In August we celebrate the great Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, whose films cover an astonishing range, from period samurai, to advanture, to film noir detective, to social criticism, to romance. He was an artist of universal humanity.
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.)
Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert, Hartley Power, Harcourt Williams.
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 Aug 2014
Ronald Colman, Madeleine Carroll, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Mary Astor, C. Aubrey Smith, Raymond Massey, David Niven, Byron Foulger, Montagu Love.
An Englishman on vacation in Ruritania helps defeat a rebel plot by impersonating the local king, who is his exact double. He presides at the coronation of the absent king, foils the king's enemies, romances the king's intended, but, true to his code of honor, departs in the end.
This splendid adventure story, with spectacular duels between Colman and Fairbanks, is one of the great treasures of the cinema, and one of the most entertaining films ever made.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Dec 26, 1937; last played Apr 2012
Ronald Colman, Elizabeth Allan, Edna May Oliver, Blanche Yurka, Reginald Owen, Basil Rathbone, Donald Woods, Walter Catlett, H.B. Warner, Isabel Jewell, Henry B. Walthall, Claude Gillingwater, Fritz Leiber, Lucill LaVerne, Tully Marshall, Billy Bevan, E.E. Clive.
This famous film version of Dickens' novel is widely regarded as Ronald Colman's masterpiece. Producer David O. Selznick's fidelity to the original and remarkable production values lend support to Colman's complex and deeply human portrayal of the disillusioned Sydney Carton, who finds fulfillment in dying for love: "It is a far, far better thing I do now than I have ever done."
first played at the Stanford Theatre Feb 13, 1936; last played May 2010
Ronald Colman, Basil Rathbone, Frances Dee, Ellen Drew, C. V. France, Heather Thatcher, Henry Wilcoxon, Sidney Toler.
Preston Sturges wrote the screenplay for this non-musical version of The Vagabond King, with Colman as the poet François Villon. Basil Rathbone is outstanding as the reptilian King Louis XI.
This remarkable film totally captivated the audience during the Ronald Colman festival in 1991. At that time the only available print was nitrate, so the Stanford Theatre Foundation decided to fund the preservation of the film at the UCLA Film Archive.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Nov 10, 1938; last played May 2010
Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, Teresa Wright, Richard Carlson, Charles Dingle, Dan Duryea, Patricia Collinge, Charles Dingle, Carl Benton Reid, Jessie Grayson, John Marriott, Russell Hicks, Lucien Littlefield, Virginia Brissac
A shrewd, ruthless woman will stop at nothing to get what she wants. In one of her greatest roles, Bette Davis offers a fascinating and compelling portrayal of the malignant Regina Giddens.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Nov 16, 1941; last played June 2008
Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, James Stephenson, Gale Sondergaard, Sen Yung, Frieda Inescort, Bruce Lester, Elizabeth Earl, Cecil Kellaway, Doris Lloyd, Willia Fung, Tetsu Komai.
The wife of a rubber plantation owner kills a man and becomes involved in blackmail. This superior melodrama (from a story by Somerset Maugham) gave Bette Davis one of her very best roles.
To match the Malayan setting, Steiner added an Oriental flavor to his lush symphonic style. According to the Hollywood Reporter, "The musical background of Max Steiner is truly his masterpiece, and a great contributing factor to the success of the show."
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 2, 1941; last played Dec 2011
Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Lillian Bond, Ernest Thesiger, Eva Moore, Raymond Massey, Gloria Stewart, John Dudgeon, Brember Wills.
One dark and stormy night, a group of travelers become stranded in an old dark house with a family of lunatics.
This marvellous horror comedy was Charles Laughton's first American picture.
"Uniquely bizarre, wonderfully funny." Baseline Movie Guide
first played at the Stanford Theatre Nov 4, 2000; last played Sep 2014
Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan, Herbert Bunston, Frances Dade, Joan Standing.
A mysterious count is revealed to be a vampire.
"Lugosi's Dracula was an original that the cinema never attempted to match... he could be frightening in a way that other actors in horror never achieved: because he appeared to believe in the literal meaning of the films, and because it was possible to be persuaded that he was himself possessed." David Thomson
first played at the Stanford Theatre July 11, 1931; last played Sep 2014
Clifton Webb, Louis Jourdan, Dorothy McGuire, Jean Peters, Maggie McNamara, Rossano Brazzi.
In one of the best remembered films of the 1950's, three American women find romance while working in Rome. This was Hollywood's first Cinemascope movie made on location in a romantic foreign setting. It made the Fountain of Trevi a prime destination for a whole generation of American tourists. The title tune (sung by Frank Sinatra) won the Oscar for Best Song of 1954.
first played at the Stanford Theatre June 26, 1954; last played Nov 2009
Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetary, Nina Foch.
American painter Jerry Mulligan (Kelly) pursues Parisian gamine Lise Bouvier (Caron). Best Picture of 1951 and six other Oscars. The famous ballet (inspired by Renoir, Rousseau, Toulouse-Lautrec, and other French painters) is one of the greatest artistic creations in the cinema.
first played at the Stanford Theatre June 22, 1990; last played Aug 2012
Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Alan Mowbray, Sara Allgood, Gladys Cooper, Henry Wilcoxon, Heather Angel, Halliwell Hobbes, Gilbert Emery, Miles Mander.
Based on Lord Admiral Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton's historic and tragic love affair, this was Winston Churchill's favorite movie.
first played at the Stanford Theatre July 12, 1941; last played Nov 2005
Alastair Sim, Sally Gray, Trevor Howard, Rosamund John, Leo Genn, Megs Jenkins, Judy Campbell, Ronald Ward, Moore Marriott.
This small gem of a suspense comedy stars Alastair Sim as Inspector Cockrill of Scotland Yard, who must solve a series of murders in a rural British hospital.
"An unfairly overlooked delight in the annals of British film history... Watching this film is like sitting up late on a stormy night reading your first Agatha Christie novel." Baseline Movie Guide
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 15, 1948; last played May 2010
Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Hampden, John Williams, Martha Hyer, Joan Vohs, Marcel Dalio, Marcel Hillaire, Nella Walker, Francis X. Bushman, Ellen Corbey.
In this wonderfully romantic picture Audrey Hepburn plays Sabrina, the chauffeur's daughter on a Long Island estate. She loves the playboy son (Holden) of her father's boss, but his stuffy elder brother (Bogart) surprises everyone in the end.
Bogart was not happy while making this film, but we are grateful that he did it.
Isn't it Romantic is the theme song of the Stanford Theatre.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct 13, 1954; last played June 2013
Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida. Robert Morley, Peter Lorre, Edward Underdown, Ivor Barnard, Bernard Lee, Marco Tulli, Mario Perroni, Alex Pochet, Aldo Silvani, Giulio Donnini, Saro Urzi, Juan de Landa, Manuel Serano, Mimo Poli.
A cast of unconventional characters seeks an elusive plot of land in Africa, which supposedly contains uranium. This "screwball noir" (shot on location in Italy) was neglected on its first release but now is regarded as a cult classic.
"It succeeded in some original (and perhaps dangerously marginal) way by finding a style of its own." Pauline Kael
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 31, 1998; last played Aug 2013
Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel, Richard Waring, George Coulouris, John Alexander, Jerome Cowan.
A beautiful but vain woman marries a humble man who loves her selflessly, even though she does not return his feelings.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 10, 1944; first showing by the Stanford Theatre Foundation
Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, Frances Dee, Kay Johnson, Reginald Denny, Alan Hale, Reginald Sheffield, Reginald Owen, Desmond Roberts.
In this celebrated Somerset Maugham tale, a sensitive medical student is obsessed with a selfish, scheming waitress.
Bette Davis' fierce, fearless performance was early evidence of her unique screen personality.
"Mildred was the first leading-lady villainess ever played on a screen for real." Bette Davis
"Davis makes her role work through sheer will; she doesn't let it happen, she makes it happen — and boy, you'd better watch!" Pauline Kael
"I made it very clear that Mildred was not going to die of a dread disease looking as if a deb had missed her noon nap... Mildred emerged as a reality — as immediate as a newsreel and as starkly real as a pestilence." Bette Davis
first played at the Stanford Theatre July 28, 1934; last played July 2013
Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Philip Alford, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy, Ruth White, Brock Peters.
Gregory Peck received an Academy Award for his performance as Atticus Finch in this story of a widowed lawyer confronting racism in a small southern town, as seen through the eyes of his two children.
"The other great appeal of the film is owed to Mary Badham, who gives one of the finest performances by a child in American cinema.." David Thomson
first played at the Stanford Theatre June 19, 1998; last played Oct 2011
Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, John Williams, Henry Darnell, Elsa Lanchester, Norma Vanden, Una O'Connor, Ian Wolfe.
Agatha Christie courtroom thriller (with surprise ending) about a London barrister who takes on a seemingly hopeless case. Laughton is superb.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 5, 1958; last played Apr 2013
Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor, Don Taylor, Billie Burke, Moroni Olsen, Leo G. Carroll, Taylor Holmes, Melville Cooper.
Stanley T. Banks (Tracy) comes to terms with the marriage of his daughter Kay (Taylor). You may have seen the remake, but there is just no substitute for the genuine article. The tremendous success of this film, which Minnelli completed in one month, demonstrated beyond any doubt that his genius was not limited to musicals.
"The American domestic comedy par excellence." Halliwell
first played at the Stanford Theatre July 13, 1950; last played Apr 2011
Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea.
A middle-aged cashier (who paints on Sundays) is destroyed by his passion for a beautiful young woman.
This relentlessly pessimistic film is made irresistable by its direction and cinematography, and by the lush sensuality of Joan Bennett. It's like taking arsenic in a chocolate sundae.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 9, 1997; last played Mar 2009
Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde White, Gladys Cooper, Jeremy Britt, Theodore Bikel, Isobel Elson, Mona Washbourne, Walter Burke.
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 Aug 2014
James Stewart, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, Millard Mitchell, Charles Drake, John McIntire, Will Geer, Jay C. Flippen, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, John Alexander, Steve Brodie.
A man on a quest for vengeance wins a prize Winchester rifle in a shooting contest. In a series of episodes, the rifle passes through various hands.
The first western directed by Anthony Mann introduced a new, intense, complex, even ferocious Stewart. The Stewart-Mann partnership produced eight films, including five classic westerns.
first played at the Stanford Theatre July 23, 1950; last played Nov 2011
James Stewart, Walter Brennan, Ruth Roman, Corinne Calvet, John McIntire.
A cowboy brings his herd to sell in Alaska. After demonstrating his skill at looking after his own interests in a hostile world, he finally decides to take a stand for civilization.
The Canadian Rockies provide a striking background, overshadowing the human struggles.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 22, 1994; last played June 2008
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 Feb 2010
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 Mar 2010
Toshiro Mifune, Eijiro Tono, Kamatari Fujiwara, Takashi Shimura, Seizaburo Kawazu, Isuzu Yamada, Hiroshi Tachikawa.
Met at the entrance to a deserted village by a stray mutt sauntering past with a severed hand in his jaws, wandering ronin Mifune realizes a skilled Yojimbo (bodyguard) could rake in the ryo in this town. And after checking out the sake merchant's thugs squaring off against the silk merchant's goon squad, twice as much, if he hires out to both sides.
Venice Festival acting prize to Mifune.
"The best samurai film ever made… a treasure trove of attitude." J. Hoberman
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 12, 1998; last played Mar 2010
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 Mar 2010
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 Mar 2010
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 Mar 2010
Toshiro Mifune, Isuzu Yamada.
In Kurosawa's classic adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, set in sixteenth century Japan, General Mifune gallops through a seemingly endless forest to his encounter with a single witch, then, as a dense fog lifts — within the shot — finds himself before a looming castle. With the legendary Isuzu Yamada as his Lady, this is a partnership of titans. Mifune's takeover after the murder, and the castle's bird invasion are powerful and fascinating additions to the text in this heavily Noh-influenced adaptation. Throne of Blood is a haunting, violent and frightening movie, with a truly horrifying ending.
"It has the great Isuzu Yamada washing her bloody hands, and West or East, there may never be a more chilling Lady Macbeth." Pauline Kael
first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct 9, 1998; last played Mar 2010
Toshiro Mifune, Misa Uehara, Minoru Chiaki.
A headstrong princess and her stoic general, fleeing through enemy territory with her family's hidden gold, are joined by two bumbling and constantly bickering farmers. Probably Kurosawa's most dazzling exercise in pure filmmmaking, this exciting and richly comic live-action fairy tale for adults was the first Japanese film in Cinemascope. Toshiro Mifune, in perhaps his most purely swashbuckling vehicle, performed all his own stunts. The Hidden Fortress was George Lucas' acknowledged chief inspiration for Star Wars.
"Grand, bold movie-making." Roger Ebert
first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct 9, 1998; last played Mar 2010
Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens, Jack Kelly, Richard Anderson, Earl Holliman, Robby the Robot.
A team of men land on planet Altair-4 and discover a scientist and his daughter, in a story inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest. The special effects (including Robby the Robot and the Id monster), wild scenic design and weird electronic music highlight one of the most popular science-fiction films ever made.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Aug 17, 1991; last played Oct 2011
Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux, Alan Young, Sebastian Cabot, Tom Helmore, Whit Bissell, Doris Lloyd.
A film version of H.G. Wells' famous novel, ranging from Victorian times to A.D. 802,701.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Aug 17, 1991; last played Oct 2011
Michael Redgrave, Michael Denison, Edith Evans, Joan Greenwood, Dorothy Tutin, Margaret Rutherford, Miles Malleson, Richard Wattis.
An elegant adaptation of Oscar Wilde's play, which Pauline Kael terms "a perfect comedy— the most preposterous work of art ever written."
first played at the Stanford Theatre Nov 17, 1993; last played Feb 2011
George Sanders, Hurd Hatfield, Donna Reed, Angela Lansbury, Peter Lawford.
A hedonistic young man remains eternally youthful, while the portrait of himself (which he keeps hidden in the attic) shows his true age and depravity. This film has several Technicolor inserts, including the truly shocking sight of Dorian's portrait in all its horror. George Sanders is superb as young Dorian's mentor, particularly when he delivers such lines as "There's only one way to get rid of temptation, and that's to yield to it"
first played at the Stanford Theatre Aug 16, 1945; last played Feb 2011
Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Mel Ferrer, Herbert Lom, John Mills, Oscar Homolka, Wilfrid Lawson, Vittorio Gassman, Anita Ekberg, Helmut Dantine, Milly Vitale, Barry Jones.
This ambitious film, directed by the great King Vidor, has much to recommend it, including Technicolor epic spectacle and especially Audrey Hepburn's radiant performance as Natasha.
"It's about Russia." Woody Allen
first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct. 24, 1956; last played Sep 2010
Judy Holliday, Dean Martin, Fred Clark, Eddie Foy, Jr., Jean Stapleton, Ruth Storey, Frank Gorshin.
A switchboard operator at a telephone answering service takes too much interest in the personal lives of her clients.
Judy Holliday had an extraordinary charismatic appeal. linked with great intelligence and comic instinct. In this, her last film, she repeats the role she played over 800 times on Broadway in the hit musical.
Songs include Bells Are Ringing, It's a Perfect Relationship, Hello, It's a Simple Little System, Do It Yourself, Better Than a Dream, Mu-cha-cha, Just in Time Drop That Name, The Party's Over, The Midas Touch, and I'm Goin' Back.
first played at the Stanford Theatre July 27, 1990; last played Sep 2010
Judy Holliday, Jack Lemmon, Peter Lawford, Michael O'Shea.
An unknown model comes to New York City and rents a billboard on Columbus Circle to display her name in giant letters in order to experience life as a celebrity. Once you've seen this film you can never forget the name Gladys Glover nor the actress Judy Holliday.
"Judy was the greatest actress I've ever worked with; absolutely sensational." Jack Lemmon
Jack Lemmon made his film debut as the documentary film maker and honest guy who loves her; John Saxon (also in his film debut) has a small uncredited role as a bystander in the park.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Aug 21, 1991; last played Oct 2009
Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brynner, Helen Hayes, Martita Hunt, Akim Tamiroff, Felix Aylmer, Ivan Desny.
A scheming Russian general (Brynner) grooms an unknown Parisian woman (Bergman) to impersonate the long-lost Grand Duchess Anastasia, whom she resembles, in hopes of gaining access to a large fortune. Could she be the real Anastasia?
Bergman's triumphant success in this film (for which she received her second Oscar) heralded her return to Hollywood after an absence of seven years.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 18, 1957; last played Apr 2013
Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Peter Lorre, Janis Paige, George Tobias, Jules Munshin, Joseph Buloff, Wim Sonneveld.
Astaire's last major musical (and the last film directed by Rouben Mamoulian) is a musical version of Ninotchka, with songs by Cole Porter.
Songs: Too Bad (You Can't Go Back to Moscow); Paris Loves Lovers; Siberia; Stereophonic Sound; Satin and Silk; It's a Chemical Reaction, That's All; All of You; Silk Stockings; Without Love; Fated to be Mated; The Red Blues; The Ritz Roll and Rock.
first played at the Stanford Theatre July 22, 1987; last played Apr 2013