A movie Travellers Guide to the west coast in October 2004
The 70mm Newsletter
images by: Jan Niebuhr
1. January 2005
Lutthans in Seattle
At the end of October 2004 I travelled to the U.S.A. for a little
week to attend a wedding in Santa Monica. During that week I had a great
opportunity to meet some very nice people with love for the movies, and
attend my first ever experience of real CINERAMA.
I started off in Seattle. Since this destination is a direct stop from
Copenhagen with SAS, it was a great chance to visit this beautiful city.
Even though my stopover only lasted close to 48 hours, I was blessed in
having a great guide in Mr. Matt Lutthans.
Matt has a great love for CINERAMA. In 1997 he co-founded the Cinerama
Society of Seattle, a non-profit group whose aim it was to save the CINERAMA
THEATRE in the city. He has therefore a vast knowledge and a very
interesting collection of memorabilia from the golden days of Cinerama. Matt
has also been a projectionist at Cinerama shows in Seattle and Los Angeles,
and also provided historical display materials at the 3-strip festival in
Seattle. He was even married at the Cinerama theatre – the first weeding
ever held there. He has lived all his life in Seattle and therefore when it
also came to pinpoint cinema locations in and around the city, you couldn’t
go wrong with this guy.
in 70mm reading:
Meet the Chief
The US Tour Gallery
The original CINERAMA THEATRE in Seattle is a beautiful place.
Unfortunately I was not allowed to take any pictures inside the auditorium,
but I was given a big tour of the place by the manager including the three
projection rooms. The Cinema is in full operation and shows regular movies
like any other cinema. Once a year though they have a Cinerama Festival.
One experience that left me completely flabbergasted was when we paid a
visit to Mr. Robert Leader in the outskirts of Seattle. He has built his own
personal cinema in his backyard with a seat capacity of 73!!! To describe it
is simply impossible. I understand that Mr. Leader has a
website so please check it out. You`ll be utterly amazed.
On a little side note I knew that that the late great Bruce Lee had his
resting place in Seattle, next to his son Brandon Lee. We visited the
cemetery and that was a very moving experience.
Well, 48 hours is definitely not the amount of time to do Seattle full
justice. I hope that I in the near future will be able to return. Big thanks
to Matt Lutthans.
Onward to the City of Angles - L.A.
next to the famous music box stairs in Los Angeles used by Laurel & Hardy in
1932 in the Oscar winning short subject film "The Music Box".
Located in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles on Vendome (923-937 Vendome)
at Del Monte.
Picture by: Søren Hyldgaard
It is always a thrill for me as a movie location buff to visit Los Angeles.
This time, together with the groom-to-be Mr. Soren Hyldgaard we located the
famous Music Box Steps in the Silver Lake districts of Los Angeles. A
location used in the Award winning Laurel & Hardy short from 1932 “The
side of the steps
It seems that it is only the left side of the steps that has change
significantly over the years. It is now apartments and houses. At the time
in 1932 it was an open lawn. But the house to the right of the steps is
almost unchanged. Notice the little black lantern; it’s been there ever
since. Later in the day towards evening it was time to get ready for the
other big event (besides the wedding two days later).
Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles.
Thanks to the ever watchful eyes of Mr. Hauerslev, it was Thomas who alerted
me about a week before I left Denmark that I certainly was in luck while
being in L. A those few days. A big event was taking place at
Cinerama Dome on
Sunset Blvd. The showing of
“This Is Cinerama”
from 1952 in original 3 panel projection. This was my first visit inside the
Dome. The last time that I was in L.A was four years ago. Then the Cinerama
Dome was unfortunately closed and getting ready for the upcoming
(right) and me at the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles. Picture by: Don McGlynn
I was greeted by Mr. John Sittig who is the technical Manager of the the
Dome, and was also the reconstruction supervisor Of “This is Cinerama”.
It was about 90 minutes before Showtime, so therefore I had the opportunity
to walk around inside the auditorium. I have seen a lot of cinemas in my
time, but nothing could quite prepare me for the awe of this place. What a
sight to behold . It has a seat capacity of about 800 seats, and the full
screen is approximately 90 feet for Cinerama. It is difficult for any pictures
taken inside the dome to do it quite justice. The whole room is dressed in
dark green curtains with only the ceiling in a warm yellow color to contrast
the whole scenery.
to right: Randy Gitsch, Dave Strohmaier and myself. Picture by: Don McGlynn
Suddenly I heard a voice calling out: “Hi there Copenhagen” It was Mr. David
Strohmaier who has done the Editorial Supervision on “This Is Cinerama”.
He knew of my arrival from Thomas Hauerslev of course. We had a short talk and
then he had to go to get ready for the show. I could now feel that the
surroundings were becoming a bit tense as we moved closer to Showtime.
Despite that, I made my way up to the heart of it all. The Projection booth.
Jung having a good time.
The work here was heating up and everybody involved in the show was
starting to lace up. I had a very nice talk with Mr. Gunther Jung while he
was preparing projector nr. 1. As I understood, each projector 1 – 2 – and 3
had their own names, but I forget what it was. I then retreated to the foyer
where the crowd slowly but surely had started to arrive, and what an
audience. It was all truly Cinerama buffs. Nearly everyone was wearing a
CINERAMA T-shirt, from different States and cities. It really made the mood
of it all quite special.
camera #3 on display in the theatre lobby.
It was time to enter the auditorium and luckily I got a very good seat right
in the middle. Mr. Sittig made a brief introduction and was to let us know
that after the show they had collected some rare Cinerama oddities as they
were called. They consisted of “breakdown reel” from “Seven Wonders of
the World” Premiere newsreel footage. – County Fair and Ferris Wheel
from “Cinerama Holiday” – Indus River Raft Sequence from “Search
for Paradise” and the very first American showing of scenes from
“Opasnlye Povoroty” presented in 3 Strip Russian
Then the show started.
First the PROLOGUE with Lowell Thomas as narrator in black and white,
standard academy and scratchy sound. Then the magic words: “THIS IS
CINERAMA” and the curtain started to go to the sides, and was going, going,
going, and going, to reveal the biggest screen ever. What a sight.
The best segments from the whole show were in my opinion the following.
• The roller-coaster ride.
• Niagara Falls
• Cypress Gardens – and
• America the Beautiful.
I am very happy that I finally have had the chance to experience original
Cinerama up close. A very big thank you to Mr. John Sittig for his time and
for the tour of the Dome. It has become a beautiful place and extraordinary
to see Cinerama movies the way they are supposed to be seen. When ever in Los Angeles, as
soon as you have the time drop by the CINERAMA DOME.
You won’t regret it.
See Jan's US Tour Gallery
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