Sunday, December 07, 2014

Tonight at the New Beverly Cinema

My husband and I enjoyed a really wonderful afternoon and evening today, starting with a drive to The Grove in Los Angeles, where we ate at Wood Ranch.

The sunset over L.A. and the Grove tonight:


We then drove the short distance to the New Beverly Cinema on Beverly Boulevard.

I had been to the Beverly half a dozen times in the late '70s or early '80s, but I don't believe I'd been there in at least 30 years!

The theater came back to my attention when I read articles about director Quentin Tarantino taking over programming at the theater this fall. He's owned the theater for the past several years.


The double bill which convinced us we had to check out the theater sooner rather than later was a pair of Western noir titles starring favorites Joel McCrea and Dick Powell: RAMROD (1947), which I reviewed in 2010, and STATION WEST (1948), reviewed here in 2011.

We both liked the theater; it had a friendly staff, and while the lobby was the size of a postage stamp, the theater was quite a nice size, with comfortable chairs which seem to be of relatively recent vintage.

The evening's program included some very "retro" "Prevue of Coming Attractions" reels, several trailers for upcoming movies, and a Merrie Melodies cartoon. Add in two movies and you've got a very good entertainment bargain for an $8 ticket.

The 35mm print of RAMROD was fantastic, showing off Russell Harlan's moody black and white photography and the Utah locations to perfection. I was even more impressed with this film than I've been in the past, and I've always liked it; it has a dense, meaty script which moves like lightning, and it's filled with a deep cast giving rich characterizations, including Veronica Lake, Don DeFore (never better), Arleen Whelan, Donald Crisp, Preston Foster, Charlie Ruggles, and Lloyd Bridges.

Kudos also to the stuntmen; the scene where Bridges is shot and falls down a hill wows me every time I see it!

The 35mm print of STATION WEST was not in as good a shape; although for the most part the picture looked quite good, there were some lines in the picture and, most annoyingly, there were several brief dialogue skips which also had the effect of killing a couple of funny lines. Hopefully someplace like UCLA will work on restoring this wonderful film if a better print doesn't already exist.

That said, the glitches were minimal enough that they didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of seeing this terrific film on a big screen. Powell's noir persona goes west, complete with his trademark sarcastic dialogue, as he plays an undercover government agent solving the murder of two soldiers.

Like RAMROD, STATION WEST has a marvelous cast including Jane Greer, Raymond Burr, Agnes Moorehead, Regis Toomey, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Steve Brodie, and Burl Ives, whose singing gives the film a haunting musical touch. The movie was shot in Sedona by Harry J. Wild. This film needs to be on DVD already!

The biggest drawback to attending movies at the New Beverly is that it does not have a parking lot and it can be quite a walk through nearby residential neighborhoods to find a spot which doesn't require feeding a meter. The lack of relatively secure nearby parking means I'll be unlikely to attend movies there alone and thus won't be able to visit as often as I might like. I'm fortunate that other theaters, including UCLA, have safer attended parking right next to the theater, which gives me the option of going alone if no one is free to go with me.

Please note that there will be no Around the Blogosphere This Week column this weekend due to an unusually busy weekend schedule, which also included attending the 5th Annual Trombone Christmas in Anaheim. If you missed it, last week's link roundup may be found here.

5 Comments:

Blogger Jerry E said...

Fabulous cinema experience, Laura, just like I remember it from my younger days! Wish I could have been there.

"STATION WEST" is a surprise in some ways - a darn good western and I only say surprise as Dick Powell is not an obvious choice for a western. He is just fine it though.

As for "RAMROD", this is one of my favourite westerns. A Harry Sherman production, story by Luke Short, directed by Andre De Toth and starring Joel McCrea with a sterling support cast. How could it not be great?!

BTW, may I take the opportunity to draw everyone's attention to John Knight's terrific selection of "Underrated Thrillers" over at Rupert Pupkin Speaks. Well worth the visit.

3:27 AM  
OpenID fiftieswesterns said...

What a night at the movies!

12:57 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It was really a special evening -- if only both of you could have been there!

They are both such good movies, and I especially like RAMROD more each time I see it. There's a lot there to appreciate on repeat viewings.

Thanks for the tip on John's list!!

Best wishes,
Laura

11:57 PM  
Blogger KC said...

Thanks for sharing this. I've been so curious about the New Beverly. Did you see the documentary that former theater employee made about it? I can't remember the name, but I saw it free on /Film. It was fascinating to see how much that place has meant to people over the years. If you haven't seen it and are interested, I can try to dig it up for you!

9:30 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi KC, I'm glad you enjoyed reading it! Haven't seen the documentary at this point, I'll take a look for it.

The Beverly was where I first saw THE MORE THE MERRIER on a big screen, as well as CAROUSEL, THE SEARCHERS, and more.

Best wishes,
Laura

12:40 AM  

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