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The Masterpieces of Polish Cinema series at the Michigan continues on October 6 with The Illumination.
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Looking Back

April 1963

Step back in time to see what area movie theaters were presenting in April 1963. Film titles are linked to the Internet Movie Database.

For more information about these theaters, see Cinema Treasures or Water Winter Wonderland.


The Alfred Hitchcock thriller The Birds opened in Detroit on Thursday, April 4, 1963, at the Palms (Woodward at Elizabeth). It had premiered in New York City a week earlier on March 28, 1963.

"Alfred Hitchcock can thank his lucky stars for the presence of Tippi Hedren, an attractive blond newcomer, in his latest picture, 'The Birds,' now at the Palms," wrote Detroit News Movie Critic Al Weitschat on April 4, 1963. "All that happens in the first hour of the film is the maneuvering of Miss Hedren, as the blase daughter of a wealthy San Francisco publisher, to get acquainted with handsome, virile Rod Taylor, playing a lawyer."

"There are a lot of fauna which could take over the world any time they wanted to," wrote Louis Cook in the April 5, 1963 edition of the Detroit Free Press. "Cockroaches would like to and could, but they're lazy. Ants don't care. Wasps are preoccupied. Deer flies are specialists. But in the 'The Birds,' which opened Thursday at the Palms Theater, Alfred Hitchcock shows our feathered friends in action, and a blood-chilling thing it is."

Other downtown Detroit movies on April 4, 1963 included Lawrence of Arabia at the Madison; The Longest Day at the United Artists; How the West was Won in Cinerama at the Music Hall; The Courtship of Eddie's Father (Glenn Ford, Shirley Jones) at the Adams; a special Lenten showing of Barabbas (Anthony Quinn) at the Fox; Diamond Head (Charlton Heston, Yvette Mimieux, France Nuyen, George Chakiris) at the Michigan; and a re-release of the 1956 drama War and Peace (Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Mel Ferrer) at the Grand Circus.

Another prominent first run release was To Kill a Mockingbird (Gregory Peck) at the Mercury (Schaefer and Six Mile). On the art film front, the Studio at Livernois and Davison was screening David and Lisa, while the Surf (Fenkell near Meyers) was showing Lonely are the Brave (Kirk Douglas). The Redford was screening a double bill of A Girl Named Tamiko (Laurence Harvey, France Nuyen, Martha Hyer) and Breakfast at Tiffany's (Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Mickey Rooney).

In other movie theater news, the Mai Kai Theater at Plymouth and Farmington in Livonia opened on Wednesday, April 10, 1963. An article in the April 2, 1963 edition of The Detroit News described the 1,400-seat theater as "the largest to be built in the metropolitan area in the last 20 years." It opened with the Walt Disney comedy Son of Flubber (Fred MacMurray) and also had live appearances by Disney stars Annette Funicello and Tommy Kirk.

Also, an April 21, 1963 article by Al Weitschat in The Detroit News opened with this peek at the future of moviegoing in the Detroit metropolitan area:

"A major change in the pattern of motion picture distribution and exhibition in the metropolitan area is being expanded with the announcement by Alden W. Smith, executive vice president of Co-operative Theaters of Michigan, that 12 new attractions will be released this summer for multiple first-run engagements in theaters and drive-ins outside the downtown area."

Later in the article, Smith said, "We're taking a page from supermarkets and shopping centers and serving the public in its own backyard."

The Birds opened at the Redford on May 29, 1963 with the second feature Night Creatures (Peter Cushing, Yvonne Romain). The Birds star Tippi Hedren made a personal appearance at the Redford on September 28 and 29, 2012 for screenings of The Birds.

Ann Arbor audiences were treated to the opening of The Birds at their Michigan theater on Sunday, May 5, 1963. Also in town that day were Come Fly with Me (Dolores Hart, Hugh O'Brien, Karl Boehm) at the State and David and Lisa at the Campus.

At other Ann Arbor area theaters, Danny Kaye starred in The Man from the Diners' Club at the Martha Washington in Ypsilanti; the Ypsi-Ann drive-in screened The War Lover and Who's Got the Action? (Dean Martin, Lana Turner); and the Scio drive-in hosted a double bill of Two for the Seesaw and Tower of London.

Click here to see a PDF of newspaper images relating to the opening of The Birds.


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