What makes a movie a classic? Quality, of course, but also age. And guess what — at this point, “Alien,” released 30 years ago in 1979, is getting to be as classic as 1959’s “Ben-Hur.”
Beginning this month and continuing through December, Turner Classic Movies will bring those and other favorites to theaters on Long Island. The lineup, titled “TCM Big Screen Classics,” spans 14 films over five decades, with multiple showings on multiple dates. It’s a great chance to see a young Barbra Streisand in 1969’s “Hello, Dolly!” or, for that matter, a young Kevin Costner in 1989’s “Field of Dreams.” Each film will screen with exclusive commentary from TCM hosts.
Below is the full list of titles and playdates. Go to fathomevents.com for theaters, tickets and show times.
THE WIZARD OF OZ (Jan. 27-30) Talk about a second life: This Judy Garland fantasy-spectacle was a dud upon its release in 1939, though it seems to have been playing nonstop ever since.
MY FAIR LADY (Feb. 17 and 20) George Cukor’s 1964 film is the very definition of a musical — yet its two leads don’t really sing. Audrey Hepburn lip-synced to Marni Nixon, while Rex Harrison just talked the lyrics. It worked out beautifully.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Mar. 24 and 27) Gregory Peck’s performance as Atticus Finch, a lawyer who stands up for racial injustice in the Deep South (the film came out in 1962), defined not only his career but, in many ways, our ideal of America.
BEN-HUR (Apr. 14 and 17) Nobody clenches a jaw like Charlton Heston, but this 212-minute swords-and-sandals epic is most famous for its 8-and-a-half minute chariot race, one of the mightiest action scenes ever filmed.
TRUE GRIT (May 5 and 8) John Wayne won his only Oscar as the bounty hunter Rooster Cogburn in Henry Hathaway’s unsentimental Western from 1969. With Glen Campbell as the cocky Texas Ranger La Boeuf.
STEEL MAGNOLIAS (May 19, 21 and 22) This multicharacter drama from 1989, set in a small Southern town, featured an amazing cast: Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts (earning her first Oscar nod), Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah and more.
FIELD OF DREAMS (June 16 and 18) In the mini-genre of magical baseball movies, this one — starring Kevin Costner as a farmer inspired to build a stadium — may be at the top. Its famous line, widely misquoted, is: “If you build it, he will come.”
GLORY (July 21 and 24) Edward Zwick’s 1989 film about an all-black Union Army squadron under white command features Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and a then-“promising” Denzel Washington.
HELLO, DOLLY! (Aug. 11 and 14) Barbra Streisand plays a vivacious matchmaker in a 1969 musical directed by Gene Kelly. It won three Oscars (for art direction, music and sound) but fared poorly at the box office. Still, how often do you get to see a musical with Walter Matthau?
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (Sept. 1 and 4) Like “Citizen Kane,” this 1962 historical epic, starring Peter O’Toole in all his blue-eyed, Super Panavision glory, just keeps earning praise. The American Society of Cinematographers recently named it the best-shot film of the 20th Century.
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (Sept. 22, 24 and 25) Few movie experiences are quite as riveting and satisfying as Frank Darabont’s 1994 drama about two men (Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman) trying to survive a brutal prison.
ALIEN (Oct. 13, 15 and 16) Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece from 1979 — aka “Jaws in Space” — still thrills and terrifies. If you’ve only seen it on home video, you ain’t seen it. With Sigourney Weaver and Harry Dean Stanton.
THE GODFATHER PART II (Nov. 10, 12 and 13) Why not show Part 1 as well? Anyway, never refuse an offer to see one of these Francis Ford Coppola masterpieces. With Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
WHEN HARRY MET SALLY . . . (Dec. 1 and 3) Meg Ryan and Long Beach’s Billy Crystal made one of cinema’s most endearing couples in Rob Reiner’s A-plus rom-com. Now, that’s a classic.