I am a huge, HUGE classic movie nerd. Especially Silent Movies, Pre-code movies and 1950s Sci-fi. As a child, many Saturday mornings were filled with watching these movies and I have many fond memories of Saturday Night at the Movies with Elwy Yost. I grew up loving black and white classic cinema. Living in Toronto I am beyond fortunate that there are rep theatres that still show these movies on the regular or have themed movie afternoons/evenings. My fella and I have become regulars at the 4 pm Sunday show at the Carlton. $6 gets you a movie, popcorn, and a drink. Each month is themed. We are also a stone throw from The Revue and are found there often, especially during the Toronto Silent Film Festival. Why do I think these types of theatres are important, let me tell you.
History. The history of the theatre and the history that comes along with the movies that are shown. Sadly, with the condo boom, many of Toronto’s beloved architecture, including old movie houses are being torn down. I don’t want to make this piece about that, I do want to raise how important it is to keep some of old Toronto still alive and intact. This includes our original movie theatres. There is so much incredible history in these buildings. Imagine the movies that were shown in these beautiful structures. Everything from The Silents of the early 1900s to the gritty movies of the 1970s. The people that would have walked across the thresholds. Buildings that allowed you to take refuge from the heat, the cold, the depression, the war or the general world outside. A place where you could escape to another world via celluloid. I often dream of being a child, jaw open while being mesmerized by a Silent Film, a sassy teen being inspired by the Flappers gracing the screen or a twenty-something being tantalized by a Pre-code bit of raunch. Witnessing a time in history and film-making when the creators cared about the story and the presentation.
An escape. The world we live in is a harsh place to be in. It’s equally complicated by the all too convenient ability to pull out your phone to see or read the news, check social media, watch hours of youtube or stream whatever content you want and almost never be left to use your imagination if even for a short period of time. It’s why I write in complete silence. Going to a movie theatre, where you have to put your phone away is a wonderful feeling. To spend one to two hours being swept into another world, another time. To see films about a period of history, shot during that actual time. The music, clothes, sets — the story. Is it wrong that I still have crushes on Jimmy Stewart or Clara Bow?
Most importantly, supporting independent businesses. Most of these theatres are independently owned. I would much rather support independent or family-owned businesses. I don’t only go to rep theatres to see the classics, I would much rather see the latest blockbuster in them. Yes, it means waiting a few extra weeks to see it, but if it means the money is going to a small business, I will wait.
Please, check out your local rep theatre. The more we frequent them, the longer they stay alive.
MOVIE THEATRES :
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (The Annex) – 506 Bloor Street West, Toronto 416-637-3123 — http://www.hotdocscinema.ca/
Carlton Cinema – 20 Carlton Street at Yonge, Toronto, 416 – 494-9371 — https://imaginecinemas.com/cinema/carlton-cinema/
Fox Theatre – 2236 Queen Street East, Toronto, 416-691-7330 — www.foxtheatre.ca
Humber Cinemas – 2442 Bloor Street West — http://www.humbercinemas.com/
Kingsway – 3030 Bloor Street West — http://kingswaymovies.ca/
Regent Theatre – 551 Mount Pleasant Road — http://regenttoronto.com/
Revue Cinema – 400 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada M6R 2M9 — http://revuecinema.ca/
Royal Cinema – 608 College Street, Toronto, 416-466-4400 — www.theroyal.to