I would hope that everyone reading this blog has a favorite old movie theater that has been part of their life. You know the one. The one that is a bit run-down, usually located in the downtown area of a metropolitan city or college town that runs double features of films made throughout the history of films. These are usually the same “movie houses” (as my mom always referred to them) that screen midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Well, for me this theater was the Oriental Theater located on the East Side of Milwaukee (See my post An Ode to the Oriental Theater) – and that was when I was an undergrad. When I moved to L. A. I found my “new Oriental Theater” and that was the famous New Beverly Cinema located on Beverly and La Brea.
If not for the existence of these two movie houses in my life, I would not have known much about the history of cinema.
A Rich History of Cinema
I saw all of the double features – the foreign films of Antonioni, the silent films of Harold Lloyd, the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour and Let It Be, and of course all of the John Waters’ classics – to name just a few (along with my favorite film of all time Harold and Maude).
These theaters provide a rich history and should continue to thrive within today’s community, however, they are in danger of falling by the wayside and going out of business – why? Because studios are no longer making films in 35 mm formats.
For now we have a vast history of films to continue to watch, however, as we move toward the future, films like Guardians of the Galaxy will not be available in 35 mm and will not be viewed in this same manner.
Out of Print
To better understand this topic, I encourage you to explore the excellent documentary “Out of Print” created and produced by Julia Marchese, (@juliacmarchese) an ex-employee of the New Beverly Cinema. (Be warned, there’s also an extensive discussion concerning Quentin Tarantino, the new owner of the New Beverly Theater…fodder for another conversation)
…and I wish that they could all remain open because they are very important to the study of the history of film and to younger audiences that need direction in knowing WHAT films are important and WHY they influenced generations and cultures – we need to preserve our history in order to understand where we are headed…
I couldn’t agree more with Julia’s brilliant statement regarding these amazing and precious theaters that we cannot forget or let die.
Take 90 minutes to watch this documentary about the life & death of 35mm film. I assure you, you won’t regret it.
The documentary is now available on DVD at Amazon, or you can stream it through Amazon Prime.
Let me know what you think of the documentary and tell me about your own Oriental or New Beverly Cinema in your town!