Motion pictures, like Where’s Waldo ultrasounds and the microfiched first drafts of Pythagoras's maillot theorem, are best experienced on the big screen. Savor gigantic faces and visible boom-mics with today's Groupon: for $75, you get a movie party pack good for 10 tickets (a $90 value), 10 small popcorns (a $60 value), and 10 small sodas (a $40 value) at the Paramount Theatre (a $190 total value). This Groupon is valid for showings in the Summer Film Series from May 21 to September 4, tickets may be used in any combination.
For the 36th year running, the Paramount Theatre's Summer Film Series has given Austinites a way to escape the tarp-like heat that drapes itself over the city. This season's selection of movies runs the gamut from Bogart to Swayze, with more than 80 classic films on tap for all ages and film-going tastes. Single-bill showings include the staggering epics Lawrence of Arabia on August 26 and 27 (it pretty much takes that long to show) and Giant, featuring James Dean’s final pout, on September 1 and 2. Single tickets are also good for thematic double-feature showings on the same day. Get buttered up for a very Swayze weekend with Road House and Red Dawn on July 16 and 17, or celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ultimate tear-jerkers, Star Trek 4 and Aliens, paired together on July 7 and 8. With the ten-ticket party pack, cineastes can choose to bring along nine friends to one show, go on five different dates, or grab an invisible Ebert and cheat the punishing summer by taking in ten movies solo.
Give silent films a crunch-and-sip soundtrack with popcorn and a soda from the concession stand while simultaneously being rendered speechless by the historical movie-palace decadence of the Paramount Theatre. Built in 1915, the Paramount played host to the drunken ventriloquism of Harry Houdini while hoarding Jujube rations during WWII. Lovingly restored, it’s the perfect summer spot for filling the eyes, ears, and elbows with cinematic culture.
Designed by legendary movie-house architect John Eberson and opened to the public as a vaudeville palace in 1915, the venue enjoyed performances by the likes of Harry Blackstone and Katharine Hepburn in its heyday. But things fell into decline during the 1960s as televisions became commonplace, more people migrated to the suburbs, and the stage’s trapdoor spontaneously grew fangs. The Paramount’s multi-tiered seating and historic ceiling murals languished in the theater’s years to follow as a tragically underused B-movie cinema.
In 1973, three men—John M. Bernardoni, Charles Eckerman, and Stephen L. Scott—formed a corporation with the ultimate goal of rescuing the Paramount, by that time slated for destruction. Soon, live performers were regularly supplementing a classed-up movie schedule, and the stage was graced by such artists as Dave Brubeck and Debbie Allen. The theater’s star rose ever higher in the ‘80s and ‘90s as the curtains introduced the world to such lasting works as The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and the Greater Tuna series. Today, the lovingly built and rebuilt artifact is a constant reminder of Austin’s long history of arts appreciation.