Hometown Movie Palaces

First off, my apologies for not posting recently. The work-life balance has been a bit askew meaning that I have not had the leisure or pleasure of waxing poetic about my latest and greatest thoughts about the world of cinema.

But enough of that. I am glad to return with a bit of Friday nostalgia, inspired by:

  1. My recent screening of the 4K restoration of The Third Man (more on that in a separate post) and
  2. My participation in the free course inspired by the TCM’s Summer of Darkness, which showcases the thrilling cinematic movement/genre known as film noir.

I am taken back momentarily to how these films were exhibited to audiences of their time – movie palaces and movie theaters.

Often built by studios, whether big or small, these buildings were opulent pieces of architecture, often designed and styled in the fashion of the day, including, art deco and a generic Hollywood-defined “oriental style.”

For years growing up near Gramatan Avenue (part of the commercial district of my hometown of Mount Vernon, NY), we would frequently walk by a sad, dilapidated edifice that for my part, felt haunted by echoes of the past. I always referred to it as “the RKO Theatre.” A quick internet search, revealed a little more about the history, including the formal name, RKO Proctor Theater).

proctor interior

Proctor Theatre, interior. Mount Vernon, NY (Photo source: Architecture and Building, Volume 46)

Proctor Theatre, exterior. Mount Vernon, NY. Photo source: Architecture and Building, Volume 46

Proctor Theatre, exterior. Mount Vernon, NY. Source: Architecture and Building, Volume 46

Here is a link to a couple of additional interior shots from the same source.

Now to think about, this all makes sense to me now because right across the street there was named “Proctor’s Pharmacy,” a concern that is still in operation.

Shout out and many thanks to one of my recent favorite internet resources – Cinema Treasures – for their comprehensive database of all manner of building in the United States was/is dedicated to the exhibition of film. It was in this archive that I was not only able to find information about my abandoned, beloved neighborhood theater above, but where I also “discovered” several other theaters in Mount Vernon that were lost to time (hint: the hyperlink will tell you a little more about the theater and location; also be sure to check out user comments – very informative):

Embassy Theatre (no photo)

Biltmore Theater

biltmore

Photo source: Cinema Treasures

Loew’s Mount Vernon Theatre

Loew's Mount Vernon (Source: Cinema Treasures)

Loew’s Mount Vernon – sign visible in the upper right corner (Source: Cinema Treasures)

Parkway Theatre (no photo) I had forgotten I knew about this one. Also on Gramatan Avenue (a little further up in the Fleetwood section of Mount Vernon). A very faint, distant memory recalls me (again) walking by this theater and seeing a poster for the release of The Elephant Man. Interesting fact about this location’s fate – it now houses a funeral home.

Do you have a hometown/local/now long gone, forgotten building you remember fondly as a place where you would enjoy watching films? Share below.

“Behind the Screen” at the Museum of the Moving Image

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This past Saturday I ventured out to Astoria, Queens (NY) and made my first ever visit to the Museum of the Moving Image. For the uninitiated, MoMI (as I am calling it) is “the country’s only museum dedicated to the art, history, technique, and technology of the moving image in all its forms.” (Source: Museum of the Moving Image website)

My focus of interest, of course is cinematic, and I was not disappointed to find on offer, ranging from film screenings to film-related installations. A centerpiece in the exhibition area is Behind the Screen, an ongoing collection of ephemera that “introduces visitors to the history of the moving image, from 19th optical toys to the present-day impact of digital tools on film editing and post-production.” (Source: Museum of the Moving Image website)

Among the highlights for me on my visit include:

  • portrait photography of Hollywood stars from the silent through studio area,
  • Else Lancaster’s wig from The Bride of Frankenstein;
  • Bette Davis’ wig from Jezebel;
  • the fan magazines;
  • script treatments from Citizen Kane and This Gun for Hire;
  • Star Wars action figures and play sets;
  • and very creepily, the life masks from the likes of Dorothy McGuire (The Enchanted Cottage).

Here are a couple of photos from the walkabout:

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Sorry Breaking Bad fans – one collection of snaps you will not see are from the collection of costumes and props from the recently-retired television series (photographing the pieces was strictly prohibited). There were other television related pieces on view and photograph, including Robin Williams’ space costume from Mork and Mindy and one of Bill Cosby’s sweaters from The Cosby Show.

If you are ever in the NYC area, I highly recommend that you catch the N/Q train to 36th Avenue for a wonderful opportunity to see common and obscure items from the world of cinema and television.

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Films Set in North Carolina

This post is inspired by my recent excursion to the state of North Carolina. Usually, I visit the greater Charlotte area (family and friends being the reason) but this time around I was in the “central/northern-ish” part of the state.

lush_landscape__appalachian_mountains__north_carolina

Anyway, as with most things in life, I tied my trip back to the movies, did some digging around and came up with a list of some of my fave flicks set in the Tar Heel State.

  • Cape Fear (1991) – very able remake to a classic film.
  • This is Spinal Tap (1984) – well at least part of it was set
  • George Washington (2000) – see previous post on Green’s latest, “Prince Avalanche”
  • The Descent (2005) – horror generally not my genre du jour but this was quite watchable

Honorable Mention for films I should have seen by now:

And a final shoutout to a film that has yet to be released: Serena starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

That’s me done; how about you? Hit the comments section below with some of your favorites.

On Location: Pennsylvania Station in the Movies

During TCM’s wonderful Summer Under The Stars film festival last week, I was watching Hitchcock’s Spellbound, when the first scene at Pennsylvania Station took place; in that moment, I was reminded of the former grandeur and splendor awarded to Midtown Manhattan transportation hub:

That got me thinking: how many other films (besides Spellbound) were shot at the once iconic location? I say “once iconic” because as anyone who has visited the station in its current incarnation can attest, it is anything but grand and architecturally masterful.

What my research produced was pretty sweet! A lot of you film enthusiasts beat me to the punch and did your own retrospectives on films shots in and around the landmark. So instead of retreading already covered ground, I am using this post as a shout-out of sorts, highlight a few articles that do Penn Station proud:

Here is a clip that merges several scenes from Hollywood films that use the landmark as a location (whether actually shot on location or reproduced and filmed on a studio lot).

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For further insight of what has since been lost, watch this short clip of the early history of the station:

Lastly, read this 2010 blog post from the Brooklyn Museum.

The Underground on Film

Last night, I dreamt I was in London again …

Actually I was talking about traveling with a friend of mine and started to reminisce about my lovely times in Londontown. That led me to this topic – a look at the London Underground from the world of cinema.

The Tube/The Underground – whatever you call it (just don’t call it a SUBWAY), is an attraction unto itself for visitors to the English capital city. It has also been the setting for many an interesting films and pivotal scenes in those films. Here is a cool map that conveys this very message. For a larger view of the map, click here.

underrgound film map

In my continued admiration for the U.K. capital city and in honor of  the 150th anniversary of the London Underground system, I have gathered a few of my favorite cinematic scenes from The Underground:

 

THE WINGS OF THE DOVE (1997): couldn’t find the actual clip but there is a snippet of the scene in the trailer. If you do happen to watch the pivotal scene starts with the opening title sequence.

 

V FOR VENDETTA (2005)

 

SLIDING DOORS (1998): this sequence sets the stage for the rest of the film

 

ATONEMENT (2007): this is just the trailer; if I showed you the scene, it would give away a major plot point.

 

SKYFALL (2012): What’s NOT to like? This clip is the culmination of a great underground chase sequence, mind you – but I decided to add it anyway because it DOES include an Underground train 🙂

In related news, earlier this year, the BFI (British Film Institute) took a retrospective look at some great (British-made) films that featured the underground system .

Let me conclude my post by sharing another take on the London Transport system as depicted in the cinema, courtesy of fellow blogger and Anglophile – Ruth @ Flixchatter!

 

For MORE Tube-related Trivia …

Read 150 fun facts about “The Tube” (Source: Telegraph.co.uk).

Films Set in the Nation’s Capital (DC)

Hey Guys!

Sorry I have been a little off the grid in the past couple of days – I have just returned from the nation’s capital. It is simply a great city and the setting for many of my favorite films of distant and recent memory. Here is a quick look at some of my favorites:

The Pelican Brief (1993) – Denzel and Julia together at last! This was a tense yet evenly paced film that also harkened the earlier (and superior) All the President’s Men (1976) which of course had similar hallmarks especially considering that they were both directed by the same fella – by Alan J. Pakula. All the President’s Men stands out because of the aforementioned tension and pacing but also because I find it a quintessential film of the 1970’s when paranoia and fear of what lurks in the dark shadows seemed to reach its height in Cold War America.

pelican1

 

Strangers on a Train (1950) – Hitchcock and tennis, my two great loves. Throw into the mix a bizarre double murder plot and I am a happy girl indeed. Adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel.

Original-Strangers-on-a-Train-alfred-hitchcock-1499041-653-475

 

Born Yesterday (1950) – this film proved to be an award-winning performance by the fantastic Judy Holliday and co-starring the dreamy William Holden in a Pygmalion-type story with hoods to boot!

Annex - Holliday, Judy (Born Yesterday)_01

 

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) – This proves above all Frank Capra was a true believer in the ideals America continues to imbue to the huddled masses who wash upon our shore.

Hollywood's Greatest Year: The Best Picture Nominees of 1939

 

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) –  One of the best sci-fi dramas EVER. That is all.

gortklaatumessage

 

Dave (1993) – OMG I cannot believe that this film is already 20 years old! Anyways, I love it. Words nearly escape to talk about how I like this film but I know that whenever it is on, I have to watch it.

picture-of-kevin-kline-frank-langella-and-kevin-dunn-in-dave-large-picture

 

I know I could add more, but let me stop here and pose the following question to all of you … What are some of YOUR DC favorites?

 

A “Cinematic” Journey through London

On my latest trip to London, I had the great pleasure to partake of some of the cinematic delights the British capital had to offer.

On Friday night (October 26th), I had the pleasure of catching Skyfall at the BFI IMAX, Britain’s largest IMAX screen, pictured below:

(I will publish my review later this week, ahead of its US release ).

 

The following day I headed over to the Victoria and Albert Museum to check out the Hollywood Costumes exhibition. It was much, much more than I expected and reached a wonderful climax that included Marilyn Monroe’s dress from The Seven Year Itch and Dorothy’s ruby red slippers. Unfortunately we were unable to photograph the actual exhibit itself (I did end up with a book!), but rest assured, it was well worth the trip to see so many iconic outfits worn by Hollywood’s finest, past and present.

Image Courtesy of the V&A Museum

Due to the tragic weather-related events that were happening Stateside (Superstorm Sandy), I found myself with some extra time in London, during which I ventured over to the Southbank and visited the BFI (British Film Institute) Southbank. Most of the facility was closed but we were able to walk about the Institute and visit the museum shop. This gave me the opportunity to pick up a copy of 39 Steps to the Genius of Hitchcock: A BFI Compendium. I cannot wait until I settle in with this one!

If you ever find yourself in London (stranded or otherwise) I highly recommend checking out the awesomely accessible facility.

Of course I did other amazing stuff while I was over there, but these aforementioned events definitely left an impression.

♣ On Location in Ireland ♣

Happy St. Patty’s Day Everyone!

 

In honor of the holiday, here is a list of a few of my favorite films set in Ireland:

The Guard (2011): One of my favorite films of 2011; seen by way too few folks.

 

Hunger (2008): a breakthrough performance by one of my favorite actors, Michael Fassbender. A visually arresting film sparse on dialogue but leaves an indelible mark all the same.

 

In Bruges (2008): Caught this on cable randomly one afternoon and I am so glad that I did.  It is a perfect blend of humor, violence and tension. (Note: I am playing a little loose with this choice since, in fact, it is mostly set in Bruges, Belgium)

 

Circle of Friends (1995): For me this film is too cute for words. Based on the novel by Maeve Binchy, Circle of Friends stars Minnie Driver and Chris O’Donnell.

 

The Matchmaker (1997): First seen when I was going through my Janeane Garofalo phase (which I never probably left). I like to class this as a romantic/political comedy.

 

The Commitments (1991):

 

That’s me done: please take a moment to share some of your faves!

 

On Location at the Palace of Versailles

Close-up of Chandelier in Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles © iluvcinema.com

Oh, l’ironie!

At the time I was scheduling this blog post, I had not known that a couple of weeks later I would have the opportunity to see  Les Adieux á la Reine or Farewell, My Queen at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (please look out for review later this week).

To get iluvcinema.com’s ‘French’ week started (you should detect a pattern with the posts), let’s take a look at another entry in my travelogue – the magnificent Palace of Versailles just outside of Paris.

As I learned yesterday during the Q&A session following the film, this landmark is the most expensive place to shoot in France and you can only shoot on Mondays (the only day that it is closed to the public).

I guess this bit of information means that the following films faves of mine are in quite exclusive company:

Shoes at the Versailles Gift Shop © iluvcinema.com

And before anyone asks about Sofia Coppola’s Marie-Antoinette, NO, I have not seen it.

Let me know what you thought of this film, or any film that I might have missed, in the comments field below.

Que plus tard …


* forgive the poor French, I studied Spanish in school (thus, the translations are courtesy of Google Translate).

Films Shot or Set in Colorado

When deciding which area to focus next on my cinematic travelogue, I just happened to be watching a program about the lovely state of Colorado. At once I started to look into what films were shot or set in, what is in my opinion, one of the most beautiful states of these United States. I have visited on two separate occasions and on each occasion I come to love the state all the more.

For this set, I have separated the list between films shot and set in Colorado.

Shot in Colorado:

  • The Searchers (1956)
  • Pat and Mike (1952)
  • The Razor’s Edge (1946)
  • Away We Go (2009)
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Set (in part or in whole) in Colorado:

  • The Prestige (2006)
  • The Shining (1980)

One note about my final selection, The Shining: I usually do not go for films in the thriller/horror genre, but I decided to give this one a chance on the basis of Kubrick’s involvement. Let’s just say it has left an indelible mark in my cinema-going conscious. The irony of course being that Stephen King was less than thrilled with Kubrick’s imagining of his source material.

So did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below.

(Unfortunately I have not taken any photographs from my trips, so all of the images you see are stock photography/Creative Commons).