Patrons dressed for "Paper Moon" at the Los Angeles Theatre during Last Remaining Seats in 2012. Photo: Douglas Hill.
For real Angelenos, the Los Angeles Conservancy announcing its Last Remaining Seats season is the first true sign of summer coming. A few years ago, after seeing how people waited in line dressed up in period wear, I started offering ideas to make the screening a full experience. Fortunately, not many took me up on the fashion tips. So I will try again. Here are some dress, dine and drink options for this year's 27th edition of Last Remaining Seats. The majestic palaces are the real stars, so they get top billing on this list.
Orpheum Theatre (1926)
"To Catch a Thief" (1955)
Saturday, June 1
Costume designer Edith Head fussed over Grace Kelly's Frances Stevens, so a French Riviera Technicolor is draped and fitted fashion glam on the Hitchcockian blonde. Not that Cary Grant's retired jewel thief, John Robie, was just slumming in his smart sneaky loafers. If you decide to be a fashion copycat of the feline femme fatale or former cat burglar, elegance is the key. Wear 1955 style with conman-like confidence and you can slip in the new French bistro, Figaro, on Broadway. You can also opt for downtown French spots, Coco Laurent, or the Arts District-based Church & State.
"The cat has a new kitten." -- Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly)
• • •
Palace Theatre (1911)
"La Bamba" (1987)
Wednesday, June 5
Co-presented with the Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles
This screening of the Ritchie Valens biopic is so close to home, one can picture the young Valenzuela family bringing the future rock 'n' roll comet and his siblings to Broadway to watch movies. That is pure conjecture, of course. So is imagining what kind of career Valens would have had. A striking thought when you consider the boy from Pacoima would be the same age as Bob Dylan. Enough personal sentiment; grab a skinny tie and press a white shirt to wear under that 1959-era sweater or shiny jacket. Make dining a quick bite at Grand Central Market. We're in a hurry. Come on. Let's go.
"My mom reckons I'm going to be a star. And stars don't fall from the sky." -- Ritchie Valens (Lou Diamond Phillips)
Trailer: La Bamba
• • •
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (1964)
My Fair Lady (1964)
Wednesday, June 12
Presented as part of Curating the City: Modern Architecture in L.A.
In early 1964, "My Fair Lady" was released. Later that same year, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion opened to be a cornerstone to make Los Angeles more presentable to high society. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion shares the aura of Henry Higgins's socialite mother. Both mother Chandler and Higgins want their immediate world to catch up with their expectations. It doesn't stop as civic planning has Grand Park shaping more Pygmalion effect for downtown. As for fashion, you may think dressing up to fit the tempo for "My Fair Lady" is unpractical, but consider this: In 2011, Sue Wong's Fall 2011 collection was a nod to the film's Edwardian styling and theme of transformation. That is something to mull over while having ricotta dumplings or sticky toffee pudding at The Parish, an English gastro-pub that, by the way, is only a few blocks away from the Flower District.
"Bravo. Eliza." -- Mrs. Higgins (Gladys Cooper)
• • •
All About Eve (1950)
Los Angeles Theatre (1931)
Wednesday, June 19
Margo Channing's inner circle of theater friends and colleagues are a harsh bitter bunch. They do very little intervention on behalf of the aging actress being nipped at her high heels by an ambitious ingénue. Still, they all bring fabulous style while being crafty and catty -- even the men. Match that thin sincerity by wearing the best faux fur you have and stroll into the Biltmore like you own the joint. Find a staircase to stand on and brood while you decide which elegant restaurant will make it all about you. No reservation at any downtown place with dark woods and cocktails with personality? Talk your way in. That's what Eve Harrington would have done.
"I detest cheap sentiment." - Margo Channing (Bette Davis)
Trailer: All About Eve
• • •
Wednesday, June 26
Orpheum Theatre (1926)
Roaming downtown Los Angeles in robes may have people thinking you are seeking to be touched by the hand of Kevin Lee Light, the tall "Jesus in L.A." It may be best to think fashion circa 1925, the year this silent epic was released. Or come as you are, you cubicle wage slaves hoping to take to your chariots and win the race to freedom. Incidentally, if you are traveling from the Westside, you may not be far off from Ben Hur's path. According to AFI, modern documentation says the set for the chariot race was near the intersection of what's "now La Cienega and Venice Blvds." To stay in the right time zone as the motion picture, have an after-screening drink at Formosa Café, which also opened in 1925.
"-- Stately and beautiful: but under the beauty, deep-locked in the heart of each ship, a hell of human woe." -- Title Card as it dissolves into interior of ship's slave galley.
Trailer: Ben Hur
• • •
Saban Theatre (1930)
Saturday, June 29 (Two shows)
If only the two screenings of "Casablanca" were held downtown. The Hotel Figueroa's Moroccan motif would have been an ideal place to have a pre-show gathering with the usual suspects. Still, the art deco jewel Beverly Hills' Saban Theatre lands you near Tagine, a modern throwback to Rick's Café Américain. The menu and mood clings to the ideals of a romantic location that proved past love can find you, even if you are hiding away in a personal exile. Wear a white dinner jacket. You never know who will step back in your life.
"Why did you have to come to Casablanca? There are other places." -- Rick Blain (Humphrey Bogart)
Tickets go on sale to Conservancy members March 27 for $16, and to the general public April 10 for $20.