Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Surviving Sister

No, you’re not seeing a ghost—but instead, the sister theater of the original Capri at 42nd and University, alive and well in Lake City!

After the Iowa Theater in Lake City burned down on New Year's Eve 1958, the town pled with Bob Fridley to help them get a new venue open: they would build it if he would operate it. And so, Fridley took “the best parts of the Capri and the Varsity” and built a new theater that is for the most part a spitting image of the original Capri. Construction was completed circa 1964. Fridley dubbed it "Iowa's Most Beautiful Theater".

Fridley eventually donated the theater to the town in 2003, where it has run as a non-profit ever since. Admission is a mere 2 dollars, with equally reasonable concessions.

If you miss the original Capri, or just feel the need for a great neighborhood movie experience, trek on out to Lake City. (Next time I’m in Iowa, I’m going!) Find out what's showing now at The Lake City Capri Theatre.

These photos were graciously provided by Terry Watters, who is president of the Capri.

Movies at the Park

Though not exactly a Lost Cinema, Riverview Park dovetails into our story not only as a venue owned by Abe Frankle, but also as a place that, on occasion, did exhibit movies—as seen in this newspaper ad.

It’s important to note that about two-thirds of the way down is an instruction as to what streetcars to take to get to the park—Riverview, and indeed a number of the early theaters, were located at trolley stops to take advantage of patron traffic as riders got on and off the line.

This clipping is courtesy of Bill Kooker, of the Kooker family that last owned Riverview as an operating park. Bill is also the webmaster of Fading Memories of Riverview Park.

100% Non-sectarian Family Entertainment!

This ad from 1955 offers up a peculiar blend of programming for family drive-in customers: the story of Christ, advertised here with an illustration of the crucified savior and a promise of “glorious color”, which extends itself to…two color cartoons! (If we could only know what cartoons would fit this particular bill…) And with 53—count ‘em—53 New Testament tableaux to get through, it’s a good thing the S.E. 14th is offering up its special “Speed Lane Snack Bar Service” so you won’t miss a thing!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The original Lincoln

Here is a rare shot of the Center Street neighborhood theater "The Lincoln", in a nightclub incarnation shortly after its run as a movie house. This is not to be confused with the Lincoln on S.W. 9th Street, that later became the Holiday Theater under the auspices of Bob Fridley.

This venue played all-Black features and shorts for its largely Black local population; the Lincoln was part of the vibrant Center Street neighborhood culture that flourished in the early-to-mid 20th century--hopefully you were lucky enough to catch the exhibit on this at the Iowa State Historical Society in the summer of 2006.

The photo on the right is the same location today, as part of a hospital property.

These photos are courtesy of Lost Cinemas reader Big Tommy.

The Genuine Article

Here is the original "Lost Cinemas" article I wrote that was originally published in Tim Fay's wonderful "Wapsipinicon Almanac", which he prints the old-fashioned way using an ancient German press. If you've never seen the magazine, please ask your independent bookseller to get you a copy. It's gorgeous; as I'm fond of saying, even the ads are beautiful.

The article itself is serving as a loose blueprint for the film, though as you'll notice, a few more cinemas (notably all the drive-ins) are now lost, thus dating the story a bit.

Click on the pictures to make it all readable. Enjoy!

Film and Frolics at the Majestic

This ad from the Daily News proves that, even as early as 1921, both movies and vaudeville lived side-by-side at the Majestic, which is generally thought of as a live venue in historical records.

Fatty at the Palace

What could be more appealing than Fatty Arbuckle in The Garage? (Don't answer that, Virginia...) Here we have a nice circus-y logo for the Palace, and the rather odd billing of a two-year-old Fatty short above Farnum's 50-minute long western "feature".

The Strand, 1921

Here we see a nice marquee-style logo for the Strand (formerly the Unique and the Nickeldom), for the Clara Kimball Young feature "Hush".

"Sky Pilot" at the Des Moines, 1921

This ad is notable for the illustrated view of the Des Moines' facade, and for the four-times-daily appearance of the Harmony Four.

Remember, Kids, I'll See YOU On The Patio!

Such was the call of Cappy the Clown in the customized Capitol Drive-In black-and-white trailer (much of which will be included in the Lost Cines video).

My cousin Joe sent me these two great pics of the drive-in--the screen, after it was adapted for widescreen use, and the aforementioned patio, at which patrons could sit outside the snack bar and enjoy the show in the open air. (If Cletus the Slack-jawed Yokel had been there, he might've exclaimed "Hot dang! No more sittin' in the dirt at the drive-in!") And here also, Cappy the Clown dispensed gifts and prizes to the kids.