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I wonder why you are nobody in Hollywood until Hollywood Boulevard itself, between the streets of LaBrea and Highland, is shut down for your pix’s premiere? Could there be a reason why this theater has had more premieres than any theater in the US? Is it the red carpet, the press, the tv coverage (at least in Hollywood), the fans screaming from across the street on bleachers as the limos arrive or the spotlights streaking above the skys? Might this actually be the theater of the STARS' preference since 1927? Ummm… Could the Chinese be HOLLYWOOD?
Everyday that I went to work there, under by breath, I would say, “Good Morning Sid,” and “Goodnight Mr. Grauman,” as though the man was still there. It didn’t matter who the director, producer, star or studio was, my respect went to Sid, The ShowMan!
In my 20s, it was my dream to work there: In my 50s, my recolection is to reminisce.
Bear in mind, there was no concession stand when the Chinese was built in 27. It came later. Then, for decades, it sat flush with its back wall against the booth wall, in the center of the lobby. Finally, when projection was moved back upstairs, the back wall to the projection booth was removed, and the concession stand now resides in what was the old booth.
Imagine, if every community had a Willis, Shirley and Chris Johnson.
Please visit their website below and view their palaces.
Good God, William and KenRoe, I swear you guys find more information than is humanly possible. William is like a written encyclopedia; KenRoe is like a photographic archive.
Great Guys… :)
I applaud Willis, Shirley and Chris Johnson, owners of the Classic Cinema theater chain. This family thrives on rebuilding, redefining and rejuvenating old downtown movie theaters and breathes new life into them while allowing the precious personality of each cinema to shine through as it originally had been intended.
By restoring, preserving and protecting the gleam and glitter of our proud movie palaces, the Johnsons have fashioned a means of expression by which to reinforce hope in the significant strengths within our souls and commemorate character throughout our communities.
It is in the seclusion of a beautiful movie palace, much like the solitude of a public library or the sanctity of a religious institution, that one can be awakened, conditioned, motivated, nurtured and united.
The Johnsons should serve as an inspiration to us all. We can only trust by their gracious examples that others shall learn to bequeath respect to the inner beauty of their own, hometown, cinema treasures.
Correction: It is East of Los Angeles.
In the middle of winter, I would get so bored standing on that picket line. It’s freezing! And because the lobby is small, the patrons have to line up outside, as well, until their particular theater is cleaned from the previous performance. Well, to liven things up a bit, I used to keep a couple cannisters of fart spray under my cuffs and walk through the crowd. Unfortunately, one night the union business agent crossed my path and became violently ill. We later found him in back of the theater puking. OOPS! Talk about a back fire…
I would get upset when the union would call me to run a movie somewhere on my day off and even more upset when it was on a holiday. Back in 78, I got the call on the forth of July to do a double shift at the Lankershim because the regular operator could not make it. At that time, it was running Spanish movies. This really ticked me off. My American holiday was completely ruined. So, to celebrate in my own way, I lite an M-80 and tossed it on the box office roof. After it blew the roof into splinters, I thought I would die laughing, but nobody else saw the humor in this. Geezzz… People, lighten-up. It’s a holiday.
It appears that Fritz has used DracuGoth charm to hypnotize his latest victims. :)
I am just glad that I do not have to picket there anymore. Fritz is still there???
This was THE DRIVE-IN to see a movie at in San Bernardino County, West of Los Angeles County. Nessled at the base of the massive San Berdoo mountains, the view within this beautifully manicured drive-in was spectacular.
Around 1981, I was working out of 110 in Chicago. I got a call from Business Agent Orr in San Bernardino, CA. He said he had been trying to track me down. Actually, it was his son who had first made contact with me. I immediately jumped in the car and drove there.
Homer, the district manager, welcomed me back, and I was in paradise. Having scrubed, cleaned and painted the entire projection room, I settled in for an unforgetable experience. Finally, at dusk while the view of the mountains was still visible behind the screen, I would turn-over that screaming generator and fire-up the carbon arc. Then, it was time to kill the preshow music and announce on the microphone, IT WAS SHOWTIME!
By the way folks, throughout this website you will read posts where people mention that a particular theater had or was having the “Midway Treatment.” The phrase comes from this theater. This is the theater that gave reference to completely gutting and rebuilding without leaving anything that resembles the original decor.
When in Forest Hills, Queens, this is where we watch a movie. In its day, it must have been awesome.
nellieF, did you ever work at the Lynbrook?
This is how it all starts… ;)
At some point in time, this was the NYC district headquarters for UA. The district manager’s offices and signs on the doors are still up in the projection booth. Today, it is a refreshment lounge for the projectionists.
Robert, as your replacement at the Town Cinema in 1974, I must commend you on keeping the booth clean for me. HA! By the way, I did go up to the roof and popped the lock on the door at the old booth. Everything from slippers on the floor to bottles in the medicine cabinet were still in place. I also crawled around the old balcony. Pretty erie stuff, to say the least. If I had known you were still at RCMH, I would have stopped by to swap stories about Ma, Oscar, Jim, Richard, Jerry and the rest of the gang. I came to NY in 2002.
This place is gorgeous. After doing relief projection in the early 80s here, I almost was ready to move from Hollywood.
In 1997, I was working at the Chinese in Hollywood when I had noticed a patron was watching me as I “rode the fader” (adjusted the sound) during the performance of “Titanic.” After the movie concluded, he introduced himself as a brother projectionist from Local 504, IATSE, Orange County.
A few months later, the business agent in Los Angeles calls me and asks if I would be interested in being the projectionist for four days at the Newport Film Festival to take place at the Edwards Newport Cinema.
When I got to Newport Beach, that same brother that had greeted me at the Chinese was waiting to show me around the Newport Cinema.
When doing a film festival, it means the projectionist is in hyperdrive. You must build-up prints and do tear-downs on the fly. That means, while the movies are playing in all six theaters, you must be building up the next set of features and tearing down the old at the same time because features only run once.
There was just me to do all of this WITH NO HELP.
On the first day of the show, the vice president of Edwards comes into the booth after discovering the film prints were being delivered upstairs into the projection booth. Instead of asking me if I would like a sip of water or a crust of bread, he began to complain and told me the projectionist had to carry film up and down the stairs, not UPS or whomever.
After a nice arguement, I told him that I was doing him a favor and he should appreciate someone coming in from L.A. to help make sure his stinking film festival was a success. Then, I put on my coat and said, “Bye-Bye!” He yells to me, “I will sue you, I’ll sue. Oooh, I hate you people.” I said, “Bye-Bye!” He then yells, “I will sue your local union. How can you do this to your local?” I said, “Bye-Bye!”
That is my one and only story regarding the Edwards Newport Cinema.
The booth is in shambles and has been since it opened. It was not planned out by an architect. There are huge water pipes and electrical conduits right in walkways and along the walls. I was always climbing over or ducking under something while working this maze. One projector has a mirror reflecting the image from the lens to another mirror on the floor and out a floor-port onto a screen. Try focusing this mess! I don’t know how Bobby Popita, the regular projectionist, can stand it.
The present projection booth is back upstairs in its original location. There is no Cathay Lounge anymore. The booth is also very small now.
Originally, technology did not require much equipment. When the booth was downstairs, there were numerous projectors and sound dummies for running picture and track. Studio screenings require separate projection (picture) and sound (track) equipment that are synchronized. In many cases, the picture is a rough cut that has just been edited together by a film editor. Therefore, every time the scene changes, the picture noticeably jumps.
Back in the day, we would be handed 1,000 foot reels (10 minutes) to 2,000 foot reels (20 minutes) and make changeovers. In the case of 1,000 foot reels, you had to hustle to thread both picture and track in sync, then, rewind the previous two and tend to the carbon arc lamphouses.
Today, for just a regular presentation, the film is edited onto one platter. If doing picture and track, two platters; one for the picture and one for the soundtrack. Xenon bulbs have replaced carbon arcs, automation takes care of everything else and space is no longer a necessity.
Only on rare ocassion, such as with James Cameron and “Titanic,” will he insist that a regular full-time projectionist be there and manually run the presentation with curtains and lights between trailers and the main feature and ride the fader (adjust the sound) to achieve a wider dynamic range.
Hi Saps, how ya doin?
This place was great! I was the projectionist around 77-78. It was the only 70mm drive-in that I had worked at. So long as the picture was on the sheet, the owner/manager pretty much maintained a party atmosphere for the employees. Yee-Haa… And we were disciplined enough to oblige.
Oh yea, it was 1974
My first real job as a full-time projectionist. After breaking-in and learning the business at various theaters in Springfield, IL, the business agent from Springfield got a message from the business agent in Kankakee that he had an opening. Wow, I had moved North and loved it. I almost married Sue Boguszewski from that town.
It was run into the ground as a $1 house. Cineplex Odeon took it over, remodeled and gave it new life as a first showing house. Then, Loews acquired it after Cineplex; It went back to being a $1 house. Films there were about six months old. My girlfriend used to work there between 98 and 00 during this time.
You would be amazed at how many celebrities would patronize this theater while Loews had it as a $1 house. I assume celebrities felt comfortable there since film fans usually attend first showing houses. Many industry people would spend a buck to see a flick.
On a pretty regular basis, studios would rent the theater for a day. I had worked as the projectionist during these studio screenings and audience response screenings.
Today, it is owned by Lammle Theaters, an arts movies theater chain.