The Redford Theatre is a sweet piece of Detroit history that’s definitely worth experiencing!
The Detroit-based movie theater has a rich past. It opened in 1928, and while the Redford Theatre has had several owners and ups and downs in its 95-year history, it’s belonged to the Motor City Theatre Organ Society for decades. The nonprofit uses proceeds from event sales to maintain not only the pipe organ that’s been with the building since its inception (and that’s often played during show openings and intermissions), but also to restore and maintain the 1,610-seat theater.
The group’s efforts are evident. The Redford Theatre is a work of art. Hand-painted Japanese murals, rich reds and golds, velvet curtains, and intricate artistic detailing make this jewel box of a building a delight to behold. Viewing a film at the Redford makes me feel so fancy!
It also makes me feel like I’m in on a well-kept secret. A visit to the Redford is a magical night out on a budget! Tickets for single moving viewings are generally $5 ($6 if you add the $1 convenience fee when you purchase online), and prices at the cash-only concession stand (which sells water, pop, popcorn, candy, and other snacks) are incredibly modest. It’s a refreshing change of pace in this inflation-riddled time to spend under $10 on a night out.
The origins of the films screened by the Redford Theatre span the decades of its lifetime. There are black-and-white films from the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s; films from more modern times; and everything in between.
As of the writing of this post, there’s a Three Stooges festival scheduled for the weekend of April 21-22 and a March 10 showing of The Notebook. There’s a Silent Movie weekend in mid-April featuring films from 1928 (to commemorate the Redford’s 95-year anniversary) and those made by modern-day kids (via the International Youth Silent Film Festival Detroit Regional showcase). There’s a showing of 1959 award darling Ben-Hur and the 1988 darling of my childhood, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (I loved that movie as a kid!).
And there are special events that (understandably) fetch higher prices than those $5 movie nights. Examples include the Candlelight Concert series, which has the Redford’s stage awash with hundreds of lit candles, and meet-and-greet movie showings with VIP guests. The latter category includes a sold-out March 11 event featuring William Shatner, who will be here to give a talk and take photos with moviegoers after a showing of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
The theater’s eclectic collection of offerings is reflected in what I viewed during my two visits to it. The first time I visited the Redford Theatre, in early November, I saw the 1979 concert documentary Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The second time, a month later, I went for the annual Holiday Mystery Movie, which turned out to be the silly-cute 1945 rom-com, Christmas in Connecticut.
I will definitely be making the Redford’s Holiday Mystery Movie an annual tradition! Not only was it fun to be exposed to a classic Christmas movie I’d never heard of, I also enjoyed seeing the already-gorgeous Redford gussied up with holiday trimmings. The stage in front of the movie screen boasted both a tinsel-drenched tree sparkling with colorful lights and a model train set careening through a miniature Christmas village.
Whatever time of year you’re seeking magic, you’ll find it when you step into the Redford Theatre! Check out its upcoming shows on its website, and embrace this beautiful piece of Detroit’s past.
17360 Lahser Rd.
Detroit, MI 48219