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 http://www.stanfordtheatre.org 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.)
W.C. Fields, Kathleen Howard, Jean Rouverol, Julian Madison, Tom Bupp, Baby Le Roy, Tammany Young, Morgan Wallace, Charles Sellon, Josephine Whittle, T. Roy Barnes, Diana Lewis, Spencer Charters, Del Henderson.
Fields is the most henpecked of husbands, who cannot get a moment's peace, especially when he resorts to sleeping on the porch outside. His dream is to purchase a California orange grove.
"The finest, funniest movie W.C. Fields ever made." Baseline Movie Guide
first played at the Stanford Theatre Dec 21, 1934; last played Apr 2010
Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont, Edgar Kennedy, Louis Calhern, Raquel Torres.
Arguably the Marx Brothers' best film, yet poorly received when released and criticized for being unconventional. The story is a somewhat surreal farce about war and international diplomacy.
"The Marx Brothers made the trip from vaudeville to Hollywood, and it's like Neil Armstrong stepping down onto the moon and landing on a banana peel." David Thomson
first played at the Stanford Theatre Dec 10, 1933; last played Aug 2016
Peggy Hopkins Joyce, W.C. Fields, Stuart Erwin, Sari Maritza, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Bela Lugosi, Edmund Breese, Lumsden Hare, Franklin Pangborn, Harrison Greene, Rudy Vallee, Colonel Stoopnagle and Budd, Cab Calloway and His Orchestra, Baby Rose Marie, Sterling Holloway.
A zany cast of characters converges at the International House hotel (in Wu-Hu, China) to bid on a new invention - television! This film established Fields as a comic force.
first played at the Stanford Theatre June 24, 1933; last played July 2017
Groucho, Chico, Harpo, & Zeppo Marx, Thelma Todd, Robert Greig, David Landau.
Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff (Groucho) is made president of Huxley College. His son Frank (Zeppo) convinces him that Huxley needs a football team, and that he knows where to hire a couple of star athletes. Unfortunately the stars are hired by rival Darwin College while Frank mistakenly hires Chico (Baravelli, the ice man) and Harpo (Pinky, a dog catcher).
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 4, 1932; last played Nov 2016
Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Henry Wilcoxon, Gertrude Michael, Joseph Schildkraut, Ian Keith, C. Aubrey Smith, Leonard Mudie, Irving Pichel, Arthur Hohl.
DeMille was a master at confusing history with entertainment, and Cleopatra provided one of his very best subjects.
DeMille planned his films as carefully as a military campaign, and in his seventies thought nothing of leading an army of thousands — cast and crew — into the Sahara Desert to shoot location sequences for The Ten Commandments (1956). To produce Cleopatra, DeMille spent months researching such minutiæ as the design of Egyptian hairpins and the correct pronunciation of the heroine's name. He collaborated with his writers on a script which compressed the events of Cleopatra's reign and her love affairs with Julius Caesar and Marc Antony into 103 minutes without confusing audiences or distorting history beyond the limits of dramatic license. Claudette Colbert, the wicked and lascivious Poppæa of The Sign of the Cross (1932), was a natural and superb choice for Cleopatra. Warren William brought his commanding presence to the role of Caesar. To play Antony, DeMille cast a young English actor, Henry Wilcoxon, after hearing his resonant baritone coming from a screening room where another producer was running tests. Victor Milner won an Academy Award for his shimmering black-and-white cinematography, which shows to special advantage in the famous banquet scene on Cleopatra's barge — one of the great romantic sequences in film history. [Charles Hopkins]
"The big bash aboard her barge has its own dreamy chic. A netful of beautiful adagio dancers are hauled out of the sea... it's terrible and yet compulsively watchable." Pauline Kael
Preserved by the UCLA Film Archive.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Nov 2, 1934; last played Mar 2011
Fredric March, Elissa Landi, Claudette Colbert, Charles Laughton, Ian Keith.
Cecil B. DeMille's extravaganza about virtuous Christians and decadent Romans in the time of the emperor Nero (played to depraved perfection by Charles Laughton) was reissued in 1944 with "offensive" material removed. We are showing the original version.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Feb 26, 1933; last played Oct. 1995
Fredric March, Evelyn Venable, Guy Standing, Katherine Alexander, Gail Patrick, Helen Westley, Kathleen Howard, Kent Taylor, Henry Travers.
Not understanding why men fear him so, Death decides to pay a visit to the world. He arrives as the mysterious houseguest of an Italian nobleman.
This unusual but fascinating film has an especially good performance by Fredric March, along with the visual elegance typical of director Mitchell Leisen.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Apr 8, 1934; last played Mar 2009
George Raft, Alice Faye, Frances Langford, Patsy Kelly, The Radio Rogues, Walter Catlett, Herman Bing.
Three girls form a singing group and search for fame on a local radio show.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct 13, 1935; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
W. C. Fields, Joe Morrison, Judith Allen, Jan Duggan, Jack Mulhall, Baby LeRoy, Tammany Young, Nora Cecil, Jack Mulhall, Samuel Ethridge.
W.C. Fields is the Great McGonigle, the head of a traveling vaudeville troupe. Arriving in a small town, McGonigle funds his show by casting the town' wealthiest woman in his upcoming production.
One of Fields' funniest, with Baby LeRoy on hand to help make his life miserable.
first played at the Stanford Theatre July 31, 1934; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Charles Ruggles, Mary Boland, W. C. Fields, Alison Skipworth, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Bradley Page, Grace Bradley.
A couple traveling on a cross country road trip make the mistake of bringing George Burns and Gracie Allen along with them. No one knows that there's a suitcase full of embezzled money in the car, but Sheriff W.C. Fields is on the case.
"Zany, wonderful nonsense." Leonard Maltin
first played at the Stanford Theatre Feb 11, 1934; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Plus Cartoon: Old Man of the Mountain (Betty Boop)
Clive Brook, Lila Lee, Mary Boland, Adrienne Allen, Gene Raymond, Frances Dee, Charley Grapewin.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct 22, 1932; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Claudette Colbert, Fredric March, Monroes Owsley, Charlie Rugggles, Ginger Rogers.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Apr 12, 1931; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Claudette Colbert, Mary Boland, Richard Arlen, Wallace Ford, Lyda Roberti, Tom Brown, Hardie Albright.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 29, 1933; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Claudette Colbert, Norman Foster, Ginger Rogers, Charles Ruggles.
first played at the Stanford Theatre June 3, 1930; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook, Warner Oland, Anna May Wong, Eugene Pallette, Lawrence Grant, Louise Closer Hale, Gustav von Seyffertitz.
Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich) is traveling on a train through China in the midst of a civil war, when armed rebels threaten the lives of her fellow passengers.
Josef von Sternberg created a unique cinematic style, with a sensuous and almost decadent infatuation with visual imagination and the interplay of light and shadow on the screen.
"It is ridiculous and lovely, just like an orgy for people who know nothing lasts. Yet the film is seventy-six years old as I write and still a monument of erotic art." David Thomson
first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 27, 1932; last played July 2016
Warner Oland, Anna May Wong, Sessue Hayakawa, Bramwell Fletcher, Homes Herbert.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 12, 1931; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Gary Cooper, Carole Lombard, Helen Ware, Lester Vail, Charles Trowbridge, Clara Blandick.
first played at the Stanford Theatre July 22, 1931; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
William Powell, Kay Francis, Carole Lombard, Gilbert Emery, Olive Tell.
first played at the Stanford Theatre May 10, 1931; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Maurice Chevalier, Helen Twelvetree, Baby LeRoy, Edward Everett Horton, Adrienne Ames.
first played at the Stanford Theatre May 14, 1933; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Clara Bow, Charles Ruggles, Ralph Forbes, Skeets Gallagher.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct 29, 1930; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Charles Laughton, Mary Boland, Charles Ruggles, Zasu Pitts, Roland Young, Leila Hyams, Maude Eburne, Lucien Littlefield, Leota Lorraine, James Burke, Dell Henderson, Clarence Wilson.
A proper British butler is won in a card game by a wild-and-wooly American, who takes his new butler home to Red Gap, Washington.
Charles Laughton is wonderful as the stuffy Marmaduke Ruggles, who comes to appreciate democracy out West.
"A completely winning movie." Leonard Maltin
first played at the Stanford Theatre Apr 7, 1935; last played May 2010
W. C. Fields, Jack Oakie, Andy Clyde, Lyda Roberti, Ben Turpin, Hugh Herbert, Billy Gilbert, George Barbier, Susan Fleming.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Aug 10, 1932; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Phillips Holmes, Sylvia Sidney, Frances Dee, Irving Pichel, Frederick Burton, Claire McDowell.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 13, 1931; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Dorothea Wieck, Evelyn Venable, Sir Guy Standing, Louise Dresser, Kent Taylor, Gertrude Michael, Nydia Westman, Eleanor, Wesselhoeff.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 24, 1934; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Bing Crosby, Carole Lombard, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Ethel Merman, Leon Errol, Ray Milland.
Spoiled socialite Lombard and her friends are shipwrecked on a desert island with former servant Crosby, the only one with survival skills. Unoficially inspired by Barrie's The Admirable Crichton.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 12, 1934; last played Mar 2001
Miriam Hopkins, Carole Lombard, Frank Morgan, Charles Starrett, Henry Wadsworth, David Hutcheson, Ilka Chase.
first showing at the Stanford Theatre
Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen, Kathleen Burke, Leila Hyams.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 29, 1933; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Carl Brisson, Victor McLaglen, Jack Oakie, Kitty Carlisle, Dorothy Stickney, Gertrude Michael, Jessie Ralph, Chas. B. Middleton, Gail Patrick, Donald Meek, Toby Wing, Duke Ellington's Orchestra.
Backstage musical murder mystery, where the detective must solve the case - between musical numbers, of course!
first played at the Stanford Theatre June 20, 1934; last played Mar 2001
Sylvia Sidney, Fredric March, Adrianne Allen, Skeets Gallagher, George Irving, Esther Howard, Florence Britton, Charles Coleman, Cary Grant, Kent Taylor.
Fredric March plays a newspaper reporter (and would-be playwright) with a serious drinking problem. Wealthy but innocent Sylvia Sidney falls in love and they marry. He writes a successful play, but unfortunately his old girl friend is hired as the star.
Cary has only a very small role, but this film is quite charming. It was directed by Dorothy Arzner, one of the few women who directed major Hollywood pictures.
first played at the Stanford Theatre June 25, 1932; last played Jan 2002
Sylvia Sidney, Gene Raymond, Wynne Gibson, Rockcliffe Fellows, Earle Foxe.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Feb 17, 1932; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, Adolphe Menjou, Mary Philips, Jack La Rue, Blanche Frederici, Henry Armetta.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 8, 1933; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Tallulah Bankhead, Clive Brook, Phoebe Foster, Alexander Kirkland, Osgood Perkins, Elizabeth Patterson.
In this turgid melodrama, a destitute socialite marries for money and suffers for 80 minutes before realizing she actually loves her husband. This was Tallulah Bankhead's first sound film, but her unique personality, which had enthralled audiences on the stage in London, was never properly exploited until Hitchcock cast her 13 years later in Lifeboat.
Nitrate print from the UCLA Film Archive.
first played at the Stanford Theatre May 24, 1931; last played Mar 1999
Mae West, Cary Grant, Gregory Ratoff, Edward Arnold, Ralf Harolde Russell Hopton, Gertrude Michael, Kent Taylor, Dorothy Peterson, William B. Davidson, Gertrude Howard, Libby Taylor.
Mae West is in top form playing a social-climbing carnival entertainer (she tames lions) who falls for Cary Grant. Many of Mae's famous lines occur in this film.
Songs: "I Want You—I Need You"; "They Call Me Sister Honky-Tonk"; "That Dallas Man"; "I Found a New Way to Go to Town"; "I'm No Angel"
first played at the Stanford Theatre Nov 25, 1933; last played May 2015
W. C. Fields, Larry 'Buster' Crabbe, Joan Marsh, Adrienne Ames, Louise Carter.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Apr 18, 1934; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Tallulah Bankhead, Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton, Cary Grant, Paul Porcasi, Juliette Crompton, Henry Kolker, Dorothy Christy.
In a magnificent demonic performance, Charles Laughton plays a submarine commander insanely jealous with suspicion that his wife is having affairs with Gary Cooper and Cary Grant.
The Cary Grant role is quite small. The opening credits boast: "And introducing Charles Laughton — the eminent British character actor in the role of The Commander."
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 1, 1932; last played Apr 2015
Nancy Carroll, Cary Grant, John Halliday, Louis Calhern, Irving Pichel, Norma Mitchell, Jack LaRue, Frank Sheridan, John Lodge, Lona Andre, Harry Holman.
In 1933, Liberty Magazine commissioned "ten of the world's greatest authors" to write separate chapters for a ten-part serial, which was then turned into a screenplay. The result is an episodic film about a woman accused of killing her ex-lover, complete with a 3-day cruise to nowhere and a mock trial.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 17, 1933; last played Feb 2002
Stuart Erwin, Bing Crosby, Leila Hyams, Sharon Lynne, George Burns, Gracie Allen, George Barbier, Ralph Robertson, Spec O'Donnell, Kate Smith, Boswell Sisters, Cab Calloway and his Orchestra, Mills Brothers, Arthur Tracy, Vincent Lopez and his Orchestra..
Adventures at a beleaguered radio station provide an excuse for all the top radio stars of the day to appear in this lively and amusing film.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Nov. 6, 1932; last played Feb 2001
Bing Crosby, Jack Oakie, Richard `Skeets' Gallagher, Harry Green, Judith Allen, Lilyan Tashman, Ned Sparks.
Another backstage musical. This time Bing falls for a good girl, but can't escape the clutches of the bad girl.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct 15, 1933; last played Mar 2001
Herbert Marshall, Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Edward Everett Horton, Charles Ruggles, C. Aubrey Smith, Robert Greig, Leonid Kinsky.
A pair of jewel thieves (Miriam Hopkins and Herbert Marshall) insinuate themselves into the household of wealthy Kay Francis. Director Lubitsch's own favorite among all his films. Halliwell calls it "the masterpiece of American sophisticated cinema." Leonard Maltin says it is "a working definition of the term sophisticated comedy."
"The masterpiece of American sophisticated cinema." Leslie Halliwell
first played at the Stanford Theatre Dec 3, 1932; last played Feb 2017
Matahi, Reri, Hitu, Jean, Jules, Kong Ah.
On Bora Bora, a pair of star-crossed lovers have their plans disturbed when the local religious leader announces that the girl has been chosen as successor to the island's sacred virgin.
The film was shot with an all-native Polynesian cast on Bora Bora and Takapota islands in Tahiti. Visually, Tabu offers a uniquely intense poetic experience.
This silent film was released during the sound period, so we are showing it with its original musical sound track (no live organ).
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 1, 1931; last played Dec 1999
Jean Arthur, Mischa Auer, Clara Bow, Evelyn Brent, Mary Brian, Clive Brook, Nancy Carroll, Ruth Chatterton, Maurice Chevalier, Gary Cooper, Kay Francis, Skeets Gallagher, Helen Kane, Dennis King, Abe lYman and his Band, Fredric March, Jack Oakie, Warner Oland, Eugene Pallette, William Powell, Charles (Buddy) Rogers, Lillian Roth, Fay Wray, and many others.
Virtually all of Paramount's major stars are featured in this early revue film.
first played at the Stanford Theatre May 28, 1930; last played Feb 2001
W. C. Fields, Charles Laughton, May Robson, Richard Bennett, Alison Skipworth, Gary Cooper, Wynne Gibson, George Raft, Jack Oakie, Frances Dee, Charles Ruggles, Mary Boland, Roscoe Karns, Gene Raymond, Lucien Littlefield.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Dec 22, 1932; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Marlene Dietrich, John Lodge, Sam Jaffe, Louise Dressler, C. Aubrey Smith, Gavin Gordon, Jameson Thomas.
Strangely beautiful, overwhelming, disturbing, gorgeous, self-indulgent, and prodigal are a few of the epithets applied to this delirious masterpiece, in which Dietrich plays a neurotic Catherine the Great. The cinematography is truly inspired, as are the sets and costumes. Decadent and indulgent to the point of self-parody, this film is an unparalleled cinematic experience.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 12, 1934; last played Aug 2010
Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, Herbert Marshall, Dickie Moore, Gene Morgan, Rita LaRoy, Robert Emmett O'Connor, Sidney Toler.
Former cabaret singer Dietrich is married to a chemist who must travel to Europe for medical treatment. In his absence she becomes mistress to wealthy admirer Grant in order to get money for her sick husband, leading to sacrifice, degradation, and (eventual) redemption.
The most uneven of the Dietrich-Sternberg collaborations, but often the most popular with audiences, perhaps because when it's good, it's very, very good. Among the high points are Dietrich singing Hot Voodoo in an ape suit and a luminous New Orleans bordello sequence. Blonde Venus is Sternberg's only Dietrich film set in this country, but Sternberg's America, like his Russia or China, exists on no map we're ever likely to see.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct 10, 1932; last played Jan 2002
Mae West, Cary Grant, Gilbert Roland, Noah Beery, Sr., Rafaela Ottiano, David Landau, Rochelle Hudson, Owen Moore, Dewey Robinson, Tammany Young, Fuzzy Knight, Grace La Rue, Robert E. Homans, Louise Beavers.
In his first major role Cary Grant plays an undercover cop, who inspires Mae West to deliver her immortal line: "Why don't you come up sometime 'n see me?" Grant said he learned more about acting from her than anyone else he ever worked with.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Feb 5, 1933; last played Mar 2015
Kay Francis, Joel McCrea, Lilyan Tashman, Eugene Pallette, Alan Dinehart, George Barbier.
The charming, rowdy, pre-code adventures of two gold-diggers.
"I liked their elegance. Lil had all that vigor and fun and I was glad I could bring it out. That's happened a few times in my career, and it's always fascinated me." George Cukor
Preserved by the UCLA Film Archive.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Nov 11, 1931; last played Mar 1999