The baroque one-screen “Movie Palaces” that were common in the early part of the 20th century are almost totally a thing of the past. Apparently, beauty couldn’t conquer the bland beasts with 20+ screens. Though movie-goers no longer dress up in their dandiest outfits the way they would for a night at the opera, there are still some opera-like movie theaters that specialize in the movies of the Golden Age and pre-Golden Age of cinema. The Stanford Theatre is one of these gems.
With its authentic, classic architecture, plush upper- and lower-level interiors, and grand Wulitzer organ, the Stanford Theater, constructed in 1925, was on the verge of bankruptcy and demolition when David Woodley Packard (scion of Hewlett-Packard cofounder David Packard, Sr.) purchased and restored it in 1987 through the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.
Since its restoration, it has been playing such similarly restored treasures as Vertigo, Citizen Kane, Out of the Past, All About Eve, and Sunset Boulevard as well as a variety of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton silent films.
With its glorious neon marquee casting a red and yellow aura like a specter in the night, and its endangered species status, this protected antique continues to attract and entertain as much as 25% of all classic film attendance in the U.S. while inspiring new generations of cinephiles.