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.)
Rex Harrison (Prof. Henry Higgins), Audrey Hepburn (Eliza Doolittle), Stanley Holloway (Alfred P. Doolittle), Wilfrid Hyde White (Col. Hugh Pickering), Gladys Cooper (Mrs. Higgins), Jeremy Britt (Freddy Eynsford-Hill), Theodore Bikel (Zoltan Karpathy), Isobel Elson (Mrs. Eynsford-Hill), Mona Washbourne (Mrs. Pearce), Walter Burke (Main Bystander).
The film version of My Fair Lady (Best Picture of 1964) came nearly a decade after the Broadway musical. In the meantime, Lerner and Loewe created the music for Gigi. Although Audrey Hepburn had played Gigi on Broadway in 1952, she turned down the role in the 1958 film. Many people in 1964 thought that Julie Andrews should have played Eliza (as she did on Broadway). It may be a little hard to accept Audrey as a guttersnipe in the early scenes, but future generations will surely be grateful to rediscover in this film the most authentic fair lady of our age. The world will be grateful that Cukor's film preserves Rex Harrison in one of the great performances of the twentieth century.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 8, 1990; last played Sep 2017
Gregory Peck (Joe Bradley), Audrey Hepburn (Princess Anne), Eddie Albert (Irving Radovich), Hartley Power (Mr. Hennessy), Harcourt Williams (Ambassador), Margaret Rawlings (Countess Vereberg), Tullio Carminati (Gen. Provno), Paolo Carlini (Mario Delani), Claudio Ermelli (Giovanni).
A young princess on a European goodwill tour escapes her guardians for 24 hours of freedom in Rome with an American reporter (Gregory Peck).
The whole world fell in love with Audrey Hepburn in her first Hollywood role. The film received a total of ten Oscar nominations and Audrey was voted Best Actress.
"When she smiles, we're all goners." Pauline Kael
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 20, 1953; last played July 2018
w/d Luigi Commencini. ph Arturo Gallea. m Alessandro Cicognini. Titanus. 90 min.
Vittorio de Sica, Gina Lollobrigida, Marisa Merlini, Roberto Rossi.
The new sergeant of police in a rural village comes looking for a wife.
This Italian comedy's great popularity made an international star of Gina Lollobrigida, who soon found her way to the United States.
first played at the Stanford Theatre May, 1998; last played Dec 2005
Rock Hudson, Gina Lollobrigida, Sandra Dee, Bobby Darin, Walter Slezak, Brenda de Banzie, Joel Grey, Rosanna Rory, Ronald Howard.
A playboy who spends every September at his villa in Portofino arrives early and discovers his major domo running the villa as a bed and breakfast. This funny, silly trifle was beautifully filmed on location, with wonderful performances by all, but especially Walter Slezak, as the charming, resourceful major domo.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Aug 23, 1961; last played Aug 2010
Gina Lollobrigida, Vittorio de Sica, Marisa Merlini, Roberto Rossi.
first showing at the Stanford Theatre
Orson Welles (Charles Foster Kane), Joseph Cotten (Jedediah Leland), Dorothy Comingore (Susan Alexander), Everett Sloane (Mr. Bernstein), Ray Collins (J.W. Gettys), George Coulouris (Walter Parks Thatcher), Agnes Moorehead (Mrs. Mary Kane), Paul Stewart (Raymond), Ruth Warrick (Mrs. Emily Norton Kane), Erskine Sanford (Herbert Carter), Harry Shannon (Jim Kane), William Alland (Jerry Thompson), Fortunio Bonanova (Matisti).
Though not voted Best Picture of 1941 (it was nominated), Citizen Kane consistently appears at the top of lists of the best films of all time.
Bernard Herrmann's very first film score contributes more than its share to the success of this revolutionary film. Welles allowed Herrmann ample time for composition, and he sometimes cut the film to match the music.
first played in Palo Alto at the Mayfield Theatre Dec 7, 1941; dare we speculate that Citizen Kane was denied entry to Palo Alto's premier movie theatre through the influence of William Randolph Hearst?
first played at the Stanford Theatre May 1, 1991; last played Oct 2011
An American writer arrives in post-war Vienna to discover that his friend Harry Lime has just died in an accident. Or maybe not.
Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Bernard Lee, Paul Hoerbiger, Ernst Deutsch, Erich Ponto, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Siegfried Breuer.
This famous film noir, set in a drab world of racketeers and drug traffickers, is one of the mythical films of the British cinema. It was the last unqualified success to bear Selznick's name.
Orson Welles (as Harry Lime) delivers his devastating summation of Swiss history.
"There is a writhing tension deep down inside, between the calm evil perpetrated by Mr. Harry Lime,… and the eloquent, sardonic, charm-for-sale effulgence of Mr. Orson Welles." David Thomsen
first played at the Stanford Theatre Apr 23, 1950; last played Oct 2016
Spencer Tracy (Adam Bonner), Katharine Hepburn (Amanda Bonner), Judy Holliday (Doris Attinger), Tom Ewell (Warren Attinger), David Wayne (Kip Lurie), Jean Hagen (Beryl Caighn), Hope Emerson (Olympia La Pere), Clarence Kolb (Judge Reiser), Eve March (Grace), Emerson Treacy (Jules Frikke), Polly Moran (Mrs. McGrath), Will Wright (Judge Marcasson), Elizabeth Flournoy (Dr. Margaret Brodeigh).
Katharine Hepburn plays a lawyer married to a district attorney (Tracy). Her belief in women's rights leads her to defend a woman (Holliday) who shot her two-timing husband. Naturally the prosecutor turns out to be Tracy.
This is probably the best of the Tracy-Hepburn comedies, but Judy Holliday (in her first major film role) steals every scene in which she appears.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Aug 25, 1990; last played July 2013
Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Blondell, Gig Young, Dina Merrill, Neva Patterson.
Hepburn is the head of a large TV network's reference department; Tracy is the "methods engineer" who disrupts her quiet, orderly world by installing Emmy, an enormous electronic computer.
Made over 60 years ago, Desk Set is one of the first comedies to exploit the inherent absurdity of human beings battling with recalcitrant hardware and software.
first played at the Stanford Theatre May 26, 1957; last played July 2013
Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell, Sig Rumann, Victor Kilian, John Carroll, Allyn Joslyn.
In this aviation classic, the arrival of a stranded showgirl disrupts the lives of a group of American flyers in South America. Rita Hayworth had her first major success in this film, and Cary Grant demonstrates once again why he is a candidate for the greatest actor in the brief history of the movies.
Here is a chance to see (and hear) Richard Barthelmess, one of the silent era's most popular stars, twenty years after his performance in Broken Blossoms.
"[Cary Grant] is uproarious in every way, except how he talks, and that's where the film is not just ecstatic, precise, and real, but modern, absurd, and exhilirating. Here we are in 1939 as a genius sees that the medium is flimflam, and all the better for that." David Thomson
first played at the Stanford Theatre June 22, 1939; last played Apr 2015
Katharine Hepburn (Susan Vance), Cary Grant (David Huxley), Charles Ruggles (Maj. Horace Applegate), May Robson (Aunt Elizabeth), Walter Catlett (Constable Slocum), Barry Fitzgerald (Mr. Gogarty), Fritz Feld (Dr. Fritz Lehman), Virginia Walker (Alice Swallow), Leona Roberts (Mrs. Gogarty), George Irving (Alexander Peabody), Tala Birrell (Mrs. Lehman), Nissa (Baby), Asta (George).
Classic screwball comedy, with dizzy socialite Hepburn and perplexed paleontologist Grant in pursuit of his dinosaur bone and her escaped pet leopard.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 10, 1938; last played July 2018
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 Sep 2014
Robert Newton, Celia Johnson, John Mills, Kay Walsh, Amy Vaness, Alison Legatt, Eileen Erskine, John Blythe, Stanley Holloway, Guy Verney, Betty Fleetwood, Merle Tottenham, Laurence Olivier (introductory narration).
This Noel Coward hit (top box office of the year) interweaves the personal history of a working-class family with the great world events occurring around them. It is a kind of British Meet Me in St. Louis but without music.
"An immensely charming movie, with many tears and many moments of warmth." Baseline Movie Guide
first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct 16, 1993; last played Sep 2007
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 Dec 2018
Ethel Waters, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Rex Ingram, Kenneth Spencer, John W. ("Bubbles") Sublett, Ford L. ("Buck") Washington, Butterfly McQueen.
In this musical fable the Lord and Lucifer fight for the soul of Little Joe (Anderson). His wife Petunia (Waters) fights on the side of the angels; Georgia Brown (Horne) is on the other team.
This all-black musical, based on the 1940 Broadway show, was Minnelli's first film and a major critical success. Considering the premise of the story, with its danger of a naive and childlike portrayal of blacks, Minnelli was remarkably successful in his stated aim of "treating the story with affection rather than condescension."
The film offers a truly remarkable concentration of musical talent, including the Duke Ellington Orchestra. On Broadway, Little Joe had been played by Dooley Wilson (Sam in Casablanca). Songs include: Taking a Chance on Love, Honey in the Honeycomb, Cabin in the Sky, by Vernon Duke and John Latouche; Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe, Life's Full of Consequences, and L'il Black Sheep, by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg.
first played at the Stanford Theatre June 17, 1943; last played May 2011
Kim Novak (Madge Owens), William Holden (Hal Carter), Rosalind Russell (Rosemary Sydney), Betty Field (Flo Owens), Susan Strasberg (MIllie Owens), Cliff Robertson (Alan), Arthur O'Connell (Howard Bevins), Verna Felton (Mrs. Helen Potts), Reta Shaw (Linda Sue Breckenridge).
William Holden drifts into a sleepy Kansas town over the Labor Day weekend and steals his old friend's girl (Kim Novak).
Famous at the time for its frankness, Picnic now seems most remarkable for its cinematic grace and authentic rural atmosphere. The wonderfully nostalgic Labor Day picnic, and above all the slumberous Moonglow dancing sequence, make it one of the true cinematic treasures of the 1950s.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 1, 1990; last played Aug 2009
Jennifer Jones, Charles Boyer, Richard Haydn, Una O'Connor, Peter Lawford, Helen Walker, Reginald Gardiner, Reginald Owen, C. Aubrey Smith, Sara Allgood, Ernest Cossart, Florence Bates, Billy Bevan.
An English maid and plumber's niece who doesn't know her place meets a charming Czech political refugee writer.
This delightful story pairs Jennifer Jones and Charles Boyer (and various silly but loveable British characters). This was the last complete film directed by Ernst Lubitsch, and it has the simplicity and gentle humanity of a mature artist.
"A lovely, easy-going comedy, full of small surprising touches." Pauline Kael
first played at the Stanford Theatre July 27, 1946; last played Mar 2017
Peggy Ann Garner, James Dunn, Dorothy McGuire, Joan Blondell, Lloyd Nolan, Ted Donaldson, James Gleason, Ruth Nelson, John Alexander, Adeline de Walt-Reynolds, Charles Halton.
Absolutely splendid film about a bright young girl in a turn-of-the-century New York tenement family. Peggy Ann Garner won a special Oscar for her remarkable performance.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Apr 8, 1945; last played July 2012
Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph, Ann Carter, Eve March, Julia Dean, Elizabeth Russell, Erford Gage, Sir Lancelot.
A lonely little girl creates her own fantasy world, with a mysterious friend, a beautiful lady who could possibly be only a figment of her imagination.
This wonderfully poetic sequel to the sensationally successful Cat People is more of a childhood fantasy than a true horror picture, notwithstanding the lurid title given by the studio. The performance by 8-year-old Ann Carter is exquisite.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 6, 1991; last played Apr 2017
George Montgomery, Ann Rutherford, Glenn Miller and his Band, Lynn Bari, Carole Landis, Cesar Romero, Virginia Gilmore, Mary Beth Hughes, Nicholas Brothers, Tamara Geva, Frank Orth, Tex Beneke.
A naive young woman marries a trumpet player and tries to adjust to life on the road as an orchestra wife. This was Glenn Miller's second and final film.
Songs include Moonlight Serenade, Chattanooga Choo-Choo, and I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct 8, 1942; last played Feb 2012
Olivia de Havilland, Lew Ayres, Thomas Mitchell, Richard Long, Charles Evans, Gary Owen, Lela Bliss, Lester Allen.
A woman is suspected of murder, but did she do it, or is the killer her identical twin sister?
Olivia de Havilland plays both sisters brilliantly in this fascinating film noir, restored by the UCLA Film Archive.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 28, 2003; last played June 2016
Tyrone Power (Don Diego Veja), Basil Rathbone (Capt. Esteban Pasquale), Gail Sondergaard (Inez Quintero), J. Edward Bromberg (Don Luis Quintero), Linda Darnell (Lolita Qiontero), Eugene Pallette (Fray Felipe), Montagu Love (Don Alejandro Veja), Janet Beecher (Senora Isabelle Vega), Robert Lowery (Rodrigo), George Regas (Sgt. Gonzalez), Chris-Pin Martin (Turnkey), Belle Mitchell (Maria).
In this very successful sound version of the Fairbanks silent film, Tyrone Power, the consummate romantic swashbuckler, is a perfect Diego de Vega, cowardly fop by day, but dashing sword-fighting avenger by night.
Director Rouben Mamoulian showed that it is possible to create a remake of a great classic worthy of the original. This feat is remarkably rare.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Nov 27, 1940; last played May 2015
Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper, John Loder, Bonita Granville, Ilka Chase, Franklin Pangborn.
The awkward daughter of a dominating Boston society matron eventually finds happiness.
One of Hollywood's most shamelessly romantic pictures won the Academy Award for best musical score. According to Bette Davis, "Max understood more about drama than any of us."
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 13, 1943; last played Sep 2017
Ginger Rogers, David Niven, Charles Coburn, Frank Albertson, E. E. Clive, Ernest Truex, Ferike Boros.
After losing her job at the department store, Ginger finds a baby abandoned at the doorstep of the orphanage. Everybody assumes that she must be the unwed mother, including her former boss.
This comedy, RKO's biggest hit of 1939, demonstrated that Ginger Rogers could be sensational without singing or dancing.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Aug 16, 1939; last played Mar 2012
Fred MacMurray (Walter Neff), Barbara Stanwyck (Phyllis Dietrichson), Edward G. Robinson (Barton Keyes), Tom Powers (Mr. Dietrichson), Porter Hall (Mr. Jackson), Jean Heather (Lola Dietrichson), Byron Barr (Nino Zachette), Richard Gaines (Mr. Norton), Fortunio Bonanova (Sam Gorlopis), John Philliber (Joe Pete).
A suburban housewife (Stanwyck) ensnares an insurance salesman (MacMurray) into helping murder her husband for the insurance money.
This seminal masterpiece of the film noir genre was perfectly supported by a revolutionary Rózsa score that pulsates with bitter harmonic clashes. Edward G. Robinson's performance as the sympathetic insurance fraud investigator is especially memorable. Wilder defied studio conventions by shooting much of the film in locations around L.A., and the exteriors of the Glendale train station, a Melrose Avenue supermarket, and a Spanish stucco house in the Los Feliz Hills provide a fascinating glimpse of the city as it looked in the 40's.
"Every turn and twist is exactly calculated and achieves its effect with the simplest of means; this shrewd, smoothly tawdry thriller is one of the high points of 40s films." Pauline Kael
Print from the UCLA Film Archive, preserved from a nitrate fine grain master positive, with funding by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct 25, 1944; last played Oct 2016
Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray, John Barrymore, Una Merkel, Porter Hall, Edgar Kennedy, Lynn Overman, Irving Bacon, Fritz Feld, Richard Carle, John T. Murray, Tommy Dugan, Garry Owen, Toby Wing, Hattie McDaniel.
In this wonderful combination of screwball comedy, mystery, and courtroom drama, a chronic teller of fibs (Lombard) is married to an honest lawyer (MacMurray). She confesses to a crime she did not commit, and her husband dutifully tries to defend her.
John Barrymore gives a marvelous eccentric performance.
"The best comedy of its year. It is - more or less - about the murder of a lecherous business man who goes in for private secretaries; the heroine - an inveterate and charming liar played by Carole Lombard - pleads guilty to a murder she didn't commit because it seems easier to get off that way. The trial scene is a magnificent parody of all American trial scenes, and the picture succeeds in being funny from beginning to end." Graham Greene
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 2, 1938; last played Mar 2004