The man behind Charles' revivals

June 15, 2007|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic

Baltimore's Charles art-plex has not only been showcasing a classic movie every week (for three showings a week) to ever-increasing crowds for six years, but has also provided a home and a ready audience for rediscovered movies like Army of Shadows (1969). On the eve of the theater's one-week engagement of the great, little-known mob movie Mafioso, the Charles' co-owner and revival programmer, John Standiford, discussed some of his choices with The Sun. Can you explain to our readers how a movie like Mafoioso gets locked into one-week bookings at the Charles?

In some cases it is print availability. We may have to give our print up because of a booking in another town, but in this case, we have three movies opening on June 22 and there's no room to hold Mafioso. Although, if it does colossal business we could probably wriggle it in on a split screen [meaning, it would rotate with another attraction]. On the plus side, why one week for Mafioso instead of just a revival slot?

We should get a good week out of it thanks to the national publicity and a maybe a good review in the Sunpapers. How have other one-week or extended revivals done at the Charles lately?

Killer of Sheep didn't do as well as we thought it would, but Army of Shadows was held over for three weeks. And the ongoing revival series?

The Bergman series was fairly well-attended and so was the Ozu series. That was a surprise. Attendance is rising for the revivals in general. And what do you think is important about a city's art theater having a revival series?

There are prints of hundreds of great films from the 1920s available to be screened. It's a privilege to be able to show them - and in a big, old theater. The revival crowd, although relatively small, has the most passionate moviegoers. They're watching the most interesting films. It's just very satisfying - for me, and I hope for them. A lot of people don't know what they're missing.

Of course, it's a far cry from the glory days of the calendar house, but it'll have to do. The Baltimore Museum of Art shows repertory films now on the first Thursday of each month at 8. Eric Hatch does a great job programming, and it's free. The crowds are pretty big. It's a very pleasant venue. People love it.

Michael Sragow

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