Morning movies: 50 audience favorites to get you out of bed


Staff Writer

Moviegoers set your alarms early, because the Toho Cinemas chain will in March begin its third annual Gozen Jū-ji no Eiga Sai (10 a.m. Film Festival). This year’s event is the second series under the tag line “50 Films That Never Get Old,” and the yearlong “festival” showcases 50 classic films, ranging mainly from the 1950s through the 1970s though with some exceptions thrown in. The movies will be shown exclusively at the 10 a.m. time slot and with a reduced entry price at 25 Toho theaters across the country.

The selection process for the festival was through a fan poll that Toho set up online, and each film is shown in the latest remastered version available on film format. This traditional approach favors the classic way of viewing movies in a time where most theaters have begun the transition into digital projection. The 2011 series featured time-honored films such as 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain,” 1962’s “Lawrence of Arabia” and 1972’s “The Godfather.”

The classic films selected for this year’s event come from a wide range of genres, from drama with “Gone with the Wind” to comedy with “The Bad News Bears.”

Sci-fi will be bursting through the screens with Ridley Scott’s 1979 seminal box-office smash “Alien,” in which the crew of a mining ship in space must deal with an unsuspected threat when an alien life form makes its way onto their ship during a pit-stop on a deserted plant while en route back to Earth. The film, along with its H.R. Giger-designed double-jawed alien, spawned a successful franchise that includes multiple sequels and spinoffs into other media, and although it is a 10 a.m. showing, it’s a great way to get a jump on your day.

Another film making its way into this year’s campaign is “The Sound of Music.” Based on Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical of the same name and celebrating its 47th anniversary, it tells the story of a postulant named Maria, played by Julie Andrews, who gets assigned to take care of the Von Trapp family. During her time with the family she is able to shake up their lives and teach the stern patriarch to loosen up. Filled with memorable songs such as “Do-Re-Mi” and “My Favorite Things,” this is a great film to see with the family.

Other selections include “In the Heat of the Night,” Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” and “The Birds,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Band Wagon,” “Carrie,” “Taxi Driver,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and many more.

Also included is a very short and selective list of films coming from after the ’70s, such as Robert Zemeckis’ 1985 time-traveling classic “Back to the Future,” which sees Michael J. Fox in possibly his most famous role ever as Marty McFly, a teenage boy who gets stuck in 1955. After accidentally sabotaging his parents’ first meeting, Marty is on a mission to correct history before his future existence fades forever. Meanwhile, his zany inventor friend Emmett “Doc” Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, tries to fix his time machine made from a specially equipped DeLorean to get Marty back to 1985.

Other post-’70s films being shown include Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.,” Tim Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands,” “Moonstruck” and “Breaking Away.”

In addition to all these American films, the campaign will also include a selection from other countries, such as France’s “Les Dimanches de Ville d’Avray,” Iran’s “Khane-ye Doust Kodjast?” (“Where Is the Friend’s Home?”), Spain’s “Marcelino Pan y Vino” (“The Miracle of Marcelino”), and Italy’s “La Dolce Vita” and “La Strada,” along with a few others.

With tickets only ¥1,000 (and half off for students), this festival is a good excuse to hit the theater in the morning to see some timeless classics on the big screen — whether you’re seeing them for the first time in the format they were made for, or simply reliving youthful experiences by seeing them again.

Gozen Jū-ji no Eiga Sai (10 a.m. Film Festival) runs March 3 through Feb. 15, 2013 at 25 Toho Cinemas theaters throughout Japan. For a complete list of films and theaters or for more information, visit asa10.eiga.com.