Sunday, April 12, 2009

San Francisco Bay Area screenings

One of my projects of late has been to compile as complete a record as possible of the screenings of Louise Brooks' films in the San Francisco Bay Area. Admittedly, its a kind of trainspotting exercise. But as far as exercise goes, it coincides nicely with the fact that I am deeply interested in Louise Brooks and I live in San Francisco = film history meets local history.

I have a great deal of work done on this project. However, I am sure I have missed some screenings. Some of the newspapers which listed such events have not been archived or no longer exist (like the Ashbury Heights Advocate - the neighborhood newspaper serving the Haight Ashbury district in the 1920's). And sometimes, local and small town theaters in the area didn't bother to advertise their showings.

Nevertheless, here are my results so far for one of Brooks' films, The Street of Forgotten Men (1925), the first film in which Brooks had a part (uncredited). Given is the theater and locale, (followed by the date on which the film was shown). As I found out, a week long run was typical for the big cities - San Francisco and Oakland. Elsewhere, films were shown only for a day or two or three at a time.

Granada Theatre in San Francisco (Aug. 8-14, 1925); New Stanford in Palo Alto (Aug. 21?-24, 1925); Sequoia Theatre in Redwood City (Aug. 26-27, 1925); Strand Theatre in Los Gatos (Aug. 27-28, 1925); American in Oakland (Sept. 5-11, 1925); Tamalpais Theatre in San Anselmo (Sept. 12, 1925); Orpheus in San Rafael (Sept. 12, 1925); Liberty in San Jose (Sept. 23-26, 1925); California Theatre in Berkeley (Sept. 23-26, 1925); Garden Theatre in Burlingame (Sept. 27, 1925); New Livermore Theatre in Livermore (late Sept. 1925 announced but no record found); Regent Theatre in San Mateo (Oct. 10, 1925); Chimes in Oakland (Oct. 23-24, 1925); Coliseum in San Francisco (Nov. 2-4, 1925); Glen Theatre in Mountain View (Nov. 3-4, 1925); Royal Theatre in South San Francisco (Nov. 30 - Dec. 1, 1925); New Piedmont in Oakland (Dec. 25, 1925); Liberty in Oakland (Jan. 10, 1926); Palace Theatre in San Leandro (Jan. 11-12, 1926); Palace Theatre in Alameda (Feb. 1-2, 1926).

I have more work to do on this project. I need to confirm some dates by going over some newspapers once again, and I also need to poke around through some of the newspapers serving others cities by the bay, like Alameda, Niles, Los Gatos, and San Leandro. This project is actually a lot of fun, actually. And I have learned alot of interesting things about Louise Brooks and her history in the Bay Area. For example, which film featuring Louise Brooks  had the single longest run at a movie theater in the Bay Area?

The answer is Now We're in the Air, which played for a month at the St Francis in San Francisco in late 1927. That four week run, reportedly, broke house records. My research has also uncovered the curious fact that Pandora's Box (1929) along with three of Brooks' later films, When You're in Love (1937), King of Gamblers (1937), and Overland Stage Raiders (1938) were each shown on Bay Area television starting in 1959!

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