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In reading the New York Times article about the website, the first theater mentioned, the Fox Venice, brought back a flood of memories. My father was a district manager for Fox West Coast (the theater arm of Fox before antitrust laws required the studios to divest themselves of their theater chains)in the late 40’s through the end of the 50’s.
His district included Venice and the overseeing of the new Fox Venice theater. We were so excited when the theater opened to great fanfare with a weekend filled with events to mark this opening: searchlights out in front for the first evening movies being shown, a Saturday western double bill with an in person visit by Monty Montana a B western movie “star” at the time. The theater was state of the art with a baby “crying room” available for parents, a loge section with cushier seats that required a more expensive ticket, a huge screen and for the time a good sound system.
In the days before digital, the films were delivered to the theater by motorcycle riders called taggers who carried the prints from one theater to the next and I remember one time there was great concern that the films hadn’t arrived in time so my father had to go on stage to announce the delay just as the tagger was running in the front door. These theaters had projection rooms with guys (always guys) who ran them that always looked a little strange, usually smoked prodigiously but I remember one in particular that used to let me sit with him while the movie ran while he showed me how it all worked and how he timed the changing of the reels.
During one particularly bad rainstorm, the theater lobby flooded in spite of the sandbags at the doors which necessitated all of the fairly new, expensive carpeting having to be replaced.
Many more thoughts too numerous to recount about his many adventures managing the other Fox theaters in Santa Monica, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach but the opening of the Venice was the highlight.
When I drive by I just remember what it was and not what it has become.