Let's Play the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series at Home Game

The shelter-in-place game when you're ready for your close-up

(l-r) Brooks Naylor as Tim Curry as Wadsworth; Lily Pipkin as Lesley Ann Warren as Ms. Scarlet; a whiteboard as Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White; Ronan Melomo as Christopher Lloyd as Prof. Plum; a bottle of mustard as Martin Mull as Col. Mustard; Parker Breaux as Michael McKean as Mr. Green; and a broom as Mrs. Peacock in Clue (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Start by getting all your players on a group chat, in which you talk about the movies you’ve loved seeing at the Paramount in the summer, then collectively choose which ones you want to “screen” in the game.

For our money, the official start of summer in Austin has zero to do with bats, blues, or bodies of water; it's Bogie and Bacall on the big screen. Of course, we're talking about the Paramount Theatre's Summer Classic Film Series, which traditionally opens with the immortal Casablanca. Until this summer, the series has kicked off around Memorial Day, but owing to the interruption of, well, everything, the Paramount has shifted to a later holiday: the Fourth of July (providing extra fireworks courtesy of Rick and Ilse). Okay, getting the series late is infinitely preferable to not getting it at all, but what to do in those extra weeks of waiting? Why not play our "Summer Classic Film Series at Home" game? It allows you and your cinephile pals to indulge your shared love of silver-screen treasures and to tap your inner Bacall or Bogie (or Meryl or Ah-nold) by making your own versions of scenes from movies you adore.

The game works for as few as two people, though, as Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea learned in 1943, the more the merrier. (Watch the movie.) Start by getting all your players on a group chat, in which you talk about the movies you've loved seeing at the Paramount in the summer, then collectively choose which ones you want to "screen" in the game – that is, the ones you'd all like to see players re-create scenes from. Yes, each player or team will be doing their own Be Kind Rewind take on some unforgettable moment from cinema past. Will it be "You're gonna need a bigger boat"? "Tomorrow is another day"? "Say hello to my little friend"? "No wire hangers"? You choose your own celluloid adventure – sort of. It is a game. And here's how it works:

Rosalind Faires as Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Once your group selects its slate of films, people choose whether they want to play as individuals or in teams. (Teams can be any size, and team members don't have to be in the same physical space; being apart just adds to the sweet challenge of re-creating a scene.) Then, the group decides how many films each player or team gets and how much time they have to make the scenes. (Pro tip: The more time allowed, the more elaborate the scenes can be – Costumes! Sets! Special effects!)

One player serving as Series Programmer – think the Banker in Monopoly – secretly gives each film a number, then each of you takes a turn picking a number between 1 and the total number of films on the slate. Whatever film corresponds to that number is the film that player has to re-create. For the Series Programmer's turn, another player picks the number and the Series Programmer gets the film for it. Rinse and repeat until all the films are assigned.

Will Grindle as Cary Grant as David Huxley, Allison Dillon as Katharine Hepburn as Susan Vance, and Pip as Nissa as Baby in Bringing Up Baby (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

The group will need to settle on when to "screen" the films. You can go all in and watch them all in one night or, in the spirit of the actual series, spread them over several nights. (That gives you film fans a reason to get back together regularly, and maybe pair a scene "screening" with a Zoom watch of the movie the scene came from.) Once the group has chosen when to "screen" the films, the Series Programmer sets the order of the "screenings." If you go the double feature route of the actual series, showing two a night, then the Series Programmer also pairs the films.

With those decisions made, the players go to their respective "studio lots" to get cracking on their pictures. Now's your shot at playing movie mogul, director, designer, and star all at once, selecting which scene from the assigned film you want to remake (Pro tip: The more famous the scene, the more fun the "screening" will be for everyone), then casting it, staging it, and acting the hell out of it. Scenes can be any length and as simple or elaborate as you want, but you must only use items already in your home to make them. Just remember this is Hollywood, and go for it like there's an Oscar on the line!

Mackenzie Dunn as Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

When it's time for a "screening," the Series Programmer invites all the players to a Zoom meeting and, once everyone's there, introduces the "film" to the audience, i.e., all the players not in that "film." If you are in it, you present your scene – live or on video, your call. (Pro tip: Audience consumption of popcorn and concessions typically purchased by players while attending a classic film at the Paramount will enhance the atmosphere.) Repeat this step whenever a "film" is scheduled until all "films" have been "screened." Play as often as necessary until the actual series is up and running, at which point we'll see you at the Paramount!

But we'll always have Zoom.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Paramount Theatre
Paramount's Kid-Centric Programming Keeps the Cheap Seats Cheap
Paramount's Kid-Centric Programming Keeps the Cheap Seats Cheap
Educational shows returns with affordability in mind

Ikram Mohamed, Feb. 4, 2022

Austin Playwright’s Final Play Might Have Died With Him, but a Community Joined Together to Ensure Its Survival
Austin Playwright’s Final Play Might Have Died With Him, but a Community Joined Together to Ensure Its Survival
Saving Jason Tremblay’s Gretel! The Musical

Robert Faires, Jan. 4, 2019

More by Robert Faires
Last Bow of an Accidental Critic
Last Bow of an Accidental Critic
Lessons and surprises from a career that shouldn’t have been

Sept. 24, 2021

"Daniel Johnston: I Live My Broken Dreams" Tells the Story of an Artist
The first-ever museum exhibition of Daniel Johnston's work digs deep into the man, the myths

Sept. 17, 2021


Paramount Theatre, Paramount Summer Classic Film Series, Summer Fun 2020

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle