The Interns' Guide: Movies

By Fritz Hahn Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 12, 2007; 12:16 PM

Free Outdoor Movies | Free Indoor Movies

In this Summer of Sequels, there are better things to spend your money on than a $10 movie ticket and a $10 popcorn-and-soda combo. A better plan is to plan a picnic and head to one of these free outdoor film festivals, where aficionados can find classic westerns, mid-century monster movies or last year's big blockbusters.

Free Outdoor Movies

Hang 'Em High (Mondays and Fridays through Aug. 20)
Clint Eastwood's great westerns -- "The Outlaw Josey Wales," "High Plains Drifter," "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," "Shane" -- are all shown during a summer-long festival. There are two chances to watch each week: Friday at Rosslyn's Gateway Park, and Monday in Crystal City. Each show also has a contest for best cowboy costume, with prizes for the winners.

Movies Under the Moon (June 21-25)
"Dream Girls," "Top Gun" and "A Night at the Museum" play outdoors at Fairfax's Van Dyck Park. Proceeds from food sales benefit Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children.

Shirlington Movies Under the Stars (Wednesdays, July 11-Aug. 1)
The Village at Shirlington presents "Dream Girls," "A Night at the Museum," "Happy Feet" and other films at dusk.

Screen on the Green (Mondays, beginning July 16)
There's no better setting for watching a movie than outdoors on the National Mall, surrounded by the Capitol, the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian museums. Films begin at dusk (roughly between 8:30 or 9), but crowds begin arriving hours earlier to stake out a spot. Picnics are welcome, but the Park Service won't be happy if they catch you with alcohol. "Casablanca," "Wait Until Dark" and "The Thing (From Another World)" are highlights of this year's schedule.

Comcast Outdoor Film Festival (July 27-29)
A much smaller version of its Strathmore cousin, Alexandria's festival brings three nights of movies to the amphitheater at Ben Brenman Park on Duke Street. The schedule begins with "Happy Feet," followed by "The Devil Wears Prada" and "A Night at the Museum."

Bethesda Outdoor Movies (July 31-Aug. 4)
Five nights of films in a lot near the corner of Auburn and Norfolk Avenues, a few blocks away from the restaurant district, including "To Catch a Thief," "Jaws" and, for the kids, "Charlotte's Web."

Comcast Outdoor Film Festival at Strathmore (Aug. 10-19)
A longtime tradition in Montgomery County, this annual festival benefits children's charities at the National Institutes of Health. (There's no charge for the movie, but proceeds from snacks and sodas go to NIH.) Movies include classic family fare like "The Wizard of Oz," though the focus is on recent blockbusters, including "Casino Royale," "The Devil Wears Prada," "Little Miss Sunshine" and "The Da Vinci Code."

Free Indoor Movies

Don't want to bother with bugs and grass stains? Washington's museums also offer more free culture than you can handle.

Sci-fi B-movies are the focus of the Hirshhorn's summer schedule, which includes Jane Fonda's breakout "Barbarella" and "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman." All films begin at 8 in the Ring Auditorium, and seats are first-come, first-served.

Across the Mall, the National Gallery of Art has a busy summer movie lineup planned, showing films related to its "Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918-1945" exhibition, with German, Czech, Polish and Hungarian movies made between the first and second world wars, as well as contemporary experimental cinema from Austria, Hungary and Poland. Most screenings take place on the weekend. All films are free and seating is first-come, first-served, beginning 30 minutes before the film starts. (See the National Gallery's Web site for a full schedule.)

The Library of Congress has turned its Mary Pickford Theater over to the city's Shakespeare in Washington Festival. Film-wise, the program includes everything from the expected (Kenneth Branagh's "Henry V," mid-century BBC film versions of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Comedy of Errors") to some true oddities (Roman Polanski's "Macbeth"). The program isn't limited to the big screen: A few nights include episodes of "I Love Lucy," "Gilligan's Island," "The Cosby Show" and "Sanford and Son" that include Shakespeare as part of the plot. A full schedule is on the Library of Congress Web site. Making reservations is a good idea: The theater only has 60 seats, and you can call one week before a particular screening to save seats. However, if you don't arrive at least 10 minutes before the show begins, your seats go to people waiting in the standby line.

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