Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Reader (And His Dad) Remember

A Lost Cinemas reader named Max writes in with this story:

"I must tell you how I found your site. I was having dinner with my father who is 78 and in a care facility in Des Moines. Midway through the meal he looked over to the table of folks in the corner of the room and said, 'You see those people? They're going to Red's BBQ.'

"I said, 'What dad? What and where is Red's BBQ?' (I'm 51 and a lifelong Des Moines resident and do not remember Red's.)
'It's by the theater,' he replied.

"After much more questioning about exactly where and when it was he was placing this Red's restaurant, I had to stop because he just couldn't put an answer together. So, when I got home I went online and Googled until I found your marvelous blog!"

Max--though I never have met him in person--lived in my neighborhood near the Capri, took the bus to the Galaxy, and witnessed the implosion of the Paramount in 1979.

Great to hear from you, Max! Thanks for the good words, and I hope to hear more reminiscences from you soon.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Jolson Tune for the Des Moines

Somehow this song of the south became "successfully introduced" in faraway Polk County Iowa by the Des Moines Theatre's resident organist L. Carlos Meier, pictured here on the cover. The copyright date shown in 1922--a full six years before another Jolson vehicle, the first synch-sound talkie "The Jazz Singer", made its local premiere here at this same theatre.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

'State Fair' Returns to Grand Avenue

Check out the Des Moines and Paramount theaters as they begin their long, slow slide into oblivion: it's 1962, and on the Des Moines' marquee is--once again--"State Fair", though alas this is the 1962 remake, which doesn't even take place in Iowa. (Somehow "All I Owe Texas" just doesn't have a good meter to it for singing!) No crowds or amusements filling the streets this time--just typical afternoon traffic.

And next door at the Paramount: "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"!

These slide scans are courtesy of Tom over at; go check out his great collection of Des Moines-area trolleybus photos and promo folders here--great stuff!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Orpheum, as seen from the Hubbell Building

This is, of course, the Orpheum at 210-8th, in the lower-left-hand corner of the picture--not the RKO version later found up that same street at the number 410. 1918 is the date of this postcard view; one wonders what the view might look like today outside that same window, from one of the Hubbell apartments?

Friday, February 02, 2007

"State Fair" Footage News

After much tracking, I finally found out last week that the Fox Movietone News reel (containing the story of the world premiere of "State Fair" at the Des Moines and Paramount in 1945) is still actually owned by: Fox News! The best part of this news, however, is that Fox still holds all the outtakes from this reel, which I am ordering now. Being as only one minute of footage made it to the finished reel, I can only imagine what's contained in the remaining film. More news on this as I get it; you'll be sure to see the best of this in the finished "Lost Cinemas" documentary!

Berchel Sheet Music

When playing piano at home was still the order of the day, sheet music was the preferred mode of music to buy. It often served a double purpose, as in this case, to promote a venue or event in which the song, the writer, or a popular performer of the piece, was featured. With "Bonnie Mary", the songwriter's own company performed the song at the Berchel Theatre, as per the advertising on the front page.