Several local theaters offer classic film seriesWritten by Emily Gibb | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The lights dim and curtains open. The music begins and credits roll.
For the next two hours, a movie transports audiences back to a time when Cary Grant ruled the big screen and Marilyn Monroe fueled fantasies for those who like it hot.
“Old movies are a time capsule. It’s living history,” said Evan Chase of Lyric Photoplay Society.
Chase organizes the classic movies at the Maumee Indoor Theater. He has been helping Toledoans catch an old flick for more than 25 years. The Maumee Indoor Theater is just one option for film lovers in Northwest Ohio to satisfy their cravings for popcorn and a nostalgic classic movie.
Chalk it up to the economic hit or an ever-changing culture of technology, but the demand for classic movies is high enough that the Valentine Theatre, Way Public Library, Rave Motion Pictures at Levis Commons, the Croswell Opera House in Adrian and the Maumee Indoor Theater are offering regular classic film series throughout the rest of winter and into spring.
“This area has always asked for something like that. It doesn’t just draw seniors, it draws across the ages,” said Kathy Petz, assistant manager and coordinator of the Rave Cinema Classics at Levis Commons, which is co-sponsored by Toledo Free Press.
“Even in economic times like we’re having, theaters are still doing well,” Chase said.
Chase started running a classic movie series in the Toledo Zoo’s theater in 1981. He is a local go-to for film history lessons.
“To see the old cars, the old buildings — it’s quite interesting just to look around at the background of these old movies,” Chase said. “It’s fun to see a lot of the old clothes because some of the clothes are in style again.”
He says his love for old films began when he would watch movies in the old State Theatre while growing up in the Old West End.
Throughout the decades since the movies at the zoo, he’s run various programs around Toledo. He even owned his own theater for a while in Morenci.
After years of primarily watching classic movies with a group in his home, he decided it was a good time to begin showing them in theaters again, he said.
In 2006, the Lyric Photoplay Society started playing movies at the Collingwood Arts Center. They transferred the program to the Maumee Indoor Theater in 2010.
Chase runs old-time previews or cartoons before the feature film to try to recreate the whole package of what going to the movies used to be like. He also introduces the movie and gives the audience a little bit of background on the film. He wants it to be as close as possible to experiencing a movie in its original form, even down to the sound cues and quality.
“People really love that. People really get a kick out of seeing the whole program,” he said.
Petz feels that, especially now, audiences enjoy the familiarity.
“It’s back when times were easier. It’s nice to go in to see something like that and forget life for awhile,” Petz said. “They were always enjoyable. They don’t make movies like them anymore.”
She was involved in the classic and art movies at the Super Theater off Airport Highway. After that theater closed, the movie series moved to its current home inside the Rave Theater.
“People expect it. They’ve gotten used to it being around. For some reason, this area really demands that kind of product. They have a thirst for it,” she said. “Even the black and whites, they’re still great movies. You don’t have all the special effects, just when moviemaking was at its best. People really like the older stuff sometimes.”
Both Chase and Petz said audiences aren’t only retirees or the elderly who remember going to the movies when they were younger.
“It’s not all retired people. I see people of all ages and all types of people. It’s a pretty up-and- coming thing now,” Chase said.
The series at the Way Public Library in Perrysburg attracts an older audience because the library usually shows movies in the daytime during the workweek.
“It appeals to senior citizens because they’re out and about. You show a film at Thursday at 10 a.m., the large majority is senior citizens and retirees,” said Richard Baranowski, local history librarian.
With the popularity of the monthly Thursday series, Baranowski decided to start a Sunday film festival, each featuring certain actors. February is focused on James Stewart and Katharine Hepburn.
They generally have a core group of followers, he said, but it’s not limited to only those living close to the library.
“We’re able to attract people from the whole area, not just Perrysburg. It’s people interested in film from the whole Toledo area,” Baranowski said. “It’s part of the library’s mission to provide a venue where people can access information, experience community and offer other roadways to enrich their lives.”
After a film, there is usually a discussion period.
“It’s something entertaining and at the same time, you’ve got some intellectual content,” Baranowski said.
“That kind of educates them as well as entertains them,” he said.
With the dawn of DVDs, old archives of film from studios in California are popping up more and more, Chase said. It’s helping with their appeal and popularity since the options for different movies are growing.
“The availability of all these old movies now is getting better all the time,” Chase said. “This is really the best time ever to be around when classic movies are coming out because movie companies are digging through their archives and transferring them to DVD.”
In the ’70s and ’80s, he said, the only movies available were “run-of-the-mill” and not really obscure, but now there are more genres, like film noir, available.
“I’m more excited about it now than ever because it’s like everybody is finally having access to these deep, dark archives that have been sitting for generations unseen,” he said. “There’s just fantastic stuff out there.”
The Croswell Opera House series, co-sponsored by Toledo Free Press Star, has featured such classics as “Casablanca,” “Some Like it Hot” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”