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Silver Screens: A Pictorial History of Milwaukee's Movie Theaters Paperback – September 6, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


"The movie theater holds a unique place in American history and culture. It is the place in every community where, for more than a 100 years, people from all walks of life have gathered to share a common experience, where together they laugh and cry and find joy and inspiration. Larry Widen and Judi Anderson have captured that spirit in words and images in Silver Screens: A Pictorial History of Milwaukee's Movie Theaters. Having literally grown up exploring every nook and cranny of many movie theaters, including some in this book, I share the same love of these magical places — whether they be magnificent palaces or unassuming show houses — that Larry and Judi so passionately write about." (Steve Marcus, chairman and CEO, The Marcus Corporation)

"The history of Milwaukee's theaters is as fascinating as that of any great American city, and the authors expand considerably upon their previous achievement by explaining the highways and byways through which the moving image reached our Silver Screens. Within six chapters they describe the advent of movies and the places that showed them from 1842 through 2006, both in the forms of the people who dance through its pages as well as the many theatres they built and which we have come to love and remember, as tenderly recalled here." (James H. Rankin, architectural historian)

"This book will become a 'must have' for every theater history buff. ... We who love old theaters revel in everyone's story, everyone's success, and share the sadness across the miles when a treasured old theater is lost. Even when they are lost, they can live on in our hearts when memorialized through the written word. 'Silver Screens' will take its place among other great theater history sagas." (Karen Colizzi Noonan, president, Theatre Historical Society of America)

"Twenty years ago the authors of this book penned Milwaukee Movie Palaces, the first guide to local cinemas from before the 1960s, when bland boxes replaced the more substantial, often architecturally interesting structures of earlier eras. Silver Screens is an expansion and rewrite, correcting the odd error, drawing from additional research, inserting the requisite fun-fact boxes ('Important Films of the Silent Era,' etc.) and bringing the story up to date. But aside from noting the decline in cinema attendance and the introduction of stadium seating, Silver Screens can't help but focus on the first half of the last century, when moviegoing was a weekly pastime and most Milwaukeeans walked to neighborhood cinemas. Profusely illustrated and capably researched, Silver Screens is a must for local history buffs and film aficionados." (David Luhrssen, Shepherd Express)

About the Author

Larry Widen is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer with more than 25 years experience in advertising, marketing, and communications. He writes about travel, local history, and popular culture and is the author of Tombstone Blues; Lar and Len: A Long Strange Trip; and Vintage Milwaukee Postcards.

Judi Anderson
has a degree in history from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee; she is an advertising brand manager for Aurora Healthcare in Milwaukee.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Wisconsin Historical Society Press; Revised edition edition (September 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870203681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870203688
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,169,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By toserveman on December 30, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are at all interested in old movie theaters, especially those in Milwaukee, then you will no doubt love this book. It is informative and very well written. It's actually sort of an update to a similar book the authors wrote back in 1986. However, I do have a gripe with the lack of photograghs for some of the more important theaters. For example, there are no auditorium views of two of the largest and most noteworthy downtown theaters, the Warner/Grand and the Wisconsin. There is also no auditorium photo of Milwaukee's most popular and still thriving neighborhood theater, the Oriental, though other parts of the theater are shown, and it is discussed at length. I was also surprised there were no photos of the Avalon, which is currently undergoing restoration.

I realize that not every photo of every theater could be included, but it seems that the more significant theaters should have had at least one auditorium view. After all, this book is represented as a "pictorial history." In spite of that criticism, I still consider this book well worth purchasing. Most of the photos that are included are excellent, and the text, as noted above, is very well written. And unlike their 1986 release, this book comes with a much-appreciated index.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ralph E. Paradowski on February 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
Having worked as a projectionist in a number of the theaters covered in this work I was impressed with the depth of knowledge of the subject conveyed by Mr. Widen. He knows his subject intimately. If you are interested in the history of Milwaukee's movie theaters this is the book for you.
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