Posts Tagged ‘ Last Remaining Seats ’

“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”

Last night, the L.A. Conservancy’s 24th annual “Last Remaining Seats” film festival kicked off with a screening of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (1967) at the Los Angeles Theatre. Time hasn’t dulled the edge of the satire: the film is based on a mock self-help management book by Shepherd Mead first published in 1952. Robert Morse played a window-washer who climbs the corporate ladder with the help of his “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” manual; Michele Lee played his Girl Friday. Morse and Lee took the stage with “Mad Men” creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner for a brief chat before the lights went down. As they watched the film with the audience, they must have been pleased to hear everyone laughing and applauding throughout the screening. After the show, I was taking photos of the Theatre when a man asked me to take a photo of him and his friends with my camera. One of his friends was Michele Lee; she was very gracious in accepting my compliments on her performance.

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Million Dollar Theater

Last week, I looked up as I walked past the Million Dollar Theater at 307 S. Broadway in downtown L.A.  Although I was rushing towards the Bradbury Building, where my Austrian friends Eleonore and Monika were waiting for me, I slowed down long enough to shoot the Theater’s 3rd St. facade.  It is absolutely stunning.   

In 1918, Sid Grauman built his first movie house, which became known as the Million Dollar Theater due to its lavish construction budget.  A century ago, Broadway was the center of L.A.’s nightlife, before subsequent Grauman properties such as the landmark Chinese Theater shifted the city’s entertainment district north to Hollywood.  The once-glamorous movie palaces that still stand along Broadway resemble a chorus line of showgirls past their prime, their expressions vacant yet expectant.  Efforts to revive the district are ongoing, yet the local arbiters of nostalgic fauxhemia seem stuck in the 1980’s:  acid-washed denim is ripe for a revival if window displays in neighbourhood vintage clothing shops are bellwethers of the fashion industry (and they are).

Once a year, the L.A. Conservancy hosts “Last Remaining Seats“, a classic film festival that draws audiences into these neglected cinemas.  It is an opportunity for us to appreciate downtown L.A.’s historical significance and support the conservation of these architectural gems.

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