Front Porch Cinema takes us 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'

Julie Stewart smiled when the sepia black-and-white image appeared and the music started. It had been 62 years since her father took her to watch “The Wizard of Oz,” and she could not help but feel excited as the opening credits rolled. Santa Monica’s Front Porch Cinema Series on the Santa Monica Pier began Friday, Sept. 28, with the screening of the 1939 classic.Around 200 people walked the “yellow brick carpet” and gathered on the pier to watch the movie. Lawn chairs, blankets, picnic baskets, and a few rocking chairs were set up in front of a giant inflatable screen framed by Santa Monica’s skyline. A Dorothy impersonator welcomed the audience, and was willing to take pictures with the crowd. People of all ages attended the event co-produced by Eat-See-Hear, and promoted by Showtime and Toyota. The crowed gathered around 6 p.m. but people like Marie Lewis arrived hours earlier to get front rows seats. “I saw the event on the Pier’s website, and decided to come with my friends, who are also great fans of the movie, and now we have the best seats,” said Lewis. A few booths surrounded the improvised theater, and offered a variety of food options, from hot dogs, to candies, and gourmet food. There was also a bar with special cocktails like “Ruby Slippers” and “Flying Monkeys” inspired by the movie. Other stands offered lawn chairs for rent at $5 each, along with hoodies and blankets for those who were not prepared for the cold breeze. Jeanine Vega and her children were walking around the Pier when they were surprised to see Dorothy. “The kids dragged me here when they saw the characters of the movie walking around and we decided to stay,” she said. Others, like Anna Peralta, had been waiting for the show for days. “This is one of my favorite movies and it is also one of my daughter’s favorite stories so I was very excited to watch it with her,” Peralta said. Peralta’s five-year-old daughter was running around dressed like Dorothy, while the last sunrays glimmered off her Tom’s “ruby slippers.” The movie began at 7:30 p.m. when the nosy crowd fell silent as the Metro-Goldwyn Mayer lion roared signaling the beginning of the movie. However, the silence lasted only until the first notes of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” started, and people in the audience joined Judy Garland in the interpretation of the song. Sarah Harris was one of those who sang and clapped along. “I’ve seen this movie a hundred times. I adore this movie! I used to watch it with my kids, and now I am bringing my grandkids to watch it with me,” she said.. Laughter was constant throughout the night, as well as roars from Thomas, a 3-year-old boy who ran around pretending to be the Cowardly Lion. His mother chased him around the pier, apologizing for her little not-so-Cowardly Lion’s roars. The end of the movie was emphasized by the applause of the crowd and Stewart’s cheers. Sixty-two years later, she still enjoyed the movie as much as she did in 1950. “I am like Dorothy. I am from Kansas and this movie reminds me of home and of my father who would have been a hundred this year,” she said. “This was a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family in a lovely place, it was perfect.” The Front Porch Cinema Series will continue through Oct. 19, and will screen three more movies. The next movie will be “The Hunger Games,” starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson on Friday, Oct. 5. For more information visit