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Ticket to Paradise: American Movie Theaters and How We Had Fun Hardcover – November, 1991

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Varied typefaces, colorful layout and reproduced postcards and photos comprise this kitschy tribute to the elaborate cinemas built across the country from 1913 to the mid-'40s. Margolies, an architecture historian, and Gwathmey ( Wholly Cow ) have collected nostalgic reminiscences of early moviegoing experiences from former ushers, a movie pianist, a projectionist, from comic Harold Ramis and producer John Landis, among others. We hear about weekly serials at the silent movies and the Depression-era "Dish Nights" that lured patrons to theaters with gifts of china; illustrations recall elaborate Egyptian theaters, constructed after King Tut's tomb was discovered in the early '20s, and such fabulous landmarks as Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood and the Roxy in New York City.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The "How We Had Fun" part of this good-looking book is a problem but also a part of its charm. Reminiscences by generally unknown writers, explaining how "The movies brought the larger world to my rural/suburban/urban childhood and adolescence," are positioned next to postcard images, archival photos, or contemporary shots of what must be America's most beautiful movie theaters, circa 1920-50. These little letters of affection about specific theaters are sometimes a clue to the impact of what are often remarkable architectural forms and fetes of signage, found in small towns. But generally the pictures of nearly 300 theaters speak of ravages of neglect. Still, this book is simply so full of astonishing ornament and design imagination in theater architecture that it succeeds even with its clumsy text provided by too many people saying the same thing . . . again and again. Recommended for academic, museum, and public libraries.
- David Bryant, Belleville P.L., N.J.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Bulfinch Pr; 1st edition (November 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821218298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821218297
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 10.2 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #875,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My first job was at a multi-screen movie theater in a mall only 13 years ago, and that theater is gone too. "Ticket to Paradise" by John Margolies is a wonderful, captivating look at the bygone era of grand movie theaters. Full of intriguing photos, most in color, this book leads you by the hand through the days when going to the movies was fun. I was astonished at how extravagant even the small town theaters were, and the thought and ingenuity that was put into the design of the signs and marquees.
It's heartbreaking to me that most of these georgeous old theaters were shut down, to be replaces by sanatized 20 screen theaters that had nothing memorable about them, most even built without marquees, these days. This book will take you back before the term "multi-screen" was ever used, when they're were ushers to guide you down the dark aisles when you came in late, and those wonderfule snack bar trailers... "Let's go out to the lobby..." etc...
If you have a passion for movies, and the bygone age of Hollywood, you will love this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of two books written by Margolies which I have just re-read. Emily Gwathmey co-authored this one. (The other is Pump and Circumstance.) Regrettably, copies of both are now difficult to obtain but well-worth the effort. Each focuses on what may seem to be a highly specialized subject. In fact, both offer a wealth of information and commentary concerning a basic component within the development of U.S. culture during the 20th century. This volume focuses on the "American movie theaters and how we had fun." Obviously, I have no idea how many readers of this review settled into a seat in one or more of the theaters which are featured in this volume. Many of them are no longer exist or have been converted to serve other purposes.
The excellent material is carefully organized within an especially appropriate format: a Prologue (written by Harold Ramis), followed by "Now Playing" (a brief history of film theaters) and then eight "Scenes" which focus on specific developments such as Saturday matinees and drive-ins. The illustrations (especially archival photographs, most in full-color) are superb. I was surprised to learn that several of the most ornate theaters were located in small towns throughout the United States. Margolies and Gwathmey provide a wealth of historical information about the theaters themselves, of course, but also about the entertainment entrepreneurs (many of whom combined films with arcades and even vaudeville programs), and the architects they retained to design theaters for them. In most small towns, the film theater was the major (if not only) cultural center. More often than not, an usher in uniform (perhaps wearing white gloves) guided people to their seats. Once the film began, the same usher used a flashlight to assist late-arrivals.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great pictures, some bittersweet. As a retired motion picture projectionist, I appreciate this book.
Memories of how things that used to be before multi-plex shoe boxes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My friend LOVED this book. She was on the committee that restored the old theater in our home town
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