Fear not – I just took this photo today, the old place has not being demolished. Better still, though presently an events venue (and a spiffy central one at that) they still have a fabulous screen and could again be a theatre. The building (which needed much work to be set right) is safe for now, and not off the table forever as a popular venue, like so many of its lost contemporaries – good deal!
The reason I went B and W wasn’t just to flatter the lovely deco design, but also because my own best memories from this place come from a half a century ago – way back in the 1970s it was a superb and very popular repertory cinema. – just one of many which thrived for decades in film-crazy Toronto – though the 70s and 80s were the peak of this working class cinephilia (my teens and early twenties were lit with Truffaut, Herzog, Wenders and Fassbinder, full-scale).
But for the kid landscape mid seventies, “The Eglinton” seemed much fancier than and not nearly as wild as the also much missed “99 Cent Roxy” where you could often see The Wizard of Oz and Yellow Submarine in a double bill, as long as you didn’t mind billowing clouds of pot-smoke (quite mysterious to me at the time).
I saw all of Chaplin’s major features here on the big screen as one should – and to this day I remember being wonderstruck by the emotional power of cinema (though I was but a tyke back then). I loved Gold Rush, Limelight made me cry for days, but I still wanted to go back to see Modern Times, the week after that (and if you haven’t watched “Modern Times” in awhile – find the time to check it out again – it has never been so sharply relevant or clearly prescient).
Worth noting – we did not then (ignorantly) assume that people could only be moved by stories which replicated their own experience. Again and again, Chaplin made the most basic political point of all – hard times are hard times, and we are all ultimately thrown together at the bottom – and his films will still resonate a hundred years from now thanks to their basic and immortal empathy (once known in places more sophisticated than us as “class consciousness”).
While I’m on it – I should mention that Nada and I saw Harold Lloyd’s “Speedy” on the big screen much more recently at TIFF – with a score played live by the composer – deluxe. My adult mind agrees completely – big screen is a MUST – not just because the photography and performances remain impressive, though they absolutely do, but because we receive the story more fully that way.
I know we can now mainline “Intellectual Property” without pause on the cheap, we don’t have to pause a key dramatic scene even while straining on the toilet, but I swear, convenience and catharsis are not really compatible goals at all.
Seems to me that for the full value of the practise you do have to prepare yourself, pay a small tribute (okay not so small, if we’re talking tickemaster) and gather with others to share the empathic meal. Established best practice for satisfying socially helpful catharsis for a few thousand years, anyhow.
Maybe we could do repertory cinema brewpubs? Drama clubs in discos?
Got to try to keep the beat going – kind of like those crazy Greeks who kept sharp by telling their stories to each other from memory for a few centuries straight, before some wise ass wrote them all down and wrecked all the fun.
Gathering around story is good for everybody. Flicker-light is magic.
(It all makes me miss the glory days of Cinesphere so damn fiercely – you?)