Abandoned Matinees

When a movie theatre (or any performing arts house) has outlived its usefulness, or is abandoned and left to rot, or has been allowed to disintegrate by private or public city owners in order to justify the wrecker’s ball for the sake of public safety, it’s all just sad.

Reading about a building’s glory years in print is rather dry, but there’s something impressionable in the still photos of a modern ruin taken by amateur historians, preservationists, photographers, urbanauts, or the curious.

There are a number of websites either dedicated to the state of forgotten buildings, or collections of stills in which the photographer has made a point in capturing the sadness, the mystique, and hypnotic decay of what was once a top-notch centre for artistic and commercial pleasure.

Think of your current favourite theatre… and now imagine the walk up the stairs towards the auditorium by flashlight… stepping around rubbish, plaster from crumbling walls, mold stains, a dead mouse, and piles of seats packed to one side, waiting for a scrap metal pickup that never happened.

Now the torn posters outside of the auditorium’s main doors… and then inside, where you see patches of rotting cloth seats… and a giant whole in the ceiling through which light, water, and pigeon dung have littered the torn red carpet and seats with crud.

The screen still looks good, and one side of the curtains hangs at the halfway point, as though the motor crapped out and no one bothered to finish the job in closing the curtains to signal the last show has long past.

This may be an irregular series for Sundays, or it may be regular, depending on how many collections of forgotten movie houses and drive-ins are out there in the internet’s ether, but for this starter, I’m picking the abandoned Loew’s Poli and Majestic Theatres in Bridgeport Connecticut.

There are several ways you can approach the entry into the past:

--- via the brief historical listing at Cinema Treasures, and a scanning of reader comments

--- pictures snapped by 826 Paranormal, and archived at Flickr.com

--- 826 Paranormal’s creepy YouTube video

--- or look for clips in the Steven Seagal actioner Pistol Whipped / The Marker (2008) and the upcoming Ryan Gosling / Kirsten Dunst film All Good Things

My suggestion is the photo galley, because its silence says a lot more about the glory that used to be, and leave Seagal until the very, very, very end, because, you know, it’s Girdle-Man doing his squintry-eye routine under a helmet of jet black hair that’s impervious to fire, water, and bolts of lightning.

Why do that to yourself?

Mark R. Hasan, Editor


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