Friday, May 25, 2007

NORTH by NORTHWEST on Broadway (LA)

NORTH by NORTHWEST on Broadway

No, not the musical.

The Hitchcock - may I say Alfred Hitchcock/Bernard Herrmann film? - was screened on Wed. night (May 23, 2007) as part of the Los Angeles Conservancy's "Last Remaining Seats" film series.

Star Eva Marie Saint and Patricia Hitchcock, Hitchcock's daughter and sometime actress, were in attendance and were interviewed by LA CONFIDENTIAL director, Curtis Hanson, before the screening.

But for many the real star of the evening was the Orpheum Theatre itself.

Never having seen it in its prime IMHO the recent restoration job was magnificent. From the lobby to the upper reaches of the spacious balcony this is grand elegance on a scale unknown in today’s climate of tawdry vulgarity.

One only hopes the restoration fever spreads to the other derelict theaters of the what is now finally being touted as LA's Historic Theaters district.

Though in spite of the gentrification efforts a stroll down Broadway (towards Grand Central Market) still has more of a feeling of MIDNIGHT COWBOY than of even of THE BANDWAGON's 42nd St., the area still has what is probably the greatest concentration of classic theater buildings/movie palaces still standing (some just barely) in the USA.

I always feel a strange combination of exhilaration, nostalgia, and depression when I see them. Many now house hideous commercial malls; some are simply abandoned.

Names like the Roxie, the State (the old MGM LA flagship theater), and many others, can still be discerned. There is even an old Pantages Theater and building (beside the Roxie), in an extremely decrepit state but with four impressive Eagle sculptures still intact on the second story.

The impressive Tower Theater is just down the street from the Orpheum. It also seems relatively intact, aside from the dreadful arcade of street vendors lining 8th St. Hopefully it may join the Orpheum in an eventual makeover.

Also down the street (on Broadway) from the Orpheum: the Rialto. Amazingly, one side of the marquee (away from the Orpheum) spelled out in those distinctive plastic serifs I remember so well from my first movie going days, the name of one of my favorite MGM stars.
(I could not make out the movie title, too many letters missing....)

Exhilarating, yet as I walked away from the glowing neon rainbows of the Orpheum under the darkened, somewhat eerie eaves of the Tower it was with that pervasively bittersweet sense of nostalgia I probably feel too often these days.

I can only wish for a personal Time Machine to take me back to Broadway - the Los Angeles Broadway - to revisit the entire Golden Age of Hollywood.

Actually, the period between 1948 and 1953 would do.....

Special THANKS to the Los Angeles Conservancy for this magnificent evening.

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