Wartime Movie Theatre

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42swing
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Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by 42swing » Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:02 am

Our Home Front re-enacting group is putting together a wartime movie theatre facade for a major event we do in June where we'll show period shorts, cartoons, newsreals, etc. We're basing it on pictures of various small town theatres, not the big NYC palaces. We're trying to figure out what the folks running the theatre would have worn to be somewhat in keeping with the times. Pictures of the bigger cinemas show the typical "Bellhop" style uniforms which would be difficult to come by or make.

What would the ushers/employers of a typical small town movie house have worn during the 40's?
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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by Lee Bishop » Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:07 pm

42swing wrote:Our Home Front re-enacting group is putting together a wartime movie theatre facade for a major event we do in June where we'll show period shorts, cartoons, newsreals, etc. We're basing it on pictures of various small town theatres, not the big NYC palaces. We're trying to figure out what the folks running the theatre would have worn to be somewhat in keeping with the times. Pictures of the bigger cinemas show the typical "Bellhop" style uniforms which would be difficult to come by or make.

What would the ushers/employers of a typical small town movie house have worn during the 40's?
I helped someone make a 'small town movie theater' model for his model railroad recently, taking place in the 40s.
Uniforms were more common in larger city theaters, and my research turned up nothing like that for small town theaters. And most of the employees would be much older or women, people who didn't get used much in the service or heavy industry.
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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by 1943Willysgpw » Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:17 am

Looks like everyday clothes.
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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by 1943Willysgpw » Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:18 am

I don't know about the sunglasses at night. Unless the marquee's lights were too bright.
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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by signsup » Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:41 am

Rent or watch the Jim Carrey/Martin Landau film, "The Majestic". Although set in 1951, it's the story of restoring a small town movie theater that was shut down for many years. Lots of interior and exterior scenes including their "opening night". I think the consensus is regular street cothes, probably suit and tie for employees.

I'd be surprised if the small town theaters had ushers per se, just ticket takers, consession stand workers. One or two man operation. If you wanted to, you could consider street clothes, suit and tie with the "bellboy" type hat for the ushers with flashlights. A few of hats should not be hard to come by or replicate.

Either way, i'ts kinda a net little movie.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268995/
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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by SteveG » Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:29 am

Did you try a Google search for 1940 movie usher images?

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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by signsup » Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:12 am

If your group does this frequently, then you know what the frustration is. What was historically accurate and what the general public expects to see.. How many of us have added a trinket or doo dad to our vehicles because we want to or because the general public expects to see machine guns, jerry cans, shovels, etc on them?
So what might be historically accurate, (women ushers, old men ushers, no ushers at all, etc.) isn't the image you want to portray. If you're doing a "opening night" type event with red cartpet and searchlights, etc. then the public is probably expecting to see the "Phillip Morris" type bellhop outfit. I understand budgets, maybe you could track down a pattern or find somone who can sew something together and find a teenager who would have been too young to serve druing the war and give him/her a silver/chrome flashlight and go for it.
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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by 1943Willysgpw » Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:30 am

Just hire her to sell the tickets. Then it is sure to be a hit. :D :D I was actually looking up 40's fashions and this is one of the first.
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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by Ben Dover » Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:37 am

We had 4 theaters in town, during the 40's-50's, two had uniformed Ushers in Bellhop type garb, the other was just a nice place with the help in casual dress and the manager in his business suit, the fourth, was nicknamed the "rathole" and just the ticket taker and projectionist were visible in plain clothes with someone else coming from out back to make popcorn before and during the early part of the movies. Popcorn was served in those tall red and white cardboard boxes. The sound of the popcorn popper was a familiar sound at all four as moviegoers passed thru the swing doors during the movie, back than a lot of "Grampies" dressed in overcoat and fedora hat used to accompany their grandchildren.
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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by signsup » Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:53 am

My childhood movie going experiences only goes back to the '60's , (Creature from the black lagoon, Invasion of the crab people, etc.) but I remember Saturday mornings, our parents loading the 4 of us in the car and driving us up to the local theater in Dearborn, MI on Michigan Ave. Then driving away fairly quickly. We'd start to line up for the ticket window and the local shop owners would come out and try to induce the line to form one way or the other down the sidewalk a least the whole block.
It seems that until the ticket window opened (the movie theater didn't want hundreds of screeming kids in the building until the last minute) and the shop owners didn't want their doorways block for an hour or so with the same screeming kids.
Some Saturdays the line would form to the left and some Saturdays it would from to the left, depending on which store owner offered the best treats to get the line to move.

Always thought one Saturday afternoon the 4 of us would walk out of the theater to find our parents had sold the house and moved away with no forwarding address. But, never happened.
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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by signsup » Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:53 am

My childhood movie going experiences only goes back to the '60's , (Creature from the black lagoon, Invasion of the crab people, etc.) but I remember Saturday mornings, our parents loading the 4 of us in the car and driving us up to the local theater in Dearborn, MI on Michigan Ave. Then driving away fairly quickly. We'd start to line up for the ticket window and the local shop owners would come out and try to induce the line to form one way or the other down the sidewalk a least the whole block.
It seems that until the ticket window opened (the movie theater didn't want hundreds of screeming kids in the building until the last minute) and the shop owners didn't want their doorways block for an hour or so with the same screeming kids.
Some Saturdays the line would form to the left and some Saturdays it would from to the left, depending on which store owner offered the best treats to get the line to move.

Always thought one Saturday afternoon the 4 of us would walk out of the theater to find our parents had sold the house and moved away with no forwarding address. But, never happened.
Robert Brough
Atlanta, GA
42 GPW
15 Model T
27 Model T
43 G506

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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by SteveG » Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:15 am

You'll need one of these in the box office....
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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by 1943Willysgpw » Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:30 am

Fricking Tax man. How much crap can we take????
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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by SteveG » Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:36 am

Relax, it's for the war effort. Those boys need bullets!

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Re: Wartime Movie Theatre

Post by Lee Bishop » Fri Jan 23, 2015 1:33 pm

My dad was a kid during WW2 and back then, it was all about the Western movies. He lived way out in the sticks but got to 'town' every now and then. The town was Elizabethton, TN and the theater was the Bonnie Kate, which still exists (and my brother and I saw a couple of movies as kids there, too, in the early 80s) but is now a concert and public venue which showed its last movie in 2012: http://www.thebonniekate.com/
Dad says that back then, you got to town when you could, and you'd buy a ticket and just walk in, regardless where during the movie you were, time-wise. You'd watch to the end, then stay for start of the next showing and only leave when you again got to where you walked in at. Back then, I guess, it was more about the experience than the show itself. Besides, most of those old westerns were about the same anyway.
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