Sunday, December 03, 2006





A little blast from the past...these are the movie ads from the Springfield (Ma) Morning Union from Oct. 9, 1937.

Springfield is my home town...not that I was born here, but that it was the community where I spent my first three years of school. It has always felt like home even though after Springfield I lived in Montgomery, AL, Rantoul, IL, Hadley, MA, Greenville, CA, Oroville, CA, Kadena AFB, Okinawa, and then Granby, MA.

My wife and I have lived in Springfield for over 25 years and while it has plenty of problems, it is a great medium sized city.

Anyway, we have two multi-plex theaters in town after years of having not a single open theater. I'm old enought o have been around when there were still downtown movie theaters and neighborhood second-run theaters, but the multi-plexes today are in outlaying shopping centers.The idea of the movie theater as part of vibrant downtown entertainment scene has become more and more rare as the older downtown theaters are single-screens. Single screen theaters are a very risky economic model in the exhibition business today. Theater owners play a game of hoping to have a couple of good films that will make up for having some dogs on the week's bill.

One screen with a bad film means big trouble.

These ads show a little of what it was like to be a movie fan in the 1930s in a city of the size of Springfield (probably then about 160,000 people). There was a lot going on.

The exhibition business has changed so much. There's no flair, no showmanship, and little excitement outside of the film itself.

I think I'm going to spend the rest of the afternoon watching old movies. It's too bad it couldn't be in a grand theater!

©2006 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

2 comments:

Tom Devine said...

Sad but true.

Marky Mark said...

Tragic.

One of my pet peeves actually.