Thursday, June 09, 2011

In Like Flynn at the Last Remaining Seats

As you are probably well aware (given our volume of posts about the event over the years), we love the Los Angeles Conservancy's annual Last Remaining Seats festival. Not only have we caught a wide range of old films -- from Harold Lloyd silents to musicals ("An American in Paris") and "The Graduate" -- but we've seen a lot of old movie palaces up close and personal, including the grand Los Angeles and the beautifully restored Orpheum.

But we had never visited the Million Dollar Theatre. Until Wednesday night, that is, when we attended the Last Remaining Seats screening of Errol Flynn's 1935 swashbuckler classic "Captain Blood."

Built by Sid Grauman in 1918, the Million Dollar Theatre earned its name because of its then-hefty pricetag. More from Cinema Treasures:
The auditorium was built behind the twelve story Edison office building, the exterior is a magnificent example, of a variation of Spanish Rococo style, known as Churrigueresque. Deeply molded features decorate the theatre entrance and higher up on the facade are heroic figures of the arts, with symbols of western Americana, such as bison head, eagles and longhorn steer skulls, all the work of sculptor Joseph Mora.
Shuttered in the early 1990s, the Million Dollar Theatre was recently renovated and given a new lease on life by Robert Voskanian, who reopened it in 2008. It may not be as huge as the Los Angeles, but the Million Dollar offers up its own charms.

As for "Captain Blood," the 1935 feature (starring Flynn and the still-alive Olivia de Haviland) remains a fun tale and well-done 119-minute affair. (Most of it was filmed at The Prospect Studios, just off Franklin Avenue in Los Feliz -- and right behind our old home!)

The screening came with two additional treats. Unveiled was the first-ever public display of the large movie curtain seen in 1927's "The Jazz Singer," famously the first talkie film. And in a surprise, Errol Flynn's widow, Patrice Wymore, flew all the way in from her Jamaica home (at the age of 85!) to recount tales of her wild marriage to Flynn. (Their relationship was cut short by Flynn's death in 1959, when he was just 50.)

Wymore, who was 25 years younger than Flynn, met the actor when co-starring with him in the 1950 movie "Rocky Mountain." She was a contract performer at Warner Bros., and he was one of its biggest stars. Wymore meant to spend just a few years putting Flynn's Jamaica estate in shape -- but it turned into more than 40 years. She's still there, raising cattle and overseeing the estate. Wymore has the sly personality and quick wit of someone half her age.

Thanks to Cindy Olnick at the Conservancy for inviting Franklin Avenue to the wonderful screening. More pics from Wednesday night:

It's the 25th anniversary of the event, one of our favorite in all of L.A. Upcoming Last Remaining Seats events include "King Kong" at the Los Angeles Theatre (June 15); "Zoot Suit" at the Million Dollar (June 22); "Sunset Boulevard" at the Palace Theatre (June 26); and "Safety Last!" at the Orpheum (June 29). Most shows are sold out, but there are still tickets available for "Zoot Suit."

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