Suspense And Intrigue On The Big Screen

The 70th Anniversary of Casablanca afforded me the opportunity to realize one of my longings, to see Casablanca on the big screen, in a movie theatre. On March 21, select theatres had two showings of the classic movie. I rushed to the theatre only to come upon a sign taped to the box office window, “Casablanca: SOLD OUT.” My heart sank and I was beyond crushed. I remembered that one other theatre within a reasonable distance was participating in the anniversary showing.

I called them up and was relieved and ecstatic to find out they still had seats available! Off I sped (shh) to purchase my ticket. It had already began and I missed the beginning but seeing as I have seen it more times than I can count, I wasn’t too worried about it.

The experience of seeing this classic the way it was intended was incredible. I sat in my seat, knowing each line and character, but still with the awaited anticipation of what would happen next, smiling at the one liners and believing all the drama and betrayal.

When I’ve watched Casablanca it’s almost always been by myself, with the exception of a few ocassions of one other person. So the experience of watching it with others, in fact an entire theatre full of people, was very interesting. By today’s standards it is very dated and the lines and some scenes are cliche, so many chuckles were induced and a lot of out-of-place laughs. However, when this movie came out, these things were not cliche, they were quite original. Casablanca is so well-known and copied that it starts to be crushed under its own notariety. Which is really unfortunate.

There are plenty of sarcastic lines, digs, and one liners in the film with the intention of giving the audience a chuckle, but many of the times it happened during this particular showing were out of place and made my internal voice shout, “You people aren’t getting it!”

One particular scene where people seemed to take it light-hearted was  when the Germans are singing in the cafe, but Victor Lazlo has the band start “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem. This moment is no laughing matter and people were laughing at it! It is a symbolic view of the battle for France’s freedom and the defeat of Nazi repression. It also shows the pride and determination of the people fighting against the tyranny. How could anyone find that funny? Perhaps World War II is so far in the past and removed from most people that it only seems like a fiction portrayed on the screen and not a horrific reality that dominated the world for six years. But I digress.

Ovall, it was a great experience which I thoroughly enjoyed. It got me thinking how at least one theatre needs to have a showing or double feature of classic movies, even if it’s only one day a month.

I would swoon for the chance to see others on the big screeen, Gilda, City Lights, It Happened One Night, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Psycho. . . Too many to name! There is a place in San Diego, Cinema Under the Stars, that shows classic movies, but it is outdoor (which is actually pretty cool) with what look like lawn chairs and a not so big screen. Plus, it’s rather expensive. Though they do have a great schedule lined up for 2012. Many of my favorites are scheduled to be shown, but I just can’t justify $15, at least not more than once. With that list of movies on their schedule, how do I choose just one?

I did find another theatre where two nights a week they show an older movie. The best part? It’s only $5! Gaslamp 15 Reading Cinemas showed Citizen Kane (which I would have loved to have seen), All About Eve (that one too),West Side Story, and The Sound of Music in March. They have yet to put the schedule for April up, but when it does go up, I will be making an actual trip inside the theatre to watch some fabulous classic film upon its screen! The building is a beautiful one with some lovely architecture. Can’t wait to see the inside.

At least now I have a place to satisfy my yearning to enter the world of classic film on the big screen. The escape into a movie on a large screen is more encompassing and seducing than the small screen of a tv. I look forward to being overwhelmed and transported with some of the most intriguing and worthy characters to grace the screen.

What classic movies have you seen or would love to see on the big screen?

12 thoughts on “Suspense And Intrigue On The Big Screen

  1. One of the challenges we are facing here in PA is maintaining these classic movie theatres. Many of them have been converted into multi-purpose facilities and at least are still “with us” if not showing movies. Others are looking for the private sector and donations to retain their original purpose of showing films. Not many of them are left now…but we always try to get out and visit one of them on occasion to continue to show support for their retention. Those who have only ever been to a multiplex movie theatre have no idea of the charm and ambiance these classic locations can add to a movie-going experience. Some of them show classics…some first-run, current films. All of them are special and unique.


    • That’s great you still have the opportunity to visit some old theatres. It’sad how they (like so many things) get pushed aside and abandoned for “bigger, better, newer.” We have several small original theatres around here, I’m planning on doing a post specifically on them. However they don’t show classic movies, though one does do a regular showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”


  2. I saw Psycho in a Army theater, when it came out and it had to be the scariest movie I have ever seen. That was in the 60’s if I remember right. I have avoided thriller movies for the most part, except for Ghost Ship and that was just as scary.


  3. I had to settle for just buying as a big a TV as I could, our cinema prices are about £12 on avergae, so about $20 I guess? So I rarely go, it’s expensive to keep us off the streets here, I went the theatre at the weekend but the worst seat was £25, I spent the performance looking at the tops of the actors heads from a great distance, missed all their expressions and almost fell over the balcony a couple of time on their precarious Victorian staircases. Proper setas are about £60-£70. No wonder we’re raising a generation of degenerates if they can’t afford tto do anything.


  4. When the restored Metropolis came out, an online acquaintance in New England made some noise about going to it at an actual theatre, and I could but quiver with envy. I do likewise at your Casablanca tale, and would urge you to revel in the priviledge of living near a venue that gets up to such things… except you clearly do, with appropriate gusto.
    (Good heavens, what a late comment)


  5. Pingback: Celebrating 60 Years Of Playing In Puddles | Lovely Shades of Nostalgia

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