Peninsula film lovers will soon be able to once again catch a classic movie and hear the Wurlitzer play when the Stanford Theatre reopens on July 9 after a closure of over two years. The downtown Palo Alto movie palace on Monday announced its long-awaited reopening, posting a summer 2022 schedule on its Facebook page and website.
The Stanford was among the first Peninsula businesses to temporarily close in March 2020, just ahead of the shelter-at-home orders. Theater management took the opportunity of the closure to make behind-the-scenes safety upgrades, which seem to have finished up right on schedule, according to a message posted in June 2021 on the theater's Facebook page. The message announced improvements to the theater's ventilation and heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems, as well as seismic upgrades, with an estimated reopening in summer 2022.
While The Stanford often hosts festivals highlighting the works of certain actors or directors — a series of screenings showcasing the works of director and screenwriter Akira Kurosawa was cut short in March 2020 — the theater is welcoming audiences back with a diverse schedule packed with both favorites and some less familiar titles. The theater reopens July 9 and 10 with the swanky Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers double bill "Top Hat" and "The Gay Divorcee," followed by two comedies starring Deanna Durbin, "It Started With Eve" and "100 Men and a Girl" (July 14-15); and a Humphrey Bogart twofer, with the beloved "Casablanca" and the film-noir thriller "In a Lonely Place" (July 16-17).
Other highlights include: back-to-back Judy Garland musicals with "Meet Me in St. Louis" and "The Wizard of Oz" (Aug. 6-7); dual skewerings of high-society folks with the comedies "The Philadelphia Story" and "Dinner at Eight" (Aug. 13-14) and two Alfred Hitchcock double bills ratcheting up the suspense, first with "Rear Window" and "To Catch a Thief" (July 28-29) and "North by Northwest" and "Notorious" (Aug. 27-28).
The theater's Wurlitzer organ will get a workout when it accompanies two days of silent comedies: Smalltown boy Harold Lloyd runs into big city trouble in "Safety Last" on Sept. 1 and Buster Keaton's plans go spectacularly off the rails in "The General" on Sept. 2. The pairing of "Roman Holiday" and "Bread, Love and Dreams (Pane, Amore e Fantasia)" offers a late-summer romantic Italian getaway on Sept. 3 and 4, and fittingly, the summer concludes with the director whose celebration was interrupted in 2020, as Kurosawa's "Ran" closes out the schedule on Sept. 15 and 16.
The Stanford Theatre's summer schedule runs July 9-Sept. 16. Find the full lineup of films at stanfordtheatre.org.