Sunday, December 4, 2005


Any film buff who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area will want to check out a new book, Theatres of San Francisco, by Jack Tillmany. Recently, I had a chance to meet the author during his book signing at the historic Castro Theater.

Jack Tillmany documents the city's many theatres through a remarkable selection of vintage images drawn from the author's personal archive.This new book paints a detailed picture of the golden age of going to the theatre in San Francisco. This volume reminds us that almost every neighborhood in the City boasted its own beloved theatre. Ironially, the one theatre closest to my San Francisco residence - the Searchlight, is not depicted. The Searchlight opened in 1916 at 1596 Church Street, and operated under nearly a dozen names during the next 50 years. Though the building still stands, no photographs of the building as a theater are known.

"Only a handful of the 100 or so neighborhood theatres that once graced these streets are left in San Francisco, but they live on in the photographs featured in this book. The heyday of such venues as the Clay, Noe, Metro, New Mission, Alexandria, Coronet, Fox, Uptown, Coliseum, Surf, El Rey, and Royal was a time when San Franciscans thronged to the movies and vaudeville shows, dressed to the hilt, to see and be seen in majestic art deco palaces." Also included is the Granada, where all of Louise Brooks' Paramount features were shown.

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