Thursday, July 19, 2007

Flickering Images

I mentioned the old Canton Movie Theater in my last post and it set me to thinking about movies in general. We went to the movies a lot when I was a kid. It was something my parents could afford and it was something we did as a family, mom, dad, my brother, and me. There were two places to see movies in Canton in the 1960s and early 1970s. The theater in down town Canton, or Howell's Drive-In over in South Canton.
The drive-in theater seemed to be the place for spy movies. That's where I remember seeing some of the early James Bond movies, as well as Bond knock offs and spoofs like the two James Coburn Flint movies (which I still love) and the Matt Helm movies with Dean Martin.
The down town theater was an old style movie house with a balcony and slightly art deco furnishings. It had round windows on the stairwell and in the bathrooms. It was probably much smaller than I remember. It got all the 'A' movies. I remember seeing The Poseidon Adventure there and I know they had most of the mainstream movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Exorcist, and such. On Saturdays they would have special showings of Disney movies and other kid films all day long. I saw Robin Hood, the Sword in the Stone, Blackbeard's Ghost, The Love Bug, and re-releases of Song of the South, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella.
The theater is also where I saw most of the later Tarzan films such as Tarzan in India and Tarzan and the City of Gold. My favorite memory of the old theater though, remains seeing The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. It's still my favorite Ray Harryhausen film. That came out in 1973, right at the point of my burgeoning interest in all things sword & sorcery. I absolutely loved that movie and it's the Harryhausen film I've seen the most times. (Jason and the Argonauts is a close second.)
Sadly, that was also close to the end of the run for the Canton theater. I suppose competition from bigger theaters like those popping up at malls in Roswell, Smyrna, and Marietta finally shut the old theater down. Like many other small towns, the downtown area suffered with the influx of new highways, malls, and superstores like Wal-Mart. The Theater gave up the ghost in the mid 70s. Someone tried to reopen the place in the early 1980s. I went to see some Chuck Norris film there and the film broke halfway through and they had to give everyone's money back. Not long after, the theater closed its doors.
It sat vacant for many years, but it has recently been refurbished an reopened as a venue for live theater. I haven't been inside. I probably won't. I'd rather remember it as it was.

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