December 10, 2006

Cinema 21 (616 NW 21st Ave)

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My grandmother and I don't really get along too well. We really have only two things that we can talk about: food and old movies. She has an enviable collection of movie memorabilia from the early years, including an autographed picture of Jean Harlow. I have my own collection of pictures, two with autographs, though not as significant as Jean Harlow.

Yesterday, my grandmother and I went to
Cinema 21 in NW Portland to see Meet Me In St. Louis on the big screen. The 1944 film introduced the song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas to the Christmas season and also garnered one of its young stars, Margaret O'Brien, a special Oscar for outstanding child actress at only 7 years old.

Michael Clark, a film-obsessed video store owner in Portland, sponsored the event yesterday and brought Margaret O'Brien, one of his good friends, to the theater to screen the movie with us and then do a question and answer session. (If you haven't been to Michael Clark's video store, Movie Madness, it is a must see Portland museum. Costumes, props, scripts from movies throughout the decades are mounted in display cases all over the store. One could spend hours in there just looking at the displays and then spend hours again looking at the rare movies.)

We watched the movie, singing along quietly under our breaths, and I cried during the Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas scene. It is a beautifully done movie.
After the film, Margaret O'Brien graciously answered questions from the audience, and told stories of her childhood, sneaking out with Natalie Wood late and night to go visit James Dean, playing games with Judy Garland and flirting with Clint Eastwood. It was like listening to fairy tales. These people have never seemed real to me, I think because most of them are dead. But yesterday I met a real live movie star from the 1940s. She was lovely. (Blurry person in red is me, blurry person in black, Margaret O'Brien.)

Cinema 21 often shows old movies, independent and international films. It is a pretty big theater, with a balcony and they just got all new seats, which are more like recliners. Another thing to note: though drinkholders are absent, there a ton of leg room in front of each seat for you to stretch out, or put your drink on the floor. They have curtains over the screen, which dramatically open before the film starts, just like in the old days.
My grandmother and I had a great time living nostalgically for an afternoon. Rent Meet Me In St. Louis this Christmas, instead of one of the old stand-bys. You'll end up singing along. I know you will. You might even cry.


Chelsea said...

congrats on learning the hyperlinks. It was a fun day!

Ansley said...

Of course they got new seats after I leave, those old ones were scary. You could never sit in a group because there was always at least one seat that was broken or had butt-poking springs.

This sounds like fun!