My Love for the Tower Theater
FRESNO, CA — Back in the early 1980’s I was the operator/manager of the Tower Theater. It was a fantastic experience. We called it “McHatton’s Tower Theater” at that time. We were a “calendar house” because we published a calendar/newspaper every six to eight weeks with listings and articles and cool graphics about our upcoming films.
We changed films two, three, sometimes four times a week. We did midnight shows on Friday and Saturday nights. We did Three Stooges Marathons and lots of Rock n' Roll movies. I especially remember the “Curly look and sound a like” contests. We showed old classic movies like the re-release of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” and “Vertigo.” We showed lots of foreign films and art films. We showed Armenian films, Japanese films, and even racy films sometimes.
Our goal was to bring people back into the movie theater and help them enjoy the experience of watching a film like it was meant to be seen — on the BIG screen. We used real butter on our popcorn and we went out of our way to make sure your feet did not stick to the floors. We showed many old classics like Ben Hur.
One of my favorite events was when I started bringing in famous filmmakers to do film festivals or tributes. I was fortunate to spend two days with filmmaker Frank Capra who came out for a charity film festival. I also enjoyed meeting Robert Towne and I will never forget meeting director Russ Meyer. I realized Russ was a true independent filmmaker when he popped the trunk of his car and inside there was a full blown 35mm movie camera.
I also really enjoyed putting on live concerts at the Tower. We had a terrific Tower Blues Festival where I got to spend some time with John Lee Hooker. And then I will never forget when I went partners with Budd Friedmann to bring live comedy to the Tower Theater. We really had a great time bringing in comics like Paul Rodriguez, Dana Carvey, Ellen DeGeneres, and even Jim Carrey before he became famous.
I am very appreciative to all the great movie fans and terrific people in Fresno. I recently went to Fresno for my 30th High School reunion and I made sure to drive by the Tower Theater. I will always hold a special place in my heart for the Tower and all the incredible people I met during my special time as the owner/operator of the Tower Theater.