Monday, January 7, 2008

Now Playing - 1954

This is a full-page ad from “Look,” March 23, 1954. The movie “Saskatchewan” was released the following week.

It’s a gushing full-color spread for the kind of swashbuckling adventure films they made in this period, boasting about the use of Technicolor and location filming. As movies go, this epic-wanna be about Mounties “standing alone against the fury of the Custer-massacring Sioux and the savage Cree nation” was not really historically accurate (big surprise), and not really geographically accurate, either. (Magnificent mountains, wrong province.)

What is especially interesting about this ad is it actually extends to three pages, and the 2nd and 3rd pages list by name the theaters that will be showing “Saskatchewan” in the coming month. This movie was made after the breakup of the studios’ monopolies on owning the theaters that showed their films. For instance, at one time, you could see an MGM movie only at an MGM theater. (First-run theaters, of course. Second-run theaters showed any film from any studio.) So, if you wanted to see an MGM film (Clark Gable), you could to go the Loew’s Poli in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Or, if you wanted to see a Warner Bros. film (Bette Davis), you could go to the Warner in Worcester, Massachusetts. If you wanted to see a Paramount movie (Bing Crosby), you could go to the Paramount in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

However, by the time this movie was made, that studio monopoly was over, as was the whole “studio system.” This film was made by Universal, but shown in the Paramount Theater of Hot Springs, Arkansas, and in the Fox Theater of Leadville, Colorado, the Loew’s Poli in Waterbury, Connecticut, and the Paramount Theater of Syracuse, New York.

Probably many of these theaters no longer exist today; possibly most. Can anyone out there tell us if some of these other theaters where “Saskatchewan” played still exist: the Dixie in Haleyville, Alabama?

The State in Modesto, California?

The Chief in Pocatello, Idaho?

The Orpheum in Marion, Illinois?

The Gila in Silver City, New Mexico?

The Ritz in Clarksburg, West Virginia?

The Cherokee in La Follette, Tennessee?

The Rialto in Casper, Wyoming?

The Astor in Reading, Pennsylvania?

The Regent in Cedar Falls, Iowa?

The Grand in Rutland, Vermont?

The Aztec in Albany, Texas?

The Star in Jamestown, North Dakota?

The Tivoli in Ardmore, Oklahoma?

The Empire in Lewiston, Maine?

The Liberty in Benton Harbor, Michigan?

Or the American on Roanoke, Virginia?


Wayne's Mom said...

Well, I'm not sure about the old Paramount in Hot Springs, Ark., but my best guess is it might be the current home of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.

We like mature subjects here. In fact,geographer Warren Bland recently named Hot Springs, Ark. the No. 1 place in America to retire.

More seriously, Hot Springs is a pretty cool place to live, even for those of us who aren't yet retired.

To see short documentary-style video clips about Hot Springs, check out this cool SpaVlogger.

Rebecca McCormick,
Travel Journalist, Hot Springs Village Voice

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Rebecca, thanks so much for filling us in on the old Paramount theater and the doings in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which must be pretty cool, indeed.

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