I took 20 Prospect Jr. and Lil’ Miss 20 Prospect to see True Grit last night. We’ve been wanting to see it ever since we saw the trailer for it back in November. I have to say, it lived up to our expectations. If you haven’t seen it yet, I would highly recommend it. It’s the least “Coen Brothers” movie that the Coen Brothers have ever made. This time around they stayed true to the original story, and stepped out of the way of the already well formed characters. The acting was terrific. I know this because my 11 year old daughter told me so.
But as great as the movie was, the venue where we saw it was even better. The Heights Theater in Colombia Heights is the oldest continuously operating movie theater in the state. It is a delicious Beaux Arts theater, built in 1926, and it has been lovingly restored to it’s original condition.
When we moved to town in the 90’s, the place was a turquoise painted dump that showed dollar movies. Colombia Heights isn’t Uptown, and is one of the dumpier inner ring suburbs in town. It was never a place that I would have considered going to see a movie. But in 1998, the current owners saw the hidden beauty beneath three quarters century of grime, and bought the place. We should be forever grateful that they did.
Stepping through the door is like stepping back in time. Going to a movie there feels more like a performance, than it does a movie. The theater has an opulence that the multiplexes could never dream of, and it reminds you what a magical experience movies must have been in the 20’s. This is old Hollywood, the stuff of dreams. Where factory workers, and farm hands could go on a Friday night and escape to far away lands, and exotic romances that could help them forget their lot in life, if only for a few hours.
On Friday and Saturday nights, they have an organist playing the Wurlitzer before the shows. (Unfortunately, they don’t on Mondays). We’ve been there before on the weekend, and it is really something to walk into that red velvet landscape and see the organist down in front of the stage, booming away. It feels like a sacred space.
In this day of Netflix, and Blu-Ray, and Stadium Seating Multiplex’s, the Heights is a wonderful reminder that technology doesn’t always equal progress.