Profile for Patrick H Friel

Patrick H Friel

Favorite theaters: 1 theater

Favorite movies: Being a movie lover since childhood (born in 1950) it would be nearly impossible to list, even my favorites. I just may have pangs of "Irish-Catholic" guilt if forced to name one movie over another. Many of them have sacred positions in my heart and mind but all for different reasons. Perhaps, I'll revisit this page from time to time and make entries on the reasons why certain movies had a strong impact on my life. After all, that's what the question boils down to when asked to name a favorite anything. How did that favorite movie, baseball game, girlfriend, teacher impact ones life. Did the experience create a turning point or, maybe, create a different way of looking at the world for the better? Movies, like other experiences are mile posts that we use to track the progression of our lives. We instantly remember, sometimes vividly, where we were in our lives when someone mentions a movie title. A flood of memories cascades from a time when things were...well, this is for you to fill in. In some way, we turn the clock back, just a wee bit, to savor a captured moment from the past and, possibly, finding some gratification in reliving an emotional experience that occurred when we saw that movie for the first time. We never tire at watching some movies no matter how silly, stupid or bad they may be because no one can claim or take away our reasons that make a movie one of our favorites. Since the magical beginning of my earliest movie going experiences in the late 1950's, when my sisters and their friends or my own friends would walk to the Hamilton Theatre, an Ellis theatre, on Lansdowne Avenue, near 63rd Street, in West Philly watching movies has been a unique and singular love in my life ever since. Within a few short years, we would venture outside our Overbrook neighborhood on the buses and El of the then Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC) and savor more magical moments at the Tower, 69th Street and Terminal Theatres (the trifecta of entertainment ). Of course, there was the occasional trip downtown to the show palaces such as The Fox Theatre, The Stanton Theatre, The Stanley Theatre, The Goldman Theatre, The Trans-Lux, The Randolph Theatre and, The Boyd Theatre. These trips were few since our family was not in the habit of being able to afford the “hard ticket” prices and the “first run” prices of the downtown theatres. We had to wait for the second run, or in today’s parlance: we had to wait until the movie came out on video, so to speak. Of course, this second run experience was not diminished by the wait but, rather, the movie going experienced was enhanced because of the wait. The anticipation for some movies was unbelievable at times and on the day we would go to the theatre we would stand and gawk at the lobby cards ( publicity still photos) in the poster case surrounding the one sheet (standard size poster). Of course, I also remember the disappointment my friends and I would feel when leaving the theatre after the movie. Having our anticipation satisfied and our excitement brought down to a more sober level by the afternoon’s movie going adventure experience we would pass the poster case on the way out and balk at some pictures because the scene was not depicted in the movie. “Ah, geez, what a gyp, they cut that scene out.” Unknowledgeable about movie marketing, I didn’t realize at the time that the stills in the poster case were often shot after the movie’s completion. On the other hand, it taught me a lesson in my youth as a consumer to heed the old saw buyer beware. In the mid 1960's, our family moved to the Great Northeast . Driving north on Bustleton Avenue for the first time was a most memorable experience. As my dad’s car approached the intersection of Bustleton and Cottman Avenues, there it was, like a powerfully palatial mirage remianiscent of Charles Foster Kane’s Xanadu., or, the heavenly glow of the Emerald City, there was The Orleans Movie Theatre. A palace worthy of all the flags that surrounded the edges of the roof above the underlie concrete arches with walls of gold mosaic tiles. There, that grand palace, is where I was going to see my movies. Not some little old neighborhood hole that was not properly maintained, where soda splashes were allowed to plaster the screen or where holes in screens were overlooked by patrons who “just got used to them”. No sir, the Orleans Theatre, I would learn, was the flagship of the William Goldman theatre circuit. Mr. Goldman is well respected and Mr. Goldman has expectations and Mr. Goldman does not, ever, expect to see anything out of place or anything in a place where it does not belong. The Orleans Theatre, and the Goldman chain, was a first class operation run by an executive team that considered it an honor to be working for Mr. William Goldman. A year later, in August of 1967, I too was to become part of that team as an usher, thus, starting a relationship with the motion picture exhibition industry that would occupy my life off and on for many years to come. More importantly, I developed friendships that, fortunately for me, have lasted these nearly forty years and continue today as I consider two friends, Gene and Wayne, to be my brothers. To be continued.

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Member since: December 13, 2005