"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" on the Big Screen

On Monday, the 20th of July, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be screening “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” as part of the ongoing 70th Anniversary celebration of the Best Picture nominees of 1939. The screening will be at the Beverly Hills Samuel Goldwyn Theater at 7:30PM.

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is one of director Frank Capra’s finest films. A young James Stewart is at his golly-gee best portraying a naive small town man proudly taking the place of a recently deceased Senator at our nation’s capital. However, unbeknownst to Mr. Smith, the other man had been in the pocket of a powerful businessman. So, the new junior Senator Smith is also expected to be nothing more than a mere pawn. But our hero has some ideals of his own and innocently stumbles into a battle for his very honor.

If you’ve never seen this movie gem, or even if it’s just been a while, you’ve got to treat yourself to this rare screening of a classic comedy-drama that’s remarkably universal in its appeal for the whole family. And even though it’s from a long ago era, the sentiment towards true American values and the message of right over might have stood the test of time and remain relevant as much as ever. This is a great opportunity to see an exceptional film at a magnificent venue, in a style and manner not available at the usual Cineplex or movie dome.

I went to the Academy’s screening of “Wuthering Heights” last month and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience from beginning to end. I purchased my ticket (very inexpensive at $5!) online and found it waiting for me at the will call booth. After showing my ID ,I was presented with an envelope containing an elegant looking entry stub worthy of scrap booking. Upon entering the lobby, I was handed a beautifully crafted full-size program obviously designed with the keepsake sentimentalist in mind. In fact, the older gentleman I ended up sitting next to was prepared with a plastic cover in which to immediately slide his recently acquired souvenir. The theater itself is one of the finest in Los Angeles with wide red carpet aisles and well maintained, red cushioned seats. I was fortunate to get a seat in my preferred seating area. However, I doubt there’s a bad seat in the house, with its old fashioned, intelligent design of tiered seating that gently scoops down toward the screen, raising again slightly just before reaching the proscenium.

The film itself was preceded by a quick announcement of facts about its production, giving today’s viewer a context for a movie from yesteryear. And Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. himself spoke briefly about how his father (the producer of the movie) felt about the picture as it was being made and his overall pride generated by the public’s appreciation of the hard work that went into creating such a fine film. In addition, there was a “Flash Gordon” serial short played before the feature presentation, just as it would have been similarly presented in 1939.

Overall, it was a terrific movie going experience. I urge you to take advantage of the opportunity while you still can, as this is the one of the last screenings in the series for which tickets are still available, and the final Monday screening, of “The Wizard of Oz” on August 3rd, is already sold out. For more information visit the following link: http://www.oscars.org/events-exhibitions/events/2009/bestpics1939.html.

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