• June 18, 2010

    “Jaws”… Happy 35th!

    [b]HAPPY 35TH, “JAWS"

    Compiled by Michael Coate[/b]

    Dedicated to:
    Robert Shaw (“Quint”), 1927-1978
    Charlsie Bryant (Script Supervisor), 1917-1978
    John R. Carter (Sound), 1907-1982
    Verna Fields (Film Editor), 1918-1982
    Howard Sackler (Screenwriter), 1929-1982
    Murray Hamilton (“Vaughn”), 1923-1986
    Roger Heman, Jr. (Sound), 1932-1989
    Manfred Zendar (Technical Advisor), 1907-1990
    Chris Rebello (“Michael Brody”), 1963-2000
    Lew Wasserman (Universal Chairman), 1913-2002
    Peter Benchley (Screenwriter), 1940-2006
    Roy Scheider (“Brody”), 1932-2008
    Shari Rhodes (Location Casting), 1938-2009
    Ned Tanen (Universal Executive), 1931-2009
    David Brown (Producer), 1916-2010

    June 20, 1975…the day the modern summer blockbuster was born. (Or so goes the legend.)

  • May 27, 2010

    Tattered Palaces

    The New York Times' Lens Blog of May 21, 2010, has an article on two Frenchmen, Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, who photograph 20th-century ruins. These are a lot of the same pictures from our post last month but this time, you can read about them in English. Among their favorite subjects are old American movie palaces, built from the 1910s to the 1930s. The article includes several pictures of theaters in big and small American cities, in various stages of renovation or ruin, some of them long demolished.

    Among their favorite subjects are old movie palaces, built from the 1910s to the 1930s, when excitement about going to the movies was immense and theaters — like the films they showed — constructed fantasy and offered escape. Today, what remains of these spaces is poignant evidence of what going to the pictures used to mean.

    “Fastuous and monumental buildings depict the way human beings projected their hopes and phantasms,” Mr. Marchand said.

    You can see the article at the following link in the New York Times.

  • May 21, 2010

    Happy 30th, “Empire”

    [b]HAPPY 30TH, “EMPIRE"

    Compiled by Michael Coate[/b]

    Dedicated to:
    Leigh Brackett (Screenwriter), 1915-1978
    John Barry (Second Unit Director), 1935-1979
    Graham Freeborn (Chief Make-Up Artist), 1938-1986
    Jack Purvis (“Chief Ugnaught”), 1937-1997
    Alec Guiness (“Ben ‘Obi-Wan’ Kenobi”), 1914-2000
    Terry Liebling (Casting), 1942-2001
    Des Webb (“Snow Creature”), 1932-2002
    Bruce Boa (“General Rieekan”), 1930-2004
    Peter Diamond (Stunt Coordinator), 1929-2004
    John Hollis (“Lando’s Aide”), 1931-2005
    Michael Sheard (“Admiral Ozzel”), 1938-2005
    David Tomblin (First Assistant Director), 1930-2005
    Gareth Wigan (20th Century-Fox Executive), 1931-2010

    Has it really been thirty years since the world was introduced to Yoda, the Imperial March and the thought that Darth Vader might be Luke Skywalker’s father?

    On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of (one of) the greatest sequel(s) ever made, I thought I’d present a package of information that includes some production history, historical data, trivia, and, for movie-theater enthusiasts, a list of the theaters in which Empire played upon its initial release. Those who saw the movie in one of the featured venues can reminisce about the experience while others can imagine what the experience must have been like.

  • May 17, 2010

    Famed theater organist Rosa Rio passes at 107

    SUN CITY CENTER, FL — Rosa Rio, one of the last surviving theater organists of the silent era (and one of the few who were female), died on May 13 at the age of 107. She practiced her craft in many of the famous movie palaces around the country including the Fox and Paramount theaters in Brooklyn; she later worked for both NBC and ABC, accompanying many of the original soap operas. She was active even as recently as last year, performing at the Tampa Theatre where a memorial will be held June 5.

    She was extraordinarily positive, motivated and determined. She was able to seamlessly adapt to changes in the entertainment industry (silent films, talkies, radio, TV, and finally, back to silent films). “I can’t believe that I’ve been so fortunate to have been in so many things that went out and I bounced back,” she said in 2007. Her path was not without challenges. As the only woman in the orchestra pit, she routinely challenged men who considered her to be second fiddle because of her gender. She allayed those stereotypical reactions with talent, charm and a (sometimes bawdy) sense of humor.

    Read the full story at the Tampa Theatre website.

  • May 14, 2010

    Thirty-five years ago, when the fin broke through the water…

    June 20, 2010 will mark the 35th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking summer blockbuster, “Jaws”.

    What can I possibly say that every fan of this film doesn’t already know? That it ushered in a new era of film marketing and wider theatrical releasing? That in between “The Exorcist” and “Star Wars” it was the highest grossing film of all time? That it instilled fears of going in the water that people probably still hold onto today? That it made Martha’s Vineyard more popular than it already was?

    What’s the point? You already know all this. What I will, however, do is share a personal story with you regarding this film, and perhaps you will, too…

  • May 7, 2010

    L.A. visit advice

    Need your help. What is the definitive itinerary for two movie freaks (especially vintage) visiting L.A. in September? What theaters, museums, locations must we see. Websites to visit, anything.


  • April 28, 2010

    French slideshow of shuttered NY treasures

    Can’t say I know French, but the pictures in this slideshow from Le Monde do a lot of talking. Check it out.

  • Please visit my new movie blog

    To know me is to know that I generally am not the blog or open web forum discussion type (this great website being the exception!). But I love movies (hate going!) and I love to write. So I decided that my own blog would be the best way to entertain both leisures.

    Now I realize movie blogs are a dime-a-dozen all over the web. What I hope will make mine a little different is that I propose to watch every film in my collection (over 700 titles!) in their alphabetical order (from Abbott to Z) and then proceed NOT to write so much as a formal review (that is best left to professional film journalists), but rather to share my thoughts, my feelings, my memories and my favorite line or dialogue from the film.

  • April 23, 2010

    Remembering Cinerama (Part 48: Orlando)

    Part 48: Orlando

    The following is Part Forty-Eight in a series of retrospectives on Cinerama, the legendary motion picture process that kicked off the widescreen revolution. The series focuses on providing a market-by-market historical record of when and where Cinerama and its multi-panel clones were exhibited. The easy-to-reference articles serve to provide nostalgia to those who experienced the Cinerama presentations when they were new and to highlight the movie palaces in which the memorable screenings took place.

    Part 1: New York City
    Part 2: Chicago
    Part 3: San Francisco
    Part 4: Houston
    Part 5: Washington, DC
    Part 6: Los Angeles
    Part 7: Atlanta
    Part 8: San Diego
    Part 9: Dallas
    Part 10: Oklahoma City
    Part 11: Syracuse
    Part 12: Toronto
    Part 13: Columbus
    Part 14: Montreal
    Part 15: Northern New Jersey
    Part 16: Charlotte
    Part 17: Vancouver
    Part 18: Salt Lake City
    Part 19: Boston
    Part 20: Philadelphia
    Part 21: Fresno
    Part 22: Detroit
    Part 23: Minneapolis
    Part 24: Albuquerque
    Part 25: El Paso
    Part 26: Des Moines
    Part 27: Miami
    Part 28: Orange County
    Part 29: Pittsburgh
    Part 30: Baltimore
    Part 31: Long Island
    Part 32: Kansas City
    Part 33: Milwaukee
    Part 34: Nanuet/Rockland County
    Part 35: Denver
    Part 36: Worcester
    Part 37: Toledo
    Part 38: St. Louis
    Part 39: Tampa
    Part 40: Calgary
    Part 41: Hartford
    Part 42: Albany
    Part 43: New Haven
    Part 44: Sacramento
    Part 45: Las Vegas
    Part 46: Seattle
    Part 47: Phoenix

    And now…Part 48: Cinerama Presentations in Orlando, Florida!

  • April 21, 2010

    Racine man’s basement is home to a Mighty Wurlitzer and movie palace recreation

    RACINE, WI — You would not guess it look at his house, but Fred Hermes basement is a temple to movie palace nostalgia. Over fifty years ago, Fred bought, restored, and installed one of only three known Wurlitzer five manual theater organs that the company ever built, Opus 1531, originally installed 1926 in the Rapp & Rapp Michigan Theater in downtown Detroit. It is set in a 150 seat replica of a movie palace created out of elements from over four dozen now gone theaters.

    There’s also a full complement of real percussion instruments: cymbals, a marimba, a harp, a glockenspiel—all controlled from the keyboard console. Thirty-five hundred wires connect the organ console to its thousands of voices. A room-sized fifteen horsepower blower powers the organ’s air supply. A separate two horsepower motor powers the current to the pipes and other instruments.

    Hermes spent 46 years restoring this unique artifact of musical, cinematic, and technological history. His remarkable achievements have been recognized by the American Theatre Organ Society and other groups.

    There’s a news clip at Fox 6 and more details in Real Racine.