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The Venerable Brookhurst Is No More

March 9th, 2014 by ccrouch
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Anaheim’s Brookhurst and Brookhurst Loge Theatres were razed on 2/27/14 .

Brookhurst lot

Given the numerous struggles the site had experienced in recent decades, this news was seemingly long overdue. Yet, there remains a sense of shock and sadness in seeing the inevitable come to pass. From the glory days, as one of Orange County’s premiere single screens, to declining fortunes, as a poorly subdivided quad, the Brookhurst stood as a tangible marker of shared memories for over half a century. And now, only the memories remain.

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Two Views of the Oscars 70 Years Apart

March 4th, 2014 by ccrouch
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The Academy Awards when they were held at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (host of the ceremony from 1944 to 1946).

Academy Awards At Graumans

Some seven decades later, the 86th Academy Awards go about the far less glamorous routine of post ceremony cleanup outside the Dolby Theatre (directly behind the Chinese).

86th academy awards cleanup

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Sid at the Oscars

March 2nd, 2014 by ccrouch
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In recognition of this evening’s 86th Academy Awards ceremony, here is a picture of Sid Grauman being awarded his honorary Oscar for “raising the standard for film exhibition of motion pictures” at the 21st Academy Awards, held on March 24, 1949 (roughly a year before his death on March 5, 1950).

grauman oscar

In addition to being an Oscar recipient, Mr. Grauman was also one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; having been one of the 36 industry figures invited to a founding banquet, held at the Ambassador Hotel, on January 11, 1927. Initially named the International Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the “international” was dropped when the organization officially filed for incorporation, on May 4, 1927.

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Happy Holidays

December 25th, 2013 by ccrouch
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Merry Christmas

Sid Grauman in the Chinese Theatre forecourt (photo courtesy of Jefferey Hawkins).

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Cinema Oddities: Double Movie

December 12th, 2013 by ccrouch
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From 1939, this peculiar invention split images on screen, via a rotating shutter disk, which alternated between an opening and mirror; the opening projecting a frame of film in a traditional fashion, the mirror reflecting a frame to a moveable secondary mirror and on to a specific area of the screen (controlled by the projectionist). Aside from a one-off novelty screening, the idea never found a market and slipped in to the realm of cinema oddities.

Double Image

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West Coast Theatre For Sale

November 24th, 2013 by ccrouch
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One of Orange County’s “golden age” theatres has hit the market, as Santa Ana’s West Coast Theatre was recently listed for $1,980,000.

West Coast Theatre

Considering that the West Coast has retained its’ theatre layout (avoiding the dreaded butchering of “re-purposing”) and been well maintained by a long term church tenant, one can certainly hope this special gem finds a new owner with the vision for a return to the glory days of an Orange County classic.

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Old Fashion Disruption

November 21st, 2013 by ccrouch
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The glowing screens and electronic chirp of cell phones are a uniquely modern disruption to the movie going experience. However, as this cinema slide (circa 1915) illustrates, theatre patrons of a century ago faced their own unique disruption.

hat slide

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Exotic Adventure At The Fox West Coast

October 11th, 2013 by ccrouch
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Today’s picture captures Santa Ana’s Fox West Coast Theatre decorated for the 1934 adventure film “Wild Cargo”.

Fox West Coast

A pseudo documentary, “Wild Cargo” depicted exotic animal trapping by big game hunter/celebrity Frank “Bring Em’ Back Alive” Buck. In reality, the harrowing adventure was shot, under highly controlled and staged circumstances, on the Malayan estate of the Sultan of Johor (one of the world’s wealthiest men at the time).

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Grauman Estate Auction

August 14th, 2013 by ccrouch
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I’ve been conducting research for a pending post on the last years of Sid Grauman’s life. Among the interesting items I have run across is this 1950 newspaper advertisement for his estate auction. 

Grauman Auction

While I’m sure a great many of his former belongings are long vanished or forever separated from their history, one can’t help but wonder where some of these items now reside.

An interesting side note/warning for memorabilia collectors: In a 1950 court deposition, it came to light that Sid Grauman very rarely wrote his own correspondence or even personally signed much of anything; the bulk of such output actually came from the hand of his personal assistant, Gertrude Skall. According to Ms. Skall, “about the only thing he ever wrote was an autograph and that only on a picture for someone particularly close to him.”

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Cycloramic: The Magic Screen of the Future

July 17th, 2013 by ccrouch
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Those who attended Corona Del Mar’s Port, during the theatre’s inaugural years, were treated to “The Magic Screen of The Future”.

Port Theatre Cycloramic

Branded with a somewhat schlocky name and grandiose marketing, at the time of its’ 1949 launch, the Starke Cycloramic Custom Screen was promoted as offering a brighter, more uniform, picture, via the exclusion of perforations. Where most movie screens utilized/utilize a perforated surface to allow for better sound transfer, the Cycloramic screen possessed a “silky smooth” surface. According to promotional literature, in addition to creating a 20% brighter image, this eliminated the strobe effect found on perforated screens and reduced eye strain.

The company’s marketing claims, that Cycloramic screens improved depth “to the third dimension” and made every seat in the house “a winner”, were certainly suspect. However, Cycloramic did help popularize the movement towards larger screens, which were customized to better fit venues of varying sizes. In addition to the modestly sized Port, Cycloramic screens were also featured in more grand venues, such as Los Angeles’ Carthay Circle and New York’s Radio City Music Hall, on a larger scale.

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