I thought I just wanted to see how the marquee was changed. But when Assistant Manager Thor Klippert started talking about the history of the Albany Twin and about the movie theater experience in general, I was immediately drawn in.
Of course I do love DVDs. It’s great to have control over the remote, to be able to choose from an entire library rather than just what’s “Now Playing.” It’s comfortable and convenient, and a completely different experience than seeing a movie in the theater.
Thor believes there is great value in sharing a few hours watching a movie in a dark room full of strangers. Hearing people you don’t know laugh when you laugh. The Albany Twin plays a lot of foreign films with subtitles. Pretty soon you can tell from the timing of reactions just who knows the language (they react first), and who reads and comprehends faster or slower than you. It adds a layer to the experience.
There is just something very special about an old movie house. The hushed voices, the popcorn smell, those classic candy options that seem more right here than just about anywhere else. It took me back to Saturday afternoons at the old Fox Theater in Burlingame, where I grew up. I remember double features, and the scary gargoyle water fountain on the second floor. I remember always choosing the big red all-day sucker from the snack bar, even though experience told me they were better in theory. I remember mortifying my older sister by sobbing loud, messy sobs through the second half of Shenandoah with Jimmy Stewart. I loved the Fox Theater. It was torn down in 1975.
There was serendipity in this visit. I didn’t know that some time in the next 90 days the Albany Twin will convert from 35mm film to digital projection. There won’t be any more movies delivered in 80-pound film canisters. No more scratchy prints or reel changes. No need for the splicer. As viewers, we probably won’t notice the difference. But the projection room won’t be the same. I’m so glad I arrived in time to see the old-fashioned version. Thanks for the tour, Thor!
Do you have a favorite memory of going to the movies?