The Colonial Theatre’s Centennial Celebration continues with the free movie series. May screenings are set for Monday evenings, May 14 and 21 at the downtown cinema, 163 High St.

As the Colonial travels through a century this year, sampling 100 years of movies, May brings the series to the late 1940s. Highlights of the era include the end of World War II in 1945; the 1947 big blaze on Mount Desert Island that burned 3,500 acres; and Chuck Yeager being the first to fly faster than the speed of sound, creating a sonic boom. In 1948, the year of the first night of free movies, Babe Ruth died in August; 99.9 percent of Americans did not own a TV; and Gandhi was assassinated by a fellow Hindu for being too much of a pacifist.

Tons of movies were made and enjoyed in this pre-TV time, and newsreels still preceded the shows. People wanted to go out, get together and be entertained now that war was behind them. A movie theater was the hot place to be.

On May 14, the Colonial offers two great pictures from 1948, screened for no admission charge. At 7 p.m., there is “Key Largo,” which runs 101 minutes. John Huston directs Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore and Claire Trevor in this hard-hitting noir showcase with a super-rat gangster, highly suspenseful plot and classic vintage moments. At 7:10 p.m. on the Colonial’s other screen, the 94-minute “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” stars Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Melvin Douglas. There is no funnier movie that this cautionary tale that proves the perils of building or remodeling have not changed in more than half a century.

On May 21, two flicks from 1949 offer real contrast and no admission charge. At 7 p.m., there is “White Heat” (114 minutes). James Cagney delivers what some consider the best ending line of a movie — “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” — in this noirish thriller of a gangster movie run amok. At 7:10 p.m., the 98-minute “On the Town” has Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin as sailor running amok in New York City. The Leonard Bernstein score and the city itself co-star in this exuberant musical celebrating the American spirit in the ’40s, a simpler time.

As always, period costumes are encouraged.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or