The first time Arthur Friedman walked into Fort Lauderdale’s Gateway Theatre a couple of years ago, he wasn’t put off by the weathered marquee, ragged carpet, gloomy hallways and unwelcoming restrooms. He was charmed.
“It had a wonderful, intimate feel,” says Friedman, a movie producer (the Bobby Darin biopic “Beyond the Sea,” among others) with a long history of running small movie theaters in New England. In fact, the Bronx-born Red Sox fan (yes, he’s complicated) thought the Gateway had “good bones,” and just needed the kind of attention given to a revered Boston landmark.
“I was reminded of the first day I walked into Fenway [Park] in the 1960s. It was old and decaying,” he says of the now-remodeled Red Sox stadium. “They took an old ballpark, which I love, and made it ‘new-old,’ by keeping the ambience. This is the movie version.”
Where some saw a lost cause, Friedman, now living in Pompano Beach, saw the opportunity to create a community hub for people who love watching and talking about movies like he does.
After fixing the bathrooms, replacing the carpet and brightening passageways for nostalgic pictures and mementos ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Jackie Robinson (some from his own collection), he rebranded the building the Classic Gateway Theatre.
One of his signature projects begins this weekend with the opening of the second annual Classic Film Festival, a slate of 16 handpicked dramas and comedies running Friday through Sept. 26. What began last year as an idea to merely fill the slow weeks before the tourism season kicked in was instantly successful, Friedman says, and had to have a reprise.
“People were always coming up to me and asking when [the Classic Film Festival] was coming back,” he says.
With easy streaming of movies into your family room, Friedman believes there is a whole generation of film viewers raised on small-screen versions of movies that deserve the term “epic.” The sweeping grandeur of a “Dr. Zhivago” and “Lawrence of Arabia,” the intimate emotions of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Way We Were,” and the lusty laughs of “Young Frankenstein” and “Manhattan” are exponentially more powerful when absorbed on a big screen in a communal setting, he says.
“There is no other way to truly experience these films,” he says.
Picking an all-time favorite is like asking Friedman to choose a favorite ballplayer. But he can do both pretty quickly: Willie Mays and David Lean’s WWII epic “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” which is again part of the festival.
“It’s a masterpiece,” he says. “It was made for the big screen.”
The Classic Film Festival runs for four weeks, with four films running in revolving order at different times each day Friday through Thursday. Beginning this weekend, Week 1 rotates “On the Waterfront,” “Dr. Strangelove” (trailer below), “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “The Maltese Falcon.” On Sept. 6, Week 2 has “All About Eve,” “Band Wagon,” “Tootsie” and “Dr. Zhivago.” On Sept. 13, Week 3 has “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” “An Affair To Remember” and “The Graduate.” And on Sept. 20, Week 4 has “The Way We Were,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Manhattan” and “Young Frankenstein.”
The Classic Gateway Theatre is at 1820 E. Sunrise Blvd. Tickets cost $10, $8 before 4 p.m.; seniors, students and 12 and younger $8. All tickets cost $7 on Tuesdays. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Sun-Sentinel Children's Fund. Info: 954-763-7994, ClassicGateway.com.
The Bonnie Clearwater era at NSU's Museum of Art/Fort Lauderdale (1 E. Las Olas Blvd.) begins with a celebratory bash for its new director beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday. Given Clearwater’s years of smart stewardship at one of South Florida’s most respected museums (North Miami Beach’s Museum of Contemporary Art) and the resulting buzz over her move to MoAFL, you can imagine the arty who’s-who who will be in attendance. The party includes drinks, hors d'oeuvres and live music. Admission: $5, free for members. Info: 954-262-0227, email@example.com.
The engaging Tracy Fields had a rewarding conversation with Silvano Monasterios the other night on her WLRN radio show “Evenin’ Jazz” (9:30 p.m.-1 a.m. on 91.3 FM) in which the pianist, a man of prodigious talent, revealed that he fell in love with the genre thanks in part to pop albums such as Steely Dan’s “Aja” and George Benson’s “Breezin’” (with piano from fellow Argentine Jorge Dalto). This made me feel a little closer to the genius that is Monasterios. Hear him Friday night with the Fourth World Ensemble at the Arts Garage (180 NE First St., Delray Beach). Tickets: $25-$40. Info: 561-450-6357, ArtsGarage.org.
Three-day weekends can mean a getaway drive, which requires a soundtrack. Our playlist will include big chunks of "Treinta Dias" (Thirty Days), the bouyant major-label debut by La Santa Cecilia, an alt-Latino quartet from Los Angeles led by commanding vocalist Marisoul. Worth a mention is the song “Losing Game,” featuring jazzy rock troubadour Elvis Costello. Hit the links for more on La Santa Cecilia or to buy "Treinta Dias"
TAKE IT EASY
The B.E. Easy Music and Art Festival moves to the revitalized (and yet still under-appreciated) Hugh Taylor Birch State Park near Fort Lauderdale beach noon-11 p.m. Saturday, bringing a strong dose of jammy grooviness from more than a dozen acts led by Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, the Resolvers, Uproot Hootenanny, the Funky Nuggets and the Short Straw Pickers. A multitude of vendors and food trucks, including the consistently tasty Nacho Bizness) will be on hand as well. Tickets at $30, four for $100, at BrownPaperTickets.com. Proceeds go to the nonprofit B.E. Easy Scholarship Fund, created in the name of the late Ben Evans to help those in need of treatment for addiction. More info: BEEasyMusicandArtFestival.com.
The Palm Beach Zoo (1301 Summit Blvd., West Palm Beach) on Saturday brings back the popular Food Truck Safari, which drew more than 1,000 people in July. The event, which runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., will again salute a food truck with a Sustainability Award for its environment-friendly operation. Last year’s winner, the Daily Special, is back, along with other trucks scattered throughout the zoo, including Spring in Roll Out, BFF, Taco Fresh, PS561, Dolce Gourmet Cupcakes, Paradise Shave Ice, Da Burger Shack and Crazydilla. Admission: $10, $9 members, $7/$6 for kids. The food trucks will take credit cards and are donating a portion of their proceeds to the zoo. Info: 561-547-9453, PalmBeachZoo.org.
WEEKEND PLAYLIST PART II
As you may have read here earlier in the week, young Miami-based choral group Seraphic Fire was pushing for all of its fans to buy its new album, “Ave Maria: Gregorian Chant,” when it was released on Tuesday to see if enough of the right Internet algorithms could be triggered to put the album on the Billboard chart coming out next Tuesday. Which should not obscure the fact that “Ave Maria” ought to be purchased quickly simply because it is an extraordinary recording, filled with lush harmonies and ancient mysteries. It’s the perfect antidote to the stress of the inevitable traffic backup in the Keys. Hit the links to buy "Ave Maria: Gregorian Chant" on Amazon or on iTunes.
A NOLE BURGER
Best suggestion we’ve heard so far for Grease Burger’s contest to salute FSU is that a Nole Burger should have anoles aplenty. But can you catch enough lizards to feed that packed house? This is the weekend when the West Palm Beach eating and drinking establishment (213 Clematis St.) gets down to it with its Seminole Burger competition. You have through Saturday to email your recipe to firstname.lastname@example.org (include your name and put "Seminole Burger" in the subject line). Three finalists will be announced at the restaurant during the FSU vs. Pittsburgh game on Monday. Grease will serve slider versions of the finalists during the Florida vs. Miami game on Sept. 7 to help determine the winner. More details here.
SUENALO Y PALO!
Not often that the vanguard of that infectious mix of reggae, electronica and Afro-Cubanismo that defines some of Miami’s best shows wanders into Palm Beach County, but one of the best, Suenalo, hits the Bamboo Room (25 S. J St., Lake Worth) Friday night. Tickets: $12, $15 at the door. Info: 561-585-2583, BambooRoomBlues.com.
Admission: We don’t really watch NBC’s “The Voice,” but used to keep track of the likable power-pop put out by Palm Beach County rockers Hey Monday. The band’s vocalist, Cassadee Pope, winner of Season 3 of “The Voice,” will return to her hometown of West Palm Beach on Friday with a free performance on the Summer Country Music Concert Series at CityPlace. Her debut solo album, "Frame by Frame," is set for release Oct. 8. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m., with an afterparty and public meet-and-greet nearby at Tequila Cowboy Bar and Grill. Info: 561-366-1000, CityPlace.com.
SEQUINS AND STRAITJACKETS
The Boca Raton quintet Phantomime will celebrate “The Heist,” a new collection of their darkly theatrical rock at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Green Room (109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale), accompanied by Fort Lauderdale-based Cupcake Burlesque in what sounds like a particularly provocative performance that may involve straitjackets. The show, which includes the Pathetique and Raggy Monster, is free for 21-and older, $5 for the rest, who can’t get in after 11 p.m. Info: 954-449-1030, GreenRoomLive.com, Facebook.com/Phantomime.
FREE WANG CHUNG
We takes our ‘80s seriously in South Florida. Everybody? Wang Chung. Saturday night. Yes, the band, the verb, will perform a free show 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Magic City Casino (450 NW 37th Ave., Miami). Info: 305-460-6579, MagicCityCasino.com.
BUT MONEY IS MONEY
The reason that GEICO’s “Happier Than Eddie Money Running a Travel Agency" commercial worked (aside for his quirky snippet of “Two Tickets to Paradise”) is that there was a time that he was pop chart money, from “Two Tickets” and “Baby Hold On” in 1977 to “Take Me Home Tonight” nearly a decade later. Money performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek (5550 NW 40th St.). Tickets: $30-$52. Info: 954-977-6700, SeminoleCoconutCreekCasino.com.