Cinema Treasures: Movie Theaters 1905 to Today

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More than 100 years after the first movie delighted audiences, movie theaters remain the last great community centers and one of the few amusements any family can afford. While countless books have been devoted to films and their stars, none have attempted a truly definitive history of those magical venues that have transported moviegoers since the beginning of the last century. In this stunningly illustrated book, film industry insiders Ross Melnick and Andreas Fuchs take readers from the nickelodeon to the ...

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Overview

More than 100 years after the first movie delighted audiences, movie theaters remain the last great community centers and one of the few amusements any family can afford. While countless books have been devoted to films and their stars, none have attempted a truly definitive history of those magical venues that have transported moviegoers since the beginning of the last century. In this stunningly illustrated book, film industry insiders Ross Melnick and Andreas Fuchs take readers from the nickelodeon to the megaplex and show how changes in moviemaking and political, social, and technological forces (e.g., war, depression, the baby boom, the VCR) have influenced the way we see movies.Archival photographs from archives like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and movie theater ephemera (postcards, period ads, matchbooks, and even a "barf bag") sourced from private collections complement Melnick's informative and engaging history. Also included throughout the book are Fuchs' profiles detailing 25 classic movie theaters that have been restored and renovated and which continue to operate today. Each of these two-page spreads is illustrated with marvelous modern photographs, many taken by top architectural photographers. The result is a fabulous look at one way in which Americans continue to come together as a nation. A timeline throughout places the developments described in a broader historical context."We've had a number of beautiful books about the great movie palaces, and even some individual volumes that pay tribute to surviving theaters around the country. This is the first book I can recall that focuses on the survivors, from coast to coast, and puts them into historical context. Sumptuously produced in an oversized format, on heavy coated paper stock, this beautiful book offers a lively history of movie theaters in America , an impressive array of photos and memorabilia, and a heartening survey of the landmarks in our midst, from the majestic Fox Tucson Theatre in Tucson, Arizona to the charming jewel-box that is the Avon in Stamford, Connecticut. I don't know why, but I never tire of gazing at black & white photos of marquees from the past; they evoke the era of moviemaking (and moviegoing) I care about the most, and this book is packed with them. Cinema Treasures is indeed a treasure, and a perfect gift item for the holiday season. - Leonard Maltin"Humble or grandiose, stand-alone or strung together, movie theaters are places where dreams are born. Once upon a time, they were treated with the respect they deserve. In their heyday, historian Ross Melnick and exhibitor Andreas Fuchs write in Cinema Treasures, openings of new motion-picture pleasure palaces that would have dazzled Kubla Khan 'received enormous attention in newspapers around the country. On top of the publicity they generated, their debuts were treated like the gala openings of new operas or exhibits, with critics weighing in on everything from the interior and exterior design to the orchestra.' Handsomely produced and extensively illustrated, Cinema Treasures is detailed without being dull and thoroughly at home with this often neglected subject matter. Its title would have you believe it is a celebration of the golden age of movie theaters. But this book is something completely different: an examination of the history of movie exhibition, which the authors accurately call 'a vastly under-researched topic.'" - Los Angeles Times

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times
Humble or grandiose, stand-alone or strung together, movie theaters are places where dreams are born. Once upon a time, they were treated with the respect they deserve. In their heyday, historian Ross Melnick and exhibitor Andreas Fuchs write in Cinema Treasures, openings of new motion-picture pleasure palaces that would have dazzled Kubla Khan ‘received enormous attention in newspapers around the country. On top of the publicity they generated, their debuts were treated like the gala openings of new operas or exhibits, with critics weighing in on everything from the interior and exterior design to the orchestra.’ Handsomely produced and extensively illustrated, Cinema Treasures is detailed without being dull and thoroughly at home with this often neglected subject matter. Its title would have you believe it is a celebration of the golden age of movie theaters. But this book is something completely different: an examination of the history of movie exhibition, which the authors accurately call ‘a vastly under-researched topic.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760314920
  • Publisher: Motorbooks
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 12.38 (w) x 10.75 (h) x 0.87 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2004

    Wonderful cinemas of today and yesterday

    It is always a pleasure to welcome any significant contribution to the weal of theatrical lore, and the 208-page volume 'Cinema Treasures: A New Look at Classic Movie Theatres' by Ross Melnick and Andreas Fuchs, is certainly a fine 'treasure' of a chronicle of the architectural treasures this book so well covers. In fact, it is really two books in one, for it is first a meticulously researched survey of the eras of movie exhibition, and secondly a series of capsule descriptions of 30 notable examples of those cinema treasures still operating. The two young men who bring us this handsome, hardbound volume reflect more than 35 years between them of theatre research and operation, and thus their heartfelt devotion to the genre is sincere, accurately related, and enthusiastically delivered. The quality of prose shows skill beyond their years. The large book (12x10-1/2 inches) is printed on heavy, glossy paper within black cloth covers with only the spine stamped in gold, but the heavy paper jacket over it is a fitting cover since its full front color image behind the title is of the Grand Lake Theatre of Oakland, California, and this alone warrants one applying a plastic film wrap in order to protect it. The image there shows the auditorium of one of the survivors of the glorious days of the movie palace and ironically shows on its stage a portion of the grand house curtain of the long-lost and lamented Fox Theatre once of San Francisco, and is thus a visual summation of the tumult of loss and survival of two significant theatres into our day. This sturdily bound coffee table book is heavy on illustrations with at least one visual on each page, and most are in color, but this is far more than a picture book! The Preface and nine chapters describe in great and fascinating detail the progress of the cinema in the USA in terms of the technological, sociological, and economic timeline of this art form, and the consequent effect of these factors upon the architecture of theatres and cinemas that we have come to love. This is not a book about theatre architecture per se, but its extensive research in related topics is reflected in the 12 columns of fine print on three pages which comprises the 550 end Notes. Such a large total is unusual in a scholarly university publication, but in a general market book like this, it is astonishing, especially when coupled with the 148 entries in the Resources listing. The only disappointment with this scholarly aspect is the somewhat insufficient Index in which the absence of many proper nouns, such as names of people and theatres mentioned, can lead one to assume they are not to be found, and the careful listing of all such is a basic for any volume wanting to be regarded as serious research material. For example, the little-known curiosity of 'Screeno' is described on page 99, but not listed in the Index. A theatre not insignificant to the lineage of exhibition is the Alhambra in Milwaukee, which is discussed in some detail on pages 19-21, but neither it, the location, nor its proprietor, Herman Fehr (identified as 'Howard Fehr,' at first, but later corrected to 'Herman' on page 33) are mentioned anywhere in their 138-line Index. These are but a few of many such examples. Given the careful end Notes and Resources listings, this reviewer can only conclude that a more complete Index was offered, but the publisher (accustomed to hobby books for the motor vehicle market) declined to spend for more such supposedly nonessential pages. In a sense, this work picks up where that landmark book of 1961: 'The Best Remaining Seats, The Story of the Golden Age of the Movie Palace' by the late Ben M. Hall, leaves off. It repeats with additions the survey of theatres that Mr. Hall did, but also continues to our day through the eras of post war, single large-format screens, the arrival of the multiplex, then the megaplex and a discussion of a new trend that is starting to bring a version of the luxurious mo

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