Saving the Silver Screen for Movies That Deserve It

I’ve been around for nearly 28 years now and I couldn’t be enjoying myself more.  Strictly from an entertainment aspect, my life has included witnessing the evolution of the home computer and the internet. I’m now living at a point where I can have almost any movie, song or book at my fingertips any time I want it.  It’s pretty great, but sometimes I’d like to take things backwards a bit.  Not for nostalgia’s sake, but to get that full experience.

Cinema is the perfect example.  I love watching movies in the theater, to the point that I’ll see a bad movie if it means I get the experience. Occasionally I get to see a good movie, and very rarely, I’ll get to see something great.  But theaters are always, with a few exceptions, showing new, untested movies.  The local megaplex is full of first run films that haven’t yet had to earn their place in theatrical history.

Films that have stood the test of time aren’t treated so nicely.  I can watch ‘Casablanca’ in the grainy glory of YouTube. And if I’m in the mood for ‘Citizen Kane,’ I only need to wait long enough for AMC to play it, complete with a logo in the lower right-hand corner.  I can get a pan & scan version of ‘Jaws’ on VHS and watch it on a 19-inch set with a single speaker, completely ignoring the intent of the film’s creators.

To me, anyway, it seems like these great films are the ones that deserve to be seen on the big screens.

I’ll never forget how different ‘The Wizard of Oz’ seemed on an enormous screen at Detroit’s Fox Theater, or watching ‘Ben-Hur’ the way it was intended to be shown at the Redford Theater.  I even got something extra out of ‘Shindler’s List’ when it was shown on a fairly small screen on the University of Michigan campus.

I’m not suggesting that the system is going to change.  Then again, I might be.  Since high definition televisions are ubiquitous, and on-demand services are satisfying a good chunk of the consumer base, maybe the theaters will finally fail, just like video rental stores.  At that point, maybe all theaters will become like the tiny old art theaters around college towns and major cities, showing the cream of the crop movies the way they were meant to be seen.

Maybe instead of remaking a movie like ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,’ the folks who run the show should be re-releasing the original so that new audiences can fall in love with Gene Wilder’s controlled insanity just as we did.  Instead of Steven Spielberg tackling ‘Oldboy’ for American audiences, maybe he should just fund a U.S. release of the film, and trust that the public is smart enough to watch something with subtitles.  Instead of a new version of ‘The Wolfman,’ why not screen the one that made the creature so famous?

It’s a dream, and not a very realistic one.  But it’s my dream.  Perhaps when June 11th rolls around, the moviegoing public should send a message.  Instead of shelling out $10 for a ticket to see ‘The A-Team’ or ‘The Karate Kid,’ let’s trek over to a theater we don’t normally frequent and put down our money for something good.  The Redford Theater here in Michigan is showing ‘The Producers’ for $4, preceded by a ‘Mr. Magoo’ short.  I’ll call that a winner any day.


  1. I’m 32, so I am too young to have seen Star Wars when it took the world by storm and opened a new avenue for cinematic entertainment, but I remember just how amazing it was when I saw the re-release in 1997! I knew the movie inside and out, having absorbed it into my subconscious, but the effect on the big screen was astounding! The first dive into the trench of the Death Star felt like a roller coaster!

    I wholly agree with the idea of releasing the old classics so new generations can experience them on the big screen the way they were designed, but unfortunately I just don’t see it becoming widespread. 🙁

  2. besch64

    I would LOVE to see Ben-Hur on the big screen. What a fantastic experience that sounds like it would be.

  3. SamBeckett

    I totally agree that they should release older movies – for me it would have to be Lawrence of Arabia or the Godfather

  4. Jane Morgan

    I love big screens. I love HD. But I hate movie theaters.

    I’ll take my young kids and their friends to maybe 3 movies per year in the theaters, only for parties.

    Otherwise I watch about 150 movies a year on my 50″ plasma. Which is starting to feel too small.

    Within the next year or two we’re going to install a home theater in our great room. 150″ screen. 1080p projector & PS3. That should be the best of both worlds. Then I’ll never set foot in a multiplex again.

    I only wish there were more movies on blu-ray, and that more of the transfers were of higher quality.

  5. I have a sweet Indi theater near me, The Moxie, that often shows old flicks. Last one that I remember is “Gone With the Wind”. They basically have a really nice home theater set up, a high end one.


  6. Scott

    If you’re in the Baltimore/DC area, the AFI has a great theater. Three screens, two of which usually show new art house films… but they’re always having several revival series. Their big theater is an older theater which has been restored pretty nicely with a decent size screen. I’ve seen many of my all-time favorite movies there (Raiders of the Lost Ark, 2001, Empire Strikes Back, Jaws, Magnolia, North by Northwest, Alien, etc. I’m seeing Rashomon and Children of Men there on Tuesday!). They show Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm every summer. Screw going on vacation, that theater is one of my favorite places in the world. They even showed Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan last year during a 1980’s series!

  7. SamBeckett

    Hey Scott,

    Lawrence of Arabia is one of my favorite movies of all time.

    What is the full name of the theater – I may look it up and take a trip this summer.

  8. I will be seeing the newly restored version of Metropolis in a theater Friday night, complete with live orchestral accompaniment. Does that qualify? 🙂

  9. SamBeckett

    Scott – I think i found it…but Lawrence is not listed as of yet. But thanks for the heads up

  10. Mark Luty

    I remember some years back. For a limmited time a few theaters showed the restored version of spartacus. I wish it would come back again on the big screen. It’s just not the same at home. Maybe for some with a projector. It’s still nice to see the the crowd’s reaction to some to the action on the screen.