Tag Archives: Movies

Historic Theaters

The Rialto Theatre, South Pasadena, California, photographed in September 2009. Opened in 1925, this theater is now closed.

The Rialto Theatre, South Pasadena, California, photographed in September 2009. Opened in 1925, this theater is now closed.

It was love at first sight when I saw The Rialto Theatre.  I was introduced to this old beauty when I visited my friend Jan in South Pasadena, California, in the 1990’s. I’ve taken many photographs of “The Rialto” since then, but may not get the chance much longer if it isn’t saved.  This venerable theater opened in 1925 but it is now closed and in danger of demolition, as are many old theaters.  A scene in Robert Altman’s movie film “The Player” was filmed in The Rialto’s back alley.  “Scream 2″ also featured The Rialto.

The Rialto is beautiful even in its decay.   Like so many old theaters, it was decorated grandly.  It has a fanciful Moorish, Egyptian and baroque motif. When I wrote an article for the Kansas City Star’s magazine about Orval Hixon, who photographed vaudeville stars from 1914 to 1930, I saw photographs of many glamorous theaters that have now fallen into ruin or are gone.

In the background is The Rialto Theatre, South Pasadena, California.

In the background is The Rialto Theatre, South Pasadena, California.

In the “old days,” an evening spent in the theater was a beautiful experience beyond what was being performed on the stage or shown on the screen. Some of the first movies I saw as a child was in The Orpheum, a gorgeously decorated old theater in Wichita, Kansas, which was originally built for vaudeville shows. Like many entertainment legends, these old theaters needs more than face lifts to keep them alive.  Sometimes only the marquee sign is all that’s saved from an old theater.

Some of the theaters, such as the ones in Hawaii that I photographed, might not be grand, but they have their own charm. Farm workers and U.S. servicemen were among their clientale.

It’s bittersweet seeing these old cinema relics, whether they are grand cinema palaces or more humble screens. I’m grateful many of these historic theaters are still standing, but who knows for how long? People watch films on their computers and even on their phones these days.  When people do go to the theater they want a great sound system, recliner seats, cup holders and even 3-D screens.

Jan and I and our husbands planned to see a movie at The Rialto in the early 2000s, when the theater was still open, but when we got to the box office we were told that the projector was broken.  So we walked across the street to a video store and rented a VHS movie to watch at home. Sadly, I never saw a movie at The Rialto before it closed.

Here’s a slide show of theaters I’ve photographed in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan and Missouri.  There is information about each theater when you click on the photo.  CLICK ON ANY THUMBNAIL PHOTO TO BEGIN THE SLIDESHOW AND SEE THE PHOTOS FULL SIZED.

Click on Cinema Treasures for a guide to more than 30,000 movie theaters from around the world, including theaters that are now closed.

Click on I’m Not Ready For My Close Up to read about my brief appearance on the Big Screen in the movie “fling.”

Here’s a blog that documents grand old theaters, many sadly in advanced decay.  After the Final Curtain

About the theaters featured in slide show:

The Rialto, South Pasadena, California

Friends of The Rialto

Friends of The Rialto Facebook Page.

Sebastiani Theatre, Sonoma, California.

Michigan Theatre, Escanaba, Michigan

Gem Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri

Aloha Theatre, Kainaliu, Big Island, Hawaii

Honoka’a People’s Theater, Honoka’a, Big Island, Hawaii

Honomu Theater, Honomu, Big Island, Hawaii

Na’alehu Theatre, Na’alehu, Big Island, Hawaii

Park Theatre, Estes Park, Colorado

Screenland Crossroads Sign from old Isis Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri.

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Filed under Entertainment, History, Movies, Photography, Travel

Eighty-Four Years of Best Picture Oscar Winners

Nelson Carvajal, a video essayist and digital filmmaker, has assembled brief scenes from the last 84 Best Picture Oscar winners in this video in preparation for the 85th Academy Award show on Sunday, February 24, 2013.

I’ve seen four of the nine films nominated for Best Picture. “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Life of Pi” and “Lincoln” in this year’s crop of Best Picture nominees.

How many did you know?  Click here for the answers. How many have you seen?

Here’s the list of all of this year’s nominations: 2013 Oscar Nominations

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Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Horseback riders pass the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Opened in 1887, the Grand Hotel is the largest summer hotel in the world. Motorized vehicles aren’t allowed on Mackinac Island, so everyone walks, rides bicycles, takes a horse-drawn carriage or goes on horseback.

This June, I finally visited Mackinac Island, Michigan. I’ve wanted to visited Mackinac Island, Michigan, and the Grand Hotel, ever since I saw “Somewhere in Time,” the 1980 romantic time-traveling movie starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. (Thanks to my husband. He did all of the driving.) What took me so long? The island and the hotel are fabulous.

The island is definitely a trip back in time. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island, except an ambulance and a police car and snow mobiles in the winter. People get around on bicycles, on horse back, in horse-drawn carriages and on foot. The island is famous for its lilacs and fudge. The island was the second U.S. National Park, after Yellowstone National Park, but it was turned over to the state of Michigan. Now, eighty percent of the island is Michigan State Park.

Opened in 1887, the Grand Hotel is celebrating its 125th anniversary this summer.  Five U.S. Presidents have visited: Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford (who was raised in Michigan and helped to build cabins on the island as a Boy Scout) George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.  Thomas Edison demonstrated his phonograph for the public for the first time on the hotel’s porch, as well as demonstrating other new inventions during Edison’s frequent stays. Mark Twain spoke frequently at the Grand Hotel during his speaking tours. In recent years, Russian leaders Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev have visited.

The Grand Hotel Sign.

The Grand Hotel, opened in 1887, is the largest summer hotel in the world and has the world’s longest front porch. The Grand Hotel is a National Historic Landmark and is considered by many travel experts to be one of the best hotels in the world. We didn’t stay at the Grand Hotel (maybe some day), but we did pay the ten dollars each to visit the hotel and grounds. The fee was instituted last year, probably because without the fee the hotel would be swarmed with the thousands of day trippers from the mainland who could take all of the seats on the porch. It may be the longest porch in the world, but it can’t fit everyone! Links below take you to more information about the hotel and the island, plus there’s a link to my post about Mackinac Island fudge.

Here’s rush hour on Mackinac Island, Michigan. These carriages are passing by the Grand Hotel. There are about 500 horses on the island at peak tourist season in the summer, mostly Percheron and Belgian Draft horses, our carriage drivers told us. The carriage horses work a few hours every other day in the summer and rest all winter on the mainland.

A family plays croquet on the lawn of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Here’s one section of the porch of Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel, the longest porch in the world. You can see the Grand Hotel’s signature red geraniums in the flower boxes and on the steps.

A pianist entertains guests during tea time in the lobby of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Note the design of large red geraniums in the carpet. Interior designer Carleton Varney designed the Grand Hotel in its late 19th century decor including its Pelargonium geraniums.

A large chess set is ready for play on the porch of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan. On the horizon is the Mackinac Bridge, which connects the Upper and Lower Penisulas of Michigan.

The 1947 musical-comedy “This Time for Keeps” was filmed at the Grand Hotel. The movie starred Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams, and the hotel’s pool is named after Williams. Williams was a frequent guest at the hotel, one of our guides said.

This view from the Cupola Bar at the top of of the Grand Hotel shows the hotel grounds, Mackinac Island town and the ferries making their way across Lake Huron from the island to the mainland.

A restaurant in the Grand Hotel.

A carriage delivers passengers to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Interior Designer Carleton Varney designed the late 19th century interiors of the Grand Hotel. All of the 385 guest rooms have a different design.

A carriage takes guests to the Grand Hotel from the ferry landing on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Summer houses line West Bluff Road just beyond the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Unless you are a registered guest at the Grand Hotel, you must pay ten dollars to tour the hotel and grounds.

Map of Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Scenes from “Somewhere in Time”

About the “Somewhere in Time” movie.

About the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

Views of some of the beautifully decorated rooms can be seen here: Official website of the Grand Hotel.

My post about Mackinac Island Fudge.

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Take a Ride With Me on a San Francisco Streetcar — 1906!

This amazing movie of a San Francisco streetcar traveling down Market Street was filmed four days before the massive April 18, 1906 earthquake, then shipped by train to New York for processing. It’s a trip back in time to the chaotic streets of early-day San Francisco, where horse-drawn wagons shared the road with streetcars, men on horseback and pedestrians. A sightseeing streetcar passes through the scene. Newsboys cruise the streets, some seeming to pose briefly for the camera. Other boys grab onto the back of a car and run along. The crowd is mostly male, everyone wears a hat and most are well-dressed.

The area shown in the film was destroyed by the big earthquake and fire that followed. In the film, the clock tower at the end of the street at the Embarcadero Wharf still stands. The film originally was thought to have been made in 1905.  David Kiehn with the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum figured out exactly when the film was shot. Clues he used were the New York trade papers, wet streets from recent heavy rainfall, shadows indicating time of year, the weather and conditions on historical record. He even determined when the cars were registered and who owned them.

San Francisco is the favorite city of my mother-in-law and daughter. My husband went to kindergarten on the Presidio within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, but he doesn’t have the same romantic attachment to the city as other family members do.  He did alert me to this video, though! He prefers the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, which is also earthquake-prone.

Watch the video in full screen, if you can. 
U.S. Geological Survey’s discussion of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Movie of San Francisco not long after 1906 earthquake.
Wikipedia — 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
The original version of “Trip Down Market Street” from Archive.org.

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Filed under Automobiles, Communication, Entertainment, History, Life, Movies, Nature, Photography, Science, Technology, Travel

Constantin Films Claims Copyright Violations on Hitler Film “Downfall”

Enjoy these parodies while you can.  There are more than 145 of them.  Take the poll.

Constantin Films claims copyright violations on Hitler film “Downfall.”

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Filed under Commerce, Communication, Entertainment, Internet

Ma and Pa Kettle — Financial Consultants

Ma and Pa Kettle are financial consultants to the federal government.  Many states hire them, too!  The Kettles are probably available to help you with your tax preparation, too.  Better hurry.  Tax returns are due April 15th.

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We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

 

Original Wizard of Oz book.

Actually, I am in Kansas right now, but I couldn’t resist that statement, and I’m not alone.  It’s a very popular phrase to explain wonderment when entering a fantastic new environment.  Recently I saw a version of the phrase in the New York Times Coming-of-Age Filmgoers: You’re Not in Kansas Anymore, which had nothing to do with the movie or the book.

(Judy Garland’s line as Dorothy Gale in the film The Wizard of Oz was “Toto, I have the feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”)

Growing up in Kansas, I was always fascinated by The Wizard of Oz movie, even though it didn’t show our state in a very favorable light.  However, as black and white, dusty and tornado-prone as Kansas was shown in the movie,  Dorothy couldn’t wait to get home!  L. Frank Baum, the author, never visited Kansas but fashioned the Kansas in his book, published in 1900, after the drought years  he experienced when he lived in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

I didn’t interpret the movie (I hadn’t read the book) as anything more than a fantasy, until I got to college.  There, I learned that like most fairy tales, there is a deeper interpretation, usually something sinister or despotic.

L. Frank Baum, 1901.

In these times of great economic uncertainty, I thought it might be helpful to take you back to the good old days of the 1890s, depicted as allegory in “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”   The “Gay Nineties” period was really a time of widespread economic depression in the United States, set off by the Panic of 1893.  The depression lasted until 1896, when the Republican Party took control of the White House. Full prosperity didn’t return until 1899, which didn’t last, of course.  Boom and bust times continue, most notably The Great Depression.

Henry M. Littlefield wrote an essay in 1964 called “The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism,” which showed that the people and events in the book were metaphors for actual people and events in the 1890s. 

Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion in an illustration from the first edition.

Dorothy represents Everyman.  How wonderful that Everyman is a woman!  Here’s  an excerpt from the wikipedia version:

 “Many of the events and characters of the book resemble the actual political personalities, events and ideas of the 1890s.  The 1902 stage adaptation mentioned, by name, President Theodore Roosevelt, oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, and other political celebrities. (No real people are mentioned by name in the book.) Even the title has been interpreted as alluding to a political reality: “oz.” is an abbreviation for ounce, a unit familiar to those who fought for a 16 to 1 ounce ratio of silver to gold in the name of bimetallism In the play and in later books Baum mentions contemporary figures by name and takes blatantly political stances without the benefit of allegory including a condemnation in no uncertain terms of Standard Oil. The book opens not in an imaginary place but in real life Kansas, which, in the 1890s as well as today, was well known for the hardships of rural life, and for destructive tornadoes.  

The Panic of 1893 caused widespread distress in the rural United States. Dorothy is swept away to a colorful land of unlimited resources that nevertheless has serious political problems. This utopia is ruled in part by wicked witches. Dorothy and her house are swept up by the tornado and upon landing in Oz, thehouse falls on the Wicked Witch of the East, destroying the tyrant and freeing the ordinary people—little people or Munchkins. The Witch had previously controlled the all-powerful silver slippers (which were changed to ruby in the 1939 film to take advantage of the new technicolor film). The slippers will in the end liberate Dorothy but first she must walk in them down the golden yellow brick road, i.e. she must take silver down the path of gold, the path of free coinage (free silver). Following the road of gold leads eventually only to the Emerald City, which may symbolize the fraudulent world of greenback paper money that only pretends to have value, or may symbolize the greenback value that is placed on gold (and for silver, possibly).  Henry Littleton’s Essay about “The Wizard of Oz.”

Political Interpretations of “The Wizard of Oz.”   About L. Frank Baum, author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”    About the “Gay Nineties.”

About “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

1903 poster of Dave Montgomery as the Tin Man in Hamlin's musical stage version.

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Filed under Authors, Entertainment, History, Kansas, Life, Movies, Novels, Politics, Writing

Do Re Mi

The Sound of Music in Antwerp Train Station

I always loved this song!

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Just Call Me Little Bo Peep

There are tens of millions of sheep in Australia and New Zealand, but this is as close as I got to any of them.

There are tens of millions of sheep in Australia and New Zealand, but this is as close as I got to any of them. These sheep are grazing at Port Arthur Historic Site, the location of a 19th century penal colony in Tasmania, Australia.

Sheep are probably more common in Australia than kangaroos, but on a recent visit there I never got close enough to hear so much as a bleat.   I wanted to see a sheep shearing (as seen on “The Thorn Birds”).  I  wanted a picturesque mob of sheep to flood out onto the quaint road, you know, the usual tourist adventures.  I should have just looked in my own neighborhood. (There’s a hilarious video about a movie starring sheep at the bottom of this post as a reward for traveling on my nostalgia trip.)

Horses on the ranch down the street from me.

Horses on the ranch down the street from me.

A friend, Evan J., told me about a sheep shearing he participated in recently at a farm not too far away from me.  In six months, the sheep will need another hair cut.  Only a tornado is going to keep me away.

Farmers are dedicated, determined and dazzling.  I’m in awe of what they accomplish and remember the hard work of my grandparents’ farm.  It’s easy to take farm fields and pastures for granted, until the raw timbers of subdivisions take their places.  I live in a suburb on the edge of the Kansas City metropolitan area, near horses and soybean fields.  I’m always afraid I’ll find a CVS pharmacy staked out in the horse pasture. (Our neighborhood has already fought a CVS.)  One nearby farm was just sold off and leveled last year.  Asphalt streets curve around empty lots where a barn surrounded by hay bales once stood.  My own yard was once part of a forest that is now a golf course, so I can’t say I haven’t contributed to the sprawl.

This old barn and soybean field won't be here long.  It's prime real estate, surrounded by upscale subdivisions and shopping centers.  Only the economic downturn is keeping development at bay.

This old barn and soybean field won't be here long. It's prime real estate, surrounded by upscale subdivisions and shopping centers. Only the economic downturn is keeping development at bay.

People can satisfy a little of their farm curiosity in our county with a visit to Deanna Rose Farm, a city park with farm animals and historic rural buildings.  Hopefully, small family farms don’t become novelty items that are remembered only in parks. 

I’ve been following the blog of Paula, who raises sheep and cattle and does just about everything else on her organic farm in Devon, England.  Here’s her post on lambing.  Lambing — It’s Started.  Her blog has great photos, too!

Closer to home, Natalya of Pinwheel Farm writes about the joys and sorrows of raising sheep. You can find “Girls at War” and “Memorable Shearing Day, two of her posts on sheep, at Pinwheel Farm.

I watched the movie “Black Sheep” on the plane trip from New Zealand.  It’s so hilariously Kiwi.  Sort of cheesy, but in a good way.  The special effects reminded me of those in “Dr. Who,” the ones with Tom Baker, my favorite doctor.  Here’s the imdb.com link, including videos, about the movie  Black Sheep.  Below is the video of the movie trailer.  The video is over the top, but there’s a lot of wry Kiwi wit in the movie. For more Kiwi wit and news, check out Kiwibloke on my blogroll.

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Filed under Animals, Australia, Environment, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Movies, Nature, New Zealand, Personal, Random, Travel

The Birds

Two Keas parrots conspire on the rooftop of The Hermitage Hotel at Mt. Cook in New Zealand.

Two Kea parrots conspire on the rooftop of The Hermitage Hotel at Aoraki Mount Cook in New Zealand. The Kea is thought to be one of the smartest birds in the world and is the only alpine parrot.

IMAGINE THIS SCENE:  A man and a woman are watching “Country Calendar” on the television in their house on a lonely sheep station near Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand.  The woman gets up from the couch to get some tea.  She hears a fainting tapping on the front door.

“John,”  she calls out, a little alarmed.  “There’s someone here.” 

She peers through the door’s sidelight window and sees a bloody hand smearing the glass.  “Oh, my God, John.”

"What I'd really like is a roasted red pepper, pine nut and lamb panini with honey mustard dressing."

"This isn't as tasty as that roasted red pepper, pine nut and lamb panini with honey mustard dressing that I stole from those stupid tourists the other day."

John rushes to the front hall.  “What is it?” 

“A man.  He’s hurt.  He needs help.”

John looks through the window.  “Jill don’t open the door.”   He gets a cricket bat from a closet.  He motions to his wife to get back as he opens the door. 

The stranger struggles to stand on the porch.  “They took it,” he snuffles miserably.  He weakly lifts his arm.  His shirt cuff  is shredded. 

“What did they take?”

“My Rolex,” he cries, collapsing on the porch. “My wife.  Oh, my God, my wife.  They took her jewelry. Her gold earrings.  She’ll die without those.  We didn’t have insurance.”

“Who did this?”  John walks out onto the porch to help the man to his feet.

"I know there's some food in there.  You watch the kitchen door whilst I distract the cook."

"I know there's some food in there. You watch the kitchen door whilst I distract the cook."

“They’re coming. Don’t let them in.”  The stranger puts his hands over his head, whimpering.  “I saved for months for that watch. It was so cooool. Now it’s gone…….It isn’t right.  They don’t even need to tell time.”

An eerie sound pierces the air.   “Keaaah!  Keaaah!”  Seemingly out of nowhere, a flock of green birds swoops in, a flash of red under their wings as they dive toward the open door.

“John, John!”  Jill yells, terrified.  John starts flailing at the birds. 

A few birds swoop toward Jill.  She barely gets the door closed in time.  The birds flap at the window for a few moments, and then they disappear.  John and Jill help the stranger to a chair.  “It’s too late,” the stranger says.  “You can’t escape them. They won’t stop until they get it all.” 

“You’re safe now,” Jill soothes, heading toward the kitchen.  “I’ll get some tea.”

The two men hear a noise, something rustling.  Wings.  Screeching.  They hear Jill scream, “Oh, my God, the kitchen window is open!”

A guide talks about Kea parrots at the Willowbank Wildlife Preserve in Christchurch, New Zealand.

A guide talks about Kea parrots at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch, New Zealand.

“Cut,” the director calls out.  The actors are relieved. Those Kea really play their parts well.  (It’s all acting, folks!  Keas do like shiny objects, though.)

The birds retreat to their perches, where they get the star treatment they deserve — plenty of mango, figs and even spoonsful of honey.

Wouldn’t this be a great scene for the remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds” ? A new version of “The Birds” is in the works and scheduled  for release in 2011, maybe in 3-D, with Naomi Watts and George Clooney.  The Kea parrots of New Zealand would be the perfect birds to star with A-listers in the dramatically beautiful country of New Zealand.   Super producer Michael Bay, are you listening! 

A flock of these cheeky, brilliant, mischievous and curious parrots could almost take over the world, if they wanted to.  They work well in teams to solve puzzles.  (See videos below.)  

Keas are clownishly adorable and pose no real threat to humans.  Fortunately, Keas are more likely to run off with your sandwich, snatch a gold earring or rip the rubber edging from your car.  There are so few Keas now — 1,000 to 5,000 — they are in serious danger of disappearing altogether.  They’d have to be replicated by computer generated images to produce enough Kea parrots to create a menancing flock.  There were tens of thousands of them as recently as forty years ago. They were named Kea by the Maori for the “Keaa!” cries they make.

A sign at The Hermitage Hotel at Mt. Cook in New Zealand warns people not to leave their food unattended or a Kea will steal it.

A sign at The Hermitage Hotel at Aoraki Mount Cook in New Zealand warns people not to leave their food unattended or a Kea will steal it.

Their numbers have fallen drastically for a number of reasons, including a bounty that was once placed on them because they do take a bite out of livestock now and then.  They also killed by poison set out to kill possums.  Keas, now protected, are an endangered bird on the South Island of New Zealand, the only place in the world where they naturally occur.  They live in the harsh conditions of the New Zealand Alps, eating a wide range of food from fruit and seeds to other birds and carrion.

Here a Kea flies near Aoraki Mount Cook in New Zealand. Kea parrots are only found in the wild on the south island of New Zealand at higher altitudes.

Here a Kea flies near Aoraki Mount Cook in New Zealand. Kea parrots are only found in the wild on the south island of New Zealand at higher altitudes.

New Zealand’s spectacular scenery, already featured in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, would be a perfect location for this new version of “The Birds”.  Naomi Watts is rumored to be in “talks” to take the role originally played by Tippi Hedren in the Alfred Hitchcock version of the Daphne Du Maurier short story, originally set in Cornwall. Watts has already starred in King Kong in New Zealand under LOTR director Peter Jackson, so she’s familiar with the terrain. And who wouldn’t want to visit New Zealand again?

 

The third video is one I took at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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Filed under Biology, Bird-watching, Birds, Entertainment, Environment, Humor, Life, Movies, Nature, New Zealand, Personal, Photography, Travel