When Ken Washington, the managing and artistic director of the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, was deciding which films to include in the theater's new classic movie series, he came up with an almost foolproof method.
"I went to the AFI top 100 and picked out the movies that I knew of and felt were appropriate for the time," Washington says.
And the result, to borrow from Humphrey Bogart in "The Maltese Falcon," is the stuff that dreams are made of. In fact, when the house lights dim this weekend, fans can enjoy the legendary tough guy in "Falcon" (No. 31 on AFI's list) and two more of his best films — "Casablanca" (No. 3) and "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (No 38). All three black-and-white classics are being shown on a big screen, the way audiences saw them on original release. The following weekend, the series takes a quantum leap to the 1980s and '90s with all three "Back to the Future" movies. The full list of films and show times is at smithtownpac.org
The series is part of the 350th birthday celebration of Smithtown, which will be taking place all year long. Appropriately, the movies are being shown at the Performing Arts Center, a refurbished former movie palace that opened in 1933. "We thought it might be nice to show movies that more than likely would have been shown at the theater," Washington says. "We're also showing 'E.T.,' which ran here for six months, and 'Jaws,' which ran here when it came out in the '70s."
Though not every featured film is from the AFI top 100, Washington says that even films outside that list, such as "A Christmas Story," have a loyal following. A late December screening of the 1983 holiday staple drew a large crowd, he says, despite its annual 24-hour marathons on commercial TV.
Washington hopes audiences also embrace upcoming double features starring Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, the Marx Brothers and other stars of yesteryear. Says Washington, "The people that we get are there because the movie has a very special place for them in their memory and in their hearts."
WHEN | WHERE Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown
INFO 631-724-3700, smithtownpac.org
Smithtown isn't the only place unreeling classic movies on Long Island. Here are more upcoming screenings.
WHEN|WHERE 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington
INFO 631-423-7611, cinemaartscentre.org
Barbara Stanwyck stars in Frank Capra's offbeat 1933 tale of interracial sexual attraction. A discussion and book signing with Stanwyck biographer Victoria Wilson follows.
The Wizard of Oz
WHEN | WHERE 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday and Jan. 14, Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas, 1001 Broadhollow Rd.; Island 16 Cinema De Lux, 185 Morris Ave., Holtsville; Stony Brook 17, 2196 Nesconset Hwy.; and Westbury Stadium 12, 7000 Brush Hollow Rd.
INFO 800-315-4000, fathomevents.com
Dorothy and friends follow the Yellow Brick Road in this digitally remastered print presented by Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events. Also enjoy a taped introduction by TCM host Robert Osborne.
Silver Screen Classics
WHEN | WHERE Mondays at 1 p.m., Broadway Multiplex Cinemas, Broadway Mall, Hicksville; Sunrise Multiplex Cinemas, 740 W. Sunrise Hwy., Valley Stream; Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas, 1001 Broad Hollow Rd.; Island 16 Cinema De Lux
INFO $2 (includes small popcorn and soda); showcasecinemas.com (click on programs)
Upcoming films include the World War II adventure "Blood on the Sun" (Monday), starring James Cagney, and the 1958 British Navy farce "Girls at Sea" (Jan. 26).