Friday, November 11, 2016

Louise Brooks and the New Mission Theater

Tomorrow evening, the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission Cinema will screen the  Louise Brooks film, Diary of a Lost Girl. It marks the first time the 1929 film will have been shown at this historic San Francisco theater. It does not, however, mark the first time a Brooks' film will have been shown at the New Mission. (More information about this event can be found HERE.)



From cinematreasures.org: "The Mission Theatre was opened in 1907. It was a narrow theatre on the west side of Mission Street, between 21st Street and 22nd Street. It was renamed Premium Theatre in 1911 and renamed Idle Hour Theatre in mid-1913. In 1916, the architectural firm Reid Brothers reused the original theatre as an entrance lobby to their newly built auditorium of the 1,500-seat New Mission Theatre that sits on Bartlett Alley, behind the Mission Street storefronts. It opened May 6, 1916 with Mary Pickford in Poor Little Peppina....  The entire building was now in a Spanish Colonial Revival style and the auditorium had 1,500 seats, all in the orchestra level. On November 15, 1917, a balcony was added, which was said to have 1,000 seats. In 1918 a 300-seat second balcony was added. In 1932, for the Nasser Brothers circuit, architect Timothy Pflueger transformed the theatre especially the outer lobby, marquee, and 70ft blade sign, into an Art Deco style wonderland with 2,012 seats. After closing as a movie theatre in the 1980’s, the former New Mission Theatre spent the next 25 or so years virtually unaltered as a furniture store."

In 2012, Alamo Drafthouse announced plans to convert the New Mission Theatre into a five auditorium dinner & drinks cinema. A few years later, the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission Cinema opened, on December 17, 2015, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.





As can be seen above, in the 1920s the New Mission was part of a thriving Mission street theater district. The New Mission was a popular "neighborhood theater," showing second run fair for a couple of days at a time, especially Paramount films.

The New Mission (and its sister theater, the New Fillmore) had a relationship with Paramount, and that's why so many of Brooks' films showed at the two theaters. In fact, the only two of her Paramount films which didn't show at the New Mission were The City Gone Wild (1927) and The Canary Murder Case (1929). One other Brooks' silent which didn't show there was Just Another Blonde, a First National release. Here is which Brooks films showed at the New Mission and when it showed.

The Street of Forgotten Men
New Mission in San Francisco (Oct. 12-14, 1925)

The American Venus
New Mission in San Francisco (May 27-28, 1926)

A Social Celebrity
New Mission in San Francisco (July 3-4, 1926)

It’s the Old Army Game
New Mission in San Francisco (Sept. 4-5, 1926)

The Show-Off
New Mission in San Francisco (Oct. 23-24, 1926)

Love Em and Leave Em
New Mission in San Francisco (Mar. 12-13, 1927)

Evening Clothes
New Mission in San Francisco (May 16-18, 1927)

Rolled Stockings
New Mission in San Francisco (Dec. 19-21, 1927)

Now We’re in the Air
New Mission in San Francisco (Jan. 30 – Feb. 1, 1928)

A Girl in Every Port
New Mission in San Francisco (July 3-5, 1928)

Beggars of Life
New Mission in San Francisco (Jan. 19-20, 1929)

It Pays to Advertise
New Mission in San Francisco (May 14-15, 1931)

When You’re in Love
New Mission in San Francisco (May 11-13, 1937 with Too Many Wives)

Though Diary of a Lost Girl was released in Germany in 1929 and shown all over the world in the early 1930's, the film was not shown in the United States until the mid 1950's. It made its San Francisco Bay Area debut at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley on September 10, 1972, on a bill that included with The Last of the Mohicans and Madame du Barry. [In case you are wondering, Pandora's Box was first shown in the SF Bay Area at Monterey Peninsula College in Monterey sometime between Aug. 2 and Aug. 5, 1962, as part of the Peninsula Film Seminar. This historic event was organized by James Card, who attended with film prints in hand. Also in attendance was Pauline Kael, poet Jack Hirschman, and others.]


For the records, here is an exhibition history of Diary of a Lost Girl in the San Francisco Bay Area. Any and all additions and corrections are welcome.

Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Sept. 10, 1972 with The Last of the Mohicans and Madame du Barry); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Feb. 15, 1978); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley with Hoopla (Apr. 12, 1981); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Oct. 12, 1983); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Oct. 5, 1985 as part of the series “A Tribute to Louise Brooks (1906-1985)” with Lulu in Berlin); San Francisco Cinematheque at the San Francisco Art Institute in San Francisco (October 2, 1986 with The Dream Screen); Castro in San Francisco (Jan 22, 1987 with Sadie Thompson as part of “Vamps” series); Castro Theater in San Francisco (Nov. 8, 1988); Castro in San Francisco (May 11, 1992 with Pandora’s Box); Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley (Nov. 5, 1999 as part of film series “Revivals & Restorations”); Castro in San Francisco (Jan. 14, 2002 American premiere of restored print, as part of the Berlin & Beyond Festival); Jezebel’s Joint in San Francisco (Dec. 8, 2002 as part of SF IndieFest Microcinema); Stanford in Palo Alto (Aug. 4, 2006); Castro Theater (July 17, 2010 as part of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival); Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Public Library in San Francisco (Nov. 14, 2010); Alamo Drafthouse (Nov. 12, 2016).

Incidentally, I'll be in the lobby of the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission signing Diary of a Lost Girl books and DVD before and after the film. This marks my first appearance at this venue.

No comments:

Post a Comment

LinkWithin