01/05/12 6:00am

Movies at the Library is returning, but not yet to the library. While the library facilities on the lower level are being expanded and updated, the movies program has been sidelined. But — once again, the Fire Department to the rescue!

The popular Movies at the Library will be the guests of the Center firehouse from now until late spring, and Shelter Island film buffs will again be watching great movies, known and unknown.

The facilities at the Center firehouse, also used for instruction and training, are excellent, with both a big screen and surround sound (and, of course, there will be the free bottled water and popcorn). Access is easy — park and enter from the rear, and either use the elevator or climb the stairs.

The winter series of movies is both attractive and varied. It kicks off on Tuesday, January17, with one the best pre-war “screwball”º comedies, “Sullivan’s Travels,” a Hollywood satire by Preston Sturges that makes a strong social point as well.

On Tuesday, January 31, there is a contemporary film, the superb musical “Chicago,” with flawless performances by Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere.

February 14 is, of course, Valentine’s Day, but don’t expect just any old love story. Movies at the Library will present “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” a cheerfully outrageous comedy from Australia about two drag queens and a transsexual.

On Tuesday, February 28, we move out to the old west for “McCabe and Mrs. Miller,” Robert Altman’s brilliant elegiac tale starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. It’s a treasure not to be missed.

The final film in the winter series, Tuesday, March 13, is the superlative American classic “Inherit the Wind,” the stunning film adaptation of the Scopes “Monkey Trial” play with Spencer Tracy and Frederick March. It is a masterpiece that is both timeless and very timely.

Although there is a change of venue — we’ll be at the Center firehouse for a while — we’re still on for Tuesdays at 7 p.m., and always great movies, known and unknown.

See you at the movies.

05/18/11 9:41pm

Movies at the Library will present “Foreign Field” on Tuesday, May 24 — a film that is most fitting with the anniversary of D-Day coming soon and given our heightened awareness of the experiences of war veterans.

Three Allied soldiers, determined to revisit the spot that most changed their lives, return to Normandy nearly 50 years after D-Day. Memories, ranging from bitter to bittersweet, flood them as they discover the past was not quite as they remembered. A spirited and weathered cast brings a touching and unexpectedly funny perspective to that bloody chapter of World War II.

“Foreign Field” was directed by Charles Sturridge and the superlative group of American, Australian, British and French actors and actresses includes Alec Guinness, Leo McKern, Jeanne Moreau, Lauren Bacall and Geraldine Chaplin.

The film was made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings and was driven into production by Mr. Guinness, who used his influence with the BBC to make it, and with the various famous actors to appear in it. It is a unique combination of comedy and drama that makes seeing it a special film experience.

Don’t miss “Foreign Field” next Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the library cinema (with big screen and surround sound). As always, popcorn and bottled water will be free along with the entertainment.

Bring a friend, and we’ll see you both at the movies.

05/04/11 11:15pm

Movies at the Library will present on Tuesday, May 10 at 7 p.m. one of the very few movies ever to win all the major Academy Awards. “It Happened One Night,” made in 1934, is still considered one of the greatest romantic comedies in film history.

Clark Gable stars as a cynical reporter on the trail of a runaway heiress, Claudette Colbert. They fall in love, of course, and the result is vintage movie magic, another happy triumph for the director, Frank Capra.

If you can use a few laughs and smiles, by all means hustle to the cinema on the lower level of the library next Tuesday evening and do a friend a favor and bring her or him along as well. A winning combination — laughs, popcorn and bottled water.

See you at the movies.

04/21/11 12:21pm

Movies at the Library will present “Nazarin” on Tuesday, April 26 — a film that is both simple and profound, as well as beautiful, satiric and heartbreaking. This remarkable film by Luis Bunuel, one of cinema’s master filmmakers, is a clever variation on the Don Quixote theme, applied to religion and hypocrisy.

The protagonist, Father Nazario, is a Mexican priest attempting to live a pure and honest life according to Christian principles, but others show him only distrust and hatred. He is even cast out of his church for giving shelter to the local prostitute.

Octavio Paz, the Mexican poet who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990, said about the film, “‘Nazarin’” follows the great tradition of mad Spaniards originated by Cervantes. His madness consists in taking seriously great ideas and trying to live accordingly.” The question many would ask is whether such an endeavor is possible without incurring the hostility, incomprehension and mockery of fellow human beings. Is Nazarin an impractical fool trying to live by unrealistic ideals, or is he a modern-day saint?

“Nazarin” won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and will win your admiration next Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. at the big-screen, surround-sound cinema on the lower level of the library. The movie is in Spanish, with English subtitles.

See you at the movies — and bring along a friend to share this wonderful film (as well as the popcorn).

04/07/11 12:03pm

Movies at the Library will celebrate its seventh season of “great movies, known and unknown,” next Tuesday, April 12, with the presentation of the delightful musical, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”

Howard Keel, the oldest brother, decides it’s time to do some shopping in town and, while he’s at it, pick up a bride. In time he gets enchanted with a young lady, Jane Powell, and convinces her to become his wife. She looks forward to an idyllic life in his cottage as his wife, but when they get there she finds his six younger brothers for whom she will have to cook and clean. All the brothers decide marriage is an interesting adventure so they each want a bride for themselves — now! The film features some of the best dance routines seen in movies; the scene where the brothers are matched with the young ladies is a joy.

“Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” was directed by Stanley Donen (“Singin’ in the Rain,” “On the Town” and many other great musicals), and stars, beside Keel and Powell, Russ Tamblyn (watch him dance!), Julie Newmar and Marc Platt.

What a fitting and joyous way to kiss the dreary winter goodbye and open to the lyrical glory of spring. Don’t miss the happy time next Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. at the big-screen, surround-sound cinema on the lower level of the library. And of course — popcorn and bottled water are free, just as our spirits will be.

See you at the movies!