Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Revisiting Sleeping Beauty (1959) at the El Capitan Theatre

I had another wonderful Disney "big screen" experience today!

I followed last weekend's showing of 40 POUNDS OF TROUBLE (1962) at the Hollywood Heritage Museum, which featured a Disneyland sequence, with a very special 60th Anniversary screening of SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959) tonight at Disney's El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.

SLEEPING BEAUTY premiered in Los Angeles exactly 60 years ago today, so it was very special for me to be at this anniversary screening, as it's been my favorite animated Disney film for as long as I can remember.

It was hard to believe it's already been five years since I last saw SLEEPING BEAUTY at the El Capitan; most of my 2014 review still holds today, though Rob Richards, the El Capitan's house organist, has now been at the theater for 20 years rather than 15!

In fact, Richards provided an extra-special treat; the movie was due to start at 7:00 p.m. but was pushed back a half hour, I assume because so many people were still streaming into the packed theater at showtime. We ended up getting to enjoy a 45-minute concert of Disney music on the big Wurlitzer organ, which made the evening perfect!

As it happens, Leonard Maltin just wrote about Richards and the organ. Richards will star in a special concert, To Disney With Love, at the El Capitan next Monday evening, February 4th. (Ticket info may be found here.) It may rain Monday so I will probably regretfully pass, as the drive from Orange County to Hollywood at that time of day is challenging under the best circumstances, but I'm very happy I got to hear him play so many beloved tunes tonight.

The showmanship at the El Capitan is marvelous, including a short musical prologue featuring a succession of attractively lit curtains and screens, followed by a short dance by Princess Aurora herself -- and then confetti! It was still raining out of the ceiling as the movie began.

The audience was so enthusiastic and appreciative, applauding all the movie's big moments, and as usual I found myself tearing up in a couple spots out of sheer happiness.

There are more Disney classics ahead at the El Capitan over the next few weeks; for details please visit the post I wrote earlier this month. I hope to attend CINDERELLA (1950) in a few weeks!

Previously: Tonight's Movie: Lady and the Tramp (1955) at the El Capitan Theatre; Tonight's Movie: Cinderella (1950) at the El Capitan Theatre; Tonight's Movie: Peter Pan (1953) at the El Capitan Theatre; Tonight's Movie: Mulan (1998) at the El Capitan Theatre; Tonight's Movie: The Little Mermaid (1989) at the El Capitan Theatre; Tonight's Movie: Mary Poppins (1964) at the El Capitan Theatre; Tonight's Movie: Sleeping Beauty (1959) at the El Capitan Theatre; Tonight's Movie: Swiss Family Robinson (1960) at the El Capitan Theatre; Tonight's Movie: Alice in Wonderland (1951) at the El Capitan Theatre; Tonight's Movie: The AristoCats (1970) at the El Capitan Theatre; Tonight's Movie: The Incredibles (2004) at the El Capitan Theatre; Revisiting Enchanted (2007) at the El Capitan Theatre; plus Tonight's Movie: The Jungle Book (1967) at the TCM Classic Film Festival.


Blogger Stefano said...

Laura, I'm glad to read of your experience, and also to know that the show was packed, despite the film's availability on DVD, etc. Hopefully there were many youngsters seeing the pic for the first time; add the magnificent presentation at the El Capitan, and kids could be turned into vintage film buffs, eager for the matchless experience of theatre screenings.

I last saw "Sleeping Beauty" at the Academy's Goldwyn Theatre in 2012, part of its "Last 70mm Film Series". Alice Davis was in the audience, and that is another reason classic film going is often special for Los Angelenos: people connected with the film's making may attend to speak about it, or simply enjoy the movie along with the crowd. As I recall, Davis had a hand in designing the costumes for the character models, used by the artists for reference.

Incidentally, the announced death of 35mm film is premature; this weekend the New Beverly Cinema will be screening "The Happiest Millionaire", and they promise a "vibrant I.B. Technicolor print with booming magnetic sound". Now that's showmanship!

9:09 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Stefano, I loved hearing about your experience seeing SLEEPING BEAUTY at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre. That sounds like a very special experience indeed seeing SLEEPING BEAUTY with Alice Davis present. Plus the Goldwyn is a great place to see movies!

There were a number of costumed children in the audience for SLEEPING BEAUTY at the El Capitan, but with it playing relatively late on a school night the audience definitely tipped toward older Disney fans that evening.

How wonderful the New Beverly is showing THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE! I really wish they had a nearby parking facility. The unpredictable parking on side streets causes me to be reluctant to visit unless I'm with someone else who can walk to the car with me in the late evening! There are many appealing things on their schedule I'd enjoy seeing.

Best wishes,

9:16 AM  

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