Mal’s Movies 2019

Mal VIncent, host of Mal's Movies at the Naro Cinema this summerA series of classic films hosted by Mal Vincent on Monday nights in July and August (also Tuesday afternoons without Mal, with matinee showtimes to be announced each week)

Welcome to the 16th year of a unique film festival that is one of the most successful in the country. Hosted and programmed by film and theater critic Mal Vincent, the festival has sold through the years over 45,000 tickets to faithful fans. Can this 16th hold its own? Or will it be even better than ever before?

Mal Vincent is in his 54th year as a supporter—and fighter—for the arts in Hampton Roads. During that time, more than 25 years were spent as Entertainment Editor of the Virginian-Pilot, where he edited a Sunday Entertainment section that fared well in every readership survey. His fight has been not just for movies but for all the arts. He was there during the formative years of the Virginia Stage Company, Opera, and Symphony and, at one time, reviewed every local stage performance in Hampton Roads. His awards have included an Associated Press Award for Feature Writing, awards for Critical Writing from the Virginia Press Association, and the Alli Award for contribution to the arts in all of Hampton Roads. At the same time, his reviews prompted fiery debates that drew many readers to condemn, harass, and attack him. Such a dichotomy of opinion is only to be expected.

Currently, he has expanded to radio and is syndicated by a group of Public Radio stations in a segment called “This Week in Mal’s World,’’ homesteaded at You can call it up simply by typing in “This Week in Mal’s World.” Over 150 shows have been archived.
Mal continues to program an all-purpose, all-genres festival urging his audience to vote for the final awards. Among the competitors this year will surely include, for Best Actor: John Wayne and Montgomery Clift, both for Red River; Charles Laughton for The Hunchback of Notre Dame; James Cagney for Love Me or Leave Me; Kirk Douglas for The Bad and the Beautiful; and Tom Ewell for The Seven Year Itch; as well as others you may nominate.

Likely candidates for Best Actress will be: Moria Shearer for The Red Shoes; Doris Day for Love Me or Leave Me; Rita Hayworth for Affair in Trinidad; Marilyn Monroe for The Seven Year Itch; Lana Turner for The Bad and the Beautiful; and Maureen O’Hara for The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

To miss any of them would be a shame. None will be repeated—surely not on a big theater screen. Mal and movies go together—for one more year, at least.


2019 Film Calendar

All films in the series show Monday evenings at 7:00 pm (that’s when Mal starts his introduction) and a Tuesday matinee at showtimes to be determined. Mal will only be present at the Monday night presentations. On Mondays, tickets go on sale at the box office at 6:00 and doors open at 6:20. The line may look very long, but we seat over 500 and everyone usually gets in. Your Naro Discount Ticket Book (available online, at the theater, Naro Video, Birdland Music, or mail order at 757-625-6276 or 625-6275) is valid for any of the films, but does not guarantee you a seat if you show up at the last minute, so arriving early is advised. If you have a Ticket Book you can come when we’re open anytime over the weekend and up to 6:00 pm Mondays to exchange it for a “guaranteed-seat ticket.”

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Monday, July 15th, at 7:00pm
Tuesday, July 16th, at 1:00pm

Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara star in this classic 1939 spectacle with a cast of thousands and sets that only Hollywood could have created to capture the look of the original medieval cathedral—a building that is much in the minds of people around the world after this year’s tragic fire. After the tragedy, Victor Hugo’s novel once again shot to the top of best seller lists in France. The film offers further proof that there was a time when Hollywood set designers were experts at creating the mood, and architecture, of the past. No one could successfully overact like Charles Laughton, and Quasimodo the hunchback is his supreme achievement. (Laughton won the festival’s Best Actor award earlier for Witness for the Prosecution and will be in the running again this year). The film received Oscar nominations for Alfred Newman’s music and for its sound. Directed by William Dieterle. (1939, 117 mins)

See trailer

Red River

Monday, July 29th, at 7:00pm
Tuesday, July 30th, at 12:15pm

Directed by Howard Hawks, John Wayne stars in what is, perhaps, the last great western we hadn’t yet selected for the festival. It has been named by the American Film Institute as one of the five greatest westerns of all time. There is no more stirring moment in movie history than when a symphony orchestra swells to full force as Wayne calls for the cattle herd to be headed out on this fictional account of the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas along the Chisholm trail. The music is by Dimitri Tiomkin. Montgomery Clift, the new acting find of the era, is his co-star. Red River is the western that fans have been encouraging us to do. (And, incidentally, it was “the last picture show” in the movie of the same name). (1948, 133 mins)

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The Bad and the Beautiful

Monday, August 12th, at 7:00pm

Some call it the best movie ever made about Hollywood—and the movies themselves. In any case, it set a record by winning five Oscars without being nominated for Best Picture. It won for its art direction, cinematography, costumes, and writing, as well as Gloria Grahame’s Best Supporting Actress for her role as a modern Southern belle (who talks about Richmond and Roanoke in the film). The college town where she and her husband, writer Dick Powell, live in the film is probably Charlottesville, VA, although it’s not identified. Douglas plays a ruthless director-producer who is rumored to be modeled after David O. Selznick. Walter Pidgeon plays the head of the studio, Lana Turner its glamorous star; together they play the Hollywood game—ruthlessly. A tough, behind-the-scenes drama. Directed by Vincente Minnelli (1952, 118 mins)

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The Seven Year Itch

Monday, August 19th, at 7:00pm
Tuesday, August 20th, at 1:00pm

The star, of course, is Marilyn, and that’s all that needs to be said. Based on the Broadway play, Billy Wilder’s classic comedy is devoted to the premise that husbands reportedly get an “itch” after seven years of marriage. Such frenzy is encouraged by the fact that the wife is away for the summer, and Marilyn Monroe, playing a model, lives upstairs. It’s the perfect comedy for the summer. Tom Ewell is hilarious as the befuddled middle-aged husband who doesn’t quite know what to do with Marilyn. She is most avid about Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto and cooling off her underwear in the fridge. Summertime galore! Monroe’s comic gift is proven throughout. (1955, 105 mins)

This is the finale of the festival, which means it is the night when we vote for the four top performances, then party on the corner at YNot Italian—and everyone is invited.

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Love Me or Leave Me

Monday, July 8th, at 7:00pm
Matinee Showing Tuesday, July 9th, at 2:00pm

This dramatic musical won an Academy Award for its script and a Best Actor nomination for James Cagney. But, above all, it is our tribute to the phenomenal talent of Doris Day, who still holds the record as one of the greatest box office draws in movie history, proving here that she was underrated as both actress and singer. Originally written for Ava Gardner, who turned it down, this film proved, once and for all, that Doris Day was not always a “good” girl. This film counters all her “sweet” comedies as she plays a loose woman in a tight dress and sings “Ten Cents a Dance,” which is the amount she charges. This is the best performance of her career. The other songs, which served to make a huge best-selling album, include “Never Look Back,” “You Made Me Love You,” “Mean to Me,” “My Blue Heaven,” and “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” (nominated for the Oscar as Best Song). Doris proves that no one could sing the blues as naturally and as effortlessly as she did. The final moments of the film, when she sings “Love Me or Leave Me,” are a dramatic highlight. She won the festival’s Best Actress award for Teacher’s Pet and Cagney won for one of the festival’s biggest surprise hits, the comedy One, Two, Three. There are fireworks, both dramatic and musical, as we say goodbye to Doris Day. Directed by Charles Vidor. (1955, 122 mins)

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Affair in Trinidad

Monday, July 22nd, at 7:00pm
Tuesday, July 23rd, at 1:30pm

“Rita’s Back” was the headline in newspapers around the world in 1952 when Rita Hayworth, Hollywood’s anointed “love goddess,” returned to movies after a four-year absence, during which she was married to Prince Aly Khan, thus becoming a princess long before Grace Kelly. One of your most requested movies has been a repeat of Gilda, the love-hate scorcher, but we’ve gone one better here with Rita dancing barefoot to a number called “The Trinidad Lady,” plus another called “I’ve Been Kissed Before,” both choreographed by the great modern dancer Valerie Bettis. And, once more, her co-star is Glenn Ford. They hate each other so much that they’re in love —again. Surprisingly, this film actually outgrossed Gilda at the box office. Set against a backdrop of suspenseful foreign intrigue, its supporting cast includes Alexander Scourby and Juanita Moore (who later was Oscar-nominated for Imitation of Life). A rare find, this film has not been seen on a big screen in 50 years, thus making it a “new” film. Directed by Victor Sherman, it’s an affair to remember. (1952, 98 mins)

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The Red Shoes

Monday, August 5th, at 7:00pm
Tuesday, August 6th, at 1:00pm

Here is a box office phenomenon that has shocked the movie industry year after year as it becomes more legendary. The British Film Institute named it the Best British film of all time and, with its initial release in the United States, it ran for two years in a single theater in New York City, inspiring a cult of worshippers to return and see it over and over. This very rare screening again proves that it is one of the most beautiful color movies of all time—with great photography by the legendary Jack Cardiff. Starring the fiery red-headed ballerina Moria Shearer, it is about obsessive love, as the heroine’s dance career clashes with her personal life. She, fatefully, is appearing in a ballet in which the red shoes have been cursed and she must dance until she dies. Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg headed an effort to restore the film to its original glory and, as a result, it was again premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, in 2009. Nominated for five Academy Awards, it won for its score and for its art direction, receiving other nominations for Best Picture, Script, and Editing. Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger. (1948, 134 mins)

See trailer