I am hooked on the Redford Theatre, that once-bedraggled movie house which has been slowly, painstakingly brought back to life by the Motor City Theatre Organ Society. On occasional Fridays and Saturdays, The Redford offers discount-priced old movies: silent films, classic musicals, black-and-white dramas from Hollywood’s golden days.
It’s cheap (four bucks!)
It’s camp (audience participation!)
It’s entertaining (The historic 3 Manual/10 Rank Barton Theatre Pipe Organ rises from the floor during the 30-minute pre-movie concert, and again at Intermission; and the audience breaks into song, accompanying energetic organ renditions of show tunes and patriotic numbers we all know by heart.)
The candy counter offers old-fashioned candies for old-fashioned prices, as well as Sweet Potato Cookies from a nearby bakery.
Sometimes, if the movie warrants it, people come in costume. When the stage-sized American flag drops and the organ plays they stand, hands on their hearts, joining in a boisterous rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.
I was there last night, enjoying two Shirley Temple films from the 1930s: The Little Colonel and Poor Little Rich Girl. In the coming weeks, fans will turn out en masse for 1920 silent film Suds with Mary Pickford on April 21. (Did they say that Tippi Hedron will be there in person that night?!) Then, on Saturday, April 28, the featured fare will be a James Cagney double-feature: Public Enemy and Angels
with Dirty Faces.
Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the baptism scene from The Little Colonel. Shirley, having seen a river baptism, borrows her grandfather’s bed sheets and dunks her young friend Henry Clay.