The Screen Has a Quinceañera

Casey St. Charnez - January 10, 2014

"The Screen, on the SFUAD campus, opened 15 years ago this week, and tonight they’re having a birthday party."

The Screen, on the SFUAD campus, opened 15 years ago this week, and tonight they’re having a birthday party.

To celebrate this cinematic quinceañera, the art-house’s film curator Brent Kliewer will present one of his personal favorites, The Palm Beach Story (1942).

The 7 p.m. show of the 87-minute comedy classic includes in-person remarks by Kliewer, as well as friends of the family Ali MacGraw, Godfrey Reggio, and Jonathan Richards.

And the Chocolate Maven is serving free birthday cake, too.

IMHO, The Screen has the best presentation of any theater in Northern New Mexico. It deserves some snaps.

Although it began life humbly in 1998, with less than a couple dozen folding chairs and a portable classroom screen, the venue, a onetime soundstage, has grown to 165 permanent seats, with a fine Dolby sound system and a good, big, properly curved permanent screen. Plus, the projection room has just gone all-digital. The arresting acoustics and the sizable image are 1960s roadshow-epic in scale.

Located in the Garson Studios complex, The Screen long has been a nifty perk for the school’s Moving Images students, and it’s open to the public as well, of course, with both first-run mainstream offerings and left-of-center titles, as well as opera, stage, and dance screenings.

The Oklahoma-born, low-profile Kliewer (pronounced “Cleaver”) locally has been well-known as a film scene fixture for over 30 years now. In the early 80s, he remodeled the Collective Fantasy into the Jean Cocteau (now famously reopened under the auspices of George R.R. Martin and Jon Bowman). Later, he was instrumental in forming the Center for Contemporary Arts’ Cinematheque, and eventually he segued into SFUAD—né the College of Santa Fe—as a faculty member and then, once more, an exhibitor. His knowledge is vast, his taste eccentric, his generosity broad.

So showing a classic from the 1940s is certainly within his mission statement. And I really do love this particular screwball farce typical of the witty, one-of-a-kind writer/director Preston Surges, who also made classics like Hail the Conquering Hero, The Lady Eve, Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, and one of the great movies about movies, Sullivan’s Travels.

The Palm Beach Story, however, with Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Rudy Vallee, and Mary Astor, has always seemed exceptionally wacky to me. To attempt further description is futile. Seeing it in a theater with a laughing-out-loud crowd will be a memorable experience, I’m sure, as will the surrounding festivities.

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By the way: Long live The Wienie King! (You’ll see…)