In fact, the historic Loew's will show, this coming Tuesday the 28th at 7:45 p.m., the 1939 Oscar-winning film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington directed by famed filmmaker Frank Capra and starring screen legend Jimmy Stewart - at the 1929 admission price of 35 cents.
The following weekend, it will continue celebrating with screenings of such classics as Spartacus and High Noon.
But what will also be celebrated are the efforts of the Friends of the Loews (FOL), a volunteer group that saved the Loew's Jersey Theatre from being turned into an office complex by Hartz Mountain Industries in 1987 with an awards ceremony to take place before the screening.
After several years of legal battles, the Friends and Hartz came to an agreement and an effort began in earnest to restore the theater in 1994. The Friends since that time began renovating the massive structure, which seats 3,100 and is as large and ornate as a church inside.
But there is one issue that has not been cause for celebration - the recent struggle between the FOL and the city to come to terms on a lease agreement that would allow the Friends to manage the operation of the Loew's for twenty-five years while the city funds capital improvements in the first couple years of the agreement to bring the theater up to code. The Friends have been in a year-to-year licensing agreement with the city since they took over in 1994.
The issue of the lease agreement had plagued the last few months of late Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham's administration. Now, it is Acting Mayor and City Council President L. Harvey Smith's problem.
When Cunningham was alive, the lease agreement was caught in the middle of a feud between the mayor and the City Council, including Smith, regarding the legitimacy of the agreement. Cunningham had opposed it on the grounds that it was approved by the council without his authority and that the agreement would make the city fully liable for the theater's improvements as well as allows a volunteer group to manage the theater. Also, Cunningham was looking to put in "professional management" that could make the theater profitable but would have diminished the role of the FOL in the day-to-day operation of the theater.
The FOL and the City Council disagreed with the mayor, pointing out that the Friends of the Loews deserved to be the sole management of the theater for all the years of hard work and dedication to restoring the theater to its former glory.
The resolution authorizing the lease agreement was approved by the City Council at a March 24 meeting by a 6-2 vote, but late mayor Glenn Cunningham then vetoed the lease only to have the council override the veto by 6-1 vote at the council meeting on April 14.
But the resolution authorizing the lease agreement has never been signed by either Mayor Cunningham, who passed away on May 25, nor Acting Mayor Smith, as his legal counsel is still studying the lease for any legal questions that may affect the city.
That means the Friends of the Loews do not have the legal authority to officially manage the theater and fundraise on a larger scale in order to accelerate the restoration of the theater.
It especially effects the 75th anniversary season, according to FOL president Patti Giordan, as she has had to cancel events because the FOL are not officially in place as the theatre's management.
Still showing films
As the FOL tries to hammer out their future with the theater, they will celebrate its past.
In the first half of the century, Journal Square was the theatrical hub of Hudson County, with at least five theaters.
The Loew's Jersey Theater at 54 Journal Square looks more like a palace or a church than a theater. It was constructed back in 1929 for the then-enormous sum of $2 million.
The theater was the brainchild of Marcus Loew, one of the founders of MGM Studios, who was building "Wonder Theaters" throughout the New York City area.
Designed by the premier movie house architects of their day, Rapp and Rapp, the Loew's can be easily recognized from a distance by its clock tower on top of the building, with a statue of St. George on horseback slaying a dragon. Visitors can enter into a three-story lobby, with a crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling and two curving staircases leading to the second floor landing and balcony.
"Every time I enter into this theatre, I am always finding some new architectural design or figure," said Colin Egan, a founder of the Friends of the Loew's.
The stage, 72 ft. long and 33 ft. wide, provided the space where legendary performers like Bing Crosby and Duke Ellington packed the house.
The theatre continued to function as an entertainment center into the mid-1980s. It evolved from a one-screen cinema to a three-screen movie house to compete with the multiplexes that were coming into vogue.
In August 1986, the Loew's closed its doors. The property was sold to Hartz Mountain Industries, who intended to turn it into an office complex. But a group of local residents led by Egan and Patti Giordan were interested in preserving the theater as a historic landmark and would eventually be known as the Friends of the Loews (FOL).
After several years of legal battles, the FOL and Hartz came to an agreement, and an effort began in earnest to restore the theatre.
Since 1994, over a thousand volunteers have offered their time and sweat to undertake the massive cleanup - including taking down the walls that were erected in the 1970s to transform the theatre into a triplex; cleaning the upholstery that was soiled with layers of dust and smoke, and restoring the projection booth.
Last year, the Loew's held a weekend of Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland films. They hope to host more cultural events.
But there is still the uncertainty of the theatre reaching its goal, as officials in the Jersey City municipal government contemplate whether the theater should continue to run under the FOL or if the city should take it over.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com