Olympia, Washington: Outdoor Movies at the Mansion

Just as drive-in movies conjure nostalgic visions of teenagers, outdoor movies call up thoughts of younger children staying up late to watch comedies and cartoons.
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Movies at the Mansion, the State Capital Museum's new outdoor movie series, aims at a more sophisticated audience.

We thought it would be fun to have a different perspective on outdoor movies, said Susan Rohrer, the museum manager. We're showing classic old movies that go with the historical nature of the museum.

The series begins Friday with James Dean's Rebel Without a Cause and wraps up Aug. 22 with The Philadelphia Story, set in a Lord Mansion, although not the same one that houses the museum. The movies will be shown on an 8-foot-by-8-foot professional outdoor screen in the museum's back garden.

We were tossing around ideas of different things to do, said Len Balli, the museum assistant. We are coming up on a time where people are going to start looking for more local entertainment with inflation, gas prices, all that sort of stuff. We were talking about how we think the museum needs to do more programming.

I threw out the idea that it would be fun to show classic movies, and it took off from there.

Also starting Friday is Tumwater's annual Screen on the Green, with a more traditional outdoor movie lineup of family-friendly recent releases.

The Movies at the Mansion aim at an older crowd, and refreshments which will include coffee, tea and hot chocolate as well as candy and popcorn reflect that.

The first floor of the museum will be open, so people can use the restrooms and warm up if needed. And the gift shop will be open, too.

Balli, Rohrer and Melissa Parr, the museum's curator, chose the films.

We all agreed on ‘The Philadelphia Story,' Rohrer said, and then we each selected our own and put them into the schedule based on favorites and a broad appeal.

We wanted to try to present old movies from different genres.

Organizers hope the series becomes an annual event and would like to expand it if all goes well.

We thought of a million different movies that would be fun to do, Balli said. If this is successful, hopefully next year we'll be able to do some Hitchcock movies.

By Molly Gilmore | For The Olympian

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