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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas and Theatres   » Saenger Theatre in Mobile, AL "Restoration"

   
Author Topic: Saenger Theatre in Mobile, AL "Restoration"
William Hooper
Member

Posts: 82
From: Mobile, AL
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted February 07, 2005 12:34 AM      Profile for William Hooper   Email William Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
I already posted this photo over at Film-Tech, but it's here since Jim Rankin may have been going too long since being aghast.

What can you do with an historic theatre, ornate interior, run by a ladies' "arts" group that gets from the Galleria all their ideas about what must be taste, & absolutely no technical knowledge or desire to acquire it? Plus several hundred gallons of white paint? And with $4.5 million in grants & state & local funding to run amok?

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Paint it bright & airy like the kitchen, with a little gold & green trim! And we'll get that clutter off the balcony rail by sticking HUGE lighting trees like scaffolds on the ceiling, & cut holes in the ceiling for access from the attic!

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


 - posted February 07, 2005 08:27 AM      Profile for Jim Rankin   Email Jim Rankin         Edit/Delete Post 
I'm not quite sure if Bill is lampooning me or agreeing with me, but yes, I am aghast at what the "ladies" did to this once tastefully painted movie palace. Today's bland and insipid paint jobs are not always the result of just bad taste, sad to say; they are also often the result of unwillingness to pay professional restorers to do the job at the slower and more expensive rate needed to repeat the originally multi-hued and subtle color schemes. It happened here in Milwaukee in '84 when our RIVERSIDE was "restored" when they had a commercial painter (which previously painted bridges!) spray paint in gold paint the entire dome of the auditorium, not using the original pallette of cream, ochre, and beige with accents of genuine gold leaf. Today, it is far cheaper to just charge up the paint guns with barrels of paint and let go!

And as to those egregious light towers and bridges, what can one say? Yes, they are ugly, and yes, everyone knows that, but these days technology rules, and the "ladies" were no doubt in no position to object on the basis of aesthetics if they had no countervailing argument on a technical ground. The tech boys just barge in and imply that only they know what a theatre needs, and even the architects are cowed by the overbearing heft of technology which surrounds us everywhere. Long may our theatres endure, but the price for that seems to a kind of violation at the least.

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David Wodeyla
Member

Posts: 65
From: Natick, MA
Registered: Jun 2004


 - posted February 07, 2005 01:47 PM      Profile for David Wodeyla   Author's Homepage   Email David Wodeyla         Edit/Delete Post 
The bright red seats remind me of the General Cinema look. At least they don't have white seatbacks, from what I can tell of the photo.

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William Hooper
Member

Posts: 82
From: Mobile, AL
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted February 08, 2005 04:22 AM      Profile for William Hooper   Email William Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
And as to those egregious light towers and bridges, what can one say? Yes, they are ugly, and yes, everyone knows that, but these days technology rules, and the "ladies" were no doubt in no position to object on the basis of aesthetics if they had no countervailing argument on a technical ground.
Umm, no, they wanted the "clutter" off the balcony rail, commisioned suggestions, & after they embarassingly were informed that their idea of cutting a lighting trench in the ceiling like they'd seen in some black box "state of the art" theater reflected an embarassing lack of concern for the cultural importance of the theatre, they came up with the upside-down lighting trees. They (actually, the one lady calling the shots) like it. They say it's state of the art, even though the balcony rail & box booms are better positions.

They like the stripped-down look. It's their modern design, so it's better than the original decoration.

Of course, it looks like a new Home Depot that's waiting for the shelves to be stocked. The ceiling air conditioning vents, without the integrating decoration, now look like ulcers. The blind grilles now look like - air conditioning vents or something. It's pretty tasteless & ignorant. They've succeeded in their $4.5 million dollar "restoration" in making exactly the sort of mess often made in the 1970s, & which millions now are being spent on to put those monstrosities back (if they can find the money).

"Why is it when you get a bunch of little old ladies together, they always come up with this shade of green?"
-- Retired cinema tech acquaintance in Mississippi who showed me the picture of them spraying the green trim color in the Mobile Saenger remodel a few months ago

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