On a cold, blustery night a few days before Thanksgiving, Ann Arbor movie and movie theater lovers gathered at the downtown Ann Arbor main library to hear a speech about a new history of the Michigan Theater that was written by someone who helped preserve this enduring movie palace.
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More than 30 years ago, Eastern Michigan University professor Henry Aldridge helped educate the Ann Arbor community about the value of the Michigan Theater, which faced an uncertain future after the Butterfield Theater Company stopped operating the Michigan in 1979.
During my Memorial Day weekend trip this year to the Cinevent Classic Film Convention in Columbus, Ohio, I picked up some old movie magazines from the 1960s.
These magazines included the April 1961 issue of Motion Picture, whose cover featured a loving picture of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Articles included “A Baby All Their Own?”, about Debbie Reynolds and her husband Harry Karl, who were raising Debbie’s children from her marriage to Eddie Fisher—Todd and Carrie (who grew up to stardom in the first Star Wars trilogy).
The year 1928 was an amazing year for motion picture theater construction in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas. Movie palaces that opened that year include the Fox Theater in downtown Detroit, the Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor, and two other still-existing theaters that I visited on July 26, 2008—the Redford Theatre and the Royal Oak Music Theatre. (Motor City Marquees, Stuart Galbraith IV)
To better appreciate the preservation of the Detroit Film Theatre, Michigan Theater, and Redford Theatre, think about the outpouring of memories and emotions that have come this past week because of the demolition of Tiger Stadium.
And just imagine the news stories that might have been written if special efforts had not been made to maintain the DFT, Michigan and Redford for future generations:
The recently published mystery novel Frames is partially set in an old movie theater in Los Angeles. Reading this entertaining book by Michigan author Loren D. Estleman was made a lot more fun by my experiences at the Detroit Film Theatre, Michigan Theater, and Redford Theatre.
I made my second visit today to the Detroit Historical Museum’s fascinating exhibit about movie theaters in Detroit. Detroit: The “Reel” Story is a valuable record of local history, and any movie buff should hurry to see this show and find out how the Detroit moviegoing experience has evolved through the years.
The 1940s was a Golden Age for Christmas movies. It just seemed the right time for holiday movies, with World War II over and the post-war Baby Boom under way. Area moviegoers have a wonderful opportunity this year to see many of these holiday classics on the big screen.