Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The AFI Silver Theatre's 75th Anniversary, September 13-18

Four Daughters - First Program ever at Silver Theatre

From our friends at AFI Silver Theatre...

Sunday, September 15 marks the 75th anniversary of the Silver Theatre’s grand opening in 1938. To celebrate this occasion, AFI Silver presents a selection of some of that year’s most beloved films, including Warner Bros.’ FOUR DAUGHTERS (the big-screen debut of John Garfield), along with the cartoon CRACKED ICE and a period newsreel, “re-presenting” the very first program to screen at the Silver.

WJLA’s Arch Campbell will be the event’s Master of Ceremonies, with AFI Director Ray Barry, Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin, Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin and Maryland State Delegate Sheila Hixson, making brief remarks before the screening begins.

Various elected officials, AFI supporters past and present, as well as the group of community members responsible for re-opening the Theatre’s doors in 2003 will be in attendance at a special pre-screening reception.

In anticipation of this special event, AFI Silver Theatre is encouraging Washington-area moviegoers to share their own memories of The Silver Theatre. Whether it was the site of an awe-inspiring first movie, a special outing with friends or the scene of a first kiss, and it took place anytime from when the doors opened in 1938 or yesterday, AFI Silver wants to hear about those memories. People are encouraged to send their stories to with their email address, name, phone number, email address and date of the special memory. AFI Silver will be compiling a sample of the Silver Theatre audience memories from across the years to share with the larger community.

All Tickets Only $5! AFI Member passes accepted.

Fri, Sep 13, 3:15; Sat, Sep 14, 1:15; Sun, Sep 15, 12:00; Mon, Sep 16, 5:00
Ralph Bellamy needs help convincing his cold-footed girlfriend Ginger Rogers to marry him, so he persuades his psychiatrist friend Fred Astaire to take her on as a patient. The film is notable for featuring the first-ever kiss between Rogers and Astaire, following their dance to “I Used to Be Color Blind.” Nominated for Academy Awards for Art Direction (Van Nest Polglase), Musical Score and Best Song (“Change Partners,” by Irving Berlin). 1938, b&w, 83 min. NOT RATED

Fri, Sep 13, 5:00; Sat, Sep 14, 3:10; Sun, Sep 15, 11:00 a.m., 7:00; Tue, Sep 17, 7:00
The greatest of Alfred Hitchcock's British films and a hugely influential film for all moviemaking. Brits Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood become embroiled in a mystery aboard a transcontinental train after Lockwood witnesses the strange disappearance of fellow traveler Dame May Whitty. UK, 1938, b&w, 97 min. NOT RATED

Sun, Sep 15, 2:00
The lovely Lane Sisters are the top-billed stars in this small-town family dramedy, now better remembered as the impressive screen debut of John Garfield, in an Oscar-nominated performance. A box-office hit in its day, the film was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture. Director Michael Curtiz and screenwriter Julius J. Epstein, both nominated here, would later win Oscars for their 1942 collaboration, CASABLANCA. US, 1938, b&w, 90 min. NOT RATED

Sat, Sep 14, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Sep 15, 4:45; Tue, Sep 17, 4:45; Wed, Sep 18, 4:45
For many, no screen Robin Hood has come close to Errol Flynn, and the bright, bold Technicolor brilliance of 1938’s THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD remains the definitive telling of the English medieval legend about the freedom-loving bandit who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. Winner of three Oscars, including for Carl Jules Weyl’s eye-popping art direction and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s memorable score. US, 1938, color, 102 min. NOT RATED

Sat, Sep 14, 5:15; Sun, Sep 15, 9:00
Put-upon paleontologist Cary Grant is feeling the pressure: his brontosaurus skeleton is just one intercostal clavicle away from completion, he has an important meeting coming up with donor prospect May Robson, and his wedding to straitlaced Virginia Walker looms. Then he meets kooky free spirit Katharine Hepburn. 1938, b&w, 102 min. NOT RATED


Built at the height of the New Deal by Treasurer of the United States William Alexander Julian, the Silver Theatre was designed as the crown jewel of Maryland’s Silver Spring Shopping Center. An Art Deco theatre/shopping center complex, the Silver Theatre was conceived to transform the neighborhood into the hub of a major business district with regional appeal.  To create his state-of-the-art theatre, Julian hired celebrated theater architect John Eberson.

Romanian-born John Eberson studied at the University of Vienna later moved to the United States, where he settled in St. Louis, Missouri. He started working at the Johnston Realty and Construction Company, where, in 1901, he began experimenting with stage design and painting. Following his 1909 first-known stage design—the conventional Jewel Theatre in Hamilton, Ohio—Eberson moved to Chicago and, in 1910, began his theatre design work, influenced by his European heritage. Later based in New York City, Eberson died in 1965.

The leading champion of the “atmospheric” style of theatre design—a genre intended to transport the audience to a more exotic locale—Eberson chose an ocean liner as the most compelling atmospheric design for Silver Spring’s regional theatre-goers.

Influenced in his later designs by the French Art Deco (“Art Moderne”) genre, Eberson combined elements of both the atmospheric and deco/moderne movements to create the Silver’s nautically inspired design. The Silver’s exterior frontal mast, rear brick smoke stack and side portal were among the design elements Eberson created to give the Silver Theatre-goers the feel of boarding an ocean liner.

After a nearly 50-year run, the original Silver Theatre closed its doors in 1985. A decade later, when its owner announced demolition plans, community preservationists, including the Art Deco Society of Washington, waged a battle to preserve both the theatre and the adjoining shopping complex.

With a mission of advancing and preserving the art of the moving image, AFI developed the concept of an AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center to house a rich program of classic films, independent features, premieres, foreign films, documentaries, festivals, concerts, special events and presentations designed to transform this historic theatre into a regional destination for arts, entertainment and an internationally recognized year-round film and video exhibition center. To fulfill its eclectic mission, the institute worked with Montgomery County and the project’s rehabilitation architects and builder to create a new three-theatre design.  This unique public-private partnership has created a model for the nation in how to achieve downtown redevelopment by using an arts institution as its centerpiece.

Located at 8633 Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring, a plaque can be seen off the recreated 1938 lobby of the theatre that reads:

Through the tireless efforts of the Silver Spring community, including its elected officials and appointed leaders, the past has been preserved for the benefit of the future. As a cornerstone of a revitalized downtown, the AFI Silver is a center of cultural and educational exploration, uniting those who visit through the power of the moving image.

April 4, 2003

Douglas M. Duncan
Montgomery County Executive

Jean Picker Firstenberg
Director and CEO, AFI