A trio of insanely great series recently started in New York City, once again displaying the cultural embarrassment of riches with which those of us lucky enough to live here grapple on a daily basis (I'm not complaining, trust me).

Friday saw the opening of Summer Swashbucklers at Manhattan's Film Forum, a series of 30 pirate and adventure films -- most made between 1920 and 1950 -- that will unspool over the next three weeks, many of them in double features. Among the films in the series are such Errol Flynn classics as Captain Blood (his first starring role, in which he displays a surprising knack for screwball humor) and The Adventures of Robin Hood, the elder Douglas Fairbanks'The Mark of Zorro and The Three Musketeers, andGunga Din, starring the junior Fairbanks and Cary Grant.

Meanwhile, over in Brooklyn, the BAM Cinematek has put together two truly magnificent series that will run concurrently though the month of August. The first half of each week features the work of controversial American master Sam Peckinpah, from the shocking Straw Dogs (that one's showing Tuesday the 15th -- go see it, if you haven't) to the Steve McQueen starrers The Getaway and Junior Bonner. Then, from Thursday to Sunday each week, the theater is given over to a series called Leading Men of French Cinema. As you might expect, the films showcase the work of a wide range of French stars, in films that are equally diverse. Highlights of the series include Purple Noon, Rene Clement's 1960 version of The Talented Mr. Ripley (starring Alain Delon at his most impossibly beautiful), Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou (starring the wonderful Jean-Paul Belmondo) and Les tontons flingueurs, which stars Lino Ventura, a wrestler who transformed himself during the 1960s into an unexpectedly appealing screen presence.

While September is sure to bring good series of its own, these are all well worth sweating on a subway platform to see.
categories Cinematical