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in today’s Inquirer Food Section:
Posted on Thu, Jul. 19, 2007 email thisprint thisreprint or license thisOn the Side | Viva ratatouille – the movie and the idealBy Rick Nichols
It is the time, almost, of ratatouille, the local, field-grown tomatoes finally blushing up, and skinny eggplants and new zucchini, sweet peppers and cool, porcelain onions, all ripening for the picking – although the peppers are not quite what you’d call abundant, yet.
It is a French peasant dish, as the movie tie-in charmingly informs, a homey, kitchen-sink stew, basically, of all the stuff in the ProvenÃ§al (or Philadelphia) summer garden – plus garlic, olive oil, and, in some versions, basil, which is nothing if not gone totally berserk next to my pokey tomato crop.
It is the flavor of seriously deep July and August, of sunshine and juicy squash, meaty eggplant, sweet onion and tangy tomato, uncomplicated and mightily soulful. Bake it with fresh eggs cracked into wells on top; it can be a full Sunday supper.
Ratatouille, the movie, of course, is about a lot of things – about the triumph of the little guy, about grace under pressure, about keeping hope alive, about listening to your heart, going the distance, etc.
But it is also about rescuing a culinary reputation (of the late chef Auguste Gusteau) from an impostor who would cheapen it; turn it into a brand to peddle a line of frozen burritos and Chinese dishes – “make it CHINE-easy.”
So it came to pass that on the eve of my second trip to the Narberth Theater to see the film, I found myself contemplating a sample packet of the summer’s new seasoning shaker, something called “Great'a Tomat'a, with Lycopene!”
The Great'a Tomat'a Web site has a succinct critique of what’s wrong with your supermarket tomato: It’s not fully ripened on the vine, the better to enhance shelf-life. So its aroma, color, juiciness, chemistry and flavor are underdeveloped, leaving you with a pale imitation that tastes like, well, you know… .
Even New Jersey’s storied tomato fits that profile, its once-vast acreage vastly shrunken, its genetics – favoring thicker skin and longer shelf-life – now little different from any other commercial tomato. Talk about a reputation squandered!
This is not news. Tomato-modifying began falling on hard times years ago. A bad turn? In 1994, the genetically modified Flavr Savr tomato slowed down ripening, so the fruit could stay on the vine longer, but not spoil on the way to market.
But it didn’t taste very good. And one Cornell horticulture professor was moved to observe, it was bred from a bland variety to begin with: “There was very little flavor to save.”
For $3.49 the shaker-full, Great'a Tomat'a (Flavr Savr? Great'a Tomat'a? Who names these things? Rappers?) promises to restore the tomato’s glory; the missing ingredients of flavor, aroma, the tart, the tang.
So what technology has so carelessly expunged, technology will now artfully restore, cutting nature out of the equation entirely: Lab creates lousy tomato. Lab creates way to mask lousy tomato’s taste.
Except that the seasoning does nothing of the sort. I tried it on a hard, red, so-labeled “Jersey tomato,” and a slice tasted flavorless without it – and flavorless with it. “What is it, baby powder?” to quote my 11-year-old granddaughter.
And so we went on our way, ambling over the bridge humped across the SEPTA tracks, to see Ratatouille.
The movie reminds you, among other things, that anyone can add flavor to food, but with mixed result. (The model for the stunningly swirled ratatouille in the movie, by the way, was created by California’s celebrated master chef Thomas Keller.)
But the very best flavor must already be in the eggplant, squash and tomato to truly get in the dish, the result of good seed and good earth, good sun and good rain.
And there is only one way for a restaurant to get that, the sous chef Colette confides: Grow it yourself, or bribe the best farmer to get the first pick.
Photo of current exterior, original ticket boothgone in the twinning renovation:
I saw in 1985: When Father was Away on Business, 1986: Brighton Beach Memoirs, 1987: The Whistle Blower, 1988: (1) The Dead, (2) The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne. 1995: (1) The Usual Suspects, (2) Persuasion. By 1995, curtains no longer used before the movies. Arthouse crowds often filled these theaters.
Also, I see my notes indicate the decoration on the theater walls was painted. Yep, that’s what I recall. 1970’s visual. That bigger auditorium on the left had a decent enough screen. The smaller one on the right wasn’t big enough.
This is my late 2004 photo showing the then closed Entry building of the Outer Circle:
This photo seems to show demolition onsite:
The large auditorium is the building to the left of the entry-lobby building that has the Outer Circle lettering. The smaller auditorium isn’t seen in this photo, but is to the right of the entry lobby building.
The Bridge is the best designed movie theater that was built in Philadelphia in the last quarter century. No other modern cinema for mainstream movies in the Philadelphia region better provides the moviegoer with a sense of elegant design. The Bridge was built in the site of a 3 screen Eric theater on the University of Pennsylvania campus, and is a few blocks away from another 3 screener which has since been demolished. Both the 3 screeners were built in the 1970s.
The exterior resembles an Art Moderne design, that of a ship. Nighttime photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/iirraa/121887409/
Close up during daytime: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cholden/423701567/
The lobbies, foyers, and Men’s Restroom are elegantly wood paneled. Attendants in the Men’s Restrooms hand out towels. The foyer has Jananese style lantern ceiling lights. The foyer’s seating section with its comfortable seats is depicted here:
There is a lounge with high resolution screens. There is also a restaurant inside the moviehouse, in addition to the Marathan Grill being adjacent in another part of the theater building.
The two largest auditoriums are # 3 with 300 seats, and # 6 with 235 seats. # 6 looks like a slightly curved screen. As could be expected from their seating capacity, both of those auditoriums have large screens of maybe about 35 or so feet wide, but not huge screens, which I define as 50 feet wide. Auditorium # 5 has 196 seats. All the seat counts are from 2003. Photos of an auditorium, the foyer, and the lounge appear in the wonderful “Cinema Treasures” book by Ross Melnick and Andreas Fuchs.
Rather than a preshow with commercials, the Bridge has long shown a slide of a piece of popcorn. Auditorium seats are luxurious, all stadium seated, with excellent sight lines, clean screens, meticulous film projection, and digital surround sound. The Bridge shows mainstream movies. Weekend evenings are reserved seating. Babies are allowed. Ushers suggest informing them if the babies make too much noise (which unfortunately does happen).
Ticket prices are a little bit higher than other movie theaters, but the experience is better.
Thanks, I emailed them from the contact information on their site.
Auditorium from 1937 The Exhibitor trade magazine:
Photos from 2004 premiere:
Auditorium 2004 premiere:
Facing the movie screen, 2004, a wonderful photo:
2007 Photo of sign:
marquee photo here:
Rendering from 9-15-1937 The Exhibitor here:
Recent beautiful auditorium photos:
No, there are no open movie theaters in Camden.
from 9-15-1937 The Exhibitor, photo of Dante Theatre’s ticket booth:
and photo of glass brick standee wall at auditorium rear with text below:
The standing rail of the new Dante Theatre, Philadelphia, PA Armand Carroll, Architect. Glass brick inlaid in wood panelling and topped with upholstering to match the chairs, is an unusual modern touch. Subdued reflected illumination from within serves only to guide incoming patrons.
This photo is from 9-15-1937 The Exhibitor article on Glass Brick
Text: Aisleheads of the new Belgrade Theatre, Philadelphia, PA David Supowitz, Architect, uses glass brick corners inlaid in wood and lighted from within to direct patrons and promote (Howard Haas note: rest of text missing from my photocopy)
Another photo from same page of the drinking fountain:
I attempted to telephone Landis Theatre Redevelopment Association to inform them of posting of above opening year photos, but all tel. numbers were disconnected. Perhaps somebody can inform me as to how to reach the people working to rehab the Landis Theatre?
9-15-1937 The Exhibitor features the NEW Landis Theatre, Vineland, N.J. Architect W. H. Lee, Philadelphia, PA. Owner Cumberland Holding Co.
published in The Exhibitor:
Blueprint which underneath says Lot 80 ft x 200 ft. Seating Capacity 1200. Cost, without ground: $95,000
Below the blueprint is a photo (from Howard Haas: LOOK AT THE PORTHOLE WINDOWS VERY ART DECO- LIKE A SHIP) with text as follows.
An outstanding new feature in design is the Zeppelin streamlining of the standing rail and windbreak between lobby and auditorium. The glass sheets anchored in bronze framework are tilted at such an angle as to eradicate the necessary echo which forced most theatres to remove such glass with the coming of sound. When sound strikes the deflected surface, it is batted down and the possibility of echo is removed.
Bottom photo on The Exhibitor page with text as follows
An exterior showing the modern treatment obtained by the use of light brick, stainless steel, terra cotta base and glass brick
Later in the same The Exhibitor issue is a feature on Glass Brick with more Landis Theatre photos-
Photo of the Cosmetic Room (from Howard Haas: LOOK AT THE GLASS BLOCK COSMETIC ROOM!) with text as follows
The Cosmetics Room at the new Landis Theatre, Vineland, NJ. W. H. Lee, Architect. The glass treatment contributes privacy while permitting cheerful sunlight at matinee time. The room lighting passing through the transparent substance contributes to the exterior building line at night.
Finally, there’s another exterior photo with text as follows:
A corner of the exterior of the new Landis Theatre, Vineland, N.J. W. H. Lee, Architect. Inlaid in light brick and terra cotta and outlined with stainless steel, glass brick carries out the modern curve, and lighted from the room within accentuates the night time lighting.
Here’s a rendering from 9-15-1937 The Exhibitor of “Basil Bros, new 1000 seat LaSalle Theatre, Niagara Falls, N.Y. Simon & Russell Larke, Architects"
Here’s a rendering found in 9-15-1937 The Exhibitor of “Kridell Brothers newly remodelled 1500 seat Palace Theatre, in Orange, New Jersey. Sidney B. Moss, Architect”
here’s the rendering:
Rendering from 9-15-1937 The Exhibitor of what was desribed as the new 750 seat Rio Theatre
Glazer’s hardback book says Crest opened 11-23-1937. This rendered was in 9-15-1937 The Exhibitor:
Marquee 1st line: Clark Gable, Myna Loy
2nd line: Parnell
3rd line: March of Time (space) Mickey Mouse
My notes from old newspaper accounts are that at opening, there were more than 1200 seats plus 200 seats in the loge.
Later, in Feb. 1972, Budco bought the Goldman moviehouses.
As a twin, it reopened October 2, 1974 with each auditorium being 500 or 600 seats.
That’s a January 2006 photo
Perhaps Uptown could hire a union projectionist for the 70 mm screenings?
And, comments on that page indicate AMC may not renew lease so next year, if someone else operates it…
I’m not sure if Avalon has 70mm. I don’t think they’ve shown anything in 70 mm since reopening. I also wish they’d return to using curtain for each movie.