A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I took in some movies that made us feel like we'd hopped into Doc Brown's DeLorean and gone back in time 40 years. It was 1959 at both the Jordan Commons in Sandy and the SCERA in Orem, and it was 1952 at the Avalon Theatre in Murray.

The Avalon was playing "Singin' in the Rain," while the SCERA showed "Some Like It Hot," and Jordan Commons opened its doors with "North By Northwest" on one of its 17 new screens. (No, it wasn't on the IMAX-wannabe screen; now that would have made the cropduster sequence interesting. . . . )It had been a lot of years since we'd seen any of them on the big screen, and it just reinforced the belief that there's nothing like seeing a movie projected from a 35mm print on a 40-foot screen.

"Singin' in the Rain" seemed even more enchanting and delightful, "Some Like It Hot" was even funnier than it is on TV -- if that's possible -- and a darkened auditorium with no distractions and 35-40 others in attendance, somehow made "North By Northwest" extra romantic, extra amusing and extra thrilling.

It did push back our regular moviegoing, so we're now behind on a number of those new films we want to see -- but we have no regrets. There's not a new film anywhere that can compete with this trio. In fact, hands down, they made for the best moviegoing experience we've had in some time. (I can't remember when we last saw three movies in a row that we loved so much.)

Of course, each played only one week, and there aren't any old classics scheduled for the near future (although you can see "The Gold Rush," which finishes a two-night run at the Organ Loft tonight; it's hard to beat the contagious experience of laughing at Charlie Chaplin).

And, except for "Some Like It Hot" at the SCERA, they didn't really do that much business. ("Some Like It Hot" was the exception because the SCERA was not quiet about letting Utah County moviegoers know about it.)

So, what am I getting at? As Jeff Vice's cover story on this page indicates, there are quite simply too many screens in the Salt Lake Valley these days and not nearly enough movies to go around. So, rather than just pull in yet another recent movie that no one cares about, why not dedicate a screen or two to showing old classics? Or, how about pulling some older movie in when things get slow and "The Bachelor" is being screened to an empty auditorium?

Sure, some "classics" would do better business than others -- but they couldn't do much worse than some of the current fare.

Take Jordan Commons running "North By Northwest" that first week. If the price of admission had been lowered a bit -- just for that movie -- to, say, $4 or $5 instead of $7, and if it had received a bit of advertising, so people knew it was there . . . well, the results might have been surprising.

"Some Like It Hot" at the SCERA in Orem was part of a movie series I was asked to help program, a series that ran for nine weeks. (The final film in that series, "Planet of the Apes," is now playing through Tuesday.) And what really surprised us was how the size of the audience grew over that nine-week period.

The first week, we played "The Philadelphia Story" (1940), and the attendance was just OK. The second week was a lot better (with "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"), and after that, the numbers increased each week. The size of the audience wasn't too surprising for entries like "Close Encounters" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark," but it certainly was for the black-and-white 1948 Western "Red River" and the 1960 sci-fi epic "The Time Machine."

The SCERA was quite smart about it, with mailings to SCERA members and newspaper ads, and the displaying of titles on the theater marquee, which is a prominent landmark that's hard to miss on Orem's State Street. And the admission cost was more than reasonable -- $5 for a single ticket but only $10 for a nine-movie pass! And while walk-in single-ticket sales were good for "Raiders" (bolstered, no doubt, by the unexpected TV pitches for the reissued video), they were also solid for "Some Like It Hot"!

The series was so successful that SCERA president Norm Nielsen wants to do it again next year.

Maybe Salt Lake theaters could take a page from his book and try a similar tack.

Entertainment editor Chris Hicks may be reached by e-mail at hicks@desnews.com