Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Reprise – Tales from the (Movie) Theater: Intro

HP Warner Theatre

(image c/o Cinema Treasures)

I’ve thought of bringing and upgrading this series from the old blog for more than a year. Since the possibility of actually revisiting the interior of this venue has come up, through a contact at the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, I thought to move on it. As well, so many memories are tied to this old movie palace that not doing so would be a missed opportunity. So I’ll reprise and update series on a weekly basis during the 13th summer of the new millennium (at least while I’m still here).

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As some of you know, I have a thing for movies. The woman I married would exclaim, “You watch enough of them!” Fair enough. I reason it’s because I was influenced by the act of taking them in at a young age. One of my earliest remembrances was going to the drive-in with my mom and dad when I was a toddler. It’s the curse of a long memory. Subsequently, my mother’s sisters and brother would take me during my early childhood — I guess any kid-sitting, no matter if it was in a dark theater with strangers all about, was a good thing.

During this more innocent era, when old enough my brother and I, and later friends from junior high would strike out on our own to movie halls situated 2-3 miles away to take in a flick. Usually, walking or by bus. Do you think I let my own children do that at a comparable age? As my father-in-law was known to say, “Not no, but Hell, no!”

But, it was quite a different period in Los Angeles back then. When we dumb kids — I like to think of us as precocious youth — did these things, first, from Florence and later from the blue-collar L.A. suburb of South Gate. Typically, we’d head over to rival city Huntington Park to take in movies at their theaters on Pacific boulevard. Their commercial drag was way better compared to ours. We’d watch the movies at the triumvirate venues that were the ParkCalifornia, and the Warner theaters.

Heck, they even had racier fare at the old Lyric Theatre, one in the chain of Pussycat Theaters — not that they’d let us hormonal teens in to such things (ahem). We’d just stare at their movie poster cases outside. The grand lady of them, though, was the Huntington Park Warner. It was one of the classic examples of the Art Deco movie palaces strewn about the country from 1925 through the 1940’s. In this case, this was part of a chain of theaters built by the Warner Bros. studio, one of the few that survived the Depression with their theatre empires intact.

Her local sister theaters were the now demolished Warner Beverly Hills and the eternal Warner Grand in San Pedro. Yet it was at this particular theater in Huntington Park that my love of the movies was permanently etched in stone. Not only was it the closest of the art deco movie palaces in the vicinity, and the location for many of the dates in my youth, but I would later return to this same theater as an employee. I would do a stint as a projectionist during my concluding days of college.

This post marks the start of a series — thought it was over, didn’t you? Not only that, I’ll get to payback talk about my younger brother again on this blog. 😉 You see, he worked there before I, and later hired me. The theater structure remains closed as of this writing, but still intact (if a bit modified). Even so, it’s nowhere near forgotten. I’m sure my wife will roll her ever tolerant and beautiful eyes at this. I, the one she christened as having the nostalgia gene, will milk this for all its worth, she’d reckon ;-).

Next up: Brotherhood (Part 1)

Tales of the (Movie) Theater Series

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29 Responses to “Reprise – Tales from the (Movie) Theater: Intro”

  1. Paula

    You write so evocatively about these beautiful theaters Michael, I get a longing feeling and I’ve never even been to any of these. Have you ever considered doing a documentary about them? Just a thought

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  2. 70srichard

    I love the Cinema Treasures web site. A nice nostalgic look at your old stomping grounds.

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    Reply
  3. Novroz

    Ah…I guess that’s why people turn into movie addict 😉
    I was also taken to the cinema when I was a todler. There were times when my parents said I watch too much then I replied it, jokingly, it’s your fault because you took me the cinema when I was little. Reading your experience, I guess it wasn’t a joke after all.

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  4. wilberfan

    Wonderful series. The Pussycat theater link (above) is dead, though. I’d love to read that article…any other sources?

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    Reply
  5. wilberfan

    Wonderful series. The link to the Pussycat Theater article is dead, though. I’d love to read it… Any other source available?

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    Reply
    • le0pard13

      I’ve fixed the link with another SD Reader article, unfortunately with a great deal of broken image links. Still, it details a lot of the history of the chain. Hope this helps :-).

      Like

      Reply

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