Illustration by Jens Magnusson
Illustration: Jens Magnusson

Park Ridge —Are classic-cinema cultists all reactionaries, retreating into Hollywood’s idealized past? Or are they the new communitarians, laying down their cellphones for a shared experience of great entertainment? Either way, a whole lot of them turn out in Park Ridge for the Pickwick Theatre Classic Film Series, organized by local movie scholar Matthew C. Hoffman and screened in the exquisite art deco landmark. Patrons for a recent revival of King Kong (1933) lingered in the theater’s marble lobby to inspect an exact replica of the metal skeleton that was used to animate the great ape. In the 900-seat screening room, designed with a Mayan-Aztec theme, organist Jay Warren held forth on the mighty Wurlitzer.

Hoffman introduces the films, sometimes bringing guests: Actress Lana Wood recently recalled her experience as a 9-year-old cast member of John Ford’s The Searchers (1956), and Sara Karloff, daughter of horror icon Boris Karloff, remembered her father at screenings of Bride of Frankenstein (1935). This spring brings The Quiet Man (1952) on March 13, West Side Story (1961) on April 3, and, on May 15, a 50th-anniversary screening of the James Bond adventure On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Hoffman may stick to familiar titles at the Pickwick, but his annual screening series across the street at the Park Ridge Public Library offers a more eclectic history of the golden age of movies (minus the vintage movie-house glamour).