Under the Stars and Maybe Some Space Aliens
The LBJ Library screens sci-fi classics
"No one would have believed in the middle of the 20th century that human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than Man's. Yet, across the gulf of space on the planet Mars, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our Earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely joined their plans against us."
Those lines are adapted from H.G. Wells' 1898 pacifist cri de guerre, The War of the Worlds, but for kids growing up in the Fifties, they were probably first heard spoken aloud by Sir Cedric Hardwicke as the narrator of producer George Pal's riotously colorful, Oscar-winning 1953 film version. And, chances are, those selfsame kids more than likely got their sci-fi on at the local drive-in theatre, or possibly at a Saturday afternoon, triple-feature, monster movie matinee. Not so anymore: Drive-ins are as rare nowadays as to be considered kitschy-quaint. There hasn't been a theatre regularly running a triple-feature Saturday matinee since Dealey Plaza took it "back and to the left" and the popcorn-and-Jujube generation lost the last of its innocence, trading the thrilling darkness of its local theatre for the horrifying blue-white light of Walter Cronkite's daily dose of cathode ray Vietnam-ization.
Luckily for those of us who missed out on all that 1950s sci-fun, this Friday the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, in conjunction with the Alamo Drafthouse's Rolling Roadshow, is presenting the next best thing: an outdoor screening of The War of the Worlds on the LBJ Library lawn via the Alamo's 40-foot-by-60-foot road-show screen. Bring your blankets and the kids, but no alcohol.
(Editor's note: Friday night's outdoor screening of War of the Worlds has been canceled due to weather. Saturday's triple feature inside the library will screen as planned.)
The event, part of the library's exhibit "To the Moon: The American Space Program in the 1960s," kicks off at 5pm with a chance to visit the exhibit before rockin' out, daddio, to the groovy sounds of the Rockit Scientists (incredibly, they're actual rocket scientists from the Johnson Space Center). Then at 8pm, the martians invade!
But wait, there's more: a real, honest-to-goodness Saturday afternoon triple sci-fi matinee inside the LBJ Library's theatre. Seriously, this is one lineup not to be missed by any monster kid or film studies major: sexy space babe Anne Francis and Robby the Robot battling it out with the "monsters from the id" in the classic Forbidden Planet (10am), George Pal's gorgeously apocalyptic When Worlds Collide (1pm), and the awesome Ray Harryhausen stop-motion destruction of our nation's capital in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (3pm).
Best of all, it's totally free! So grab your picnic basket, and go relive the anxious days of the Red Scare era, UFO mania, and the U.S. Air Force's now declassified (or so they say) tantalizing search for earthbound extraterrestrials, Project Blue Book.
And, hey, while you're at it, "Keep watching the skies!"
Friday night's outdoor screening of War of the Worlds has been canceled due to weather. Saturday's triple feature inside the LBJ Library will screen as planned. Triple-Feature Sci-Fi Saturday takes place Saturday, March 28, starting at 10am, in the LBJ Library's third-floor theatre. All events are free and open to the public. For more info, visit www.lbjlib.utexas.edu.