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    Last Remaining Seats series revives historic theaters with classic films this summer
    • May 29, 2024

    The glory days are coming back for a trio of classic theaters in downtown Los Angeles thanks to a film series that will take people back in time to the golden age of cinema with the return of the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats series.

    “For people who may not know about L.A. history or its historic buildings but who love film and film history, or who love architecture, this is something you have to experience,” said Sarah Lann, director of education for the Conservancy.

    The popular summer series features classic films screened in historic theaters in downtown Los Angeles with double features at three movie houses on June 1, 8 and 15. The venues this year are the Orpheum, the Palace and the Los Angeles theaters.

    “There are so few opportunities to come into theaters as glorious and magnificent as these ones are and to sit down and see a classic film. It’s like stepping back in time to a period when Los Angeles was home to this new and innovative industry called the movies,” she said.

    Here’s what you need to know about the classic venues and the films that will be screened there as part of the Last Remaining Seats.

    The Los Angeles Theatre is one of three venues hosting the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats series. (Photo by Mike Hume)

    The Orpheum is one of the three theaters hosting the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats series. (Photo by Mike Hume)

    The Palace Theatre is one of three classic theaters hosting the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats series. (Photo by Mike Hume)



    The Orpheum Theatre

    The Orpheum opened at 842 S. Broadway in 1926 and was renovated a few years ago. It was built in the Beaux-Arts architectural style. “It’s opulent, it’s fancy. It has all of the architectural details that you could possibly want,” Lann said. The theater is decked out in marble-clad walls, stained-glass rose windows and two huge chandeliers. “It really does make you feel like you should be going in to attend some grand opera instead of just watching a movie,” she said. The theater also houses a Mighty Wurlitzer organ, which will come in handy for the opening film of the series.

    The Films

    The Orpheum will open the series at 2 p.m. on June 1 with the 1920 silent classic “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.” The German horror classic tells the story of an insane hypnotist who uses a sleepwalker to commit murders. “We always do a silent film at the Orpheum because it has an intact original Mighty Wurlitzer organ. So you can’t miss the opportunity to watch a silent film with a live organist to accompany the film,” she said.

    The second film of the day at the Orpheum is the 1955 Marylin Monroe film “The Seven Year Itch,” which will screen at 8 p.m. on June 1 also happens to be Monroe’s birthday. “It’s going to be really fun to be in that space celebrating Marylin with that film,” Lann said.

    The Los Angeles Theatre

    Located just up the street from the Orpheum at  615 S. Broadway, this is the youngest of the three theaters in the series and perhaps the most opulent. It opened in 1931 and was the last theater built on Broadway. “It was designed to look similar to a French baroque palace, and it does not disappoint,” Lann said. “There are crystals, fountains, massive chandeliers, and there are red walls with golden gilded columns. It’s just dripping in ornamentation,” Lann added.

    The Films

    Get ready for an action classic because on June 8 at 2 p.m. the theater will screen the 1968 Steve McQueen film “Bullitt,” where he plays a stylish and cool San Francisco cop assigned to protect a key witness. The film has one of the greatest car chase scenes ever and for the series screening actor and car aficionado Michael Spellman will be there to talk about his Mustang, which is a replica of the one that McQueen drives in the film.

    The day will close with the 8 p.m. screening of “Gaslight.” The 1944 film is a psychological and creepy thriller that gave us the term “gaslighting.” “It’s a great theater for ambience. It’s a black and white film, filled with that film noir shadow and light feel. It’s the perfect setting for it,” she said.

    The Palace Theatre

    The doors to the Palace Theater opened in 1911 at 630 S. Broadway. It is the oldest theater on Broadway and was built for the Vaudeville circuit before movies were common. It became a silent movie house in 1926. “I always think of the Palace as being a jewel box. It’s like you’ve opened this perfect little jewelry box and stepped inside,” she said. It was designed to look like a Renaissance palazzo with multi-colored terra cotta and decorations like flowers and fairies.  “It is absolutely picture perfect inside,” Lann said.

    The Films

    The series closes June 15 at the Palace starting the 2 p.m. James Bond film “To Russia with Love,” and the 1994 film “Mi Vida Loca,” which will screen at 8 p.m. The movie takes place in Echo Park and tells the story of how a group of friends survive gang life in the neighborhood. “For a lot of people this is a real cult classic so this felt like a great opportunity to bring it back, especially because it’s such an L.A. story,” Lann said.

    Tickets are $25 for general admission. For more information go to

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    ​ Orange County Register