One of the many benefits of living in Santa Fe is the abundance of arthouse movie theaters. Between CCA Cinematheque, The Screen and the Jean Cocteau Cinema, Santa Fe features more low-budget, independent, revival and off-the-beaten-path moving pictures than some big cities. Check out this list, which ain't even the half of it:

CCA Cinematheque

In addition to its regular schedule of independent film releases, CCA has some golden programming on the docket. First, there's The Auteurs series, presented by St. John's College Film Institute. The list is impressive, and the series opens with FW Murnau's Sunrise, perhaps his best-known film after Nosferatu.

It's a classic tale of temptation and could even be called early film noir—minus the hardboiled detective angle. Small-town farmer meets big-city woman. He's overcome with desire. She convinces him to kill his wife. Of course, things don't go according to plan, and the movie's ending is surprisingly sweet, given all that comes before it. Sunrise is being shown on 35 mm film. The first screening of this silent features a live accompaniment. (June 14-16)

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. | Warner Bros.

John Ford's The Searchers is famous for its grand vistas and huge performances—watch John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter chew the scenery as they scour the west for Wayne's kidnapped-by-Native Americans niece (Natalie Wood). The Searchers covers all of Ford's favorite themes, including racism and violence, and its ending still provokes debate, even among people who have seen it a million times. (July 12-14)

Other films in the series include The Passion of Joan of Arc, The Rules of the Game, Tokyo Story, Diary of a Country Priest, Wild Strawberries, and Andrei Rublev. That's a heapin' helpin' of cinematic greatness.

In addition to The Auteurs, CCA is celebrating the American premier of composer Huang Ruo's Dr. Sun Yat-sen at the Santa Fe Opera with the China Rising: Dr. Sun Yat-sen Film Series. Huang Rao will introduce Bodyguard and Assassins and The Soong Sisters in person, and will answer questions via Skype after the May 20 screening of IM Pei. Check CCA's website for specific dates and times.

The Screen

At press time, The Screen was still ironing out the details, but they'll be hosting a classic films series beginning June 14 called The Curated Experience, featuring introductions by Santa Fe University of Art and Design film faculty. First up is Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Here are some of the other titles:

Star Wars—Sure, George Lucas went a long way in ruining audience good will when he made Greedo shoot first, and then there's the rotten prequel trilogy to contend with. But Star Wars is still pretty darned spiffy. Maybe seeing it on the big screen will help you forget all the terrible movies Harrison Ford has made in the last 15 years.

The Bridge on the River Kwai—Want to see Alec Guinness before he was Obi-Wan? Start here, with this story of British POWs in a Burma-located Japanese prison camp being forced to build a bridge. Because I don't believe in not giving away spoilers, and because this movie premiered in 1957, you should know the British plot to destroy the bridge and succeed at horrible personal costs. Madness!

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly—No one is really good, but Clint Eastwood's Blondie comes closest. He's joined by Lee Van Cleef (reeeeeally bad) and Eli Wallach (really ugly), as the three try to outwit each other in a search for $500,000 in Confederate gold. This movie is bloody, mean, and relentless. Director Sergio Leone was never as good again (though he got close with Once Upon a Time in America). Even people who hate westerns like this one. Check The Screen's website for specific times.

Famous Players-Lasky Corp.
Famous Players-Lasky Corp. | Famous Players-Lasky Corp.

That brings us to the Jean Cocteau Cinema and a diverse range of films playing over the summer. And it's a good 'un! Take a look:

Cold in July—Director Jim Mickle's adaptation of Joe Lansdale's novel opens May 30. The story revolves around Richard (Michael C Hall), who kills a home intruder in self-defense only to learn the intruder's father (Sam Shepard) is a psycho. Shepard won a lot of praise at Sundance for his performance. Lansdale and Mickle will be in town for Q&As on June 6-7.

One June 16, screenwriter and Santa Fe resident Kirk Ellis (he adapted John Adams for HBO) appears to introduce a series of Fatty Arbuckle shorts. Arbuckle had a quick rise to fame and a dramatic fall, as he was accused in 1921 of crushing a woman during sex and causing her death. There were three trials. The first two resulted in mistrials, and Arbuckle was finally acquitted in the third, but his career was almost permanently damaged. He had a brief resurgence in the early 1930s. Ellis is writing a biopic of Arbuckle for HBO. (The John Adams series plays on June 3, 6 and 9, with Ellis in attendance.)

On June 30, there's an evening with David Morrell, who wrote the novel First Blood that became the basis for Sylvester Stallone's film of the same name. Morrell wrote the novelizations for Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III, and they're available on his website. Will he discuss the changes in Rambo from page to screen?

Yankee Doodle Dandy with James Cagney plays on July 4. And in August, the Jean Cocteau features even more vintage films: The infamous Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor; This is Spinal Tap, which, after all these years is still funny but seems pretty tame compared to most dumb shit rock stars do.

There's literally too much showing over the summer at CCA, The Screen and the Cocteau to list here, so check their websites for updates. And do yourself a favor: See The Searchers on the big screen.