July's hottest movie event comes from an unlikely source -- the up-and-coming Ovation channel.
As it's being launched on more cable systems around the country, Ovation has been heating things up with special festivals saluting great photographers, gay portrayals, and other arts/culture/design topics.
This month, Ovation spotlights American Revolutionaries: The Directors, with nightly prime time blocks like Monday night's must-see -- Mel Brooks' 1968 inspiration The Producers (July 5 at 8 and 11 p.m. ET), bookending a couple of Hollywood's Best Film DIrectors half-hours on William Friedkin (10 p.m. ET) and Francis Ford Coppola (10:30 p.m. ET).
Or this Tuesday lineup -- Roger Corman's 1960 original The Little Shop of Horrors (July 6 at 8 and 11 p.m. ET), his infamously cannibalistic B-movie featuring a very young Jack Nicholson, plus Hollywood's Best Film DIrectors half-hours on Michael Mann (10 p.m. ET) and Brett Ratner (10:30 p.m. ET).
Wednesday, it's Hal Ashby's unforgettably buoyant 1971 teen guy/80-year-old woman love story Harold and Maude (July 7 at 8 and 11 p.m. ET) -- just try getting Cat Stevens' song score out of your head -- with another installment of Hollywood's Best Film Directors, about George Lucas (10:30 p.m. ET).
Other upcoming Ovation festival features include Terry Gilliam's delirious Time Bandits (Thursday, July 8 at 8 and 11:30 p.m. ET; photo at top), Peter Bogdanovich's sweet-and-sour Paper Moon (Friday, July 9 at 8 and 11 p.m. ET), and all-day marathons like Saturday's Harold and Maude, Little Shop of Horrors, Lost Highway and Wall Street (July 10, noon-11 p.m. ET), or Sunday's Little Shop of Horrors, Harold and Maude, The Conversation and The Virgin Suicides (July 11, 12:30-10:30 p.m. ET).
Keep watching Ovation prime-time later in July for Reservoir Dogs, Sweet and Lowdown, Down by Law, Duel, Titus, All That Jazz, The Producers and more. Full schedule here.
Encore is getting ambitious, too. Among its suite of channels, you'll find July events built around Nicolas Cage (July 15, five films on Encore), rock 'n' roll movies (July 23, four films on Encore Drama), Paul Newman (July 24, five films on Encore Westerns), and spaghetti westerns (July 31, six titles on Encore Westerns).
Turner Classic Movies is hard pressed to keep up. Its July salutes honor actor Gregory Peck (Monday nights) and teen movies (Thursday nights). One-offs collect those bloated mid-century all-star adventure extravaganzas like It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and The Great Race (July 6), films about Abraham Lincoln (July 9), circus-set cinema (July 16), black-cast titles (July 24), and my eye-candy pick, five John Ford westerns filmed in Monument Valley (Saturday, July 10, starting at 8 p.m. ET with My Darling Clementine).
Harry Potter fans get a whole Harry weekend on ABC Family July 8-11, with film screenings that start single, then go double-feature, then finally triple, and more.
Here's an Ovation taste of Jack Nicholson in Little Shop of Horrors: