June 27--By 1954, Cary Grant had retired from acting.
Or so he thought.
Director Alfred Hitchcock had just the offer to lure him back to the set: a film shot on the French Riviera with co-star Grace Kelly.
The film -- To Catch a Thief (1955), one of Hitchcock's lighter works -- will kick off the 43rd "Summer Movie Series" produced by the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts. The films will be shown in the Ohio Theatre.
"It's Cary Grant and Grace Kelly; you can't go wrong with that pairing," said Rich Corsi, director of programming for CAPA.
In the romantic mystery, Grant plays John Robie, a former cat burglar living on the Riviera who falls under suspicion when a wave of copycat heists breaks out. Kelly plays Frances Stevens, the daughter of a theft victim who catches Robie's eye.
Hitchcock movies -- Thief was Grant's fourth and Kelly's third -- are popular with series regulars.
"Whether we show it as an opening movie or in between, Hitchcock movies are always the biggies," Corsi said.When they begin planning the series in December, Corsi and movie-series consultant Lance Carwile strive for a mix -- comedies, dramas, mysteries, cartoons, a silent film and a horror movie or two.
"We try to hit every different decade, every genre," Corsi said.
Despite the series' longevity, Corsi is surprised by how many films have never been shown in the grand setting. "When we're piecing the series together, you'd think we've shown every movie possible," Corsi said. "We've still been able to present 11 movies that people have never been able to see on the big screen at the Ohio Theatre" -- A nd Now for Something Completely Different, Annie Hall, Artists and Models, The Bank Dick, The Black Cat, Bonnie and Clyde, Diamonds Are Forever, I'm No Angel, The Little American, The Poseidon Adventure and The Trouble With Harry.
One hurdle programmers face is a growing reluctance by distributors to send film. DVDs -- which have the advantages of lower costs and shipping fees -- are becoming the medium of choice.
"Every film that we approach, we try to get on 35 mm," Corsi said.
For example, Warner Bros. had initially said its movies would be available only on DVDs, then recanted and sent films. Also, a restored copy of The Little American, starring Mary Pickford as an American woman caught up in World War I, will be provided by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, which is extremely protective of its films.
The series' longevity and reputation for careful handling of films are advantages, Corsi said.
"This isn't a first-year series," he said. "They know when they send us a film, it'll come back in better shape than what they sent."
And fans appreciate the quality of movies on film, Corsi said, along with tuxedoed ushers, organ performances by Clark Wilson and the moderate prices.
Strips of 10 tickets cost $25, or $2.50 a movie.
"You can't get that anywhere in this town," Corsi said with a laugh, "and you can't beat the air conditioning."
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