Sunday, February 23, 2014

At the Eastown, 47 Years Ago This Month

Here's a page from the Eastown booking log from February 1967--a little Elvis, a little Hitchcock, a little Des Moines ("The Hostage"). Still a far cry from its later bookings as the 1536!

Friday, February 14, 2014

January 2014 Interview: Golden Globes at the Fleur

Here's local celeb Mike Pace interviewing Mark Heggen about "Lost Cinemas", his career in LA and Des Moines, and new show "This Way Back" (premiering Monday at 9pm on MC22), along with the "Swingin' Sixties" segment from the "Lost Cinemas" feature! Click the link below to watch!

Mike Pace and Mark Heggen at the 2014 "Golden Globes at the Fleur"

Saturday, February 08, 2014

"Women at War" World Premiere

Des Moines' Michael Wieskamp's Pinterest page has a wonderful section of "Old Des Moines" photos--many of which include nice shots of Lost Cinemas. Here's a great one to get you started--then check out the rest of what he's posted. Great stuff, Michael!

"Women At War" Premiere at the Des Moines

How Influenza Affected DSM Moviegoing

      In 1918, the flu epidemic was a serious danger worldwide. In Des Moines, the public was mandated by law to wear face masks in public to prevent infection. Naturally, this was a problem for moviegoers--as they were huddled together in a common warm space. Here's an excerpt from an article on Influenza Archive:

"On December 2, the Board made that recommendation mandatory: as of noon that day, the wearing of face masks was required in all public places such as theaters and even college classrooms, but were not required in streetcars, office buildings, or stores and shops. Interestingly, theater and movie house operators were willing to close to bring about a quicker end to the epidemic, but were asked by the Board of Health to remain open. “We think a certain amount of amusement is necessary,” commented Commissioner of Public Safety Ben Wolgar.
"The mask order did not last long. Theatergoers were unhappy that they had to wear masks while watching stage performances or movies, and theater owners were unhappy that they had to enforce the order in their establishments. Box office receipts fell drastically. At the Garden Theater, for example, six hundred patrons attended the December 2 matinee show, before the mask order went into effect; only two hundred attended the evening performance. Across the city, theaters and movie houses reported half of the usual attendance. Many Des Moines residents, it seemed, so disliked wearing flu masks that they preferred to remain at home rather than to don one. Bending to the will of the people and business interests, and with the support of physicians who (correctly) argued that gauze masks did little to prevent the spread of influenza, the Board of Health revoked the order on December 4 and once again made the wearing of flu masks voluntary."

One of the theatres that remained open was the little Amuz-U, at east 5th and Locust: proprietor Rudy Elman's attempt at a solution was to seat people in alternate rows, so as to bring at least a little distance between patrons. The loss of business must not have been too hard on Elman, as this tiny single-screen remained open until 1953.

To read the full article, go here

Monday, November 11, 2013

Big festival win at Wild Rose 2013!

"Lost Cinemas" took home 4 awards last Saturday as part of the Wild Rose Independent Film Festival 2013: Best Documentary Feature; Distinctive Achievement Awards: Director-Documentary Feature Film, Writer/Director-Iowa Film Feature, and Editing-Feature Film.

If you haven't seen it yet, come check it out Wednesday November 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Fleur Cinema & Cafe (formerly the Fleur 4!) (And even if you have seen it...come see it again and bring a friend along! You'll notice new bits and pieces such as a fantastic shot of the Rocket Theatre marquee, not seen in earlier cuts.) Mark Heggen will be there for a Q&A after the show.

Many thanks to the Wild Rose panel for this terrific honor. And if you can, be sure to check out the other great films in the festival--this is probably the best year yet for it.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

New Website for the Film

Greetings, all!

After nine years, the documentary film version of "Lost Cinemas" is finally completed. And I've put together a new website just for the film--check it out at:

I'm very excited to get this released to you, the public, as soon as possible--the only thing holding this up is the expense of the archival rights (pictures, footage, and music) and a few other ancillary finishing costs such as insurance.

I've been fortunate enough to secure fiscal sponsorship from the International Documentary Association (IDA), whose established 501(c)(3) status will help those of you who want to contribute by qualifying your donation as a tax deduction; of course, you should consult your tax advisor for details on how you can make your contribution work for you this way.

You'll find more details on this--as well as a gallery, more background on the film, some new clips, and even downloadable Lost Cinemas of Greater Des Moines wallpaper--on the new website, as well as a button that will take you to IDA's donation link.

I hope you're as excited as I am that the film has reached this stage. It's been a long haul, but I fully believe it's been worth it on so many levels. Let's get through this final stretch and get "Lost Cinemas" out to festivals, competitions, theatres, and a home video DVD release!

Thanks to ALL of you for your support, contributions, and enthusiasm over the years!

With gratitude,
Mark Heggen

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ben Hur Program, Capri, 1960

"Ben Hur" was a big deal when it opened as the Capri's first feature presentation in early November of 1960. Bob Fridley had just completed renovations on what was the Uptown Theatre on University, and a brand-new Todd AO 70mm system had just been installed. "Ben Hur" was to dazzle the Des Moines public by presenting an epic biblical tale on a giant new wide screen, with multi-channel sound playing on a system installed by Todd AO system engineers flown in from Holland.

This was still the era of the "roadshow" picture, in which the feature was presented as an entire event, often with an overture, an intermission, custom banners for the lobby, and souvenirs available for purchase at the snack counter--such as this lush color brochure detailing the making of the "Ben Hur" feature.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Here's an ad for the grand opening of the Town Drive-In, from an Elkhart paper in May 1949. This venue was later known as the Starlite, and was perhaps the most "outlying" of the Des Moines ozoners. (Ad courtesy of the Cataldo Punelli collection.)