The Stanford Theatre

Happy Holidays

December 2023

Our December calendar begins with several charming musicals starring Deanna Durbin. Like Judy Garland, Deanna started in films as a young musical prodigy and successfully transitioned into adult roles. She remained enormously popular until her retirement (at age 27), when she chose to leave Hollywood for France.

We also present holiday cheer with classic favorites starring Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, Judy Garland, and others.

This year we have added a matinee to our Christmas Eve showing of It's a Wonderful Life, the Stanford Theatre's most beloved event. Advance tickets for the matinee and evening show will go on sale on Saturday, December 9.

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.

Noember 27 – 29: closed

November 30 – December 1:
Three Smart Girls (1936) 7:30
d Henry Koster. w Adele Comandini. ph Joseph Valentine. Universal. 90 min.

Deanna Durbin, Nan Grey, Barbara Read, Binnie Barnes, Charles Winninger, Alice Brady, Ray Milland, Mischa Auer, Ernest Cossart, Lucile Watson, John King, Nella Walker, Hobart Cavanaugh.

14-year-old Deanna Durbin was billed as "Universal's New Discovery" in her very first film. She had previously appeared on Eddie Cantor's radio program and in a short film with Judy Garland. She quickly became one of Universal's top stars. Here she plays the youngest of three sisters plotting to bring their divorced parents back together.

Songs: "Il bacio", vocal waltz by Luigi Arditi; "My Heart Is Singing" and "Someone to Care for Me", words by Gus Kahn, music by Bronislaw Kaper and Walter Jurmann

first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 12, 1937; last played Aug 2019

Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939) 5:50, 9:05
d Henry Koster. w Bruce Manning, Felix Jackson. ph Joseph Valentine. m Frank Skinner. Universal. 90 min.

Deanna Durbin, Nan Grey, Helen Parrish, Charles Winninger, Nella Walker, Robert Cummings, William Lundigan, Ernest Cossart, Felix Bressart.

Sequel to Three Smart Girls gives the two eldest sisters new romantic partners, with youngest sister Deanna playing matchmaker to the mismatched pairs.

Music: Invitation to the Dance by Carl Maria von Weber.

first played at the Stanford Theatre May 7, 1939; last played Nov 2019

December 2 – 3:
It Started With Eve (1941) 4:00, 7:30
d Henry Koster. w Norman Krasna, Leo Townsend. ph Rudolph Maté. m Hans J. Salter. Universal. 90 min.

Deanna Durbin, Charles Laughton, Robert Cummings, Guy Kibbee, Margaret Tallichet, Catharine Doucet, Walter Catlett, Charles Coleman, Leonard Elliott, Irving Bacon, Gus Schilling, Wade Boteler, Dorothea Kent, Clara Blandick.

A young man's wealthy father is seemingly near death, and his last wish is to meet his son's fiancée. The son hires a hat check girl to impersonate her, and his father is so delighted, he recovers. Now they're afraid to tell him the truth, fearing a relapse.

Songs: "The Lord's Prayer," music by Albert Hay Malotte; "Clavelitos," Spanish words and music by Joaquin Valverde, English lyrics by Mrs. M.T.E. Sandwith; "When I Sing," adapted from the Sleeping Beauty ballet by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky; "Goin' Home," music adapted from the New World Symphony by Antonín Dvorák; "Viene la conga," words and music by Valdesti.

first played at the Stanford Theatre Dec 15, 2012; last played July 2022

Hers to Hold (1943) 5:45, 9:15
d Frank Ryan. w Lewis R. Foster. ph Woody Bredell. m Frank Skinner. Universal. 94 min.

Deanna Durbin, Joseph Cotten, Charles Winninger, Ludwig Stossel, Nella Walker, Gus Schilling, Samuel S. Hinds, Evelyn Ankers, Fay Helm, Iris Adrian, Murray Alper, Douglas Wood, Minna Phillips, Nydia Westman, Irving Bacon.

Third and final Three Smart Girls film, with only one smart girl. This time Penny (Deanna) finds love for herself. In keeping with other young women at home during WW II, Penny gets a job working at an aircraft factory. She falls in love with a man waiting to get his orders from the Air Force.

Songs: "Begin the Beguine", by Cole Porter; "Say a Prayer for the Boys Over There", music by Jimmy McHugh, lyrics by Herb Magidson; "The Kashmiri Song", music by Amy Woodforde-Finden, lyrics by Laurence Hope; Seguidilla from the opera Carmen.

first played at the Stanford Theatre Dec 18, 2012; last played Dec 2012

December 4 – 6: closed

December 7 – 8:
Remember the Night (1940) 7:30
d Mitchell Leisen. w Preston Sturges. ph Ted Tetzlaff. Paramount. 86 min.

Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson, Willard Robertson, Sterling Holloway.

A prosecuting attorney (MacMurray) impulsively bails a beautiful shoplifter (Stanwyck) out of jail at Christmastime and ends up taking her home to Indiana for the holidays.

Mitchell Leisen (1898–1972) is an unjustly neglected figure in the history of American movies. Leisen frequently collaborated (as here) with such writers as Preston Sturges, Charles Brackett, and Billy Wilder. Leisen added sentiment to the anything-for-a-laugh conventions of screwball comedy, and with a pictorial flair developed during his years as a set and costume designer (for Cecil B. DeMille, among others) set a standard for stylish good taste unsurpassed by any other director of his era.

first played at the Stanford Theatre Feb 9, 1940; last played May 2014

His Butler's Sister (1943) 5:50, 9:15
d Frank Borzage. w Samuel Hoffenstein, Betty Reinhardt. ph Woody Bredell. m H.J. Salter. Universal. 87 min.

Deanna Durbin, Franchot Tone, Pat O'Brien, Akim Tamiroff, Alan Mowbray, Walter Catlett, Elsa Janssen, Evelyn Ankers, Frank Jenks, Sig Arno, Hans Conried, Florence Bates, Roscoe Karns, Russell Hicks, Andrew Tombes.

In order to get the attention of a famous Broadway composer, an aspiring singer masquerades as a maid at his home — where her brother works as his butler.

Songs: "In the Spirit of the Moment," music by Bernie Grossman, lyrics by Walter Jurman; "When You're Away," music by Victor Herbert, lyrics by Henry Blorrom; "Is It True What They Say About Dixie?", words and music by Irving Caesar, Samuel Lerner and Gerald Marks; selections from the opera Turandot by Giacomo Puccini, completed by Franco Alfano, libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni; medley of Russian songs arranged by Max Rabinowitz.

first played at the Stanford Theatre Dec 21, 2012; last played Sep 2014

December 9 – 10:
White Christmas (1954) 3:25, 7:30
d Michael Curtiz. w Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, Melvin Frank. ph Lloyd Griggs. m/ly Irving Berlin. Paramount. 120 min.

Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, Dean Jagger, Mary Wickes, Sig Rumann, Grady Sutton.

The plot hardly matters in this beloved Christmas classic featuring songs by Irving Berlin.

first played at the Stanford Theatre November 17, 1954; last played Dec 2006

Christmas in Connecticut (1945) 5:35, 9:40
d Peter Godfrey. w Lionel Houser, Adele Commandini. ph Carl Guthrie. m Frederick Hollander. Warner Bros. 101 min.

Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Sydney Greenstreet, Reginald Gardiner, S.Z. Sakall, Robert Shayne, Una O'Connor, Frank Jenks.

A magazine writer (Stanwyck), known for her popular column "Diary of a Housewife," is actually a single career girl living in a New York City apartment. Her publisher recruits her to pretend to be the ideal wife — a domestic with a baby — for the benefit of a returned wounded serviceman (Dennis Morgan), for an old-fashioned Christmas at her "home" in Connecticut.

first played at the Stanford Theatre Aug 26, 1945; last played Apr 2014

December 11 – 13: closed

December 14 – 15:
"Sometimes angels rush in where fools fear to tread."
The Bishop's Wife (1947) 7:30
d Henry Koster. w Robert Sherwood, Leonardo Bercovici. ph Gregg Toland. m Hugo Friedhofer. RKO. 105 min.

Loretta Young, Cary Grant, David Niven, Monty Woolley, James Gleason, Gladys Cooper, Elsa Lanchester, Sara Haden, Karolyn Grimes, Tito Vuolo, Regis Toomey, Sara Edwards, Margaret McWade.

Loretta Young plays the wife of bishop David Niven. Cary Grant, in one of his most charming roles, plays a debonaire angel sent down to earth to help the bishop with his church (and wife).

first played at the Stanford Theatre Apr 8, 1948; last played Dec 2018

"My Great-aunt Jennifer ate a whole box of candy every day of her life. She lived to be a hundred and two, and when she had been dead three days she looked better than you do now."
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941) 5:25, 9:30
d William Keighley. w Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein, from the play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. ph Tony Gaudio. m Frederick Hollander. Warner Bros. 112 min.

Monty Woolley, Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan, Jimmy Durante, Reginald Gardiner, Richard Travis, Billie Burke, Grant Mitchell.

In this mile-a-minute comedy, based on the 1939 Broadway hit play, a radio celebrity, invited to dinner by a small-town hostess, slips on the front doorstep, and terrorizes his suburban hosts during his extended recovery.

first played at the Stanford Theatre Apr. 12, 1942; last played Oct 2018

December 16 – 17:
"Meet me in St. Louis, Louis, meet me at the fair..."
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) 3:40, 7:30
d Vincente Minnelli. w Irving Brecher & Fred F. Finklehoff, from stories by Sally Benson. ph George Folsey. songs Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane MGM. 113 min.

Judy Garland (Esther Smith), Margaret O'Brien ("Tootie" Smith), Mary Astor (Anne Smith), Lucille Bremer (Rose Smith), Tom Drake (John Truett), June Lockhart (Lucille Ballard), Marjorie Main (Katie), Leon Ames (Alonzo Smith), Harry Davenport (Grandpa), Joan Carroll (Agnes Smith), Hank Daniels (Lon Smith, Jr.), Chill Wills (Mr. Neely), Robert Sully (Warren Sheffield).

A year in the life of of the Smith family at 5135 Kensington Avenue in St. Louis, leading up to the 1904 World's Fair; based on a series of New Yorker stories by Sally Benson.

One of the very greatest films Hollywood ever made, Meet Me in St. Louis established Minnelli as the undisputed master of of the film musical. He directed the film with a warm nostalgic glow that is never saccharine. The film also made Judy Garland, who had her best role since Dorothy, a major adult star. It was the biggest box office success of MGM's first 20 years, and it remains one of the most universally loved films ever made.

Minnelli often identified the "Halloween" episode as his favorite sequence among all his films, and the performance of seven-year-old Margaret O'Brien as the troubled younger sister "Tootie" stands out as one of the true miracles in the history of the cinema.

Songs include: The Boy Next Door, The Trolley Song, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 11, 1945; last played Aug 2022

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) 5:45, 9:35
d George Seaton. w George Seaton, story by Valentine Davies. ph Charles Clarke, Lloyd Ahern. m Cyril Mockridge. 20th Century-Fox. 94 min.

Edmund Gwenn (Kris Kringle), Maureen O'Hara (Doris Walker), Natalie Wood (Susan Walker), John Payne (Fred Gailey), Gene Lockhart (Judge Henry X. Harper), Porter Hall (Mr. Sawyer), William Frawley (Charles Halloran), Jerome Cowan (Thomas Mara), Philip Tonge (Mr. Shellhammer), Thelma Ritter (Mother), Alvin Greenman (Albert).

One of America's most beloved Christmas movies. A Santa Claus working at Macy's department store, a kindly gentleman who calls himself Kris Kringle, has everyone believing in Santa Claus, exept for one little girl.

first played at the Stanford Theatre July 13, 1947; last played Dec 2018

December 18 – 20: closed

December 21 – 23:
"I want your opinion, your honest opinion."
The Shop Around the Corner (1940) (3:45), 7:30
d Ernst Lubitsch. w Samuel Raphaelson, from the play by Nikolaus Laszlo. ph William Daniels. m Werner Heymann. MGM. 97 min.

James Stewart (Alfred Kralik), Margaret Sullavan (Klara Novak), Frank Morgan (Hugo Matuschek), Joseph Schildkraut (Ferencz Vadas), Sara Haden (Flora), Felix Bressart (Pirovitch), William Tracy (Pepi Katona), Inez Courtney (Ilona), Charles Halton (Detective), Charles Smith (Rudy).

In the days before Christmas. a new sales clerk (Margaret Sullavan) is hired by a Budapest shop. She and the manager (Jimmy Stewart) have a stressful relationship on the job, unaware that they have been conducting a romance as pen pals who have never met in person.

"Among the greatest of films... The cafe conversation may be the best meeting in American Film." David Thomson
"One of the most beautifully acted and paced romantic comedies ever made." Pauline Kael
"Never did I make a picture in which the atmosphere and the characters were truer than in this picture." Ernst Lubitsch

first played at the Stanford Theatre Feb 4, 1940; last played Dec 2019

"We're off to see..."
The Wizard of Oz (1939) 5:35, 9:20
d Victor Fleming & King Vidor. w Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Wolfe, from the book by L. Frank Baum. ph Harold Rosson. songs E. Y. Harburg & Harold Arlen. MGM. 102 min.

Judy Garland (Dorothy Gale), Frank Morgan (Prof. Marvel / Oz, the Wizard), Ray Bolger (Hunk / The Scarecrow), Jack Haley (Hickory / The Tin Woodman), Bert Lahr (Zeke / The Cowardly Lion), Margaret Hamilton (Almira Gulch / The Wicked Witch of the West), Billie Burke (Glinda, the Good Witch of the South), Charley Grapewin (Uncle Henry), Clara Blandick (Aunt Em), Pat Walsh (Nikko), Terry the Dog (Toto).

One of the most beloved films of Hollywood's Golden Age, The Wizard of Oz continues to enchant adiences more than 70 years after its premiere. You haven't really been to Oz until you've seen it on our big screen in glorious Technicolor, with an audience.

first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 3, 1939; last played Aug 2022

December 24:
"All you can take with you is that which you've given away."
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) 4:00, 9:00
d Frank Capra. w Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra, based on the short story The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern. ph Joseph Walker, Joseph Biroc. m Dimitri Tiomkin. Liberty. 130 min.

James Stewart (George Bailey), Donna Reed (Mary Hatch), Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Potter), Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billie), Henry Travers (Clarence), Beulah Bondi (Mrs. Bailey), Frank Faylen (Ernie), Ward Bond (Bert), Gloria Grahame (Violet Bick), H. B. Warner (Mr. Gower), Frank Albertson (Sam Wainwright), Todd Karns (Harry Bailey), Samuel S. Hinds (Pa Bailey), Mary Treen (Cousin Tilly), Virginia Patton (Ruth Dakin), Bobby Anderson (Little George Bailey), Jean Gale (Little Mary Hatch).

The traditional Christmas Eve screening of what Frank Capra modestly called "the greatest movie anybody ever made."

Every Christmas Eve more than 1000 people watch George Bailey's Odyssey at The Stanford Theatre. It's our most important tradition. Advance tickets are recommended; they go on sale Dec. 9.

first played at the Stanford Theatre Apr 27, 1947; last played Dec 2019