Throwback Thursday Aug-20-2015

Tonight kicks of the TD Bank Movies in the Park–the first ones we’ve ever done!

In Manchester’s past, there has been quite the number of movie theaters in Downtown.  However, some theaters, even the Palace Theatre, which we all know and love, dabbled in the movie business! In the 1920s, “the nature of entertainment changed…The advent of silent pictures in the 1920s, and later “talkies,” pushed vaudeville out of public favorite and replaced it with the movies.

While looking through the Manchester Historic Association archives I found some really neat photos of some movie houses that were located right in Downtown!

Eagle Theatre showing F. Scott Fitzgerald's Beautiful and Damned

image via Manchester Historic Association

One theater in particular grabbed my attention–the Eagle or Vitaphone Theatre.  The Eagle/Vitaphone Theatre opened in 1915 at 1182 Elm Street and was demolished in 1989. In one of the photos of the Eagle Theatre, you’ll see a sign advertising F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Beautiful and Damned’ [see right]. This silent film was an adaptation of Fitzgerald’s second novel that was released in 1922 and apparently did quite well at the box office. The promotion of the film, I’m sure did much to boost its box office success…

To publicize the film, Jack L. Warner, announced that the film’s stars, Kenneth Harlan and Marie Prevost, would marry on the film’s set. The publicity stunt worked and thousands of fans sent gifts and letters to the couple. However, Warner was unaware that Prevost was still secretly married to her first husband, Sonny Gerke. The Los Angeles Mirror got wind of Prevost’s first marriage and ran a story with the headline “Marie Prevost Will be a Bigamist if She Marries Kenneth Harlan”. Warner was livid over the negative publicity and Prevost’s failure to disclose her first marriage despite the fact that the publicity stunt was his idea. Warner quickly arranged an annullment and, when the publicity surrounding the scandal died down, Prevost and Harlan were quietly married.

To add to the theatrics surrounding the film, it is reported that Fitzgerald hated it, even going so far as writing to a friend: “its by far the worst movie I’ve ever seen in my life-cheap, vulgar, ill-constructed and shoddy. We were utterly ashamed of it.” Now THAT is some strongly written disdain! Interestingly enough, this film is now considered ‘lost’! Now, that is quite dramatic.


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