The Master of Suspense understood more completely than any other director how to manipulate the compulsive emotions of an audience in a darkened theatre. But there was much more to Hitchcock than suspense. His playful visual style and humor were evident already in his early films, and he made some of Hollywood's most intensely romantic pictures, such as Notorious and Vertigo.
We have shown these films many times at the Stanford Theatre, and we will show them many times in the future. They will never grow old, but this might be a good opportunity to introduce your friends to the shared pleasure of watching great classic moviesd in a classic movie palace. They don't make movies or movie theatres the way they used to.
The Stanford Theatre is dedicated to bringing back the movie-going experience of Hollywood's Golden Age. 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.)
Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis, John Williams, Charles Vanel, Brigitte Auber, Jean Martinelli, Georgette Anys, Roland Lessaffre, René Blancard.
Cary Grant plays a retired cat-burglar who is suspected of a series of jewel thefts committed by a copy-cat.
More romantic comedy than suspense thriller, the film was made on location on the French Riviera, where Grace Kelly met Prince Rainier.
"Grace Kelly actually looks alive, and she's sexier than she is in anything else." Pauline Kael
"Sex on the screen should be suspenseful, I feel. If sex is too blatant or obvious, there's no suspense." Hitchcock
Hitchcock's cameo appearance is on a bus, next to Cary Grant.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 14, 1955; last played Mar 2013
Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Louis Calhern, Leopoldine Konstantin, Reinhold Schunzel, Moroni Olsen, Ivan Triesault, Alexis Minotis.
U.S. agent Cary Grant enlists the help of notorious party girl Ingrid Bergman to infiltrate a ring of Nazis in South America.
Notorious is without doubt one of the supreme creations of Hollywood's golden age. Many persons (including Truffaut) regard it as Hitchcock's greatest film, and it is a leading candidate for top rank among the films of Ingrid Bergman and of Cary Grant. In any case, it is the third most popular film at the Stanford Theatre (topped only by Casablanca and Gone With the Wind).
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 5, 1947; last played Oct 2014
Ray Milland, John Williams, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, Anthony Dawson.
A man plots to have his wealthy wife killed, but when his plan backfires he frames her.
"I should mention that this is one of the pictures I see over and over again. I enjoy it more every time I see it. Basically it's a dialogue picture, but the cutting, the rhythm, and the direction of the players are so polished that one listens to each sentence religiously. It isn't all that easy to command the audience's undivided attention for a continuous dialogue. I suspect that here again the real achievement is that something very difficult has been carried out in a way that makes it seem quite easy." Truffaut
Cameo appearance in a college photo on wall.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 14, 1992; last played Mar 2013
Nova Pilbeam, Derrick de Marney, Percy Marmont, Edward Rigby, Mary Clare, John Longden, George Curzon, Basil Radford, Pamela Carme, George Merritt, J.H. Roberts.
A quarrel leaves a woman dead. Her body washes up on the beach, a raincoat belt wrapped tightly around her neck. The prime suspect is the owner of the belt, the dead woman's gigolo who escapes the authorities and enlists the aid of the daughter of a local constable in seeking out the real murderer.
The innocent charm of this delightful film makes it even more enjoyable than some of Hitchcock's later masterpieces. Highly recommended!
first played at the Stanford Theatre Apr 30, 1990; last played Feb 2013
Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Michael Wilding, Margaret Leighton, Cecil Parker, Denis O'Dea, Jack Watling, Harcourt Williams, John Ruddock, Ronald Adam.
A titled Irish girl elopes with her father's groom amidst scandal and tragedy, ending up in Australia. Years pass, and a childhood friend pays a visit, only to find she has changed dramatically, and her household is strangely unsettling.
A period film set in 19th century Australia, this was a box-office failure, due in part to Ingrid Bergman's enormous salary. Some critics considered it a masterpiece, others thought it was simply a flop, but it has enjoyed a growing reputation with more recent critics.
"A rich account of emotional self-sacrifice." David Thomsen
first played at the Stanford Theatre May 14, 1990; last played Mar 2000
Joseph Cotton, Teresa Wright, Hume Cronyn, Macdonald Carey, Patricia Collings, Henry Travers, Edna May Wonacutt, Wallace Ford.
A young woman gradually discovers the shocking truth: that her charming visiting uncle may be the notorious Merry Widow murderer.
The film was shot on location in Santa Rosa (highly unusual for 1943). The younger daughter is played by a Santa Rosa girl whose father ran the local grocery store. Thornton Wilder's screenplay captures the flavor of small-town America.
Tiomkin's score is great fun, twisting the "Merry Widow Waltz" into a phantasmagoria.
Hitchcock claimed this was his favorite.
Hitchcock (cameo appearance as a bridge player on the train):
He's a killer with an ideal; he's one of those murderers who feel that they have a mission to destroy. It's quite possible that those widows deserved what they got, but it certainly wasn't his job to do it. There is a moral judgement in the film... Uncle Charlie loved his niece, but not as much as she loved him. And yet she has to destroy him. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: `You destroy the thing you love.'
first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 7, 1992; last played Nov 2012
James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Raymond Burr, Judith Evelyn, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, Ross Bagdasarian, Georgine Darcy, Sara Berner, Frank Cady.
A reporter confined to his apartment with a broken leg passes his time watching the neighbors from his rear window.
"To my mind, Rear Window is probably your very best screenplay in all respects: the construction, the unity of inspiration, the wealth of details." Truffaut
"He's a real Peeping Tom. [A critic] complained that Rear Window was a horrible film because the hero spent all of his time peeping out of the window. What's so horrible about that? Sure, he's a snooper, but aren't we all?" Hitchcock
"We're all voyeurs to some extent, if only when we see an intimate film. And James Stewart is exactly in the position of a spectator looking at a movie." Truffaut
Cameo appearance winding a clock.
first played at the Stanford Theatre July 19, 1987; last played Mar 2013
Priscilla Lane, Robert Cummings, Otto Kruger, Alan Baxter, Clem Bevans, Norman Lloyd, Alma Kruger, Vaughan Glaser, Dorothy Peterson, Ian Wolfe.
An innocent aircraft worker is accused of sabotage and must find the guilty person in order to clear himself. The famous finale takes place on top of the Statue of Liberty.
"Still, there's a serious error in this scene. If we'd had the hero instead of the villain hanging in mid-air, the audience's anguish would have been much greater." Hitchcock
"Probably, but the scene is so powerful that the public can't help being terrified just the same." Truffaut
Cameo appearance at a newstand.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 5, 1992; last played Nov 2012
Robert Walker, Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll, Patricia Hitchcock, Marian Lorne, Howard St. John, Jonathan Hale, Laura Elliott, John Brown.
In one of Hitchcock's most fascinating films, a sympathetic psychopath (Robert Walker) ensnares a champion tennis player (Farley Granger) into a murder pact.
This film is noteworthy for Robert Walker's remarkably subtle portrayal of the demonic Bruno, who is one of Hitchcock's greatest creations.
Tiomkin's score is especially effective in the famous tennis match, alternating the musical themes of the two characters.
"One of the best things... is the explosion, with the follow-shots on feet going one way and then the other. There are also the crisscrossing rails. There's a sort of symbolic effect in the way they meet and separate." - François Truffaut
"A key exposition of the madman hero." David Thomson
Cameo appearance boarding train with double bass.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jul 8, 1951; last played Mar 2013
Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty, Cecil Parker, Linden Travers, Mary Clare, Naunton Wayne, Basil Radford, Emile Boreo, Philip Leaver.
A lady mysteriously vanishes from a train. The other passengers deny that she ever existed, but a young woman is determined to find her. Hitchcock's last great British film is one of the most consistently engaging films anyone ever made.
"The quintessence of screen suspense." Pauline Kael
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 22, 1990; last played Feb 2013
James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore, Henry Jones, Raymond Bailey, Ellen Corby, Konstantin Shayne, Lee Patrick, Paul Bryar, Margaret Brayton.
A San Francisco man engages a detective to investigate his wife's unusual fantasy that she comes from a different time. Widely regarded as Hitchcock's greatest masterpiece, Vertigo is a film that deserves to be seen over and over. Here is another chance!
Despite Hitchcock's outspoken reservations about her, Kim Novak gave one of the greatest performances in the history of the cinema.
The film was photographed in and near San Francisco. If you are inspired to make a pilgrimage to San Juan Bautista, you will discover that the actual mission does not have a tower.
"That whole erotic aspect of the picture is fascinating... when Stewart hauled Kim Novak out of the water... he takes her to his place, where we find her asleep in his bed. As she gradually comes to, there's an implication, though it's not specifically stated, that he's probably taken the girl's clothes off and has seen her in the nude. The rest of that scene is superb, as Kim Novak walks around with her toes sticking out of his bathrobe and then settles down by the fire, with Stewart pacing back and forth behind her." Truffaut
"So it is a masterpiece and an endless mystery — a love story, yet a hate story, too… If you are moved by this film, you are a creature of cinema." David Thomson
Hitchcock makes his cameo appearance crossing the street.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jun 15, 1958; last played Mar 2013
Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, Shirley MacLaine, Mildred Natwick, Mildred Dunnock, Jerry Mathers, Royal Dano, Parker Fennelly, Barry Macollum, Dwight Marfield, Leslie Woolf.
"The trouble with Harry is... he's dead!" was a publicity tag line for this black comedy. When Harry's body turns up in the woods, several people assume they are responsible for his demise.
Beautifully filmed on location in Vermont in the Fall. This was Shirley MacLaine's first movie.
"The whole humor of the picture hinges on a single device: an attitude of disconcerting nonchalance. The characters discuss the corpse as casually as if they were talking about a pack of cigarettes." Truffaut
"That's the idea. Nothing amuses me so much as understatement." Hitchcock
Cameo appearance walking past outdoor art exhibit.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 19, 1992; last played Oct 2009
Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Jessi Royce Landis, Leo G. Carroll, Philip Ober, Joseph Hutchinson, Martin Landau, Adam Williams, Edward Platt, Robert Ellenstein, Les Tremayne.
In Hitchcock's most successful blending of romance and suspense, and one of Hollywood's most enduring classics, mild-mannered advertising executive Cary Grant answers the wrong page one afternoon and finds himself embroiled with spies, murderers, the FBI, and Eva Marie Saint — which only gives Hitchcock the chance to display some of his most extravagant fantasies, such as the crop dusting scene and the Mt. Rushmore climax.
"Cinema, approached in this way, becomes a truly abstract art, like music... It's obvious that the fantasy of the absurd is a key ingredient in your film-making formula." François Truffaut
"The fact is I practice absurdity quite religiously." Hitchcock
"Since that [crop-dusting] scene doesn't move the action forward, it's the kind of concept that would simply never occur to a screenwriter; only a director could dream up an idea like that." Truffaut
Hitchcock appears crossing the street.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Jan 24, 1990; last played Mar 2013
Madeleine Carroll, Robert Donat, Lucie Mannheim, Godfrey Tearle, Peggy Ashcroft, John Laurie, Helen Haye, Wylie Watson, Frank Cellier, Peggy Simpson.
When a woman stumbles into his room with a knife in her back, a Canadian vacationing in London finds himself a police suspect. He has only one clue to clear himself: find the secret of the 39 steps. Seeking to prove his innocence, he travels to Scotland and becomes entangled with a spy ring and — even better — Madeleine Carroll.
This film, remarkable for its humor and suspense, captivated audiences everywhere.
"Simply one of the best films of its genre" Baseline Movie Guide
first played at the Stanford Theatre Sep 4, 1935; last played Feb 2013
Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright, Ethel Griffies, Charles McGraw, Ruth McDevitt, Joe Mantell, Doodles Weaver, Richard Deacon.
Birds begin to take over a small oceanside town in northern California, launching mysterious attacks on the humans who live there.
The Birds took three years to complete, due to technical requirements and special effects. Cary Grant turned down the lead. Filmmaker Federico Fellini considered The Birds "One of the great films of all time."
Bernard Herrmann, who composed many memorable scores for Hitchcock films, also created every bird sound in this film.
"The story construction follows the three basic rules of classic tragedy: unity of place, and of time, and of action. All of the action takes place within two days' time in Bodega Bay. The birds are seen in ever growing numbers, and they become increasingly dangerous as the action progresses." Truffaut
"An audacious use of science fiction apocalypse to dramatize intimate emotional insecurity." David Thomson
Cameo appearance walking two small dogs.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Mar 30, 1992; last played Apr 2013
Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntyre, Lurene Tuttle, Simon Oakland, Frank Albertson, Patricia Hitchcock.
Hitchcock's most notorious and terrifying film. A lonely young man and his mysterious mother run a small roadside motel where people check in... but don't always check out. Taking a shower was never the same again after 1960.
Psycho was shot by a television unit at a cost of $800,000. The notorious shower scene took 7 days to shoot, has 70 camera setups, and lasts 45 seconds on screen. What we see and what we think we see are two different things: the knife never touches the body.
When originally released, no late-comers were admitted once the film had started, and audiences were asked not to reveal the ending to their friends.
"Psycho has a very interesting construction and that game with the audience was fascinating. I was directing the viewers. You might say I was playing them, like an organ... I take pride in the fact that Psycho, more than any of my other pictures, is a film that belongs to film-makers... The way in which it was told caused audiences all over the world to react and become emotional." Hitchcock
"Despite decades of parody and imitation, this picture has lost none of its power to manipulate auidences' emotions. Pure filmmaking at its finest." Leonard Maltin
Cameo appearance on sidewalk in Texas hat.
Important notice: Many who first saw Psycho in their youth have reported lasting emotional disturbances. Parents are cautioned, therefore, against bringing young children to this film.
first played at the Stanford Theatre Aug 21, 1960; last played Apr 2013