Everyone loves movie night, so host one at your house, but with a twist. Paula Conway shares her take on an old-fashioned movie night with nod to the silent film greats.
Turn your living room or movie room into Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and have guests pays $0.25 to watch an early 1900s flick or silent film. To this day, Grauman’s still hosts Family Nights, where they charge $0.25, just like the old days.
To host your own, set up a buffet table with food and candies that would have been served during the silent film and early film days, but give everything a little twist of course.
Create a buffet with offerings named after stars of the day. Set the scene with "Fatty Arbuckle" hot dogs, wrapped in foil with either ketchup or mustard, and labeled; Betty Grable’s warm nuts in brown paper bags, rolled down, with peanuts or cashews overflowing; and "Marilyn Monroe" Milk Duds in a glass bowl with a silver scoop. Then, fill a large bowl or jar with Charlie Chaplin’s caramel corn, and have red Chinese food containers on hand so guests can fill them with the treats they love before they sit down to watch the film.
Candies that would have been available in the early 1900s should be sprinkled throughout the table and between the large bowls, including Sugar Daddy’s, Mary Janes, Boston Baked Beans, strawberry wheels, licorice wheels, root beer barrels, Bit O’Honey, Bull’s Eyes, Slo Poke Caramels, wax bottles, Hershey bars, and saltwater taffy. If guests run low on munchies, they can easily visit the buffet table and fill their bags with more.
Serve flavored sodas, either bottled or homemade, such as Shirley Temples, Orange Crush, Green River (a lime-based soda with a hint of lemon that came out in 1919 and is still made with real sugar in its original location in Chicago), Coca-Cola (vanilla and cherry flavored), Grape Crush, root beer, cream soda, Bubble Up (a lemon-lime soda that you can purchase on Amazon), strawberry soda, blackberry soda, and 7UP.
To keep the theme going, invite your guests to dress like an old-time movie great, and help them out by providing a list of options from the silent film era to the talkies. Suggest Laurel & Hardy, Fatty Arbuckle, Lillian Gish, Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, Max Schreck, Vivian Leigh, James Stewart, Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth, Clara Bow, Betty Grable, Veronica Lake, Gene Autry, Marjorie Reynolds, Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly, Joan Collins, and Bette Davis, just to name a few.
Show one or two films, like Metropolis, which first aired in 1927, or Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings, which marked the opening of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on May 18, 1927. Other cult favorites include Nosferatu from 1929 with Max Schreck (our first, and most iconic, Dracula on film), Modern Times from 1936, directed by Charlie Chapin, and the first silent film horror, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, first released in 1920.
Host intermissions for guests to talk about the film, or play trivia, with winners receiving something fun like a gold (plastic) Oscar, or printed silent film award, framed to remind them of the great time they had at your home.
Send your guests home with candies, popcorn, and even bottled sodas in bags — this is one movie night they’ll never forget.