Each year, the Saenger Theatre transports us back in time to the golden age of cinema. The theatre combines old-world brick and iron railings with state-of-the-art projection and sound for an experience that marries the best of yesteryear and the modern era. As you walk through the doors of the historic Saenger, last century’s penchant for ritzy design greets you as you select your seats and settle in right at 6 pm for a selection from the best Hollywood has to offer. The summer boasts many great things on the Gulf Coast, but one of the best is the opportunity to experience classic cinema in an equally classic setting, for just $5 per person. So let the heat rise and the humidity thicken; we’re going to the movies.
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (July 16): This racy film about cats who get stuck on roofs in the height of the Mississippi summer finds Maggie and Brick playing fast and loose with deception, fortunes and seductions.
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (July 23): Alfred Hitchcock remade his own movie, this time to greater critical acclaim, about a family who gets involved in international intrigue while vacationing abroad. Keep your ears peeled for “Que Sera, Sera,” the infamous song that made its debut in this picture.
KEY LARGO (July 30): This is the film in which Humphrey Bogart finally learned his lesson about staying in hotels, after the ill-fated events of Casablanca. This time, he shares a bed-and-breakfast with a group of mobsters who soon take over the establishment, forcing Bogart to rely on his WWII fighting skills to get out alive.
THE MALTESE FALCON (August 6): The voters of this year’s Classic Movies selection must have been big Bogart fans, as this second star vehicle which is also acclaimed as the original film noir finds the leading man investigating a murder and misplaced treasure.
BEN-HUR (August 13): One of the longest mainstream movies ever made (almost four hours), this movie tells the story of the titular Palestinian Jew who is battling the Roman Empire during the time of Christ before being thrown into slavery and ultimately saved during an encounter with JC Himself. Hope you can hold your bladder!
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (August 20): A musical from back when that’s all Hollywood knew how to do, this classic finds Gene Kelly at his most charming, playing an ex-GI who stays in post-war Paris to become a painter, dancer and all-around ladies man. It has glamour and catchy songs to spare.
NORTH BY NORTHWEST (August 27): These vague directions are also the title of Hitchcock’s second summer movie this year. Full of iconic images and daring set pieces, Cary Grant stars in one of the first true action blockbusters, back when Hollywood only made musicals.
THE STING (September 3): This 30s-style crime caper holds up better than most movies from the 70s as the story of two bros who are quick on their toes and offer up some last minute twists as they seek revenge on the murder of their friend.
CITIZEN KANE (September 10): Speaking of old films that hold up, this one certainly doesn’t, as parts of this story of an egomaniacal businessman drag while bludgeoning us with its moral. The cinematography is beautiful, though, and there are few places better to behold it than the Saenger.
GONE WITH THE WIND (September 16): Scarlett will never go hungry again, and you’ll likely never view the antebellum South in the same way again after viewing this post-Civil War masterpiece about love and battle in the time of slavery.