August 11th, 2007

5th street los angeles 1905

Thanks for all the popcorn

During the 1970s and early 1980s I occasionally attended the Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena. At that time the slowly decaying movie palace was a revival house operated by Landmark Theatres, the same company that is now shutting it down. During the early years of Landmark's tenure the Rialto was one of the best places in Southern California to see movies cheaply. They often ran triple features of classic films, and for several years their regular admission price was two dollars.

The programs changed twice a week, so they might run as many as nine moves in one week of regular shows, plus this was the local theatre which held the weekly midnight showings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, also at two bucks a ticket. So it was possible to see as many as ten movies in one week for eight dollars, all in a theatre that was the architectural equivalent of one of those aging ladies who could be seen traveling about Los Angeles year after year dressed in the fashions of their flapper-era youth.

I haven't been to L.A. in more than twenty years, so I don't know if there are now aging ladies wandering about dressed as bobbysoxers, but I'm sure the old flappers are gone. Now the Rialto is going to join them in oblivion, at least for a while. The Building is on the National Register of Historic Places and thus fairly safe from demolition, though it might not remain a theatre. Even if it is renovated for use as a theatre,though, it won't be the same. The decay was a big part of the place's charm. All spiffy and yuppified it would be less an artifact of the flapper era than of the Starbuck's era, and I for one would probably find it uncongenial.

Now, out to look for meteors.