Whether it's The Wizard of Oz or Singin' in the Rain, Galaxy Quest or 2001: A Space Odyssey, classic movies are an art form we hold dear to our hearts. These celluloid gems from the past, some acclaimed masterworks and others wonderfully tacky period pieces, offer a wormhole back in time, an easy escape into the fantasy world of film.
For fans of vintage films, the Bay Area offers classic movie screenings year-round at mainstream screens as well as such venerable movie meccas as San Francisco's Castro and Balboa theaters, Palo Alto's Stanford Theatre, and the grand dame of Bay Area movie palaces, the Paramount in Oakland.
Here are some of the Bay Area cinemas that screen classic movies on a regular basis and some of the films slated to grace the silver screens this holiday season.
Bay Area Century Theatres
Century Theatres around the Bay Area have monthly screenings of revered movie classics. Coming up on January 27, 29, and 30 is fan-favorite The Wizard of Oz (1939) starring Judy Garland. Celebrate the 80th anniversary of our favorite Ruby Slippers! // fathomevents.com
The classic Castro Theatre, built in 1922, invites classic movie fans into its huge 1,550-seat Spanish baroque auditorium. December 26, see Singin' in the Rain (1952) and Xanadu (1980), and December 28 through January 1, catch Stanley Kubrick's2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). // 429 Castro Street (Castro), castrotheatre.com
The Balboa, a neighborhood movie palace in the heart of the Richmond district, opened in 1926 and has been screening a variety of films old and new ever since. On January 2, catch the out-of-this-world Galaxy Quest (1999) for a blast from the past with Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman. // 3630 Balboa St (Outer Richmond), cinemasf.com/balboa
Roxie Theatre On December 25, the Mission's Roxie (the oldest continuously operating cinema in the country and second oldest in the world) is screening the classic Scarface (1983) starring a young Al Pacino. // 3117 16th St (Mission), roxie.com
The opulent Art Deco-style Paramount Theatre in Oakland is a splendid way to see movie classics. This national historic landmark has been lovingly restored, a rare relic from the long-gone Golden Age of cinema.
Paramount Movie Classics program (on select Friday evenings throughout the year) features a game of chance called "Dec-O-Win," in which 35mm film prints and restaurant gift certificates are prizes to be won. The doors open at 6:30 p.m., and a live Mighty Wurlitzer organ serenades you beginning at 7:30 p.m. The feature films begin at 8:30 p.m. This holiday season, the Paramount is screening the classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) as an afternoon special. The curtain opens at 3:30pm and the movie starts at 4pm. // 2025 Broadway (Oakland), paramounttheatre.com
The Stanford Theatre first opened in 1925, and it served for decades as Palo Alto's premiere movie house. The Stanford Theatre Foundation runs the place and is dedicated to bringing back the authentic movie-going experience of Hollywood's Golden Age. If you're looking for a set of timeless classics that maybe you haven't seen before, head to the Stanford Theatre on January 11, 12, and 13 to see Bengali director Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy (1955-1959). // 221 University Ave (Palo Alto), facebook.com