Thursday, December 2, 2021

Chapman’s great show: History of movies in Glens Falls!

By Mark Frost , Chronicle Editor

Hats off to Jillian Mulder, the curator of the Chapman Historical Museum.

The Rialto Theater, 1958 — The Optimist Club benefit does exude optimism. Just 10 years later the theatre closed. The Warren Street block was razed for urban renewal.

“NOW SHOWING: From Nickoledeons to Drive-Ins” is such a fun, fascinating, significant exhibition that I came out feeling both exhilarated and enlightened.

They really promoted movies here in the Fifties! Early 1950’s, walk-around promoting Singin’ in the Rain showing at the Paramount Theatre — great shot of downtown Glens Falls, too.

The show takes us through the history of movies and movie theatres in Glens Falls, but it also captures the whole personality of a city that was — and hopefully remains — brash and full of itself. The theatres — one after another — were architecturally ambitious, with top-notch decor, equipment, musical organs and what have you.

Who knew the basement of the Park Theatre — which opened in 1912 — “contained six No. 1 Brunswick-Balke bowling alleys complete with Bacus pin-setters. No expense was spared. Four alleys had large pins, two had candle pins, and two had duck pins. Three local teams regularly competed against top teams from out of the area.

Sconce from the Paramount; Saturday Evening Post cover by Douglass Crockwell of Sanford Street.

Audiences turned out in droves for big movies and events. The promotions were constant and at times outlandish.

Jillian Mulder’s exhibition delivers a real sense of Glens Falls through the years. Great photos. Read the captions!

A few quibbles. I remember Jerry Aratare, not Joe, but credit to Jillian for including him.

The Chapman lives on a shoestring. For Ms. Mulder and the museum to deliver an exhibition with this much substance and moxie — and importance — is really something to sing their praises about. Job extraordinarily well done.

‘Come when you like, stay as long as you please’ welcomed World in Motion, a Nickelodeon that operated on Warren Street from 1909 to 1918. “Orchestra every night.” In 1911, “a record-breaking crowd attended a showing of Bobby Leach’s death-defying plunge over Niagara Falls. For added affect, Mr. Leach himself was present in the audience…”

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