Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

TMT: “Let’s see what this baby can do.”

This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. Once again, my good friend and author John Kenneth Muir has triggered another memory download by posting a new piece in his recurring feature called “1982 in Film”. His series reviews movies from the great genre year of 1982 on its 30th anniversary. In this case, it was a film that was a product of its time:

“Some audiences may see this whole subplot as propagandistic or nationalistic, but remember the context: this film was produced at the height of the Cold War, after the Soviet Union had advanced into Afghanistan.  The film reflects that worrisome time, and more so, reflects the American perspective of that conflict.”


Theatre

Village Theatre


Images c/o Cinema Treasures site

Movie

Time

June 20, 1982: During this time, if I wasn’t in the neighborhood of Westwood Village watching a movie on a weekend, I just wasn’t anywhere. This area really was the closest facsimile to a college town on the westside of L.A. The locale right next to the U.C.L.A. campus had it all back then for college students or anyone else taking a date. Westwood had a number of multi-ethnic restaurants, places to hang out.

And, of course, a load of movie theaters clustered within blocks of each other.

The term ‘theater’ shortchanges some of these venues, though. Few multiplexes existed in the little shopping village turned theater district back then, and more than a few were of the iconic variety. In point of fact, ‘movie palace’ would be a more apt description for my favorite of the bunch. The Village Theatre was built in the Spanish Mission style and remains eye-catching to this day.

Since 1931, it has dominated the village intersection it was situated with its distinctive structure and 1500 seat capacity.

If there was a movie to be seen, especially if best watched on a big screen with 70mm projection and a high-powered sound system, like Clint Eastwood’s go with the techno-thriller Firefox, well of course this is where I’d watch it. For a Sunday matinée on the film’s opening weekend, I did just that. All by my lonesome, too — a certain someone else was working, and a little uninterested, at that. No matter. Bar none, it was the best place to have seen the Craig Thomas novel-based thriller.

Still is…studios continue to do their film premieres there to this very day.


The entire TMT series can be found here. If you’re interested how it’s put together, click here.

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25 Responses to “TMT: “Let’s see what this baby can do.””

    • le0pard13

      The theatre is a great one, alright. It’s great to hear that people do remember this one from a while back. Some of us quite fondly :-). Thanks very much for reading and commenting, Scott.

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    • Novroz

      I agree!!! What a jaw-dropping theater!

      I think I am the only person who still hasn’t found Clint Eastwood attractive,in acting department…maybe I should watch more of his movies.

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      • le0pard13

        It’s an interesting point you make, Novroz. Early on, many didn’t think much of Eastwood and his acting. But, a good many turnaround on that after watching/re-watching him onscreen. Just a thought. Thanks for reading and commenting :-).

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  1. Dan

    Wow, what a theatre…these posts have encouraged me to seek out the oldest cinema still showing films in my area and to pay it a visit. I thought, with the coming with the ultra modern multiplexes with their stadium seating, that film watching in the theatre was better. But there’s something so grand about the high ceilings and intricate architecture that you don’t get the with black box multiplex cinemas.

    I would love to step back in time and watch a film in this theatre…even if it is Firefox! 😉

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    • le0pard13

      The old theaters, even if they don’t have such modern things like stadium seating and cupholders, are worth seeking out. Many of them are real ‘palaces’, like this one… for film and for memories.

      “But there’s something so grand about the high ceilings and intricate architecture that you don’t get the with black box multiplex cinemas.”

      So very true, Dan. Thanks for adding to this, my friend.

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  2. rtm

    WOW, that is a beautiful cinema… some of the older theaters back home in Jakarta had that curtain thing and I miss seeing it open when the film is about to start, there is something kinda magical about it.

    As for the movie… Clint Eastwood in a techno-thriller??? Wow, I have got to check that out!

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    • le0pard13

      I know what you mean about the curtain. The old theater I worked had such a setup. Any pics of those theaters in Jakarta? I’d love to check them out. And yes, a techno-thriller by Clint. The old Craig Thomas novel it’s based on remains one of the greats of the early versions of that genre. The film adaptation of it is a good one, and Star Wars’ John Dykstra did the SFX, too. Thanks, Ruth.

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      • rtm

        I don’t know if any of those theaters still exist Michael. Plus I haven’t been home for so long.

        Wow, John Dykstra did the SFX work, gotta be good!

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        • le0pard13

          There’s a sequence in ‘Firefox’ that will definitely bring back the original ‘Star Trek’ Death Star memories. Thanks, Ruth.

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  3. Ronan

    Now that is what I call a movie theatre! That place is gorgeous Michael, just gorgeous! You are spoiled man! What better to place to live, as a movie lover, than Hollywood? We have a cinema of that kind in Belfast that dates back to WWII but it doesn’t really open for public screenings anymore, only occasional film festival events. Thanks this addition to a fantastic series Michael! And thanks to Kenneth for his input!

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    • le0pard13

      It is a beaut, alright. And yes, living where I do has me spoiled ;-). Have any pics of that Belfast theatre? I’m always interested in such places. And that was a fine review of ‘Firefox’ by JKM. Thanks very much for the kind words and comment, Ronan.

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  4. The Focused Filmographer

    I always love this series and your sharing the memories with us! It really is a unique part of your page that I enjoy.

    That theater is amazing! I would love to watch a movie in that theater!

    Firefox…man I haven’t seen that movie in a long time! and, if I recall, the last time I saw it, I think I remember wishing someone would remaster it so that that special effects would look a lot better! haha. It is a classic though! 🙂

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    • le0pard13

      Very kind of you to say, T. Means a lot to me.

      And yes, you’d enjoy watching a film at the Village Theatre. There is an old time ambience to the place that makes it special. Many thanks, my friend.

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  5. John DuMond

    Wow, that’s an impressive theater.

    When I heard he was making this movie, I had my doubts Eastwood could pull of the lead role. The character was more troubled combat vet than action hero. But Eastwood did well in the role. FIREFOX holds up pretty well as a Cold war-era techno-thriller, but it would be cool to see what it might look like with modern-day SFX.*

    *Just a thought. PLEASE don’t mention that idea to George Lucas. 😉

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    • le0pard13

      Good to find someone who read that Craig Thomas novel, John. Yes, Gant in the book seemed an odd choice for Eastwood, but he made it work well. I always remember his walk out to the plane movie moment — nicely done by filmmaker Clint. Thanks for the comment, my friend.

      ps, I won’t tell Lucas about this 😉

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    • le0pard13

      So many of the old, grand movie palaces, depending upon your location, have closed. Many people these days don’t have the opportunity to see a film in them because of that. Your experience is not surprising. Thank you for reading the post and leaving a comment.

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    • le0pard13

      Yes, even if this was the only theater in town, or as it is here, one among a number of unique movie halls, this place stands out. Thanks for reading and commenting, Matt.

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