Valentine’s Day at the Redford!: Casablanca

Yesterday was my greatest Valentine’s Day ever, because I got to spend part of it at my favorite place: the Redford Theatre! Since my life is devoid of romance, I did what no other 22-year-old lady in the world would do for this holiday: I spent the day with my parents. The first half of the day was spent eating Mexican food and attending a matinee screening of Winter’s Tale with my mom. The night was spent continuing my efforts to convert my dad into a classic film fan by taking him to a screening at the Redford. For Valentine’s Day, they were offering a free screening of Casablanca. (Free screenings are also being offered today, February 15 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm.)

(Image via Doctor Macro)
(Image via Doctor Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans)

The place was packed for the screening, and nearly every seat was filled. The audience’s energy was very high as well. Enthusiastic clapping and shouting accompanied the announcement of upcoming events, including an in-person appearance by Rita Moreno which will be taking place in September. (Tickets to the VIP meet and greet with Moreno can be purchased at the theater’s website.)

Also discussed were film titles that are being tossed around for summer and fall screenings by the selection committee. There were some newer films in the bunch, like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Princess Bride, but I was most excited over the prospect of Imitation of Life coming to the Redford.

Obligatory marquee photograph, shaky because the people walking behind us were incredibly eager to mow us down and get to the door first. I couldn't stop walking without being trampled, haha.
Obligatory marquee photograph, shaky because the people walking behind us were incredibly eager to mow us down and get to the door first. I couldn’t stop walking without being trampled, haha.

I wouldn’t mind seeing more “modern classics” in the Redford’s schedule, so long as pre-’65s and silents are still offered. Based on the audience’s reaction to those titles being mentioned, the crowds for modern films would likely be large, allowing the Redford the opportunity to continue restoration projects and, most importantly, to remain operational. (For the record, I feel the same way about TCM’s incorporation of more “modern classics” into their schedule — it brings new eyes to the channel, and they’re still offering us Old Movie Weirdos plenty of stuff to watch, so why complain?)

Not ones to pass up the opportunity to get a little cutesy on Valentine’s Day, the Redford staff set up an intermission which included a couple of special guests. In December, a man had proposed to his girlfriend on stage during the intermission of the White Christmas screening. Now married, the pair were visiting the Redford again for Valentine’s Day. A video of their proposal was shown, tears were shed and they pulled the winning tickets for the 50/50 raffle.

To entertain attendees before and after the film or during the intermission, there were a couple of fun things going on in the lobby. You could have a friend take your photo standing in the window of a cardboard version of Rick’s. This photo booth doubled as a kissing booth, with the other side featuring a heart-shaped cut-out with the words “Love at the Redford” around it, for couples to capture a memory of their Valentine’s date.

Since Cary Grant has not yet returned from the grave to be my suitor, I steered clear of the kissing booth and instead visited Rick's Cafe.
Since Cary Grant has not yet returned from the grave to be my suitor, I steered clear of the kissing booth and instead visited Rick’s Cafe.

For sale in the lobby were t-shirts and sweatshirts featuring the Casablanca poster, and various Redford logos. (I bought a Casablanca sweatshirt and am completely in love with it.) There was also a table featuring the book Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance, written by a man named Charles Novacek who joined the resistance at age 11, remained involved in it until age 20 and eventually settled in Detroit after the war.

Before the film began, there was the Redford’s traditional 30-minute organ concert, followed by an introduction to the film by the event’s host and a cartoon short. This time around, the short was from Merrie Melodies: “Bacall to Arms,” a fitting choice to screen before a film starring her great love, Humphrey Bogart. The theater was filled with laughter up until that cringe-worthy final moment of this short, which was met with a mix of nervous laughter and a few gasps.

The projectionist wasted no time getting the film going just after the short ended. The film was not being screened digitally (which, of course, made me very happy). I’m not sure where the print they were using came from — the opening titles were in Italian.

There were a couple of problems with the print. There were a few jumpy sequences where a frame or two appeared to be missing, and the sound cut out a couple of times. However, the sound didn’t cut out for very long and not in places that caused any major dialogue to be missed. Issues aside, it was still a great delight to see Casablanca screened on film. (I’d seen it on the big screen once before, but with digital projection.)

The organist played before the film and during the intermission. Not a minute is ever spent without being entertained at the beautiful Redford Theatre.
The organist played before the film and during the intermission. Not a single minute is ever spent without being entertained at the beautiful Redford Theatre.

Watching a classic film with a large audience is always a special experience, and like I’ve expressed in many of my other posts of this type, I walked away from the screening with an even greater appreciation of this film. I wasn’t sure this was possible, since Casablanca was already such a beloved film to me. One of the things I love most about classic films is the way that the dialogue written, and the dialogue in this film is nowhere near short on wit, which is even more apparent when watching it with a crowd and hearing all of their laughter. Since the screening was free, not all of the attendees were regulars at the Redford, but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and having a great time with the film.

In regards to my progress in converting my dad into a classic film fan, I’d say the transformation is pretty close to complete. He remembered Ingrid Bergman from the screening of Notorious that we attended last year and told me that she’s become his favorite classic actress. He also said “I must be getting old, because I really liked this movie” after our Casablanca screening ended. I sternly reminded him that you don’t have to be elderly to enjoy classic films — but more importantly, I was very happy to hear him say he liked the movie. Victory is mine!

13 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day at the Redford!: Casablanca

    1. I am, too. Detroit is a great place to be a classic film fan, between the Redford and the Senate. Both theaters are great assets to the community and I’m so thankful for the work that the volunteers do.


  1. Another fun time at the Redford! While you were there watching a classic film, I was at the Edwards San Marcos 18 seeing ‘The Monuments Men’ with my brother. Not quite the Redford, but better than nothing! And funny that the opening credits were in Italian…too bad the entire dialogue track wasn’t dubbed in Italian, too.


    1. I think the place would have cleared out if it had been dubbed, haha. There were enough complaints about the sound cutting out and that only happened a couple of times, for a few seconds each time! Did you enjoy The Monuments Men? I’ll have a review of that in my Modern Movies in February post.


      1. I was a little lukewarm with ‘MM’…I guess I expected more. I loved the cast, I loved Clooney’s direction, but it seemed to drag a little early on, and I wished they would’ve concentrated more on the story at-hand, instead of branching off so much. I was most interested in Cate Blanchett’s character, believe it or not, and I loved all of her scenes…too bad the film wasn’t about HER character. Looking forward to reading what you thought!


        1. I’ll go ahead and spoil my review for you, since I’m only doing a miniature review of it. I was underwhelmed by it, too. Such a great cast and it just didn’t give them enough to do! I just felt like I still knew so little about the characters by the end. It wasn’t all bad, but it just had the potential to be so much better.


    1. It’s a very special theater! All run by volunteers. Their passion for sharing classic films, preserving the movie palace experience and keeping the community vibrant is admirable.


Share your thoughts! (Note: Comments close 90 days after publication.)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.