Mystery movie once again returns to the Paramount

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 6, 2003

A very special movie is coming to the Paramount Theatre Mother's Day, May 11.

It has it all: romance, comedy,

history, action, suspense and graphic -- for its time -- language.

Email newsletter signup

Unfortunately, theater manager Scott Anderson said he can't mention its name, because of strict copyright protection imposed by the film's distributor.

That's right: he can tell the curious the name of the movie over the telephone, but he can't mention it or any of its major stars in pre-publicity.

Anderson double- and then triple-checked with the film's distributor to be sure. He steadfastly refuses to divulge the film title in interviews or on the glittering Paramount Theatre's marquee.

"They'll have to call me to verify the title. I was informed I couldn't use it in advertising or other promotion," Anderson said.

Any resemblance between the Academy Award-winning movie and the colorful poster that hangs in the women's restroom is purely coincidental, according to Anderson.

All the clumsy secrecy is not exactly a sure-fire way of publicizing an event to raise funds for the historical building.

It's bad enough, Mother's Day, May 11, falls on the Minnesota fishing opener weekend, but Anderson thinks that could work to the film's benefit. "All the mothers and grandmothers who are abandoned by their husbands and others that weekend can spend a great afternoon at the Paramount Theatre enjoying a classic movie," he said.

Movies are what the Paramount Theatre is all about.

The theater at 125 4th Ave. NE opened Sept. 14, 1929, as a first-run movie house and closed April 30, 1975. Afterwards it became a disco, then a non-alcoholic bar and finally a comedy club before closing again in 1987.

A year later, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

By 1992, the Austin Area Commission for the Arts became the owner of the building and immediately began a restoration project.

Today, the much-loved building with its distinctive Spanish-influenced architecture is a completed restored atmospheric movie theater.

A week ago, the Austin Swing Band entertained its fans with big band music from the 1930s and 1940s.

Classical pianist Ian Shapinsky will perform there Saturday in 2 and 7 p.m. concerts.

On Mother's Day, Clar … oops … let's just say a classic movie returns for the fifth time.

Movies are what the Paramount is all about.

"The last movie to play at the Paramount Theatre was Godfather Part II on April 30, 1975," Anderson said. "Before that, "Towering Inferno" played here. Ninety-nine percent of the history of this place is about movies."

Anderson should know. Not only is he the current manager and theater history a part of his job description, but Austin is his hometown. He went to movies at the Paramount, thrilled at matinees, gazed at the star-studded ceiling, reveled at the enormity of the balcony view and like generations of other Austin children and teenagers and adults just knew without a doubt going to a movie at the Paramount Theatre could create life-long memories.

"It's like coming home," he said of his job as theater manager. "I used to love Chilly Dilly pickles, when I went to the movies. They used to show all the Disney movies when they were released. It started out as a place for vaudeville and movies, but then movies took over."

And, none was more popular than the one based on the book by Mar … oops. Can't mention the author's name either.

in fact, the only actor's name that Anderson feels comfortable in mentioning in pre-publicity is Butterfly McQueen. "I think that's obscure enough to satisfy the distributor's wishes," he said.

He does have a hint courtesy of filmologist Monica Lonergan: the last time the drama played at the Paramount Theatre was May 19-25, 1961.

Prior to that it played at the Austin theater Sept. 10-16, 1954; May 12-15, 1948; March 1941 (a five-day run) and when it made its debut in the city Easter Sunday, March 24, 1940, when it stayed for a one-week run.

Packed crowds were the norm, according to newspaper reviews.

The film makes everyone's favorite movie list and Anderson said comes in two versions: the one with a famous swear word and the one without.

It can be seen in its entirety beginning 3 p.m. Sunday. The 3 1/2-hour film will include an intermission. Tickets are $3 each at the box office and the concession stand, featuring Chilly Dilly pickles, will be open.

Anderson will operate the Paramount Theatre's vintage projection machine.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at