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Step back in time to see what area movie theaters were presenting in December 1981. Film titles are linked to the Internet Movie Database.
The Detroit Film Theatre closed out its fall season on December 18-20 with the 1981 documentary From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China. Also this month at the DFT was the French language Messidor (1979), the first film by director Alain Tanner since his acclaimed 1976 film Jonah Who Will be 25 in the Year 2000. The DFT also presented the Fifteenth International Tournee of Animation.
Older films at the DFT included Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Top Hat (1935), and a W. C. Fields double feature of Tillie and Gus (1933) and It's a Gift (1934). The Sunday night tribute to Alfred Hitchcock moved into the 1940s with Rebecca (1940). The Afternoon Film Theatre of the Detroit Institute of Arts paid tribute to Mary Pickford with Little Annie Rooney (1925) and Sparrows (1926).
"As usual, the Classic Film Theatre at the Michigan Theatre has stacked Christmas week with as winning a movie schedule as you're likely to find anywhere," wrote Ann Arbor News Art Editor Rich Quackenbush on December 20, 1981.
Just before Christmas, the Michigan screened a double bill of The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and East of Eden (1955); a twin bill of Gigi (1958) and Meet Me in St. Louis (1944); and the Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Right after Christmas, the Michigan presented Gone With the Wind (1939) and The Wizard of Oz (1939). On New Year's Eve, Humphrey Bogart appeared in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and The Maltese Falcon (1941).
The Redford held its annual Christmas show on December 5. Organist Tom Gnaster appeared, along with the Fairlane Ballet Company, which performed excerpts from the Nutcracker Ballet. On the big screen, the Redford closed out 1981 with laughter. On December 11-12, Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor starred in the 1950 comedy Father of the Bride. Two weeks later (on December 26-27) Rosalind Russell gave an energetic performance as Auntie Mame (1958).
First-run holiday films included Reds (Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton); Absence of Malice (Sally Field and Paul Newman); Sharkey's Machine (Burt Reynolds); Neighbors (John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd); and Buddy Buddy (Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon). Popular movies at the Maple included Gallipoli, Heartland, and The Stunt Man.
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