For the past 99 years, Austinites have enjoyed having The Paramount Theatre on Congress Avenue. When it first opened in 1915, it was called The Majestic Theatre.
When I was a kid, The Paramount presented a lot of kid-friendly plays that my parents and elementary school took me to all the time. I had always heard that it “used to” be a movie theater. What I didn’t understand then was that the venue hosted many types of shows, including plays, musical acts, cinema, and even Vaudeville in its early days.
One of the earliest memories I have of the theater was when my dad took me to see the entire Star Wars trilogy in one sitting. Today, The Paramount Theatre continues to show classic cinema favorites through its Paramount Summer Classic Film Series, allowing other Austinites to make memories of their own.
About Paramount Summer Classic Film Series
The Summer Classic Film Series launches every year towards the end of May. The 2014 season has already kicked off with the 1939 talkie, The Wizard of Oz, and will conclude in early September with the film Giant.
Going to these films is always a nostalgic experience. Not just because of the classic architecture of the theater, but because the films are all presented in their original 35mm prints (except for the films that are in 70mm).
If you’re really wanting to educate yourself about classic cinema and catch some entertainment at the same time, the Summer Classic Film Series is one of the best ways to do this. If you have the time, I highly recommend and challenge you to try and see every movie – even the films you’re not interested in. Most of these films have shaped pop culture or film history in some way, and it’s always fun to see the origins of these references.
Each show is $12, but if you’re planning on seeing multiple shows, you have a couple of different options. There are multiple levels of Film Fan membership that start at $40 and gets you $4 off day-of-show tickets, as well as free admission to the Summer Classic Film Series Kick-Off and Closing parties. There is also the Flix-Tix Booklet, which for $50 gives you 10 admissions. The Booklet is good all summer long.
2014 Film Lineup
The first week of the Summer Classic Film Series is a tribute to the great year that was 1939, with selections including The Wizard of Oz, The Women and Of Mice and Men. The first week of June, we move into the 1940s, with films like The Grapes of Wrath and The Great Gatsby.
After that, the programing changes into classic comedies that you might have been alive to see: Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Stripes and National Lampoon’s Vacation. If you’re looking for something to do with Dad this Father’s Day, they’ll be doing a 007 marathon of Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Goldeneye. Any chance to see a marathon in a theater is a real treat. Therefore, later in June, Paramount will be playing The Godfather parts I and II together.
If you’ve read my previous articles, you’ve already figured out that I’m a comic book enthusiast. We’ve all been waiting to see Batman and Superman in a movie together. In two years, that will finally happen in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. If you can’t wait that long, we get to see a double feature of the 1978 Superman, followed by the 1989 Batman. If I had to pick only one screening to go for in the Paramount’s summer lineup, that’s the one I’m most excited about. The next cool marathon in July is Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy (or The Man With No Name Trilogy).
I’m not quite sure when they started this tradition, but at least every year since I was in high school, the Paramount has devoted Alfred Hitchcock’s birth week to showing his films. If you haven’t seen Psycho, Vertigo, North by Northwest, The Birds or any of the other greats that are showing in August, please don’t see choose to see them on a TV. Not even in a home theater. Do yourself a favor and take this lucky opportunity to see Hitchcock in a movie theater. The right way.
Special Treat: 70mm
There’s a film format that has been lost to our digital generation: 70mm. If you never had a chance to see a movie in 70mm, it was pretty cool to see, especially before the days of 4K digital projection. It was like seeing an HD version of film. Keep this in mind, because The Paramount will be showing It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Spartacus, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. All in 70mm!
The Paramount Summer Classic Film Series is one of my favorite traditions of old Austin, offering a great lineup every year. This year is no exception, and I’ve only scratched the surface with the films I’ve named here. For more information about the 2014 Summer Classic Film Series, including ticket sales and showtimes, visit Paramount’s website.
Have you ever gone to a Paramount Summer Classic Film Series showing? Which film did you see?