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  • Carrie Specht

Last Remaining Seats 2013 Season


Last Remaining Seats has a unique lineup set for the 27th Annual Conservancy's signature series of classic films and live entertainment in historic theaters. With plenty of iconic films, Saturday shows, and a new modern venue what more do you need to entertain the family this summer?

Last Remaining Seats is all set to begin the 27th Annual Conservancy's signature series of classic films this June. The Conservancy features live entertainment in historic LA theaters complete with iconic films, Saturday shows, and a new modern venue. The tickets have been on sale to members and the general public since April so the opening night presentation of To Catch a Thief has already sold out. But don’t despair, because there are still plenty of great seats available for several other terrific favorites including My Fair Lady and La Bamba. Get your tickets and complete details by going straight to the official website (link).

The Conservancy is a long respected organization created for and dedicated to the preservation and celebration of classic cinema. In addition to the previously mentioned films this season’s selection of ultra classics includes the 1925 version of Ben-Hur on Wednesday, June 26th. The silent film will be shown at the gorgeously restored Orpheum Theatre in downtown LA. So, keeping in spirit with both the historic theater and the film the presentation will include an accompaniment of live music provided by Clark Wilson on the Orpheum's original Mighty Wurlitzer organ. Trust me when I say that there’s nothing like the combination of authentic music in the midst of such a vibrant atmosphere to rouse the historic appreciation in anyone’s heart. It’s an opportunity to experience the history of the movies hands-on, using multiple senses. Just don’t tell the kids they’re likely to learn something. Instead, let them bask in the surroundings and the experience will do the rest.

The film itself is an early adaptation of the biblical epic featuring 1920s heartthrob Ramon Novarro (and there’s a lot to throb the heart here). It’s a familiar tale of close childhood friends who are driven apart as adults by their disparate backgrounds. In this case it’s religious and ethnic differences. A perceived slight reigns havoc upon Ben-Hur and his family ending up in imprisonment and exile. Of course, the hero ultimately prevails through his strength of character, winning the admiration and patronage of Romans and Arabs alike. Ben-Hur exacts his revenge in the unforgettable, and famous climactic chariot race showdown. Filmed in near perfect accuracy, the race is a marvel to watch even by today’s special effects-crazed standards. Watch this with the kids and they WILL ask to see more silent films. Without a doubt!

The other notable must-see film in the series is Casablanca (see my review) with two screenings Saturday, June 29th. The Best Picture of 1942 features Humphrey Bogart in the performance of a lifetime as the world-weary, café owner Rick Blaine, in this iconic tale of love and sacrifice in wartime Morocco. Bogart’s Blaine maintains indifference to political and personal affairs and lives unaffected amongst the desperation of his café’s well-appointed patrons (which includes a brief but wonderful performance by Peter Lorre). His avowed apathy is challenged when his old flame, Ilsa Lund (a young and beautiful Ingrid Bergman) shows up seeking an exit visa for herself and her husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a leader of the anti-Nazi Resistance. Ultimately, the action culminates when Rick must choose between his heart’s desire and the greater good. It’s a lesson for the heart and conscious of all viewers.

With an A-list cast that also includes the incredibly versatile Claude Rains (The Invisible Man) in the role of an indifferent police official, the wonderfully menacing Conrad Veidt (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) as the personification of the Nazi party, and classic cinema’s best “fat man” Sydney Greenstreet (The Maltese Falcon) Casablanca turned out to be a particularly timely film. In a stroke of unintentional publicity the film's New York premiere actually coincided with the Allied landing in North Africa and real-life Battle of Casablanca. If you’re a fan you already know why this timeless classic is one of the most frequently quoted and referenced films of all time. And if you’ve never seen this pillar of American cinema then you’ve got to experience it on the big screen and see for yourself why it appears on virtually every ‘best-of’ film list, and is considered by many to be THE ultimate American film. And here’s your chance to see it under the ultimate circumstances.

It’s important to note that tickets are not sold over the phone, nor can they be exchanged or refunded. So, at $20 a pop via computer you do want to be sure you can make the screening. Also, you should be forewarned that if you buy a ticket that you don’t use the purchase will be treated as a donation to the Conservancy. All ticket proceeds benefit the nonprofit historic preservation efforts. Other purchase details can be found on the website.

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