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Smithsonian and Warner Brothers team up for a movie theater

Humphrey Bogart with The Maltese Falcon. (PRNewsFoto/Media Rights Technologies)

A series of four festivals, starting with a Humphrey Bogart tribute, will be held during the first year. The lineup starts, as you might guess, with “Casablanca” on February 3. Stephen Bogart, the son of Bogart and Lauren Bacall, will introduced the film at a special ticketed event, organized by Smithsonian Associates.

“Film is such an important part of American life,” said Dwight Blocker Bowers, the museum’s curator of its entertainment collection.

The renovation of the Carmichael Auditorium was financed by a $5 million gift from the historic film company in September 2010 and will carry the company's name. Most programs will be free.

Other Bogart films scheduled for the inaugural weekend are : “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and “The Big Sleep.”

Timed with the screenings will be new displays in the museum’s large artifacts walls. Bowers said he has borrowed two costumes from Casablanca--Bogart’s grey double-breasted suit and one of Ingrid Bergman’s dresses. “The agreement allows us to work in the archives,” said Bowers.

In June a Clint Eastwood festival is planned. A series on “sound in early film” is scheduled for July. The fourth series in October will look at films about the Civil War.

Most of the screenings at the theater will be free. The old auditorium was overhauled, with a new projection booth and a new screen. The theater will have 3-D capability. The seating remains the same, about 271 new seats.

The American History museum is still exploring, said Bowers, partnerships with local film clubs and other organizations, as well as Smithsonian Associates. The new theater will also host Smithsonian programs.

The Warner Bros. company, founded in 1923, is not as old as the Smithsonian but has its own important cultural history and produced the work of many film icons, including Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

The entertainment collection at the Smithsonian has artifacts that cover many decades of American filmmaking, starting with Buster Keaton’s bicycle to Harrison Ford’s suit from “Air Force One.”

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