Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CINEMAS of the World: The Royal, Philadelphia, PA., USA

Marquee of the Royal Theater

I  remember when I used to come into Philly in the '70s I would park my car somewhere down and beyond South St., one of the few areas where you could park overnight in center city.

Thus I used to walk by the Royal Theatre on South Street quite often, on the way downtown in the evening and then staggering back the morning (or afternoon) after.

But always, always noting the black plastic letters gradually disappearing from the "Last of the Mobile Hot Shots" title. This late period (1970) Tennessee Williams film was apparently (and appropriately) the Royal's last film attraction.

Apparently the theater was never sold or rented and letters and words gradually slipped away until only a slight poignant suggestion of the title, only comprehensible to avid movie buffs, was left clinging to the neglected but still impressive marquee.

It seemed incredibly symbolic and touching to me at the time. (And still does).

Also especially meaningful because I had seen the original Tennessee Williams play, "The Seven Descents of Myrtle" with Estelle Parsons and Harry Guardino, during its March 1968 Philadelphia try-out. It played a few blocks over from the Royal at the Walnut Street Theatre.

The Royal also reminded me of Tennessee's audacious short story, "The Mysteries of the Joy Rio".

I never imagined I would ever see that poignant image again. But here it is from the collections of Temple University.

More about the Royal: http://digital.library.temple.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/p15037coll3&CISOPTR=342&CISOBOX=1&REC=14

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