The Stanford Theatre


Akira Kurosawa was an artist of universal humanity. His films cover an astonishing range, from period samurai, to adventure, to film noir detective, to social criticism, to romance. The amazing Toshiro Mifune appears in 9 of our titles,, and three of these films are inspired by Shakespeare

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.)

February 3 – 6: closed

February 7 – 9:
"We have lost again. The peasants have won."
The Seven Samurai [Shichi-nin no Samurai] (1954) 3:00, 7:30
d Akira Kurosawa. w Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni. ph Asaichi Nakai. m Fumio Hayasaka. Toho. 208 min.

Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Isao Kimura, Seiji Miyaguchi, Yoshio Inaba, Daisuke Kato, Minoru Chiaki, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Keiko Tsushima, Kokuten Kodo, Bokuzen Hidari, Kamatari Fujiwara, Yukiko Shimazaki.

In 16th century Japan, farmers under the heel of marauding bandits decide to hire ronin for protection. The odds: seven samurai versus forty bandits. Their pay: a few handfuls of rice.

Voted in the 1979 Kinema Jumpo critics' poll as the Best Japanese Film of all time.

"No one has come near it." Pauline Kael

first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 18, 1998; last played Aug 2015

February 10 – 13: closed

February 14 – 16:
Ikiru [To Live] (1952) (3:05), 7:30
d Akira Kurosawa. w Hideo Oguni, Shinobu Hashimoto, Akira Kurosawa. ph Asaishi Nakai. m Fumio Hayasaka. Toho. 143 min.

Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Kyoko Seki.

A minor bureaucrat discovers he has less than a year to live and determines to find some meaning to life. Family ties, booze, partying, mentoring: he gives them all a try, until he figures out what he really can do. But as tipsy co-workers reminisce during his second-act wake, the question remains: did his ultimate achievement make a difference?

Role of a lifetime for Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura — who next played the leader of the Seven Samurai.

"One of the greatest films of postwar Japan." Tadao Sato

first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct 2, 1998; last played Aug 2015

Drunken Angel (1948) 5:40, 10:05
d Akira Kurosawa. w Keinosuke Uekusa, Akira Kurosawa. ph Takeo Ito. m Fumio Hayasaka. 102 min.

Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune.

Toshiro Mifune's "Jungle Boogie" dancing gangster gets the bad news from an alcoholic doctor — he's got TB; and then the prewar boss returns.

First collaboration of "the greatest actor-director team in film history" (David Shipman) and Kurosawa's first Kinema Jumpo (Japanese Oscar) winner.

"Takashi Shimura played the doctor beautifully, but I found that I could not control Mifune. When I saw this, I let him play the part freely… I did not want to smother that vitality." Kurosawa

first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 6, 2010; last played Mar 2010

February 17 – 20: closed

February 21 – 23:
Rashomon [In the Woods] (1951) (3:35), 7:30
w/d Akira Kurosawa, from the story Inside a Bush by Ryunosuke Akutogawa. ph Kazuo Matsuyama. m Takashi Matsuyama. Daiei. 83 min.

Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura.

Rape and murder in 12th century Kyoto, as seen by four conflictting witnesses.

Adapted from two stories by the great Ryunosuke Akutogawa, its worldwide acclaim (Venice Grand Prix, Best Foreign Film Oscar) vaulted an unknown director and national cinema to world prominence (and added "Rashomon-type story" to the vocabulary). As the Bandit, Mifune takes acting chances only the greatest dare, going beyond overacting into something so outrageous it could only be real. Now universally considered the great filmic statement on the unknowability of truth.

first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 25, 1998; last played Aug 2015

Stray Dog [Nora inu] (1949) 5:15, 9:10
d Akira Kurosawa. w Akira Kurosawa, Ryuzo Kikushima. ph Asakazu Nakai. m Fumio Hayasaka. 122 min.

Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura.

While a rubble-strewn Tokyo swelters through a torrid heat wave, awkward young white-suited detective Toshiro Mifune finds, to his shame, that his pistol has been stolen — and then that it's been used in a murder. Thus begins his obsessive, guilt-ridden search, highlighted by a nearly ten-minute dialogue-free sequence shot by hidden camera in the toughest black market section of the city. No bleeding hearts here: when seasoned mentor Takashi Shimura points out that the killer, a returned vet, went bad when all his possessions were stolen, Mifune heatedly replies that the same thing happened to him — and then he became a cop. No surprise then that, as the chase progresses toward a final confrontation — electrifyingly backgrounded by a young girl's stop-start practicing of a Mozart piece — Mifune and the unseen killer begin to seem more and more alike,

first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 6, 2010; last played Aug 2015

February 24 – 27: closed

February 28 – March 1:
The Bad Sleep Well [Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru] (1960) (2:30), 7:30
d Akira Kurosawa. w Hideo Oguni, Eijiro Hisaita. ph Yuzuru Aizawa. m Masaru Sato. 151 min.

Toshiro Mifune, Masayuki Mori, Kyoko Kagawa, Tatsuya Mihashi, Takashi Shimura.

Scandal-seeking reporters act as a chorus at the wedding reception for bespectacled pencil-pushing executive secretary Mifune and limping boss's daughter Kyoko Kagawa. As cops wait in the wings, a cake shaped like an office building wheels in, a single rose marking the site of a notorious suicide — or was it a murder?

This film has interesting parallels to Hamlet, with Mifune seeking to avenge his father's murder — and with a corrupt government housing agency playing the role of the Danish court.

"Evokes the pungent atmosphere of Warners 1930s gangster flics." Time Out New York

first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 17, 2010; last played Aug 2015

High and Low (1963) 4:55, 9:55
d Akira Kurosawa. w Hideo Oguni, Ryuzo Kikushima, Eijiro Hisaito, Akira Kurosawa, from the novel The King's Ransom by Ed McBain. ph Asakazu Makai, Takao Saito. m Masaru Sato. Toho. 142 min.

Toshiro Mifune, Kyoko Kagawa, Tatsuya Nakadai.

Shoe company exec Toshiro Mifune is in the midst of a mortgage-everything takeover battle when the phone rings with a ransom demand for his son .

Adapted from Ed McBain's 87th Precinct novel King's Ransom, this is the ultimate kidnap movie, with Kurosawa at the peak of his filmmaking powers: with the cops led by Steve McQueen-cool Tatsuya Nakadai; the de rigeur money transfer aboard the Shinkansen (bullet train); and a jailhouse interview punctuated by the heaviest steel door closing in film history.

"Undoubtedly the most complex detective film of all… Contains so many nuances of narrative, photographic technique, and acting, that it demands seeing far more than once." William K. Everson

first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 10, 2010; last played Mar 2010

March 2 – ??: closed for plague