Wednesday, June 21, 2006

farewell to paradise

Goodbye Paradise
This week and next likely mark the end of a good chunk of Toronto's rep cinemas. Last month, it wasa announced that the Royal, Revue, Kingsway and Paradise theatres will shut their doors on June 30th - you'll find plenty of links via this BlogTO story. Health and time permitting (I am currently battling a cold I may have picked up abroad), I'm trying to catch a flick at each before the doors are locked.

First stop was the Paradise on Bloor West. This was only the second time I'd seen a film there, the first being Nashville several years ago. Main memories were a grainy print and that the armrest on my seat was attached by duct tape, gum or a similarly sticky substance.

A brief history of the Paradise, from John Sebert's book The Nabes:

There has been a theatre on this site since the early teens; the first was the Bloor Palace. After World War One, it was changed to the Kitchener - a tip of the hat to the British Field Marshall, Lord Kitchener...In 1939, after a redo, by Kaplan & Sprachman, the theatre acquired its Art Deco facade and new name, the New Paradise. This was later shortened. (124)

Side View of Paradise
The first thing I noticed was the information on the marquee. Instead of indicating the bill, it noted the closing date and part of the Festival phone number. A few people waited in front for the box office to open. I estimate around 35-40 wound up watching the feature presentation, Dr. Strangelove.

Side Light Eye Exam Anyone?
Since my last visit, new seats had been installed. The slide show mixed in photos of local neon signs and 50s jazz legends with local advertisers.

While I own Dr. Strangelove on DVD, it's interesting to see old favourites on the big screen with a audience, seeing if they laugh at the same spots as you. This audience was hooked, roaring at most mentions of "precious bodily fluids" and the entire Colonel Bat Guano sequence. Here's one of my favourite scenes, where the President (Peter Sellers) explains to the Soviet premier why attack planes are heading towards Russian airspace: - JB

Now then, Dmitri, you know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb... The *Bomb*, Dmitri... The *hydrogen* bomb!... Well now, what happened is... ah... one of our base commanders, he had a sort of... well, he went a little funny in the head... you know... just a little... funny. And, ah... he went and did a silly thing... Well, I'll tell you what he did. He ordered his planes... to attack your country... Ah... Well, let me finish, Dmitri... Let me finish, Dmitri... Well listen, how do you think I feel about it?... Can you *imagine* how I feel about it, Dmitri?... Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello?... *Of course* I like to speak to you!... *Of course* I like to say hello!... Not now, but anytime, Dmitri. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened... It's a *friendly* call. Of course it's a friendly call... Listen, if it wasn't friendly... you probably wouldn't have even got it...

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