Cinema History Around the World
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Author Topic: The World's Most Fascinating Cinemas
Hu McEvoy
New Member

Posts: 2
From: London, England, UK
Registered: Feb 2005

 - posted February 02, 2005 01:39 AM      Profile for Hu McEvoy   Email Hu McEvoy         Edit/Delete Post 
Hi all.

My partner and I are Londoners starting a 2-3 year round the world trip in October.

Along the way I am aiming to do some research into the globe's most interesting, bizarre, strange, quirky, beautiful or outlandish cinemas.

I've done a few searches on this forum but couldn't find much (unless my searching was awry!), so I'd like to open a discussion for people to post details of amazing cinemas they have known:

The could be outdoor cinemas, travelling cinemas, fleapit cinemas, palatial cinemas, cinemas which don't actually show films, cinemas which never stop showing films, beach cinemas, ice cinemas, ancient cinemas, cinemas off the beaten track, ugly cinemas, historical cinemas, follies, labours of love... you get the idea - any cinema with a tale to tell.

All pointers gratefully appreciated! Thanks.

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Jim Rankin
(Jim passed away in December 2006)
Posts: 123
From: Milwaukee, WI
Registered: Oct 2003

 - posted February 02, 2005 06:30 AM      Profile for Jim Rankin   Email Jim Rankin         Edit/Delete Post 
Well, Mr. McEvoy, you and your partner have presented a tall order here, but I believe that I can start you off on the American side if I may point out some unusual structures that are extant as well as a few that can only be seen in photos, and for those no longer with us, the best source for this continent is the Archive of the THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA details of which and directions to can be found at their web site: ; they have nearly 20,000 theatres/cinemas recoreded to some degree, as well as some 30,000 photos and slides of them, not to mention blueprints, movies, artifacts, books, etc. You would do well to start your western hemisphere tour there, since they are just outside of Chicago, and the link on their site will give you the directions, by either car, or public transportation from Chicago's internationl airport. It is a pretty college town that they are in, but you will NOT want to go in Winter (November through March there, and snowstorms are not unknown in April too), not because their welcome to you will be less warm, but because the weather can be bone-chillingly cold! You MUST make an appointment in advance if you expect to do research there, since space is limited and a volunteer must be scheduled to assist you. Bring along your laptop and hand scanner, since they will probably not have such for you to use, though photocopying is available.

Serveral theatres/cinemas come to mind when I think of the unusual:

The AIRWAY once in my native Milwaukee; a Quonset hut semicylindrical structure of conventional materials that echoed the streamlined form so popular here in the 1950s, detailed at: I have photos of this odd structure.

The CORONADO in nearby Rockford, Illinois is among the most eclectic structures of any theatre in the nation, and possibly the world, with a Spanish stars-and-clouds auditorium, with Japanese pagodas and dragons on the organ screens, a Rococo and Baroque lobby with statues of Venus Rising as nudes with insect wings, yet it all works. Look for my review of it listed on the front page of

In Toronto is the most dramatic new cinema in recent memory: the COLOSSUS, something that looks like a flying saucer has landed. I can't testify as to the movie-going experience there, but the decor of the lobby is astonishing.

When you get to California, there will be many good theatres to see, but few will be as memorable as the AVALON on Catalina island 20 miles off of Los Angeles (frequent ferries go there).

This but scrapes the tip of an iceberg, but I am sure that the others here will have more to recommend!! BEST WISHES! (and do tell us what form your explorations will culminate in: Book? Video/film? TV show?) P.S. If you let people know that you have a serious, enduring purpose --as opposed to a mere juncket-- they will be more inclined to open doors for you, and if you are affiliated with an historical society or the like, be sure to bring Letters of Recommendation on their letterhead to grease your way around doorkeepers, who are often suspicious of those claiming to be mere historians not prepared to cross their palms with silver for mere entry and snapshots.

PPS: If you care to give me a postal address, I will mail you a DVD with a film that will get you started. Click on my name here to get my E-mail address to send the address privately, if you prefer, and be sure to mention the word THEATRE somehow in your subject line. I don't open mail without recognizable subject lines and from names I do not recall.

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Hu McEvoy
New Member

Posts: 2
From: London, England, UK
Registered: Feb 2005

 - posted February 15, 2005 06:06 AM      Profile for Hu McEvoy   Email Hu McEvoy         Edit/Delete Post 
Hello Jim,

Thanks so much for your reply - apologies for taking so long to get back to this forum.

Essentially I'm toying with the idea of writing a book on unusual cinemas, concentrating on perhaps 14 or 15 of them from various places on our travels, but currently it's only a small seed of an idea. At the moment the reality of actually doing it depends on the research I can do before I go. I shall keep you updated via this forum!

I would love one of your DVDs, thank you ever so much - I shall mail you privately with my address.

Thanks again, Hu.

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