sunken garden film series

summer 2019: those fabulous fifties!

Celebrating a decade, the Free Summer Cinema series at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden has solidified itself as a wildly popular tradition. new in summer 2019, you can grab dinner downtown or catch a live concert beforehand.

Screenings take place on Friday evenings in july and august in the iconic courthouse Sunken Garden at 8:30 p.m. The series is made possible by a collaboration between Arts & Lectures & Santa Barbara County Parks

Guests may set out blankets and chairs anytime after 12 p.m. on movie nights. Low-back chairs are welcome, as are non-synthetic blankets (to help keep the lawn lovely!) People are encouraged to bring jackets as it gets chilly at night. Please keep in mind that the County is not responsible for any items left unattended on the lawn. We hope to see you there!

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2019 Summer series lineup


Friday, July 5:     Roman Holiday     

(118 min. William Wyler, 1953)

Roman Holiday stars Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. A princess named Ann, fed up with life, heads to Rome on her own to explore. While there, she meets a reporter and the two quickly spark a romance.

This film won academy awards for Best actress in a leading role, best writing, and best costume design; it was nominated for seven additional oscars. It was selected in 1999 by the Library of congress for the United States national film registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The American film institute lists it as #4 in their romantic comedy top 10 list.

with this film, Audrey hepburn became the first actress to win an oscar, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA Award for a single performance.

Join us for this classic romantic comedy!

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Friday, July 12:       North by Northwest

(136 min. Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

North by Northwest is a classic spy film about a man (cary grant) who is mistaken for a government agent by foreign spies and finds himself in an action-packed series of events alongside eve kendall (eva marie saint). This film received oscar nominations for best writing, best art direction, and best film editing. The american film institute recognizes north by northwest in the top 10 films in the classic american genre, 7th in the mystery genre, 4th in the “best thrills,”and 40th on its list of the 100 greatest american movies of all time.

read the santa barbara independent’s interview with eva marie saint in 2018.

Join us for this suspenseful, gripping, and visually iconic masterpiece!


Friday, July 19:       Rebel without a cause

(111 min. Nicholas Ray, 1955)

In this landmark drama, troubled teen Jim Stark (James Dean) comes to a new town, befriends the local gang leader’s girlfriend Judy (Natalie Wood), and is challenged to a drag race… where the real trouble begins.

This iconic film features los angeles landmarks and classic quotes. it was nominated for 3 Oscars, including best actor in a supporting role, best actress in a supporting role, and best screenplay. Natalie Wood received a golden globe award. In 1990, the library of congress added Rebel without a cause to the national film registry.

join us for this groundbreaking exploration of youth in postwar america.


Friday, July 26:          Some like it hot

(120 min. Billy Wilder, 1959)

Some like it Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, is a classic fifties comedy. after Two men witness a mob hit, they disguise themselves as women to evade the mob. 

This film won an oscar for the best costume design and was nominated for best actor in a leading role, best director, best writing, best cinematography, and best art direction. It won 3 golden globes for the best motion picture, best actress (marilyn Monroe), and best actor (jack lemmon). The american film institute named some like it hot as the top comedy film of the century on their 100 years…100 laughs list. It was also selected as the best comedy of all time in a poll of 253 movie critics from around the world.


Friday, August 9:    On the waterfront

(108 min. Elia Kazan, 1954)

On the Waterfront stars marlon brando as a dockworker and aspiring boxer. against his will, he gets mixed up with the mob. brando teams up with eva marie saint to stand against the mob and take them down in this classic drama.

This film won an oscar for best picture, best actor in a leading role, best director, best supporting actress, best writing, best cinematography, best art direction and best film editing. it received academy nominations for best actor in a supporting role and best music. it won golden globes for best motion picture, best actor, best director, and best cinematography. The american film institute ranked on the waterfront as the 8th greatest american movie of all time, and 23rd in best heroes [terry malloy] and villians [johnny friendly].

on the waterfront was Eva marie saint’s hollywood debut.



Friday, August 16:  High Noon              

(85 min. Fred Zimmermann, 1952)

in this classic western starring Gary Cooper, A town Marshal, against the wishes of his new wife and townspeople, must face a gang of deadly killers alone at high noon… when the gang members arrive in town on the train.

high noon won Oscars for best actor in a leading role (gary cooper), best film editing and best music; it was nominated for best picture, best director, and best writing. it won golden globes for best actor (gary cooper), best supporting actress (katy jurado), best original score and best cinematography. The library of congress selected high noon to be preserved in the united states national film registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The american film institute ranked high noon as 33rd in 100 years…100 movies, 20th in 100 years…100 thrills, and 2nd in the top ten western films of all time.

Join us for this action-packed and timeless adventure! 


Friday, August 23:  Sunset Boulevard

(110 min. Billy Wilder, 1950)

Sunset Boulevard is a classic noir about a man who develops a dangerous relationship with a woman (gloria swanson) who is desperately trying to keep her career as an actor alive.

this film won academy awards for best writing, best art direction, best music, and it was nominated for 8 more. it won golden globes for best motion picture, best director, best actress, best original score, and was nominated for best supporting actor, best screenplay and best cinematography. the american film institute ranked sunset boulevard 12th on its list of the 100 best american films of the 20th century.

gloria swanson made her hollywood debut in sunset boulevard. learn more about swanson and her contributions to the film industry.

Join us for this psychological and dramatic thriller!