Unreeled Thoughts: New DIA/DFT, Deborah Kerr

Excitement is building for the re-opening of the Detroit Institute of Arts (which hosts the Detroit Film Theatre), and the Michigan and Redford screened the peak performances of the late Deborah Kerr (1921-2007).

Excitement Builds for New DIA/DFT

The Detroit Film Theatre was closed this weekend, as the newly renovated Detroit Institute of Arts held a black-tie fundraiser that was the very first chance for the public to see the enlarged and re-interpreted museum. The DFT pitched in by allowing its auditorium stage to be expanded over the first few rows of seats for a special event.

DFT visitors have been the first beneficiaries of the redesigned museum. For months, patrons have enjoyed the theater’s re-upholstered seats, new dark blue color scheme, and polished silver and gold fixtures. If the rest of the museum looks as good as the DFT auditorium, we’re all in for a real treat.

It’s been fun to hear Friends of Detroit Film Theatre Chairperson Margaret Thomas’s recent stage comments about how both excitement and tension have been building for the new DIA. At all three movie palaces, one thing that has always stood out is the absolute pride and joy that its employees and volunteers take in the restored beauty of these theaters.

I’m very interested to see how the redesigned east side of the DIA draws more attention to the DFT, whose entrance is now more prominent, and part of a group entrance to the DIA. The DFT will help launch the museum to the general public on November 23-25, 2007 with afternoon and evening movies for both children and adults.

Deborah Kerr

Film fans mourned the recent death of Deborah Kerr, who died October 16, 2007. My research for the Looking Back feature of this web site found her at the peak of her career, appearing in many movies that screened at the Michigan in Ann Arbor, the Redford, and other area theaters.

In 1956, Detroit area audiences saw Kerr in the heavily publicized The King and I, which opened at the Fox in Detroit on Friday, July 6, 1956. It also started in Ann Arbor on July 13 at the State (a partner with the Michigan in the Butterfield movie theater chain). Later, Kerr’s Oscar-nominated role hit the Redford screen on October 17 (and then again on April 7, 1957).

Kerr also appeared in The Proud and Profane, which opened nationwide in June 1956 and played at the Redford on September 12-15. A busy 1956 continued for Kerr with Tea and Sympathy, which came to the Adams in Detroit on October 12, and arrived at the Redford on January 30, 1957.

The hits continued for Kerr in 1957, when she co-starred with Robert Mitchum in another Oscar-nominated role in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison. That film opened at the Fox in Detroit on March 21, 1957, and arrived at the Redford on June 19.

For summer 1957 audiences, Cary Grant and Kerr starred in An Affair to Remember. This tearful romance started at the Michigan in Detroit in August. It came to the Michigan in Ann Arbor in September, and the Redford in October.

Detroit Movie Palaces Home Page

Copyright © 2007 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.

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