Restored movie palace opens with festivities in Silver Spring


April 04, 2003|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Provided they don't mind driving a little bit, Baltimore cinephiles are finding themselves blessed once again this week, this time by the opening in Silver Spring tonight of the American Film Institute's Silver Theatre complex. Two of the AFI's three screens are housed in a brand-new facility, while the third - the complex's centerpiece - is in the gloriously refurbished Silver Theatre, a Silver Spring landmark that nearly fell victim to the wrecking ball.

Opening-week festivities begin tonight with an invitation-only screening of 1943's The Ox-Bow Incident, starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews and Anthony Quinn, directed by William Wellman. The evening will include an appearance by Clint Eastwood, who is being given the first AFI Legacy Award and who will be joined onstage for a discussion with author and Time movie critic Richard Schickel.

The three screens open to the public next Friday with three films: a restored version of the 1970 French noir, Le Cercle Rouge, starring Yves Montand and Alain Delon, directed by Jean-Pierre Melville; the blues documentary The Last of the Mississippi Jukes, accompanied by live performances from Vasti Jackson and Patrice Monsell, who appear in the film; and Four Daughters, directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) and starring Priscilla Lane, John Garfield and Claude Rains. Four Daughters was the featured attraction when the original Silver opened its doors in 1938.

FOR THE RECORD - The starting time for the film Amen. tomorrow, part of the William and Irene Weinberg Jewish Film Festival, was listed incorrectly in Friday's Sun. The film starts at 3 p.m. at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts.
An article in Thursday's editions about an awards ceremony at Baltimore police headquarters misspelled the name of programmer Sheila D. Crocetti.
The Sun regrets the errors.

Other invitation-only screenings set for the Silver's opening week include DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus' soul-music documentary Only the Strong Survive (tomorrow and Sunday); Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds in MGM's crowning musical achievement, 1952's Singin' In the Rain (Monday and Tuesday); and A Mighty Wind, the latest film from Christopher Guest (Best In Show, This Is Spinal Tap), who will be on hand to answer questions, along with stars Eugene Levy and Harry Shearer (April 9).

The 1938 Silver has been lovingly restored close to its original glory (mainly through reconstruction and reproduction, since much of the original building had been gutted), while new seats - 400 of them - have been installed, and more viewer-friendly sightlines have been instituted.

Besides the original Silver, the new AFI facility includes a 200- and a 75-seat theater. Although the majority of the AFI's movie offerings will be shown at the Silver, it will continue programming film series at its theater inside Washington's Kennedy Center.

The AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center is at 8633 Colesville Road in Silver Spring. Information: 301-495-6700, or

Showing this weekend

Baltimore's always-intriguing Jewish Film Festival continues tomorrow with German director Rolf Schubel's 1999 film Gloomy Sunday. Set in pre-World War II Budapest and taking its cue from a hit song of the 1930s (with which it shares its title), the movie follows the lives of a Jewish restaurant owner, his beautiful assistant and the pianist who wrote the song. Sunday's offering is Costa-Gavras' 2002 film Amen, the story of a German SS officer who both supplies Nazi death camps and tries warning everyone from the Allies to the Vatican of what's going on there, and a Jesuit priest who also tries spurring the Vatican into action.

Show time for both films at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynbrook Ave. in Owings Mills, is 8:30 p.m. Information: 410-542-4900, Ext. 239.

Tomorrow's revival offering at The Charles will be F.W. Murnau's 1924 classic The Last Laugh, starring Emil Jannings as a hotel doorman who's perhaps a little too proud of what he does. The silent film is being shown with live musical accompaniment. Show time is at noon, and tickets are $4.

The Rotunda Cinematheque is bringing in Philip Noyce's Rabbit-Proof Fence to join his The Quiet American on the theater's two screens, meaning this Australian director's two films from last year, both among 2002's best, are playing side-by-side - an opportunity no movie fan should willingly pass by.

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