Saturday, May 30, 2015

One Last Look: Walkersville's T.R. Saylor & Company Hardware Store (1903-2015)

NOTICE: All Rights Reserved by Chris Hamby Films/Chris Hamby Enterprises.
T.R. Saylor & Co. (True Value) Hardware, January 2015
(featured in Hood College's "Home" photograph
exhibition in February 2015).
NOTICE: All Rights Reserved by Chris Hamby Films/Chris Hamby Enterprises.
END OF AN ERA: T.R. Saylor & Co.,
"Going Out of Business" (May 29, 2015).
"It ain't just paint."  -Tagline for Martin Paint, a New York-based hardware and paint retailer, which was in business from 1942 to 1996.  Martin Paint was one of the longtime sponsors of The Joe Franklin Show.

END OF AN ERA: At The Matinee shifts gears from the field of classic, cult and contemporary cinema to the local hardware store.  In these times (especially in Frederick County, Maryland)- local hardware stores are virtually obsolete, thanks to the monstrosity of boring "big box" hardware retailers in the Frederick area.

Unfortunately, this year marks the end of an era for a local hardware retailer in the same hometown where my classic film blog originates from.

T.R. Saylor & Company, which has been part of the Walkersville community for over 112 years, is closing its doors for good.  The business was established by Thomas Ralph "T.R." Saylor in 1903.

Throughout the years, not only did it operate as a hardware and paint store- it also operated as a service station, with their noticeable vintage Shell gas pump(which was still on display outside long after the store discontinued selling gasoline, the store's owners removed the vintage gas pump several years ago).  The store was affiliated with American Hardware Supply, which later became ServiStar, which merged with the parent company of True Value Hardware in 1997, making T.R. Saylor & Company part of the True Value network of local and regional hardware retailers.

As one walked into T.R. Saylor & Company, it was much more than a local hardware store. Customers received friendly and knowledgeable service- which is a rarity these days.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Vintage General Electric (GE)
lighting display rack inside T.R. Saylor & Co.
Not only did Walkersville's local hardware store carry the latest in hardware and garden equipment, they also carried rare items that have been on the shelf for years- including a vintage GE "hot lather" shaving cream dispenser, a Black & Decker electric shoe polisher, along with bulk mint-condition Memorex blank VHS tapes (dating back to the late 1980s, still in its original shrink wrap).  Some items still had vintage "American Hardware" or "Servistar" price stickers.

I first heard about the closing when I received a letter in the mail from the store earlier this months (on the day of final exam for my "Screen Craft" class at Hood), announcing that the store would close for good.   One of several factors was that the current owners wanted to retire, another was the opening of Lowe's at the "Clemson Corner" shopping center in 2011.  In this writer's view, Frederick did not need another grungy, boring and depressing "Lowe's" location (along with the sprawl on Route 26).

Earlier this year, I photographed the storefront of T.R. Saylor & Company, for my Hood College photojournalism class project, in relation to the theme of "home."  My picture was featured in the Hood "home" exhibition, and received positive praise from fellow friends, students, instructors, spectators and art lovers.  I was hoping that my picture in the  exhibition would help bring in more business for the store.

Even though T.R. Saylor & Co. will be no more, the name will be with the now-defunct local hardware stores of the region- including Ingalls Lumber of Middletown (which was associated with American Hardware/Servistar and True Value until its demise) , and May's Hardware in Frederick.

With the demise of T.R. Saylor & Co., Woodsboro's N.Z. Cramer & Son is one of the last locally-owned hardware and lumber retailers in the region.

Farewell to T.R. Saylor & Co.  It won't be the same without a "real" hardware store in the area.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

1942 advertisement for Paramount Pictures. and the studio's newsreel coverage
of War in the Pacific, filmed by staff news cinematographer Arthur "Art" Menken. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Television Corner: "Goodnight to The Late Show with David Letterman"

May 22nd, 1992: The "king of late night," Johnny Carson (1925-2005) hosted his final episode of The Tonight Show on NBC.

August 6th, 1993: Joe Franklin (1926-2015) retired from hosting his local New York (and later, Secaucus) talk show, The Joe Franklin Show.  Throughout Franklin's 40 years in television from his WABC and WOR/WWOR shows, the pioneering talk show host hosted more than 21,425 programs (more on "the king of nostalgia" here).

December 18th, 2014: Stephen Colbert hosted his last episode of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central (along with ending his fake "pundit" character).  That same evening, Craig Ferguson hosted his final episode The Late Late Show on CBS (read the previous blog post here).

May 20th, 2015: After 33 years in late night television (on NBC and CBS), David Letterman bid farewell to The Late Show on CBS.

Regis Philbin with David Letterman on the second-to-last
Late Show with David Letterman on CBS (May 19th, 2015).
"It's beginning to look like I'm not going to get the 'Tonight Show'."  -David Letterman, on his final telecast of the Late Show with David Letterman, May 20th, 2015

Bandleader Paul Shaffer and David Letterman
from their NBC years (from New York Magazine, circa 1986).
Throughout his career in television, there were a lot of interesting parts of Letterman's NBC and CBS shows, including Paul Shaffer's musical accompaniments, the famous Top Ten lists, Stupid Pet Tricks, Stupid Human Tricks, Small Town News, Is This Anything?, the Summer and Winter Toy testDave's Record Collection, Biff Henderson's America, The Late Show Christmas Meatball Challenge, Kid ScientistsPat & Kenny Read Oprah TranscriptsKnow Your Current Events, Will It Float?, Great Moments in Presidential Speeches, Viewer Mail (later known as the CBS Mailbag), throwing ordinary objects off the roof of a building, contestant games at Rupert Jee's Hello Deli and other sketches throughout the show.  His unique and off-beat humor set the pace for modern late night talk show programs.

Letterman's final show began with stock footage of President Gerald Ford, and his famous statement from his inauguration speech after Richard Nixon resigned from the office of the presidency in 1974: "Our long national nightmare is over."  There were pre-recorded messages from Presidents George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama uttering Ford's phrase.

The last Late Show included his opening monologue, the final Top Ten list (with surprise cameo appearances), classic moments from his short-lived NBC morning show, his NBC "Late Night" program, along with classic comedic moments from the Late Show, including Letterman working at Taco Bell.

Letterman concluded his extended "farewell" show with "A Day in the life of David Letterman," a short retrospective on his career, praise for Stephen Colbert, a fond farewell to his audience and viewers at home, and a special musical performance by the Foo Fighters, set to images and clips from Letterman's programs on NBC and CBS.

The one part that I do regret is that I never went to New York to attend a taping of Letterman's show.

Thanks for the laughs, Mr. Letterman.  At The Matinee wishes Letterman, Paul Shaffer, Biff Henderson, Chris Elliott, Rupert Jee, Alan Kalter, Pat Farmer and the entire Late Show staff and crew (past and present) on their successes throughout the years.

In a field dominated by Conan O'Brien (who paid tribute to Letterman) and "Jimmys" (Jimmy Kimmel, who also paid tribute to Letterman, and to a lesser extent- Jimmy Fallon) on the late night circuit, television will never be the same without David Letterman.

I think it would beneficial if there was another Carson, Letterman, Franklin, or Jon Stewart (who is leaving Comedy Central's The Daily Show in August).

More on Letterman here and here.


"LATE SHOW" FURNITURE, DESK AND PROPS TAKEN OUT OF THE ED SULLIVAN THEATER (ALONG WITH THEATER SEATS) FOR REMODELING: According to (a sister entertainment news platform to Variety), CBS is remodeling their Ed Sullivan Theater stage for the Stephen Colbert version of The Late Show, after David Letterman's final Late Show telecast wrapped up on Wednesday evening.

Letterman's desk, along with Paul Shaffer's band podiums have been moved into storage, while other props and set pieces are unfortunately being thrown into the dumpster (according to Deadline, several fans of Letterman's show have "rescued" several pieces of the set from the dumpster).

It has been reported that CBS is remodeling the theater seats in the Ed Sullivan Theater, by discarding existing theater seats from the auditorium (and into the dumpster).

The head writer and founder of At The Matinee is a fellow Letterman fan and cinema enthusiast.  He would like to have some old Letterman-era theater seats from the Ed Sullivan Theater (not only would it make a great piece of Letterman memorabilia, several seats would be great for cinema-style seating at the headquarters of At The Matinee).  

If anyone from the New York area (including representatives from CBS and/or Worldwide Pants) are interested, feel free to drop me a line on the comments section of At The Matinee, or drop a line at the following e-mail addresses on your screen:

Thanks for your interest!

-Chris Hamby
Hood College student and head writer/proprietor, Chris Hamby's At The Matinee

Monday, May 18, 2015

Gettysburg's "Majestic" Theater to showcase Summer Classic Film Series

The Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, adjacent to the historic
Gettysburg Hotel (circa 2009).
The Majestic  in 1984 (then-owned by R/C Theatres),
being converted from a single-screen theater
into a "triplex cinema."
The Majestic Theater in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania has had a lot significant moments since the cinema opened next to the historic Gettysburg Hotel in 1925.

It was one of many theaters that decided to showcase sound films using both sound-on-disc (Warner Bros.' "Vitaphone") and sound-on-film (Fox's "Movietone") formats in 1929.    Ironically, Warner Bros. would own the Majestic, spanning from the late 1930's until the 1948 "Paramount" anti-trust decree, forbidding studios to participate in the exhibition business (Warners' theater holdings- including the Majestic, along with its sister cinemas in the Frederick area- the Tivoli, the City Opera House and the Frederick Theater would be spun off to Fabian Interests, under the banner of Stanley Warner Theaters).  

The Majestic was remodeled for the exhibition of Twentieth Century Fox's Cinemascope widescreen features in 1954 (according to an advertisement in The Gettysburg Times, showcasing How To Marry A Millionaire as the theater's first Cinemascope film).  

Shortly thereafter, the theater was used for The White House Press Corps, when President Dwight Eisenhower was at his Gettysburg farm.  Both President and Mrs. Eisenhower were frequent visitors to the Majestic when they were hosting international leaders in Gettysburg.    The Majestic hosted the American premiere of Federico Fellini's 1969 film, Fellini Satyricon.  In 1993, Ronald F. Maxwell's Gettysburg (originally conceived as a made-for-TV film in conjunction with Ted Turner) premiered at the theater.

In 2005. renovations were made to the Majestic, which was now under the ownership of Gettysburg College, to accommodate live stage and music performances in addition to showing first-run, independent and classic feature films.  In 2012, the theater installed digital projection systems to showcase digital prints of feature films, along with screening live broadcasts of opera, musical and orchestral performances from the Metropolitan Opera (via satellite).
1942 advertisement (in The Gettysburg Times) for the Majestic, showcasing
the comedy George Washington Slept Here, starring Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan.
"CLASSIC MOVIE NIGHT" SERIES AT THE MAJESTIC: One great aspect about the Majestic is that the cinema's management is doing a wonderful service for movie buffs, classic film aficionados and area students who might be interested in classic film- by showcasing classic films the way they were meant to be seen, on the big screen! 

Beginning on June 3rd, the theater will kick off their summer classic film series, showcasing a classic film every Wednesday evening at 7:30 PM.  Admission is $6.00 per person.   Tickets can be purchased at the Majestic box office, or can be purchased by phone by calling 717-337-8200.

Here's the listing of classic (and modern) films that will be shown at the Majestic for the summer:

June 3rd- Wings (1927), directed by William A. Wellman, featuring Gary Cooper, Clara Bow and Charles "Buddy" Rogers.  The first motion picture to receive the Academy Award for "Best Picture."

June 10th- It Happened One Night (1934), directed by Frank Capra, featuring Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert and Walter Connolly.  The first film to be honored with all five major Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Clark Gable), Best Actress (Claudette Colbert), Best Director (Frank Capra), and Best Screenplay.   Capra's landmark film helped put minor studio Columbia Pictures on the map. 

June 17th- Rose Marie (1936), directed by W.S. Van Dyke, featuring Nelson Eddy, Jeanette MacDonald, and James Stewart.

June 24th- Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), directed by Michael Curtiz, featuring James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, George Tobias, Frances Langford and S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall.  Winner of three Academy Awards, including Best Actor (James Cagney), Best Sound Recording (Nathan Levinson and the Warner Bros. sound department), and Best Music, Scoring of a Motion Picture (Ray Heindorf and and Heinz Romfeld).  Includes free raffle prizes and an introduction by Jeffrey W. Gabel, founding executive director of the Majestic.

July 1st- The Best Years of our Lives (1946), directed by William Wyler, featuring Myrna Loy, Frederic March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, Cathy O'Donnell, Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Russell and Gladys George.  Winner of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture (Samuel Goldwyn), Best Director (William Wyler), Best Actor (Frederic March), Best Supporting Actor (Harold Russell), Best Screenplay (Robert E. Sherwood), Best Film Editing (Daniel Mandell), and Best Score (Hugo Friedhofer).

July 8th- Rio Grande (1950), directed by John Ford, featuring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Victor McLaglen, Harry Carey, Jr., J. Carroll Naish, Chill Wills, Ben Johnson, Grant Withers, and "The Sons of the Pioneers."

July 15th- Carousel (1956), directed by Henry King, featuring Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, Cameron Mitchell and Gene Lockhart.

July 22nd- Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), directed by Stanley Kubrick, featuring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Slim Pickens, James Earl Jones, Keenan Wynn, Peter Bull and Tracy Reed.

July 29th- Bye Bye Birdie (1963), directed by George Sydney, featuring Ann-Margaret, Janet Leigh, Paul Lynde, Bobby Rydell, Maureen Stapleton, Ed Sullivan, Dick Van Dyke and Jesse Pearson.

August 5th- Close Encounters of The Third Kind (1977), directed by Steven Spielberg, featuring Richard Dreyfus, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Fran├žois Truffaut and Bob Balaban.  Winner of an Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Vilmos Zsigmond).  NOTE: At The Matinee is unsure if the original 1977 release version, the 1980 "Special Edition" version, or the 1998 "Collector's Edition" version will be screened at the Majestic.


August 12th- Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom (1984), Directed by Steven Spielberg, featuring Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw and Ke Huy Quan.  Winner of an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (Dennis Muren, Michael J. McAlister, Lorne Peterson and George Gibbs).

August 19th- The Big Lebowski (1998), Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, featuring Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, John Goodman, John Turturro and Steve Buscemi.  Winner of the Awards Circuit Community Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (John Goodman).

August 26th (Final film in the series)- Gladiator (2000), Directed by Ridley Scott, featuring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielson, Oliver Reed, Richard Harris, David Hemmings and Derek Jacobi.  Winner of 5 Academy Awards, including Best Picture (Douglas Wick, David Franzoni,
and Branko Lustig), Best Actor in a leading role (Russell Crowe), Best Costume Design (Janty Yates), Best Sound (Scott Millan, Bob Beemer and Ken Weston) and Best Effects, Visual Effects (John Nelson, Neil Corbould, Tim Burke and Rob Harvey).

This is a perfect opportunity to see classic and contemporary cinema at the "grandest small-town theater in America."  To fellow readers of At The Matinee: if you're interested in seeing one of the many Majestic classics on the schedule (on Wednesday evenings during the summer), it would be an enlightening experience.

At The Matinee salutes Gettysburg College, Jeffrey W. Gabel (founding executive director of the Majestic) and the staff and management of the Majestic for keeping the spirit of classic (and contemporary) cinema alive and well on the big screen! 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

ATM Remembers: B.B. King (1925-2015)

At The Matinee remembers iconic blues guitarist B.B. King, who died on May 14th in Las Vegas at the age of 89.

He was born as Riley B. King on September 16, 1925 in Itta Bena, Mississippi.  The son of sharecroppers on a tenant farm, King's parents separated when he was 4 years old.   He played music on street corners before living with his cousin, blues musician Bukka White in Memphis, Tennessee in 1947.  King's passion for blues music was influenced by blues guitarists T-Bone Walker, Django Reinhardt and Blind Lemon Jefferson.

King would perform on Sonny Boy Williamson's radio program, which led him to a job at Memphis radio station WDIA, where he became a disc jockey and performed on air. Riley King's nickname was the "Beale Street Blues Boy," settling for "B.B." as his name.  In 1951, B.B. King recorded his first hit song on the RPM label, "Three O'Clock Blues."   Shortly thereafter, he would perform as a traveling musician, and was known for playing 342 evening performances throughout 1956.

King was known for his guitar, named "Lucille."  His first guitar was an acoustic guitar while performing at a dance hall in Arkansas.  While King was performing, two men were fighting over a girl named Lucille.  The two men kicked over a stove in the venue, and started a fire.  King left his acoustic guitar in the burning building, and rushed back to retrieve his instrument.  After King realized the reason why the two men were fighting, he decided to name his guitar "Lucille."  He had several iconic "Lucille" guitars throughout his career (the Gibson ES355 model).

In 1961, B.B. King signed with the recorded music division of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).  In 1965, he released one of his popular live concert albums, Live at the Regal.

In 1970, King released his iconic crossover hit, "The Thrill Is Gone," which was a smash success on both popular and blues music charts.

B.B. King set himself apart from the usual blues musician, by playing high up on the neck of the guitar, giving a "signature sound" to his songs. with his left hand vibrato style and his vocal-style string bends.  King's guitar styling would influence modern blues and rock musicians, including Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970), Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Bruce Springsteen- just to name a few.

B.B. King won 15 Grammy awards. and was given a lifetime achievement Grammy in 1988.  In 1984, King was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.  In 1994, he was awarded with the Kennedy Center Honors by President Bill Clinton.  In 2006, President George W. Bush awarded King with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  In 2012, King performed "Sweet Home Chicago" for President Barack Obama at The White House.  President Obama would join King on stage during the White House concert, alongside icons Mick Jagger and Ry Cooder.

Farewell to the "father" of modern blues, B.B. King (1925-2015).

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"The Third Man" (1949) to be re-released in honor of Welles' Centennial

Orson Welles in Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949).
Today would have been the 100th birthday of legendary actor, producer and writer Orson Welles (1915-1985).

Independent distributor Rialto Pictures, which handles the North American distribution of the StudioCanal+ library, has announced that they are going to re-release Carol Reed's 1949 thriller, The Third Man, which was adapted from the novel of the same name by Graham Greene.  The distributor announced this on the centennial of Welles' birth.  Rialto will release The Third Man to selected theaters in major cities.

The film features Welles, Joseph Cotten (who was also in Welles' 1941 masterpiece, Citizen Kane), Trevor Howard, Alida Valli, Wilfrid Hyde-White and Bernard Lee.  It was originally released in the United Kingdom by British film magnate Sir Alexander Korda, in cooperation with David O. Selznick.  Selznick released a truncated version Carol Reed's film in the United States.

The Third Man (the complete British version) was recently remastered in 4K by Deluxe, for digital exhibition.

Washington-area audiences will get the chance to see the newly restored version The Third Man, which will be shown at the American Film Institute's Silver Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland beginning on June 26th.  This is part of an AFI screening series of Welles' best cinematic works, in commemoration of the centennial of the actor's birth.

If you've never seen The Third Man or any one of Orson Welles' cinematic works (Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Eviletc.)- see them when you have the chance.