When film fans talk about banner years for movies, they're usually referring to those multi-month stretches when a handful of instantly beloved classics -- romances, action flicks, sci-fi thrillers -- first made their thrilling big-screen debuts.
But banner years for movies arrive in other ways, and 1925 surely stands tall, as high as a rooftop theatre sign, among them. For that was a good year for the building and opening of Southern California movie palaces, those all-important places in which to see a new cinematic artwork.
The Highland debuted on Figueroa Street in the springtime and, soon after, the Fox Fullerton in Orange County. In short, money was not only going into the making of films, but the beautiful and ornate spaces in which those films were to be enjoyed.
Like The Highland, The Fox Fullerton still stands, and, like The Highland, supporters of the vintage venue are throwing a party in honor of its 90th birthday. The two-dayer'll have a speakeasy theme, befitting the time period in which it came to be, on Friday, May 22 and Saturday, May 23. The shindig is free.
Dance-worthy sounds of the flapper-tastic era, old autos and sips/eats will be part of the Saturday fun times.
And the undisputed highlight? The Friday night lighting -- and unveiling, let us happily add -- of the dramatic Fox Theatre sign atop the building. Like The Highland, this theatre still boasts an old-school, seen-for-blocks-around rooftop signifier.
It's a charmer, for sure, and will be "completely lit up for the first time in decades."
Tours of the interior, which just underwent a year-plus gussy-up by the EverGreen Architectural Arts, are part of the event. (Look up at the ceiling and proscenium, which is still the same as 90 years ago. The same but better, of course.)
So cheers to banner film years, and cheers to years like 1925, which saw the openings of a few of Southern California's excellent movie palaces. Good to know some are still around and being loved upon, lavishly, by volunteers and locals and preservationists alike.