Every From The Archives follows a theme and as The Phoenix was the first cinema in the area to show a ‘talkie’ – The Singing Fool starring Al Jolson – in 1929, this afternoon’s theme was the advent of cinematic sound.
The first clip set the scene – a ‘trailer’ for The Jazz Singer. Not a trailer as you and I know them but rather an earnest young man describing and then cutting to footage of the film and the opening night itself. In that day and age, cinema goers were astonished – the man’s lips moved and his words came out! Extraordinary stuff when you put yourself in those shoes.
The second film was Walt Disney’s first foray into sound and his introduction of the world’s most famous mouse. I had read about Steamboat Willie a couple of years back as part of a biography on Disney – the movie is only 7 minutes long, but features Mickey and Minnie and big cheerful dose of that irrepressible Disney magic.
And then it was time for the main event, the completely joyous Singin’ in the Rain. For those of you who have been living under a rock (and shame on you if you have), the story revolves around the release of The Jazz Singer in 1927 and the scramble of the major studios and their leading men and ladies to survive the rise of the talking picture.
But it is the combination of wonderful music, show stopping routines and the chemistry of Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor that has you leaving the cinema humming ‘Good morning, good moooorning!’ and generally feeling that life is a pretty wonderful place to be.
And all of this for free.
Finally as part of the nod to 100 years of local cinema history, we had our photo taken in the auditorium before the show to be put in a time capsule for future generations to find. Just imagine what someone might think of us in 100 years’ time!
And since I have been to three Phoenix freebies now, I decided to put my money where my feel-good is and become a Friend.
It’s just a whole lot of unmitigated feel-good really.