Thursday, January 24, 2013

A-Frames at the Main Street Cinema

My dad was a huge movie buff, and he introduced me to silent movies when I was just a tot. He used to buy 8mm prints of Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy movies from Blackhawk Films. I always looked forward to the weekends that he would pull the projector out. Over at the Main Street Cinema, before it became a Mickey Mouse-only theater, guests could watch clips from classic silent movies. In this 1950's image, zooming in to the A-Frame outside of the theater, we can see that they are playing highlights from Rudolph Valentino movies.

The pose on the ad is from a movie he made called "The Eagle." Here's a shot of the famous Latin Lover of the 1920's. If you've never heard of him, let me just tell you that he was as big as The Biebs in his day. Maybe bigger.

In March 1965, the theater was showing "Kismet," starring Otis Skinner.

Skinner's signature role was Hajj, the beggar, on both Broadway (1911) and in the 1920 and 1930 film versions.

For the first year of the park, guests could catch Western star William S. Hart in "Dealing for Daisy."

The movie was also called "Mr. 'Silent' Haskins," and was a 1915 release.

Hart was a pallbearer at Wyatt Earp's funeral in 1929.

In September 1960, these lucky ladies got to see Lon Chaney in "The Phantom of the Opera."

Chaney did all his own makeup, and those in the biz today still marvel at his genius.

As an extra bonus for today, here's a FauxD© image from August 1965, showing a cast member wearing a costume that doubled for both the Phantom as well as Mr. Hyde (of Dr. Jekyll fame) in front of the theater.

Vintage night time shots are hard to come by, but this one from June 1966 is a gem. You can almost reach out and touch that Wooden Indian!

It may be hard to imagine a movie without voices or talking, but as the late great Norma Desmond said, "We didn't need dialogue; we had faces!"

I am happy that the Cinema is still open, but it would sure be a lot more fun if it showed a variety of silent movies from that era. Just like the rest of the Main Street shops, it has lost a lot of character by becoming 100% Mickey Mouse. Bringing back actual variety to Main Street (and Buena Vista Street for that matter) would be a huge plus.

That's all for today, folks!

See more vintage & current Disneyland Main Street Cinema photos on my Main Street Cinema photo web page.


K. Martinez said...

I like how you wrote about the various and diverse movie clips shown throughout the years. Showing Mickey Mouse cartoons exclusively just feels like the further toonifiation of the Park. I guess it's all about that Disney "synergy".

While I'm glad they still have the Cinema, it seemed to have become a "sleeping" shelter for the tired guests visiting Disneyland. At least that's how it was my last visit in Summer '12. I did not enjoy it.

Major Pepperidge said...

The two stereo views are fantastic!

PsySocDisney said...

Amen! But you know, "kids these days don't know who Lon Chaney is! It's irrelevant to today's audience" and all that what I call BS. I hate that argument and hope also that one day the Mickey cartoons don't get pushed aside for Disney Channel sitcoms. *shudder*

outsidetheberm said...

How about that evening shot of the cinema?! Nice!

Anonymous said...

The early shots made me wonder if remembering Lon Chaney was my imagination, but the night shot confirmed it.

Thank you Dave.


Anonymous said...

Please, compare it to the cinema at WDW, which is just a gift shop with (sometimes) a movie playing on a screen in the background. Be happy with what you have, some of us are less fortunate. ;)


Daveland said...

MG - If Disneyland was a place to visit for free, I could see your logic of being appreciative for less. However, with the amount of money I drop there annually on passes, food, and lodging, I've earned the right to state my opinion. Despite that, yes - I do feel pity for those who have to rely on WDW for their amusement park fix.

Anonymous said...

Here's to silent film..I say give us Steamboat Willie, then other silent comedies that show life as it was in small town America or Coney Island, the forerunner of DL. Explain what Main Street represents by showing it.