By Edward Epstein
Sunday, April 24, 2022
The Lincoln Group is excited to once again join with the prestigious American Film Institute to present a special movie presentation in May.
This time, in honor of the Lincoln Memorial's 100th birthday, we'll be screening director Frank Capra's 1939 classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington at 3 pm on Saturday May 21 on the big screen at the AFI's theater complex in downtown Silver Spring, Md. Even if you've seen the movie before, it will be a special treat to view a crystal-clear print on the big screen in a spacious theater that probably is the best place in the Washington area to watch a movie. It's a whole different movie-going experience.
The screening is part of the Lincoln Group's menu of events to celebrate the Memorial's Centennial. Other events include a Lincoln-themed historical walking tour in downtown Washington starting at 10 a.m. on May 21 leaving from Lincoln's church, the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in downtown Washington. That tour, expected to last 90 minutes to two hours, will give participants plenty of time to cool off, enjoy lunch and make their way to downtown Silver Spring for the movie at 3 p.m.
More information on the walking tour, and how to register for it, is available on a posting on this blog.
Of course, on the following day, Sunday May 22, the Lincoln Group and the National Park Service will co-sponsor a free commemorative program stating at 10 a.m. on the Lincoln Memorial steps. Again, more information is available on this blog.
Without giving away the plot, the Lincoln Memorial plays a key role in "Mr. Smith," serving as motivation for the naive Senator Jefferson Smith, played by James Stewart, to take a stand against corruption.
The movie was released in October 1939, which film buffs agree was the apex of the Hollywood studio system. and was nominated for 11 Academy Awards in a year which also included such classics as Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Ninotchka, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Wuthering Heights, Stagecoach, and Dark Victory. Capra's movie, released by Columbia Pictures, managed only one Oscar win, for best story.
It is such an abiding, beloved classic that in 1989 it was one of the first 25 films selected for the National Film Registry.
The AFI Silver theater is at 8633 Colesville Rd. in downtown Silver Spring, just about two blocks east of the Metro's Red Line and the downtown Silver Spring Metro bus terminal. There are several parking garages within a few blocks of the AFI Silver, and, even better, parking in county-owned parking garages is free on weekends.
In addition to co-stars Stewart and Jean Arthur, Mr. Smith features an array of old Hollywood's most-beloved character actors, including Edward Arnold, Beulah Bondi, Thomas Mitchell, Guy Kibbee and Claude Rains.
Regular admission prices apply and the AFI maintains its covid rules -- evidence of vaccination must be shown and masks must be worn inside the theater complex.
Back in February, the Lincoln Group and the AFI co-sponsored a well-attended two-session screening of The Lincoln Cycle, a series of short silent movies about Abraham Lincoln's life made in 1917.