'American Graffiti' under the stars


George Figgs, operator of Fells Point's late Orpheum Theater, is taking his act on the road.

Tomorrow, Figgs will debut his Mobile Movie Unit - the projector, popcorn machine and other components of the old Orpheum - in Salisbury. There on Maryland's Eastern Shore, he'll re-create one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences of yore: the drive-in.

At 9 p.m., behind the Ethan Allen furniture store on Main Street, Figgs will show "American Graffiti," a film chosen to coincide with a daylong car show also scheduled for tomorrow in Salisbury. The presentation will also include a short subject, between-film commercials (for all those mouth-watering goodies available at the snack stand) and other components of the drive-in.

"I'm trying to give people the classic drive-in movie experience," Figgs says. "The ghost of drive-in movies is hovering above America, just waiting to be appreciated again."

His screen will be suspended from scaffolding, and his projector will be elevated above the crowd on a scissors crane. That's not exactly how it used to be at the drive-ins - for that experience, local moviegoers can check out the Bengies Eastern Boulevard - but it may be the next best thing.

Figgs hopes that tomorrow is just the beginning of a busy summer. Already, he has commitments to show several family-friendly films in Patterson Park, as well as a weekly Thursday series of films at a teen center in New Freedom, Pa.

For some, Figgs' traveling road show may be as close as they'll get to an old-style neighborhood theater. "I'm trying to re-create a lost experience for people - the small old neighborhood theater that was a staple of America for so long," he says.

'Navy Blue and Gold'

The Maryland Commission for Celebration 2000 and the Maryland Historical Society will hold the third in their series of nine "Maryland Goes to the Movies" programs Saturday. "Navy Blue and Gold" (1937), starring Robert Young and James Stewart as freshmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, will be shown at 2 p.m. in the Old Greenbelt Theater in Annapolis. Film historian Leith Johnson, who curated the current "Filming Maryland" exhibition at the Historical Society, will deliver a talk before the screening. Admission is free and open to the public.

Also this weekend, the Historical Society will hold a "Reel Maryland" gallery talk in conjunction with "Filming Maryland." Dr. Robert Headley will present "From Nickelodeons to Palaces," a history of movies in Baltimore, at 2 p.m. at the Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St. Admission is free.

Midnight Marquee

The Midnight Marquee Press, those good folks who bring us the Classic Filmfest every year, will present their Movie Marketplace Saturday at the Timonium Holiday Inn. The marketplace, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., will feature dealers selling movie memorabilia, posters, tapes, laser discs, magazines, toys and books.

Midnight Marquee also will present the debut of its new book, "Hollywood's Classic Scream Queens 1930s," a compendium of photographs of such Golden Age stars as Fay Wray, Gloria Stuart, Irene War, Helen Chandler and Myrna Loy.

Admission is free and the event is open to the public. The Timonium Holiday Inn is at 2004 Greenspring Drive.

Open-captioned 'U-571'

Loews White Marsh Theatre will present an open-captioned version of the hit submarine thriller "U-571" Tuesday and Wednesday for hearing-impaired patrons. The performances will be part of the theater's regular daily schedule, with one screening in the afternoon and one in the evening. Check the Sun Film Calendar for show times or call 410-931-980 for more information.

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