Tampa film fans know that when it comes to beloved classics, there is no more authentic experience than seeing them in the city’s majestic movie palace. For more than 25 years, the community has flocked to Tampa Theatre on hot Sunday afternoons to enjoy Summer Classics as they were meant to be seen: on the big screen, surrounded by friends, with a bag of fresh popcorn and a cold drink in hand.
This year, the Summer Classics lineup celebrates eight decades of extraordinary filmmaking: The oldest movie, METROPOLIS, turns 90 this year and takes Tampa Theatre back to its roots of presenting silent films with live musical accompaniment on the movie palace’s original Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ. The newest film, RESERVOIR DOGS, is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its release and has become a “modern classic” for director Quentin Tarantino. This year also marks the return of the “Fans Pick the Classic” poll, and we will be donning our bobby socks and saddle shoes for the sing-along version of GREASE on August 20.
Audiences are also invited stick around after select shows for hour-long Film Talks with some of the community’s most knowledgeable film experts, including retired USF film professor Harriet Deer, former Tampa Tribune film critic Bob Ross, and Tampa Bay Times film critic Steve Persall, who will examine the films’ themes, structure and cultural significance, and answer questions from the audience. (Film Talks are included with movie admission.)
Sing-Along BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991)
3:00pm Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4 TWO SHOWS!
It’s a tale not quite as old as time, but pretty close — based on a French fairy tale first published in the 1700s, the love story Beauty and the Beast followed The Little Mermaid in Disney’s effort to revitalize their lagging animation studio. The magic worked once again; the bookish Belle, the brooding Beast, their growing love despite the circumstances that stand in the way, and all the hilarious villagers (and furniture, and tableware) that populate the film’s world are fixed in our hearts forever. But the coup de grâce was, of course, the score. Good thing you remember all the songs by heart, because these are special sing-along presentations! Follow along with the lyrics on screen and belt out the songs right alongside the Belle and the rest. 1h 24m/Rated G/Animated Sing-Along
Before the Sunday screening of Beauty and the Beast, Summer Classics presenting sponsor Bank of America is giving away FREE 4×6″ commemorative photos in the lobby, starting at 2:00pm. Just pose against the green screen with the provided props and watch as you’re magically inserted into a scene from the movie!
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952)
3:00pm Sunday, June 11
When Debbie Reynolds passed away last year, how many of us thought first of her spritely, sassy performance of “Good Morning”? Her breakout role in Singin’ in the Rain put her next to Donald O’Connor, Jean Hagen and the immortal Gene Kelly, and even as a fresh-faced nineteen-year-old, she steals every scene she’s in. The plot is the least important part; the story of a couple of Hollywood performers trying to make it in the scary new world of “talkies,” Singin’ in the Rain is full to bursting with songs and images that have entered the basic lexicon of American pop culture. But seeing it on the big screen, as it was meant to be seen, remains a revelation. 1h 43m/Not Rated/Musical
Immediately after the film, USF film professor Harriet Deer will lead a short discussion of Singin’ in the Rain and an audience Q&A. The session is included with film admission.
RAISING ARIZONA (1987)
3:00pm Sunday, June 18
The Coen brothers remain maybe the best argument for disregarding auteur theory. Who’s more primarily in control of a movie—the director? The screenwriter? Of course it’s both, working in harmony, and no pair has produced a more distinctive and genius body of work over a longer period than Joel & Ethan Coen. Raising Arizona proved that their first major movie, Blood Simple, wasn’t a fluke; their instinct for comedy and hilarious character work was just as sharp as their feel for simmering noir drama. Nicholas Cage is a bumbling criminal who wants to go straight and start a family with his doting wife (Holly Hunter), and his felonious buddies (a standout performance by John Goodman) tempt him back to shenanigans with a way to solve both problems at once. A perfect film for Father’s Day (if your Dad has a good sense of humor), it’s full of awful people you love watch being awful, and it still feels as fresh and funny as the day it came out. 1h 34m/Rated PG-13/Comedy
Immediately after the film, USF film professor Harriet Deer will lead a short discussion of Raising Arizona and an audience Q&A. The session is included with film admission.
THE GRADUATE (1967)
3:00pm Sunday, June 25
Not many movies manage to be timeless while remaining grounded in the time of their creation. The Graduate just feels like 1967: a transitional moment in American culture between the end of the post-WW2 boom and the rise of the hippie counterculture. It was a transitional moment in American movies, too, and it’s full of radical filmmaking techniques — crash zooms and shocking framing. But the subject of The Graduate is a transition we all undergo; Dustin Hoffman plays a college grad in the delicate shift from adolescence to adulthood, torn between his feelings for his girlfriend’s mother (Anne Bancroft as the famous Mrs. Robinson) and his fear of the future. It’s about being told what to do, then suddenly having to decide for ourselves; the people we fall in love with, when we’re not supposed to; all the mistakes we make, and apologize for, and sometimes make again. 1h 46m/Not Rated/Drama
Immediately after the film, USF film professor Harriet Deer will lead a short discussion of The Graduate and an audience Q&A. The session is included with film admission.
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930)
3:00pm Sunday, July 2
When All Quiet on the Western Front opened in 1930, Variety called it a “harrowing, gruesome, morbid tale of war, so compelling in its realism, bigness and repulsiveness.” Adolf Hitler banned it in Germany, believing that it drummed up anti-war sentiment, and even before its banning, the Nazis sent brownshirts into theatres to disrupt and shut down screenings; knowing he would need to call more young men to war, the last thing Hitler wanted was for Germans to remember war’s true cost. Already famous as a book, All Quiet showed the horror of World War I with unblinking directness. It follows new soldiers from their romantic enlistment, through their brutal combat, to their shattering return home — for those who can return. It is difficult to imagine the impact it might have had on audiences in 1930, less inured to violence and mayhem on screen than we are; even seeing it now, it’s a gut punch. 2h 16m/Not Rated/ Drama
Immediately after the film, USF film professor Harriet Deer will lead a short discussion of All Quiet on the Western Front and an audience Q&A. The session is included with film admission.
THE STING (1973)
3:00pm Sunday, July 9
Often in the shadow of that other Robert Redford-Paul Newman two-hander, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting is — by any measure — one of the most successful movies of all time. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won seven, tying other Hollywood epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars. It was a gigantic box office smash: the 22nd highest grossing movie ever. It led to a nationwide revival of ragtime music (the main theme, Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer,” made it to No. 3 on the Billboard charts a mere 71 years after its first release). And, of course, it reunited two of the biggest stars of the 1970s, sharing the big screen for what would be the final time. But it almost didn’t happen! Trivia time: Rob Cohen, who would go on to direct The Fast and the Furious, was working as a low-level script reader when he found it in a slush pile (the heap of unsolicited screenplays that wannabe screenwriters send to Hollywood agencies). He made a bet with his boss: either a studio will buy this movie as “an award-winning, major-cast, major-director film” or he’d be fired; Universal picked up the rights later that afternoon. The Sting hinges on an incredibly complicated horse-betting scam being run by two slick con-men trying to simultaneously avoid getting snuffed by another gangster (Robert Shaw) and getting away from the cops, all while making a bunch of money besides. A beautifully appointed period piece, delicately plotted and dripping with charisma, it’s an all-time American classic.
2h 9m/Rated PG/Action
2h 9m/Rated PG/Action
Immediately after the film, USF film professor Harriet Deer will lead a short discussion of The Sting and an audience Q&A. The session is included with film admission.
3:00pm Sunday, July 16
Saboteur showcases the masterful Alfred Hitchcock already at the peak of his powers. Robert Cummings plays Barry Kane, a factory worker falsely accused of starting a fire at his aircraft plant, an act of sabotage that kills one of his friends. He believes he knows who really committed the crime, but his attempt to clear his name and stop the true villain will take him across the country and into constant mortal danger. Contrary to the way films were usually made at the time and not yet a distinctive trademark for this filmmaker, Saboteur was shot largely on location, and Hitchcock’s innovative use of composite shots and groundbreaking camera trickery enraptures and disorients the audience.
1h 49m/Not Rated/Thriller
1h 49m/Not Rated/Thriller
Immediately after the film, USF film professor Harriet Deer will lead a short discussion of Saboteur and an audience Q&A. The session is included with film admission.
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)
3:00pm Sunday, July 23
Mel Brooks’s hilarious and affectionate send-up of the classic black-and-white monster movies of the 1930s, came out the same year as Blazing Saddles, his also-hilarious and just-as-affectionate satire of classic movie Westerns. In a single year, he both cemented his place as one of the greatest comedy directors in history, and probably precluded a devastating influx of copycat film-genre parodies — because who could hope to be as successful or prolific as the master himself? Young Frankenstein retells the story of a differently-pronounced Dr. Frankenstein (the incomparable Gene Wilder) and his henchmen and hangers-on (Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman) as he creates life (Peter Boyle plays the monster with goofy innocence) and then promptly loses control of it, to the dismay of nearby villagers. In retrospect a surprisingly faithful rendition of the Boris Karloff Frankenstein from 1931, you still shouldn’t come in expecting a serious or … wait, have you never seen it? What are you waiting for? Stop reading this immediately, and go buy as many tickets as you can responsibly afford. 2h 20m/Rated PG/Comedy
Immediately after the film, Tampa Bay Times film critic Steve Persall will lead a short discussion of Young Frankenstein and an audience Q&A. The session is included with film admission.
IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963)
3:00pm Sunday, July 30
This movie is, more than anything, big. It’s got a big unwieldy title, for one thing; for another, it stars pretty much every comedian alive in 1963: Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hacket, Ethel Merman, Jonathan Winters, and dozens more. The biiig road race the cast undertakes, crossing the entire state of California, has as its prize a biiiiig amount of money, famously concealed underneath “a big W.” But biiiiiiiggest of all is the film itself — shot on 70mm Ultra Panavision and intended to be projected on an enormous, curved Cinerama screen, it’s one of the biggest works of cinema ever. And now we’re presenting a brand-new expert restoration with an additional 30 minutes of footage thought lost for more than 50 years. It’s biiiiiiiiigger than ever! 3h 25m/Not Rated/Comedy
RESERVOIR DOGS (1992)
3:00pm Sunday, August 6
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, it’s hard to overstate the impact Reservoir Dogs had on Hollywood upon its release. It didn’t just get people talking about Quentin Tarantino — who went from being a video-store clerk and an extra on The Golden Girls (no, really!) to one of the biggest and most brilliant directors on the planet — it reinvigorated talk about independent movies in general. People started looking outside the Hollywood system for talent and good ideas. A tightly-constrained movie about a robbery gone wrong in which almost all the action takes place off-screen, Reservoir Dogs shook up audiences with both graphic violence and the flippant, humorous regard it showed that violence, and it clearly shows the way forward for Tarantino’s career and the path of indie cinema to come.
1h 39m/Rated R/Crime Drama
1h 39m/Rated R/Crime Drama
Immediately after the film, USF film professor Harriet Deer will lead a short discussion of Reservoir Dogs and an audience Q&A. The session is included with film admission.
THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
3:00pm Saturday and Sunday, August 12-13 TWO SHOWS!
The Wizard of Oz has permeated popular culture to such an extent that, even if they haven’t seen it themselves, most people know it almost by heart. It’s certainly true that they don’t make them like this anymore: It’s a musical, and it’s a fantasy story, and it’s a kids’ movie, and it’s a morality play about having inside yourself the things you want from the outside world. But it’s also kind of a road-trip movie — Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion make friends and get up to some crazy antics on the Yellow Brick Road. And it’s also kind of a disaster movie — the tornado scene thrilled and terrified audiences. And the moment of transition between black & white and color is maybe the most iconic single instant of film since directors started adding sound. We encourage you to bring somebody who’s never seen The Wizard of Oz to the Theatre. You might find something new in it yourself.
1h 42m/Not Rated/Fantasy
1h 42m/Not Rated/Fantasy
Before the Sunday screening of The Wizard of Oz, presenting sponsor Bank of America is giving away FREE 4×6″ commemorative photos in the lobby, starting at 2:00pm. Just pose against the green screen with the provided props and watch as you’re magically inserted into a scene from the movie!
Immediately after the film, Tampa Bay Times film critic Steve Persall and former Tampa Tribune film critic Bob Ross will lead a short discussion and audience Q&A. The session is included with film admission.
Sing-Along GREASE (1978)
3:00pm Sunday, August 20
There’s no time like Tampa Theatre’s Summer Classics series to watch a movie about maybe the most famous summer romance ever. And there’s probably a lot to be said about why the late 1970s was so obsessed with the teen life of the 1950s, but Grease is an apotheosis of those ‘50s youth culture movies. Based on a hit Broadway musical and full of catchy songs (the soundtrack was the second-best selling album of 1978 behind the soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever… has anybody ever had a better year than John Travolta’s 1978?), Grease elevates the teenage high-school romance of greaser Danny (Travolta) and prim Australian Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) as they navigate their respective cliques to Hollywood perfection. It’s a little corny, and it’s a little campy, just like a good musical should be. But, ah, those summer nights make it oh so unforgettable. 1h 50m/PG-13/Sing-Along Musical
3:00pm Saturday and Sunday, August 26-27 TWO SHOWS!
Casablanca lands so routinely in listings of the top two or three movies of all time, it’s become almost boring to call it great. It’s the definition of a Hollywood masterpiece. The scenes and the characters have taken on mythological lives of their own. But Casablanca manages to be strongly original while also synthesizing parts of many films of its time: a wartime setting, a hero with shades of grey in his past, a female lead who wants something she can’t have, humor and tragedy and parody and sacrifice. And, of course, doomed love. Good art tells us stories; great art makes demands of us. Casablanca demands we break our own hearts like Rick, make dangerous choices like Ilsa, sing like Sam and scheme like Louis. And the movie remains timeless because those feelings are. 1h 42m/Rated PG/Drama
3:00pm Sunday, September 3
In 2010, Tampa Theatre was proud to be one of a few theatres in the world to present the new, complete restoration of Fritz Lang’s silent masterpiece Metropolis, with live accompaniment by renowned theatrical organist Dr. Stephen Ball. We are now once again presenting Metropolis in a form as close as possible to how it would have been experienced upon its release in 1927, and Dr. Ball will again score the movie on our original, historic Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ. Metropolis is simply one of the greatest and most influential movies of all time — a shining Utopian city, paradise to its citizens but hell to the masses of workers whose endless labor make it possible, is attacked by a mad scientist with the robot he has made to replace his love, and a conspiracy of the masses who hope to find redemption through resistance. Its design is immortal. Its story still matters. If you’ve ever been moved by a movie, you owe it to yourself to experience this cinematic tour de force in its original splendor.
2h 33m/Not Rated/Fantasy
2h 33m/Not Rated/Fantasy
TICKETS FOR THE SUMMER CLASSICS MOVIE SERIES are $10 for adults and $7 for Tampa Theatre Members, available at the historic Franklin Street Box Office or online at TampaTheatre.org ($2 convenience fee applies).