Tuesday, September 8, 2009

a Mighty Wurlitzer then and now

When Louise Brooks' first film first played in San Francisco, it was at the Granada Theater at 1066 Market Street. The Street of Forgotten Men opened there on August 8, 1925 and played for a week. (Seven days was a typical run for a first run film in a big city during the Twenties.) The film received very good reviews in the local press.

The Granada Theater was an opulent, Andalusian-style movie palace. It was part of Publix, a chain of movie theaters allied with Paramount - Famous Players Lasky. As a result, all but two of Brooks' Paramount features opened in San Francisco at the Granada. The films which showed there were

The Street of Forgotten Men (Aug. 8-14, 1925)
The American Venus (Jan. 9-15, 1926)
A Social Celebrity (Apr. 24-30, 1926)
It’s the Old Army Game (May 29 – June 4, 1926)
Love Em and Leave Em (Jan. 8-14, 1927)
Evening Clothes (Mar. 19-25, 1927)
Rolled Stockings (Aug. 13-19, 1927)
City Gone Wild (Nov. 5-11, 1927)
Canary Murder Case (Feb. 8-14, 1929)

The Granada was a real old fashioned movie palace. When it opened in November of 1921, it had an operating staff of 122 people! In addition to its opulent interior, the Paramount also boasted a 4 manual, 32 rank Wulitzer organ. It was, at the time, the largest such instrument in the United States. When the Granada changed names in 1931 - the theater was renamed the Paramount - the organ remained. And, as a matter of fact, the theater's Mighty Wurlitzer remained on site till the Paramount closed in April of 1965.

All this is to say that you can hear this very instrument played in the very theater which screened so many Louise Brooks films. (Isn't that kinda time trippy!) On the following webpage, you can listen to a recording of a live 1964 radio broadcast of the Paramount Wurlitzer near the end of its life in San Francisco:

http://www.bayarearadio.org/audio/kpen/kpen_wurlitzer_1964.shtml

If you are interested in learning more about the Granada Theater, follow this link to a webpage on the outstanding Cinema Treasures website. There, you can also find links to interior and exterior images of the theater dating from the 1920's.

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