Friday, May 27, 2016

A projection booth from the past

I was recently asked to help out at a film festival in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. The festival was at the historic Odeum Theatre, which I had never visited before. My duties that night took me up to the projection booth, where I was delighted to find two old projectors, long since out of use. The Odeum rarely shows movies any more, and of course if they do, it's from a digital projector. Stepping into that little room was like stepping into the past, a forgotten place, full of details of the way things were.

It's always nice to find places like this — not everything has been made over so that it fits into the glossy present.

Except, well, I had heard that night that the Odeum had gotten a grant, and the old projectors were going to be sent to a museum and the room renovated. With that in mind, I took my phone and snapped as many pictures as I could so that there would be a record of how the room looked.

(More photos after the jump.)

These Peerless Magnarc projectors, which were built in the 1930s or 40s, were beautiful machines. Designed in an Art Deco style, with polished wood knobs. The movies that threaded through those sprockets are the movies of history now, but when the click-clacked through these machines they were new, the latest in entertainment, the newest picture from John Wayne or Katharine Hepburn or Bette Davis or James Cagney.

I also took some pictures of other aspects of the projection booth, including a small filing cabinet that was filled with replacement parts for the projectors, and other odds and ends.

Click on the pictures to make them larger.

This was a delight. — Lars Trodson