Every Monday during the summer, free outdoor movies are shown in Bryant Park, New York City. HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival is presented by Fresh Air Flicks.
Crowd-pleasing, with an emphasis on classical. Nothing here is less than 30 years old, with Rocky (Aug. 21) being the most recently released film on the sked. One screening of John Frankenheimer's original The Manchurian Candidate is about as challenging as it gets.
The outdoor movie event is convenient to every train in the city, which has its advantages and disadvatages. The ease and popularity of visiting Bryant Park means everyone goes there, and the place is packed well before sundown. There is no "view," per se, unless you count people-watching, which can be wildly entertaining as the lawn fills up and latecomers futz about with blankets three times too big for the patch of dirt their tardiness entitles them to.
As noted above, plenty of lawn seating is available--provided you arrive sometime between 6 and 7 p.m for outdoor movies that start close to 9. Lawn chairs are prohibited. Seats situated 10-15 feet inside the lawn are probably best, allowing for easy aisle access without being the poor sucker across whose blanket everyone tracks their scuzzy flip-flops on their ways to and from the restroom.
The park's ubiquitous green-slat chairs can usually still be had before 8 p.m. if you don't mind sitting way off to the side. After that, consider it a crap shoot. TIP: Set up to the left of the outdoor movie screen; the further right (and closer) you get, the more conspicuous the space between the screen panels becomes at showtime.
The films are projected in crisp 35 mm., and the screen is large enough and the sound moderated enough for anyone seated back near the library to have an enjoyable time without worrying about too much fuzz or reverb. Surrounding trees block more light than you would expect, but they cannot block traffic noise or sirens, both of which annoy reliably every 30-45 minutes.
Ladies have a permanent (and busy) facility on 42nd Street, while a wall of unisex porta-potties lining 40th Street are there for whoever needs them.
Bring your own, or pick up a $7 sandwich and $2 or $3 beverage from the two 'Wichcraft stands on the Sixth Avenue side of the park. A 'Wichcraft vendor also tours the grounds taking orders on a laptop, but the wait looked longer than you would want to withstand if you were hungry.
Excerpt from The Reeler's "Screening Gotham Special Edition: The Reeler's Guide to Outdoor Cinema in NYC". Read full article at: http://www.mcnblogs.com/reeler/archives/screening_gotham/. Photo credit: STV.