field of Dreams’ among July’s classics in theaters

July is a big month for golden oldies on the big screen, with such classics as “Lonely Are the Brave,” “Harvey,” “Top Hat,” “Double Indemnity,” “River of No Return” and “Field of Dreams” among the offerings, and stars ranging from Kirk Douglas to James Stewart to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to Barbara Stanwyck to Marilyn Monroe to Kevin Costner.

“Lonely Are the Brave” (1962, b/w). This relevant, artful contemporary Western is about a drifter cowpoke (Kirk Douglas) who eschews progress and uses his wits when he is pursued by lawmen that rely on modern technology. With Walter Matthau, Gena Rowlands. (Thursday, July 2, 7 p.m., Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Ogden, egyptiantheaterogden.com/events)

“The Big Sky” (1952). Douglas also stars in this colorful pseudo-Western as an obstinate early 20th-century lumber baron at odds with a religious community when he attempts to plunder sequoias in a northern California redwood forest. (Friday, July 3, 7 p.m., Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Ogden, egyptiantheaterogden.com/events)

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993, PG). Tim Burton’s wacky stop-motion animated tale is funny and surprisingly warm-hearted as the king of Halloween Town kidnaps Santa and attempts to combine his holiday with Christmas. It gets a real boost from terrific songs, many sung by composer Danny Elfman. (Friday-Saturday, July 3-4, 11 p.m., and Sunday, July 5, at noon, Tower Theater, saltlakefilmsociety.org/category/events)

“Harvey” (1950, b/w). One of James Stewart’s most beloved roles is this repeat of his Broadway success as Elwood P. Dowd, a slightly addled tippler whose best friend is a rabbit over 6 feet in height that only he can see. Josephine Hull won an Oscar for her role as Elwood’s sister. (Friday, July 10, 10 a.m., SCERA Center, Orem, scera.org/event-category/cinema-classics)

“Bad Day at Black Rock” (1955). Shortly after World War II, a one-armed man (Spencer Tracy) arrives in the dilapidated small Western town of the title, but is met with aggressive hostility by locals. It's a gripping thriller that makes great use of widescreen and color. Co-stars Robert Ryan, Lee Marvin, Dean Jagger, Walter Brennan, Ernest Borgnine and Anne Francis. (Friday, July 10, 7 p.m., Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Ogden, egyptiantheaterogden.com/events)

“Labyrinth” (1986, PG). Singer David Bowie, future Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly and some truly bizarre Muppets star in this dark and twisted variation on “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz,” which was written by Monty Python veteran Terry Jones. Friday-Saturday, July 10-11, 11 p.m., and Sunday, July 12, at noon, Tower Theater, saltlakefilmsociety.org/category/events)

“Spaceballs” (1987, PG). Mel Brooks’ hit-and-miss parody of “Star Wars” (and “Star Trek” and “Alien,” etc.) has Brooks himself as diminutive Yogurt, Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet, Joan Rivers voicing C-3PO-type robot Dot Matrix, Bill Pullman as the Han Solo-ish Lone Starr and John Candy as Barf the Mawg, a Wookiee wannabe. (Sunday, July 12, 2 p.m., and Wednesday, July 15, 2 and 7 p.m., Cinemark Theatres, cinemark.com/cinemark-classic-series)

“Top Hat” (1935, b/w). One of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ best pairings is this delightful romantic musical comedy set in London with terrific songs by Irving Berlin, including “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails” and “Cheek to Cheek.” (Friday, July 17, 10 a.m., SCERA Center, Orem, scera.org/event-category/cinema-classics)

“The Valley of Gwangi” (1969). This offbeat Western-monster mashup anticipates “Jurassic Park” with James Franciscus as a stunt-rider cowboy in Mexico who enters the dreaded Forbidden Valley and discovers it’s overrun with dinosaurs. It has fine stop-motion special effects by Ray Harryhausen. (Saturday, July 18, noon, Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Ogden, egyptiantheaterogden.com/events)

“Double Indemnity” (1944, b/w). One of the best of the 1940s film noir thrillers has insurance salesman Fred MacMurray seduced by femme fatale Barbara Stanwyck as they plot to kill her husband, but investigator Edward G. Robinson is hot on their trail. Artfully directed by Billy Wilder, who collaborated on the witty script with Raymond Chandler, in this adaptation of a James M. Cain story. (Sunday, July 19, 2 and 7 p.m.; Monday, July 20, 2 and 7 p.m.; and Wednesday, July 22, 2 and 7 p.m., Cinemark Theatres, cinemark.com/cinemark-classic-series)

“Field of Dreams” (1989, PG). Kevin Costner stars in this enchanting old-fashioned fantasy about an Iowa corn farmer who destroys his crop to build a baseball diamond after a disembodied voice tells him, “If you build it they will come.” Amy Madigan, Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster co-star. (Wednesday, July 22, 2 p.m., free, Salt Lake City Library, slcpl.lib.ut.us/events/view/2121)

“River of No Return” (1954). In the 1870s Northwest, a widower (Robert Mitchum) is released from prison to find his young son (Tommy Rettig) being cared for by a dance hall singer (Marilyn Monroe). Later, her sleazy boyfriend (Rory Calhoun) abandons all three in hostile Indian territory. CinemaScope and Technicolor enhance location filming in this romantic melodrama. (Friday, July 24, 10 a.m., SCERA Center, Orem, scera.org/event-category/cinema-classics)

“Silverado” (1985). It's a wonderfully funny, action-filled Western by Lawrence Kasdan with a fine cast led by Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover, John Cleese, Jeff Goldblum, Linda Hunt, Brian Dennehy and, in a star-making role, Kevin Costner, giving his most energetic performance. (Friday, July 24, 11:15 a.m., Peery’s Egyptian Theater, Ogden, egyptiantheaterogden.com/events)

“The Thing” (1982, R). John Carpenter’s remake of the 1957 classic goes for gore galore but also boasts a lot of atmosphere in the tale of a spaceship recovered in the Antarctic whose occupant takes over the body of a snowed-in scientist. But which one? Kurt Russell stars and Wilford Brimley has a prominent role. (Friday-Saturday, July 24-25, 11 p.m., and Sunday, July 26, at noon, Tower Theater, saltlakefilmsociety.org/category/events)

“Gremlins” (1984, PG). It's a funny, dark, subversive satire on, among other things, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with a teen’s cute little pet mogwai spawning evil, destructive clones. Alternately hilarious and tasteless, it is filled with in-jokes for movie and pop-culture buffs. (Sunday, July 26, 2 p.m., and Wednesday, July 29, 2 and 7 p.m., Cinemark Theatres, cinemark.com/cinemark-classic-series)

“The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” (1947, b/w). In England at the turn of the 20th century, a young widow (Gene Tierney) rents a seaside cottage, despite rumors that it is haunted, and develops a close relationship with the ghost of a sea captain (Rex Harrison). Lovely, lyrical romantic fantasy. (Friday, July 31, 10 a.m., SCERA Center, Orem, scera.org/event-category/cinema-classics)

“Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986, PG). This is one of the best (and funniest) of the “Star Trek” movies and has Capt. Kirk (William Shatner), Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and the Starship Enterprise crew time-traveling to 20th-century San Francisco to find a pair of humpback whales that may hold the key to saving Earth. Whimsically directed by Nimoy. (Friday-Saturday, July 31-Aug. 1, 11 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 2, at noon, Tower Theater, saltlakefilmsociety.org/category/events)

Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at hicks@deseretnews.com.