Friday, July 01, 2011

1 JUL 11: Reel Old-School

Someone told me the other day all movie theaters must go digital by 2015. In fact, that person indicated it's required by federal law. I haven't found any proof of that - but I can think of some Hollywood stars who might interpret such a law to mean showing (ahem) one particular finger during a movie.

One theatre in Columbus is NOT going digital. In fact, tonight it will go in the other direction. The Liberty Theatre will show a movie for the first time in 38 years -- and show a movie from the 1930s at that. I think that's even older than the age limit for the "classic movie" channels on cable TV.

It truly will be old-timers day at the Liberty Theatre, as the man who rolled the last movie there in 1973 returns to roll tonight's feature. John Gilbert told WRBL he's even providing his own projector -- so the Liberty's VCR apparently isn't good enough.

The Liberty Theatre is offering a bargain price for its first movie in 38 years. Tickets cost three dollars, and you can add popcorn and a soda for two more. The concession stand is so inexpensive that the cost may be marked up only 100 percent.

The overseers of the Liberty Theatre have indicated recently it's having financial problems. So it only seems logical to show movies there again to raise money. After all, there are no movie houses between Peachtree Mall and Fort Benning. Carmike Cinemas doesn't even seem to invite people to its headquarters downtown for "focus groups" of coming attractions.

While I haven't seen the Liberty Theatre's entire movie schedule, tonight's first feature indicates to me the staff has a very tight and restricted budget. The main event is "Imitation of Life" from 1934. Some people consider it a groundbreaking African-American movie. But others might watch and conclude Madea belongs in there somewhere.

The Liberty Theatre might find this experiment opens the door for showing more current movies on a regular basis. Carmike was unopposed in the local theatre business for a long time, before the National Infantry Museum opened its IMAX screen. That screen may be extra-large, but the Liberty is extra-grainy.

Meanwhile, a movie production has been at work all week in Troup County. It's a Billy Bob Thornton production called "Jayne Mansfield's Car." This must be a fantasy film, because Mansfield was NOT famous for cars in her prime. It was, well, another sort of body....

The LaGrange Daily News reports Troup County was selected for some scenes because it has a nice-looking plantation. It's not yet clear if that means the extra actors worked for next to nothing.

I didn't realize a second movie was shot in Troup County earlier this year. It's a drama with Shia LaBeouf called "The Wettest County," and included the explosion of a moonshine still. If more people had known this was coming, the crowd of spectators might have outnumbered LaGrange High School football games.

Now for some selected short subjects from Thursday's news....

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported Columbus Police are doing a follow-up review of the Civic Center audit. Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson says the police investigation is NOT criminal at this point. Somewhere in Columbus, Tony Adams read that and started laughing uncontrollably.

(Former Civic Center Director Dale Hester remains silent, in the wake of this week's audit report. Has anyone seen him lately - perhaps in Costa Rica, looking at retirement housing?)

+ Columbus Public Services Director Gary Stickles retired, after 20 years in city government. Hopefully he made it through the retirement reception without anyone asking when his department is being audited.

+ A Harris County employee was arrested and fired, after officers accused him of stealing tires off a county vehicle - then trying to use them on his own. Dude. C'mon. I really don't think those tires are made of copper.

+ Fort Benning offered reporters a tour of the new construction resulting from base realignment. Spokesperson Cindy Andrus told WRBL several of the new buildings are still "under warranty." What does that mean - five years or 75,000 soldiers?

+ The Dothan Eagle reported the Country Crossing complex will reopen today. It will have the new name Center Stage Alabama, but still offer hundreds of electronic bingo machines. High rollers reportedly will be allowed access to the exclusive Gilley Game Room.

+ Instant Message to Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb: I think I've figured out why you're retiring so quickly. You're following the example of Sarah Palin -- and you're going to be Roy Moore's vice presidential running mate, aren't you?

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