So, Los Angeles is still Tinseltown and whether you like it or not, or have grown increasingly disenchanted with it, the city plays host to some classic movie theatres. One of the best aspects of living here is getting to visit all of these screens; from the dingy dollar theatres to the grand movie palaces, every theatre here has a story worth discovering. I chose five that I bonded with over the past six or so months. As I prepare to leave LA for an extended vacation away, maybe this will make me suddenly nostalgic. Please add your thoughts on your favorite theatre in the comments.
Silent Movie Theatre
611 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
This theatre is located in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. Supposedly, it was the site of a shooting a couple of years ago. The theatre used to show all silents but now it is run by Cinefamily.
Cinefamily does not necessarily show movies, it hosts movie-themed events. For example, I saw Lynn Margulies, Andy Kaufman’s girlfriend, present her new book about Andy’s wrestling career one night. While the programming is eclectic and modern, it still retains that old-timey feel; portraits of silent film stars like Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd line the theatre.
If you see an event you like I definitely recommend buying tickets, simply for the experience. The crowd seems warm and friendly, and the evening is always fun. Park across the street at Fairfax High School, but do not get locked in the gate overnight, which according to an usher, has happened!
Laemmle’s Playhouse 7
673 East Colorado Blvd.
I really love the Laemmles in LA, which always tend to show the best in indie films. And their prices are affordable, too. This makes it much more likely my budget-wise girlfriend will attend a movie with me. We saw An Education at the Pasadena location and I also picked up a free movie poster. I felt educated after attending the Laemmle in Pasadena; it was that kind of classy. Highly recommended. Parking is difficult but if you are willing to park residential, then you can probably wing it, you will just have to walk a few blocks.
1328 Montana Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Confession: I have never been inside the Aero. I have tried to attend several events but they always are sold-out. Now if I want to go here, I am going to buy tickets months in advance. But that is why I love the Aero. Where else in the world is a single-screen theatre sold out weeks in advance? The programming is perfect, a mix of classics and sneak previews of Hollywood flicks. I have the schedule up in my kitchen and sometimes when I wake up I spend a few minutes staring at it. Where else can you see a Marx Brothers double feature? What other theatre shows Preston Sturges movies on the big screen? Nowhere, that’s where. This is the reason I will continually try (and fail) to get tickets on Fandango.
11272 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
This theatre is right by my apartment and I love it. Although the location, wedged next to the 405 Freeway makes parking impossible, try to come out to this one. The ticket prices are reasonable and the programming is always interesting. I saw Somers Town, a British film by Shane Meadows one night, and a documentary called William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe the other week. It also hosts a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Pictures Show each Saturday night, which makes it just about the coolest theater in the world, or at least in Los Angeles. Definitely a must-see.
961 Broxton Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024
This theater has a history all its own; it first started showing movies in 1931, the heyday of film. Back then, it only showed Twentieth Century Fox fare, but now it’s owned by Mann, so it shows anything Hollywood. I saw Superman back in the summer of 2006 there when I took some classes at UCLA. Go for a weekday matinee when you will have an aisle to yourself. There is no feeling in the world like being surrounded by that big screen—life truly seems extra-important at the Mann Village. It also hosts many big-name premieres, I gawked during the opening of Couples Retreat when I just happened to be in the area (I had not come to ogle Vince Vaughn, I swear). Be sure to check out Diddy Riese nearby, an ice cream shop known nationally for its reasonably priced ice cream sandwiches.