By Marc Sober, Guest Blogger
The Mayfair and The Stanton killed two birds with one double bill in 1963
While planning my FILMTALK screening at the Central Library for April 20, I wanted to do something a little special, as it was to be the 10th anniversary of the Saturday morning program (see a list of all FILMTALKS 2003-2013). So, I went down to our Periodicals Department to search the Sunpapers microfilm archives to see what was playing at local theaters exactly 10 years ago on this date. I didn’t find that much that was interesting and that we could show. I went back to 1993, 1983, 1973, and then 1963 before I hit paydirt.
Playing just two blocks from the Pratt Library that year, on Howard Street, were To Kill a Mockingbird at the Mayfair and The Birds at the Stanton (formerly known by its original name, the Stanley). On the web site Cinema Treasures, I even found a photo of the Mayfair and Stanton theater marquees showing this fine-feathered double bill (as pictured above)! Both films celebrate their 50th anniversary this year.
April 20, 1963 double bill listing in the Baltimore Sun
Long-time Baltimoreans can probably remember pleasurable hours spent in these theaters. Unfortunately, the Mayfair (shown below) is long abandoned…
The Mayfair today
…and the site of the Stanley (shown below in its heyday) has been a parking lot for many decades (it’s currently the Chesapeake Commons lot).
The old Stanley Theater
You can find out more about these and other Baltimore cinema houses in Robert Headley’s book Motion picture exhibition in Baltimore: an illustrated history and directory of theaters, 1895-2004 or on the website Cinema Treasures. If you want to see more about what was going on in Baltimore 50 years ago, you might want to do some searching in the Historical Baltimore Sun (1837-1987) database.
I spoke to Tom Warner, who curates the Saturday afternoon films, to see if he was interested in doing a 50th Anniversary double feature of the two films, and he readily agreed, adding that the timing was perfect to screen the film that marked Tippi Hedren’s film debut.
"Given the resurgence of interest this past year in both Hitchcock (with the 2012 theatrical release of Sacha Gervasi's Hitchcock) and Tippi Hedren (thanks to HBO's The Girl, which examined the complicated relationship between Hitch and the blond actress who claimed the smitten director destroyed her career when she rebuffed his advances), now is the perfect time to look back at their first film together," he said. "Apparently, all the terror in The Birds wasn't just in the skies above."
Watch The Birds trailer below:
Hedren wasn’t the only star making a big-screen debut in 1963, as Mockingbird also marked the first film appearance of Robert Duvall as the mysterious Boo Radley in director Robert Mulligan’s critically acclaimed film adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiographical novel. Horton Foote won the Oscar for best screenplay adaptation (possibly the best screen adaptation ever), while Gregory Peck's portrayal of Atticus Finch won him the Best Actor Oscar.
Watch the Mockingbird trailer on YouTube.
So on April 20, 2013, it will be déjà vu all over again when we screen these two classics from 1963, with To Kill a Mockingbird starting at 10:30 a.m. followed by The Birds at 2 p.m. in Wheeler Auditorium.