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LA Conservancy Resumes Last Remaining Seats movie screening series

by Stewart Cole

Downtown Los Angeles is a very different place than it was when the Los Angeles Conservancy began showing “Last Remaining Seats” in movie theaters 35 years ago. When the annual series hits theaters this month (after last June’s absence for the pandemic), there will be far less concern in the air about the fate of some of the major theaters and neighborhoods they are in than it was back in 1987. One thing that is very different, now compared to then: the number of moviegoers that will be walking at Orpheum and Los Angeles, the two theaters that will host five of the six screenings.

Meanwhile, perhaps ironically, the LRS series kicks off Saturday with a tour of a neighborhood that was considered deeply prosperous 35 years ago, but could use its own impetus now: Westwood, where the prestigious Village Theater will host the Conservancy for the first time.

On Saturday night the show “To Sir With Love” will take place at 8 pm at the Village on the west side. Next Saturday, June 11, a double presentation of Charlie Chaplin’s silent “The Kid” and “The Immigrants” will take place as an instrumental matinee at the Orpheum on Broadway, with “Blade Runner” appearing there later in the evening. For the final screenings on Saturday, June 18, it will be arguably the most magnificent Los Angeles theater, aptly named Los Angeles (pictured above), to host “The Women” as matinee at 2, followed by “Notorious By Alfred Hitchcock to close. the turn comes out at 8.

Orpheum and Los Angeles are the two most trusted anchor theaters for the Last Remaining Seat since 1987. «Downtown he’s got has changed significantly during this period “since the series began in 1987, says Linda Dishman, who took over as president-CEO of Conservancy just a few years later. “We are very happy that many things have happened on the road: Orpheum was restored and (re) opened in 2001, and we have the Theater at the Ace Hotel (formerly United Artists) which opened in 2014. But there is still more work to be done.”

Dishman continues, “Especially in LA, just because of the way it is positioned and designed, you can stand on the steps leading to the balcony and just watch people enter the lobby. And you can say who was there before and you can say who has never been, because people who have never been there, their jaw drops, why they have never been to a theater like this. Some of the people who have been to Last Seat for many years, you will see them up there, just enjoying watching the people coming in. These are places that many people in Los Angeles do not know exist, so we made the movie series. Our goal every year is to bring more and more people to the theaters to understand that we have this amazing historical resource and we hope that with more people interested and involved in theaters, we will see more restoration and more entertainment being offered in road.”

Most of the action is at the south end of the boulevard, where the above theaters are located, along with the Palace, a smaller palace that has often hosted the Conservancy in the past. “And our goal now is to revitalize the whole street,” like a north end that includes the Million Dollar (which currently hosts Secret Movie Club screenings) and a number of smaller theaters that have functioned as clubs or exchange meetings and now it is mostly closed. In the middle of the street, the State insists, even as a church, leaving it again outside the limits of projections.

Adaptive reuse was also a benefit. “When I first came in 30 years ago, there were several studies that said they did not believe 12 theaters could operate on Broadway, in part because they are such large theaters. So this was something we knew was a possibility, that some of the theaters could be used for other things like an Urban Outfitters or an Apple store. And to a large extent, having more options just adds to the liveliness of the street. We saw the Apple Store open this year at the Tower Theater, which was really exciting because it was a smaller theater and it was not as interesting “to concert organizers or others who might have kept it as a theater after it sat down. mostly dark for decades. “It took a lot of work and that’s why it was really great that Apple came in and did a really spectacular job with the theater.” Next door is an Urban Outfitters that captures the elongated Rialto – but the impressive neon marquee survives, contributing to Broadway’s sense of a thriving – and literally bright – historic neighborhood.

In the meantime, why Westwood for the opening night?

“We always try to have a night out on Broadway to celebrate all the historic theaters in Los Angeles. We went to the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse. We’ve been to Alex in Glendale and the Warner Grand in San Pedro. Los Angeles is rich in historic theaters. We did Westwood this year because in the fall we’re going to have a huge weekend of touring in Westwood, so we’re using it as a kind of opening activity for this activity. “

In addition to focusing on the two surviving Westwood cinemas, Village and Bruin across the street, “we’ll be walking around the village and walking around the UCLA,” Dishman promises. We will also take a look at the Tehrangeles tradition on Westwood Blvd. which has been a key part of Persian history and the Conservancy hopes to have a walking tour of a historic residential neighborhood as well.

Guests will be part of the series, with live cast members together to introduce or talk about some of them – including rocker Michael Des Barres, who played a young role in “To Sir With Love” on the premiere. , and M. Emmet Walsh in “Blade Runner” (which, of course, had the Bradbury Building below Broadway as its central location).

Older movies have their own sights. “Obviously we do not have anyone coming from the silent ones, but we will have a spectacular organizer playing in the recently renovated mighty Wurlitzer at Orpheum. “The organizer is Clark Wilson, who has a national reputation and I’ve seen him before and he’s great,” says Dishman. “And then we’re very excited about ‘The Women’ – we have a teacher named Cari Beauchamp talking about that time period. “The film was written by a woman, and many people are surprised by it because in many ways it is considered not very positive for women, but it tells you a lot about the lives of women at that time.”

The closing film of the evening, “Notorious”, will feature film critic Leonard Maltin and Jennifer Grant, the daughter of the protagonist Carrie Grant.

Tickets can be purchased in advance here.

The Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles
Larry A. Underhill, courtesy of the LA Conservancy

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