American Cinematheque, the nonprofit group dedicated to preserving and promoting film culture that operates the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, “saved” the historic Aero Theatre in Santa Monica by signing a ten-year lease with the building’s owner in 2003.

Before the lease with American Cinematheque was signed, film enthusiasts had feared that the historic theater, which was built in 1939, would be converted into general retail space.

Now two years into the lease, the Aero Theatre via American Cinematheque holds double features of film classics, independent films, documentaries and art films, along with film seminars and discussions about four days per week.

The Aero Theatre is at 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. General admission to screenings is $9. For double features, the $9 admission includes both films.

On Thursday, March 10th, American Cinematheque continues its “Elegies of Moonlight and Rain” retrospective of the films of Japanese director Kenji Mizoguchi, with a screening of Story of the Last Chrysanthemum, at 7:30 p.m.

Mizoguchi is a legend of Japanese cinema who was born impoverished in 1898 in Tokyo. Cruelty he witnessed towards women in his family and the abuse of women in Japanese society that he saw is said to have affected his filmmaking. Mizoguchi’s films are known for their empathetic characters, heavy period detail and unique lighting.

Other upcoming screenings at the Aero that are part of the Mizoguchi retrospective include a double feature of Ugetsu (1953) and Sister of the Gion (1936) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 11th; Life of Oharu (1952) at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 12th; and a double feature of Osaka Elegy (1936) and Street of Shame (1956) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12th.

A tribute to Dr. Seuss, on the anniversary of the late children’s author’s 101st birthday, will include a screening of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, the only live-action film written by Dr. Seuss, at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 13th.

“CinÈvardaphoto,” a screening of short films directed by AgnËs Varda, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15th.

From Thursday through Sunday, March 17th to 20th, the Aero will screen films in tribute to Hungarian-born film director Peter Medak, who was prolific in the mid-’60s British film scene.

Medak’s films are known for their hard-edged realism and ferocious satirical bite. His films were often critical of the British class system.

Medak film screenings at the Aero include The Ruling Class (1972), about a British aristocrat who believes he is Jesus Christ, until everyone around him tries to cure him of this belief, with tragic results, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 17th.

The Changeling, a ghost story and portrait of the supernatural, directed by Medak in 1980, is scheduled to be screened at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 18th.

A screening of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1972), about a couple who resort to black humor in taking care of their brain-dead daughter, is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, March 19th.

A Medak double feature screening of The Krays (1990) and Let Him Have It (1991) is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday, March 19th.

The Krays is a violent gangland saga about the Kray Brothers, operating in the London underworld of the 1960s. Let Him Have It focuses on the criminal trial and erroneous death sentence given to 19-year-old Derek Bentley in the 1950s in London.

The final Medak tribute is a double feature screening of Negatives (1968) and Romeo is Bleeding (1993) at 5 p.m. Sunday, March 20th.

Negatives is about a middle class young couple and the strange role-playing games they indulge in to make bearable their boring and marginal lives.

Romeo is Bleeding stars Gary Oldman and is a neo-film noir thriller about the crumbling of an on-the-take cop’s shady dealings with the mob.

The Aero schedule in late March will feature screenings of the Roger Corman-directed film adaptations of the tales of Edgar Allen Poe that were made in the 1960s, of in most of which horror legend Vincent Price starred.

Screenings of Corman’s Poe adaptations include The Masque of the Red Death, Tales of Terror, The Raven and The Oblong Box.

Also screened will be horror classics Theatre of Blood and The Abominable Dr. Phibes with Vincent Price.

Information, (323) 466-3456.

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