The Stanford Theatre

The Stanford Theatre is dedicated to bringing back the movie-going experience of Hollywood's Golden Age. It is one of the few places where you can still watch movies on a big screen projected the way they were intended — in 35mm prints. Great classic films were not made to be watched on a video screen in your living room. They depend on a larger-than-life image, and the shared reactions of a real audience.

The Stanford Theatre first opened in June of 1925. For decades nearly every important Hollywood picture played there on its first release. The people of Palo Alto saw them all for the very first time in this theatre.

In 1987 the Packard Foundation bought the theatre and restored it to its original condition. It quickly became America's most popular classic movie house. More people saw Casablanca there on its 50th anniverary in 1992 than at any other theatre in America.

The non-profit Stanford Theatre Foundation is dedicated to the preservation and public exhibition of films from the Golden Age of Hollywood. This means classic movies in a classic movie palace, complete with Wurlitzer organ rising from the orchestra pit every night before and after the 7:30 show, or providing the accompaniment to “silent” films.

Note: This is an unofficial posting of the Stanford Theatre schedules, from published information. This site is in no way connected with the Stanford Theatre nor the Stanford Theatre Foundation. Please check out the official site at in case this schedule isn't quite up-to-date! Programs are subject to change. For information, call (650) 324-3700.

(Showtimes in parentheses are for the Saturday and Sunday screenings.)

December 30 – January 1: closed
January 2 – 5:
"Tara. I want to go home to Tara."
Gone With the Wind (1939) (3:00), 7:30
d Victor Fleming (and George Cukor, Sam Wood). w Sidney Howard and others, from the novel by Margaret Mitchell. ph Ernest Haller, Ray Rennahan. m Max Steiner. Selznick International. 221 min.

Clark Gable (Rhett Butler), Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O'Hara), Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Hamilton), Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkes), Thomas Mitchell (Gerald O'Hara), Barbara O'Neil (Ellen O'Hara), Hattie McDaniel (Mammy), Butterfly McQueen (Prissy), Victor Jory (Jonas Wilkerson), Evelyn Keyes (Suellen O'Hara), Ann Rutherford (Carreen O'Hara), Laura Hope Crews (Aunt Pittypat Hamilton), Harry Davenport (Dr. Meade), Jane Darwell (Dolly Merriweather), Ona Munson (Belle Watling), Ward Bond (Capt. Tom), Carroll Nye (Frank Kennedy).

Everyone knows the famous names and the drama that "made" Gone With the Wind. Let's therefore mention a couple who get less attention: production designer William Cameron Menzies, who conceived the look of the movie and story-boarded most of it; and Jack Cosgrove, who painted matte backgrounds on glass for effects scenes. Their art is all through the picture and testifies to Selznick's command of detail and painstaking craft — old-fashioned movie-making, to say nothing of magic. There's one other name: Technicolor, a system that came of age with Gone With the Wind. Many in Hollywood doubted color (notably Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). But after Gone With the Wind, and the enforced economizing of war, color became irresistable. Later on, Technicolor was abandoned for other systems supposedly truer to life. Today we regret the lost, painterly passion of Technicolor and its durability, for the new color systems fade, while Technicolor still burns.

Olivia de Havilland was determined to play the role of Melanie, even though the film was being made at a different studio. She auditioned in secret and was offered the role. The great difficulty came in convincing Jack Warner to make a deal to lend her to Selznick for the filming. According to Olivia, she invited Mrs. Warner to tea, explained her predicament, and Mrs. Warner agreed to help her.

A great film epic deserves to be seen in a theatre of epic proportions.

first played at the Stanford Theatre May 3, 1940; last played July 2016

January 6 – 16: closed

January 17 – 19:
Little Women (1933) (3:05), 7:30
d George Cukor. w Sarah Y. Mason & Victor Heerman, from the novel by Louisa May Alcott. ph Henry Gerrard. m Max Steiner. RKO. 115 min.

Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, Jean Parker, Frances Dee, Spring Byington, Edna May Oliver, Paul Lukas, Douglass Montgomery, Henry Stephenson, Samuel S. Hinds, John Lodge, Nydia Westman.

You may have seen the remakes, but this is the genuine article: the classic story of four daughters living in 19th century New England that gave Katharine Hepburn one of the best roles of her entire career.

David O. Selznick, who was head of production at RKO, deserves much of the credit for the enormous success of this film. It was an early example of Selznick's faith in classic literary material, brought to the screen with taste and production values.

"A lovely, graceful film, and surprisingly faithful to the atmosphere, the Victorian sentiments, and the Victorian strengths of the Louisa May Alcott novel." Pauline Kael
"Offers endless pleasure no matter how many times you've seen it." Leonard Maltin
"An example of Hollywood's best filmmaking." Baseline Movie Guide

first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 1, 1934; last played Dec 2014

Little Women (1949) 5:15, 9:40
d Mervyn Le Roy. w Andrew Solt, Sarah Y. Mason, Victor Heerman. ph Robert Planck, Charles Schoenbaum. m Adolph Deutsch, after Max Steiner. MGM. 122 min.

June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Lawford, Margaret O'Brien, Janet Leigh, Mary Astor.

MGM's Technicolor version of Louisa May Alcott's classic story. Elizabeth Taylor wore a blond wig as the vain sister Amy

first played at the Stanford Theatre May 22, 1949; last played Apr 2011

January 20 – 30: closed

January 31 – February 2:
"With the coming of the Second World War, many eyes in imprisoned Europe turned hopefully, or desperately, toward the freedom of the Americas. Lisbon became the great embarkation point. But not everybody could get to Lisbon directly; and so, a tortuous, round-about refugee trail sprang up: Paris to Marseilles, across the Mediterranean to Oran, then by train, or auto, or foot, across the rim of Africa to Casablanca in French Morocco. Here the fortunate ones, through money, or influence, or luck, might obtain exit visas and scurry to Lisbon, and from Lisbon to the New World. But the others wait in Casablanca... and wait... and wait... and wait."
Casablanca (1942)
d Michael Curtiz. w Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch, from the play Everybody Comes to Rick's by Murray Burnett & Joan Alison. m Max Steiner. ph Arthur Edeson. Warner Bros. 102 min.

Humphrey Bogart (Richard Blaine), Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa Lund), Paul Henreid (Victor Laszlo), Claude Rains (Capt. Louis Renault), Konrad Veidt (Maj. Heinrich Strasser), Sydney Greenstreet (Signor Ferrari), Peter Lorre (Ugarte), S. Z. Sakall (Carl), Madeline Le Beau (Yvonne), Dooley Wilson (Sam), Joy Page (Annina Brandell), John Qualen (Berger), Leonid Kinsky (Sascha), Helmut Dantine (Jan Brandell), Curt Bois (Dark European), Marcel Dalio (Emil), Corinna Mura (Singer), Ludwig Stossel (Herr Leuchtag), Ilka Gruning (Frau Leuchtag), Charles La Torre (Señor Martinez), Frank Puglia (Arab Vendor), Dan Seymour (Abdul).

Everybody comes to Rick's café — exiles from the Nazis, corrupt officials, and Ilsa Lund, the great lost love of Rick's life.

We can debate whether Casablanca is the best movie ever made. It may be. Certainly few other movies are so universally recognized as expressing the deepest truths about human life — and are also so much fun.

As time goes by, it becomes increasingly unlikely that anyone will ever make a movie better than Casablanca. On its 50th anniversary in 1992, more people saw Casablanca at the Stanford Theatre than anywhere else in the world.

"Of all the movie theatres in all the towns in all the world, they walk into ours."

first played at the Stanford Theatre Feb 24, 1943; last played Feb 2019

"If you lose a son, you can always get another, but there's only one Maltese Falcon."
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
d/w John Huston, from the novel by Dashiell Hammett. ph Arthur Edeson. m Adolph Deutsch. Warner Bros. 101 min.

Humphrey Bogart (Sam Spade), Mary Astor (Brigid O'Shaugnessy), Gladys George (Iva Archer), Peter Lorre (Joel Cairo), Barton MacLaine (Lt. Dundy), Lee Patrick (Effie Perrine), Sydney Greenstreet (Kasper Gutman), Ward Bond (Tom Polhaus), Jerome Cowan (Miles Archer), Elisha Cook, Jr. (Wilmer Cook), James Burke (Luke), Murray Alper (Frank Richman), John Hamilton (Bryan), Emory Parnell (Mate of La Paloma), Walter Huston (Capt. Jacobi).

Sam Spade joins in the quest for that priceless black statue — the stuff that dreams are made of.

Widely regarded as the archetype of the film noir genre, this film established Bogart as a star of the first rank.

"Humphrey Bogart's most exciting role was Sam Spade, that ambiguous mixture of avarice and honor, sexuality and fear, who gave new dimensions to the detective genre." Pauline Kael

first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 29, 1942; last played Sep 2017