Thursday, December 31, 2009

How does this all work, anyhow?

It started with a question: "How can I find a new audience for vintage films?"

I still enjoy them immensely -- Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons, silent comedies, serial chapter endings and B-films of all genres. There are many like-minded fans out there who already watch Turner Classic Movies, buy DVDs of classic films, rent from Netflix or watch free downloads. How about everyone else? How about the next generation? How can I get one child to watch one Felix the Cat or Buster Keaton?

The surprising answer was Café Roxy -- show movies wherever people gather to eat, drink and have fun! Everywhere and anywhere means bowling alleys, American Legion posts, sports bars, ice cream parlors, pubs, cafés, coffee houses, restaurants, libraries and even neighborhood movie theaters. Attract audiences to public places where they can enjoy the films together while they eat or snack on popcorn, hamburgers, beer and soft drinks.

In theory, venues in every city can benefit by an idea that will generate publicity, good word of mouth and new patrons. Small towns without theaters can bring back the movie-going social experience. My goal is to help anyone try movie shows once and then succeed in the long run. Here is what I have come up with to make Café Roxy inexpensive, attractive and easy to try:

1) Show FREE movies! Make money off food and drink sales. Free = Fun! Free = Affordable for Families! If it's a free show in a place you eat/drink anyways, seems like one might give the movies a try and bring the family. In the spirit of FREE, I offer a free Roxy sampler show of shorts.

If you are a movie theater where people expect to pay, then only charge $1 or $2, which sounds like a bargain, and profit off concession sales.

2) Café Roxy offers VARIETY PROGRAMS with shorts, TV shows, commercials, trailers, cartoons and serial chapters. If a patron doesn't like the cartoon playing, it will be over in 6 minutes. Matinees contain cartoons, shorts and serials before the main feature. It seems reasonable to come for the shorts, follow the serial each week, then sample the feature and walk out if you don't care for it. However, anyone leaving early likely did eat or drink something, which was the main idea.

3) Colorful POSTERS. The posters make the event sound exciting. Posters are instant advertising that merchants can print out and put in their window or on their website. If you use the poster shown here on the right, will an audience come to watch?

4) PUBLIC DOMAIN films. None of the Roxy films are protected by copyright so you don't need to pay royalties. The DVDs are yours to keep and use forever after the initial purchase. Proof as to why each film is in the public domain is included.

5) Youtube TRAILERS for Saturday Matinee and Cartoon Brunch that can be linked to from any website. This is just one more tool that some are using to promote their showings.

Put it all together = Café Roxy. Show movies anywhere.


Each venue has it's own special challenge. You need an area to show the films and you need a large screen TV or video projection system or banks of TVs everywhere. Movie theaters are ready to go since they video project the pre-shows with ads for local merchants and those trivia quizzes. Every sports bar is equipped and could easily try Movie Night or a Cartoon Room. Many pizza places, ice cream parlors and bowling alleys might have party rooms with video in place.

Tailor shows to your audience.

Ask your regular clientele which film programs they would attend. Make sure a few friends will attend the first show and then open it up to all with the poster invitations. If there is a senior center next door, program classics from the 1940s. If you are on a college campus, try Reefer Madness or Plan Nine from Outer Space or a film society series of Film Noir classics. Will this program featuring The Most Dangerous Game attract the college students it is aimed at? Neighborhood theaters with families might try the Saturday Matinees. Coffee houses -- try Cartoon Brunches.

Do not run continuous films as they will quickly lose their appeal. Schedule shows at specific times and promote them with the posters. The hope is to gather audiences who will enjoy the films together. The dream is to inspire the next generation. Vintage films can be fun!

Café Roxy is an idea in search of entrepreneurs who think outside the box. Let's work together to figure out what will work for you!

-- Ron Hall
email to
Visit the website at

Sunday, December 27, 2009

End of Year Revue!

It's retro-look time for me to document the first year history of Café Roxy's birth, rise, etc. This blog is for me. I hope it fails to bore.

1) I got the idea to put together Programs of public domain films for coffee houses, etc., in February of 2009 during discussion with Susan Bosin who was opening a Cafe Revue film/performance room that adjoined her coffee shop in Fresno, CA.

2) Named the idea Café Roxy to combine vintage movies conjured up by "Roxy" with the eating & drinking suggested by "Café." I rejected the first idea of "Café Bijou" because I am involved with a group bringing back the 1980s PBS TV show "Matinee at the Bijou" and did not want to imply that both projects were related or divert any googling away from MATB.

3) In March I discussed with my Festival Films website advisor Andy Lehrfield about starting a new website just called "Café Roxy," rather than adding an extension to the Festival Films website. While I don't recall the exact start date, Roxy was surely up and running in April.

4) Started with the tiny coffee shop logo depicted above. I found the image on Flicker and am using it without permission. I am slowly switching to the grander movie theater exterior shown here on the right.

5) Started this blog on April 27, 2009 and have made one or two entries every week since. This has been most valuable since ideas crystallize for me when I put them down on paper.

6) Developed over 100 Programs that you can browse through.

7) Created posters for every Program! These are important selling tools, first for me to sell each show and second for my buyers to use to promote their showings by printing and posting them or by inserting in their own websites.

8) Improved the poster design as I went along. I do have some design experience and marvel at how bad the first posters were. You can judge the improvement from the four posters show below. The first two are from April-May and the last two from December.

9) Re-visited hundreds of public domain films in my collection to find ones that still entertain today, and also remastered them to DVD for improved quality and sound volume balance.

10) Started a Roxy Youtube channel. I learned how to create the movies to post by experimenting with iMovie on my Mac and a DVD ripper that takes film clips off my public domain DVDs.

11) Most importantly (!!!) I have witnessed audiences enjoying the shows locally at the Suburban World Cartoon Brunch and the Parkway Theater Saturday Matinee. Many comment how much they love the idea and the films.

Onward into 2010 where my hopes and expectations are to spread Café Roxy programs across the country.

-- Ron Hall
email to
Visit the website at

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter Matinee Lineup!

The first show in the second Parkway Matinee series begins Saturday-Sunday, January 2-3. The title has changed from "Saturday Matinee" to "Parkway Matinee" because they added Sunday showings. Saturday Matinee in my mind stands for the kind of program with cartoons, serial chapter and a short feature that was in fact shown to kids back in the old matinees, usually on Saturday afternoon. You can schedule the programs at night or Tuesday or anytime and still call it "Saturday Matinee." However, I don't want to confuse anyone who might come to the Parkway Sunday at noon....

The first program has suddenly changed to "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" for an odd reason. A local church is staging a one-hour live play version this coming Sunday, and the unusual production got a big article in the paper this Wednesday. Go check out the complete article that starts out:

"Holiday productions typically feature little green elves, oversized Santas and festive holiday decorations. But this year the Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka will add another component to its tradition: Martians. On Sunday, the church will put on its first-ever production of "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!" Originally a 1964 movie, the offbeat story has been adapted by Minnesota playwright Jeff Hatcher into a 60-minute play for the church."

This set me thinking... Why not run the film? I regretted not scheduling Christmas shows this weekend or next at the Parkway. Jan. 2-3 are right after New Years (duh! I wrote that?) but just before kids go back to school. Think of the 12 Days of Christmas and it is still Christmas vacation and Santa is still in fashion. The movie itself is of course silly and has been camped up on Mystery Science Theater 3000 as a classic bad film. The bottom line -- it's still fun! Real little kids might even take it as a real story. Under 4? Well, some kid somewhere who has never seen a film in a theater before...? Forget that, but they might well enjoy it and adults can laugh along. The first episode of Flash Gordon makes for two solid hours of campy Science Fiction with obvious toy space ships.

Whenever Santa Conquers Conquers the Martians is mentioned, the note is added that oh, wow, this is Pia Zadora's first film!!! She plays a martian child. So who the heck is Pia Zadora? I just looked her up on the IMDB and am still puzzled with the same question. Who the heck is she and why should anyone care that she is in this film? She appeared on one episode of "Hollywood Squares," for example, and similar accomplishments.

All 12 shows in the new series are online both for the Parkway Theater with specific dates and the $2.00 admission notice and also 12 generic posters with the Parkway info removed. These posters are for the future use of whoever else chooses to run the series. My introductory write up on the two pages is different. Both include a link to the new Parkway Trailer!

Because I assume most places will not want a Christmas-themed feature in the middle of July, I hastily added an alternate show #1 -- the Gene Autry feature The Big Show. This 1936 film is around the tenth one he appeared in and is one of the most enjoyable Gene ever made. He plays two parts -- a movie cowboy star with an attitude and his look-alike stunt double who is naturally named Gene Autry. When the prima donna refuses to appear at a big Texas Centennial festival, Gene is drafted to fill in. Lots of comedy, romance, songs, Smiley Burnette, on location filming at the festival, run-ins with racketeers and the studio boss and musical acts featuring the Sons of the Pioneers and an unbilled Roy Rogers all add to the fun. Darn, that does sound fun. Maybe I can work it in yet.

Three of the programs, to be discussed later, are not typical Saturday Matinee fare: 1) A Buster Keaton festival featuring three of his silent shorts. 2) 1950's "Kid" TV shows with excerpts from Pinky Lee, The Magic Clown, Super Circus, Howdy Doody, Beany and Cecil. 3) A similar 1950's excerpt show from the great TV Outer Space epics Tom Corbett, Space Patrol, Commando Cody and the German TV Flash Gordon. These were added for variety and the opportunity to get media coverage.

And don't forget White Gorilla to celebrate Gorilla Suit Day on Jan. 30-31!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Santa Claus Brunch!

Today is the first of two weekends that the Suburban World Theater will run Santa Claus Brunch. It started out as a collection of Christmas cartoons, but I took out any religious ones and then realized that Santa was in most of the ones left, including a live action version of "The Night Before Christmas" from 1947. Ho, ho, ho! Santa transcends any specific religion. He's pagan, I think, and I love that. Also scary to some young kids. Love it. Ho, ho, ho! Or the bottom line -- Santa is omnipresent this time of year, a fun part of Christmas and may attract brunchers. Click on the poster to enlarge so you can read the cartoon titles.

A minor, um, glitch at the Suburban World is that they use a 5-slot, revolving tray DVD player. By coincidence it looks like the first DVD player I ever had, still have, that plays OK but is pretty old now. Anyway, there is no simple way to keep track of which DVD disc is in which slot. So while they start with the new Cartoon Show each week, once it repeats and ends the machine switches right on to the next disc that is some previous show. If the customers don't complain about seeing last week's show, I guess they weren't there, and if they do complain I assume someone will push a button on the DVD player and get back on track!

I had been giving the Suburban World a different poster to use at their website each week that listed specific cartoons on each disc. The idea was of course to run the cartoons that are advertised. That way a patron could check the website and be assured he would see an all-new show. However, the theater is not necessarily running the advertised cartoons at any given time, for the reason just explained. Because of this situation I created this generic poster they can use all the time to promote Cartoon Brunch.

I gave the Parkway a copy of Santa Claus cartoons to run on their screen silent during an upcoming party, I believe a high school reunion party. The cartoons will be wall paper! The theater has permanent theater seating except for an area of movable couches down front, so I guess that is where the party will center. I assume the lights will be on but don't really get how it might work. If it doesn't work so well, they can always turn off the films! Because the theater owner also owns the attached Mexican restaurant PEPITOS, patrons are permitted to bring wine and beer into the theater after 7 at night or during closed private parties. I wonder how they worked that zoning use out?

About three weeks ago the Parkway's Matinee series was interrupted by a special film festival that came up suddenly, which is why the dates were pushed back a week for the last four shows. Two, yes two, kid birthday parties showed up to see the movies. As compensation that must have generated some good will, they gave them all a free Mexican buffet brunch that was already set up for the restaurant!

The Parkway's second Matinee series starts Jan. 2-3. The film line-up is almost set and will be discussed next week. Here is the poster for the first show. Note that I had to change the top title from Saturday Matinee to Parkway Matinee because they expanded to Saturday and Sunday shows.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

National Gorilla Suit Day

I have started preparing for the big end-of-the-month holiday. End of January, that is. January 31 is National Gorilla Suit Day, which fortunately falls on a Saturday this year. Any skeptics that there is such an animal may look to Wikipedia to find: "The holiday was concocted by MAD cartoonist Don Martin in a 1964 paperback Don Martin Bounces Back!. The most notable story in the tome revolves around a hapless fellow named Fester Bestertester, who dares to mock the concept of National Gorilla Suit Day and is thus repeatedly pummeled by gorillas. The holiday was recently promoted on comic book writer Mark Evanier's news from me blog until Don Martin's widow request that all references to the holiday be removed in late 2007.

"Gorilla suit performance involves pantomime, wearing a heavy costume, broad physical comedy skills, and a partial suspension of disbelief, while still playing on the very artifice involved. In this respect, gorilla suits are not far removed from puppetry. Jim Henson utilized typical gorilla suits, and never a full-bodied gorilla Muppet, in several productions. The person inside the gorilla suit is often uncredited."

Now that I've got your interest, please go watch my gorilla suit video. This video was made possible by the recent acquisition of a good quality White Gorilla trailer and the 1937 Three Mesquiteers western Come On, Cowboys. Ray "Crash" Corrigan is one of the Mesquiteer stars and gets to use his famous gorilla suit in the film in a most unusual way. Crash is pictured above and on the right here.

Ray's career in Hollywood began as a physical fitness instructor and physical culture trainer to the stars. In the early 1930s he did stunts and bit-parts. Many of his early roles were in ape costumes - for example, as a Gorilla in Tarzan and His Mate (1934) and an "Orangopoid" in the original Flash Gordon serial. In 1936 he got his break with roles in two Republic serials, The Vigilantes Are Coming and Undersea Kingdom (in the main starring role). On the basis of this, Republic signed him to a Term Player Contract, running from 25 May 1936 to 24 May 1938. He was cast as one the trio in the Three Mesquiteers series of films and starred in 24 in all. He left Republic in 1938 in a dispute over pay.

At Monogram Pictures, he began a new series of films - The Range Busters (a cheap copy of the Three Mesquiteers) - with a character of his own name. Ray starred in 20 of the 24 films in this series between 1940 and 1943. Following this, his on screen work largely returned to appearing in ape costumes - for example, the title roles in Nabonga (1944), White Pongo (1945) and as a prehistoric sloth in Unknown Island (1948). The original gorilla "mask" seen in films like The Ape (1940) was replaced with a subtler design with a more mobile jaw. In 1948 he sold his gorilla suits and provided training to Steve Calvert a Ciro's bartender. Calvert stepped in Corrigan's pawprints beginning with a Jungle Jim film. Despite reports to the contrary, Calvert and Corrigan never appeared together in ape costume. Since both Corrigan and Calvert eschewed screen credit as gorillas, credits are often confused. Any appearance of the "Corrigan suit" after 1948 is Calvert.

In 1950 Corrigan had a television show called Crash Corrigan's Ranch and was planning a television series with his old associate Max Terhune called Buckskin Rangers. Corrigan's last film was playing the title role of It! The Terror from Beyond Space.

I am planning two local events for Gorilla Suit Day(s) -- January 30-31: A Gorilla Brunch at the Suburban World Theatre that gives away Free Bananas and a showing of White Gorilla at the Parkway Theater. "Wear a Gorilla Suit and Get in Free!" If they can't get some media coverage for this...!

Here is an early poster for the Parkway. The good news is that the Parkway is starting a second Matinee series on Jan. 2 around the serial Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe and at the same time expanding the shows to Sundays at noon!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Horizons Bright!

While little specific has happened this past week to trumpet about, much progress is on the horizon. Attendance at Cartoon Brunch is ballooning out as good word of mouth gets around. Here is the poster for week #4, Dec. 5 and 6. The Suburban World cuts the cartoons short on Sundays when a Vikings football game starts at noon, but fortunately the Vikings have done so well this season that they are being rescheduled for prime time. Today the game was moved to 3:15 to be the main late afternoon game that the whole country sees, and next week the Vikings play Arizona on Sunday evening. Who cares? Well, it's my team and I'm happy, and it means more Sunday brunchers can see more cartoons. Watch for details about Santa Claus brunch soon.

On the Saturday Matinee series at the Parkway Theater... they want to continue! One of the owners writes: "People love them and so do we! I got a call today from an older gentleman and he had to tell me how much he enjoy's the Saturday noon show's. It was a great compliment and I think if we keep playing these for a longer period of time the greater it will be. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful series with us, it has been awesome!!!!" We are meeting Friday to discuss plans, what to show, how to increase attendance and so on. Here is a generic Matinee poster I will give them. It may hint at a few of the features and the serial I will suggest. Go for the most popular shows is my motto and Flash Gordon tops the serial charts.

The Parkway Matinees Parkway Matinees have four more weeks to run. I regret not putting in "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" or an all-cartoon Christmas program. I have not been attending most of them and so cannot report on attendance. I will try to catch some of "Gulliver's Travels" next weekend. Seems like it should do well.

Another development this week is creation of posters for some Christmas shows. Here is one. Whether anyone has time to notice and book them....

Click twice on any poster to enlarge.

My word search experiment for Cartoon Brunch has not yet worked. If you google Cartoon Brunch, my other blog site with that name does not yet appear. As discussed last week, this blog shows up because of the Nov. 7 post titled Cartoon Brunch.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Google Search... & Find!

Here is another view of the interior of the Suburban World Theater. The arched ceiling has hundreds of twinkle lights to simulate the night sky (many burned out!) and a cloud machine. More important, the food and friendly service was great at the Cartoon Brunch today and crowds are growing with more children. The owner is committed to making a go of it and is finding new promotion opps on the web such as this one which features a map of the location. Don liked my ideas for upcoming shows, including a special Santa Claus Brunch to run two weekends. The Suburban World
website is using my poster of the week and a link to the Youtube video I made.

This past week I was thinking about how Café Roxy showed up in Google and Yahoo searches about a week after I started the website. Who would actually google those two words besides me -- don't know! You can go google it yourself and Café Roxy has several links right at the top of each search engine result. Hooray for me! Big deal....

I was also thinking how "Cartoon Brunch" has an even better chance of catching on across the country. A brunch is a fun, special weekend activity and cartoons are still fun. Put the two together in someone's head and the new concept is a home run, or at least worth looking into and maybe trying. I briefly thought I needed a new website called Cartoon Brunch just to catch anyone googling the idea. Of course they won't think to google unless they first hear about it somewhere like discussed on the radio, TV or read it in some high profile blog. Then later they might google to find the website.

Then I noticed a week ago that some links from a Café Roxy search referred to this blog you are reading now. I'm not sure how that works but I won't turn it down! Therefore, I reasoned, all I needed was a blog called Cartoon Brunch to catch any googlers. Done! You can go read my rushed together first Cartoon Brunch Blog! It may be the first and last entry, because I don't need a separate blog. After finishing and posting I noticed that a google search on Cartoon Brunch turns up my Café Roxy blog post of last week! Of, well. If anyone does read Cartoon Brunch Blog there are links to Café Roxy website.

Here is an excerpt from Cartoon Brunch Blog, in hopes that I may have stated the concept concisely:

"So what is Cartoon Brunch anyhoo? If you have an eating emporium, create a special brunch menu for Saturday and Sunday. If you have a coffee house, then coffee drinks and donuts may be enough. It may take some effort to put in a large screen TV connected to a DVD player. If you are a Sports Bar, all done! Now all you need is a free poster that you can take right off my cartoon poster page. Drag any poster to your computer desk top, click and it will be ready to print full size. You can add your show date info in the empty area at the bottom. Display the poster a week in advance, talk up the Cartoon Brunch with all your regular customers, send out press releases, put the news on your own website, etc. Saturday rolls around and you start the cartoons at a set time. People come and go, order food, enjoy films and depart after they have seen enough. Each show runs one hour and repeats twice on a single DVD. You can re-start a show in seconds (every two hours) and let it run until the last customer departs."

FYI, my googling found a restaurant or bar actively doing cartoon brunches and free evening movies: EatBar in Arlington, VA. You can go check out their menu and film programs. The Saturday brunch showcases short cartoons from Disney, Warners, Lantz, etc., while Sunday brunch at 11 am features big family movies like Shrek, Dumbo and Charlotte's Web. This is more ambitious than my project to encourage coffee houses to show vintage public domain films. EatBar must be doing well to accommodate royalties for public showings, although that may be more affordable than I suspect and certainly something I should look into.

Friday, November 13, 2009

With Matinee Memories!

Ideas have evolved since my visit to the Suburban World's Cartoon Brunch last Saturday. The 6 or 7 color Warner Bros. cartoons that were running when I walked in were not a satisfactory show because they were all too similar. Cartoons were made to be shown one at a time in theaters, and never meant to be watched one after another. At the very least, mix up the characters, studios, etc., for variety. The cook or waitress can't change discs every other cartoon. The owner, Don Driggs, agreed and wanted more vintage cartoons. This was a huge relief that he did not want current TV cartoons! He seemed pleased when he began the sample show I had brought that started with the silent era cartoon "Felix in Astronomeous." Black and white cartoons alternated with color; characters like Popeye, Betty Boop and Superman alternated with non-character cartoons like "Song of the Birds."

I walked in with a further idea to expand Cartoon Brunch into Matinee Brunch over the next few months. I included on my cartoon disc an 8-minute promo for Matinee Brunch that was similar to my "Matinee Jr. for Libraries" clip on Youtube, with the Flash Gordon serial chapter ending, W.C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy, Balloon Land, Popeye, 3 Stooges, etc. clips. In fact, the promo was identical except for shots of the Suburban World and "Coming Soon" blurbs.

The promo clips went over very well because they were short, fun, added variety and addressed the "short attention span" syndrome. They worked so well that I had second thoughts whether this audience would sit through an entire 2-reel comedy. Would they watch all of W.C. Fields' The Dentist? Would they have more fun seeing the golfing segment one week and the tall woman having her tooth pulled a second week? Wouldn't they have more fun watching 3 minutes of a serial chapter ending than the entire serial chapter? Thus evolved:

Cartoon Brunch with Matinee Memories!

The name will remain Cartoon Brunch because it is simple and catchy. Most people enjoy weekend brunches. Most kids enjoy cartoons. Most families like new family activities and thus will try Cartoon Brunch at least once. Each one-hour show will include around 7 cartoons plus two "Matinee Memories" like coming attraction trailers to horror films, serial chapter endings, comedy gags, western stunts and whatever I think will entertain from the vast library of public domain films.

A promo for the new Suburban World Cartoon Brunch is now available for viewing! It includes some nice interior shots of the theater plus a mini-brunch show with both cartoon snippets and "Matinee Memory" clips of a chapter ending for Flash Gordon and the ever-popular Giant Claw Trailer. My thanks to the Woody Woodpecker public domain cartoon "Pantry Panic" for the image of Woody eating!

Cartoon Brunch may be the perfect program to build return audiences. Not everyone loves a diet of 100% cartoons week after week, but the live action trailers and short clips should spice up the menu and maintain interest over an hour as diners/viewers come and go throughout the show. That's the theory. I can test it myself by observing at the Suburban World starting next Saturday. (No brunch this week due to a special event.)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cartoon Brunch!

The Minneapolis Suburban World Theater, that I wrote about on Oct. 11, suddenly revived their Cartoon Brunch. The interior had been remodeled several years ago into dinner theater type seating with small tables in alcoves, and they have a kitchen as well as a full bar. Between 9am and 2pm every Saturday and Sunday the theater shows free cartoons on a giant movie screen while serving brunch. The new video projector gives a superb image.

The cartoon brunches began over two years ago. They were programmed and presented by my long-time friend David Mruz, who lives a block from the theater, and David got many of the cartoon DVDs from me. We even added serial chapters from "Undersea Kingdom" in an early attempt at what Café Roxy is programming now. The brunches became quite successful when some parent group mentioned in a newsletter that it was a great weekend activity where the kids could run up and down the aisles. It seems unlikely someone actually wrote that, but it's what David told me. The success was up to 400 diners/viewers each weekend, who all ordered food.

The brunches screeched to a halt when the kitchen staff was not increased to handle the demand. When you wait 40 minutes for an omelette you are not likely to return! The audience also died when summer came. There were problems with the films as well. Which disc was shown when? Most audiences don't want to watch an hour of Popeye, etc., at one sitting. Some had racial jokes. Many were copyrighted and should not have been shown in public. The cook ran the films. While I had attended one cartoon brunch, I live a half hour away and did not pay much attention to what David was trying to do each weekend.

So the brunches are suddenly back! I went to the one today and talked to the owner, Don Driggs, about programming future shows. As I walked in, color Warner Bros. cartoons were playing from one of the Looney Tunes discs. They kept playing one after another, some good and some bad, but all color Warners. Don wanted more vintage cartoons, so he ran the sample show I brought that contained the cartoons listed on the first poster (shown on left).

I can provide a different poster each week for him to post on the Suburban World Website, and also to print out for his front door. I list the specific cartoons in each show so that repeat customers can be assured they won't see cartoons they saw at the brunch last month or even last week. This should make it easier for the projectionist! All cartoons are in the public domain and so are legal to show. All are top quality. None are duds. None have racial jokes. I alternate color with black and white cartoons. Each show has a few rare or lesser-seen cartoons like "The Haunted Ship," "Song of the Birds" and "Humpty Dumpty" on this program.

Because the average diner only stays an hour, I only include about an hour of cartoons and then repeat them to make up a two-hour DVD that the projectionist only needs to re-start twice at most.

Apparently we have a deal for me to supply future shows. Because it is a bohemian, trendy area, young people are always willing to try something new. The popular Uptown Bar, next door to the theater, closed last week to be torn down and something or other rebuilt in the spot. The Uptown served breakfast, so the Suburban World is ripe for success. Don's main challenge is to get free publicity in the form of a newspaper article or TV spot. We'll see what he comes up with.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Post Halloween Apocalypse!

Or watch classic horror year round!

I missed posting on Halloween, so here's a belated one. These notes were made for The Bijou Blog, and please check it out, but then cut because of space down to just the House on Haunted Hill review. Other contributors to the Bijou Blog Halloween post are Bob Campbell and Victoria Balloon, who meshed it into a single voice.

Johnny Legend
Behind the fearful beard lurks an American Rockabilly musician, actor, wrestling manager and film producer and archivist. Johnny released dozens of obscure cartoons, exploitation films, low-budget horror flicks and his popular Sleazemania series through Rhino Home Video. His rare and restored videos are currently ballyhooed at Legend House and Raunchy Tonk Video. Here are three Legend(ary) releases of Johnny's to chill your Halloween.

“House on Haunted Hill”
This high quality, 50th Anniversary Edition is presented in widescreen by Johnny Legend, a video pioneer who released low-budget horror and exploitation films in the early days of Rhino Home Video. William Castle’s 1959 thriller still shocks and mystifies with ghoulish plot twists. Vincent Price invites five random guests to stay overnight in a haunted house and get $10,000 for surviving. Not all of them make it. The bonus extras are true delights starting with two trailers for House, one trumpeting the “Emergo” process (skeleton flies over audience during climax), and trailers for Vincent Price and William Castle shockers -- The Fly, Tingler, Macabre, 13 Ghosts, Mr. Sardonicus, Zotz, Straight-Jacket and more. Mr. Castle appears in many trailers to explain his latest gimmicks. Johnny himself discusses the “House” today and actress Carol Ohmart. The disc closes with Vincent Price on the Jack Benny and Red Skelton Shows and as persecuted missionary John Hayes on “TV Reader’s Digest” from 1955.

Sweeney Todd and Crimes at the Dark House
Johnny Legend loves Tod Slaughter and you will too. Never shy about appearing in his own videos, Johnny relates how he discovered Tod in the late 1960s in Los Angeles’ Cozy Theater. This bonus is followed by British horror trailers, Slaughter poster art and a rare audio of Mr. Tod as Sweeney Todd.

Tod Slaughter, affectionately known as Europe’s Horror Man, is the ultimate old-fashioned melodrama villain. He laughs maniacally as he gleefully chokes his victims... in every single film! The fiend is simply mad. Tod’s over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek villainy is not to be believed until one sees it, which has made him a cult hero among Cinephiles. In most films Slaughter is a man of wealth or position who lusts after the heroine, often gets her by lies and murder, but is foiled in the end. This is the plot of Crimes at the Dark House (1940), based on the novel “The Woman in White.” Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1936) is Slaughter’s career zenith that years later spawned the stage musical and Johnny Depp film. The maniac barber kills for money, but the detail about turning his victims into meat pies is barely hinted at. Tod as Sweeney coos: “What a lovely throat she has for the razor. How I’d love to polish her off! The razor’s nice and sharp.”

Halloween in Hell
Johnny roams Hollywood Boulevard on Halloween interviewing denizens between horror trailers, then on to talks with horror directors Tim Sullivan and Ray Dennis Steckler and cult legend Arch (Eegah!) Hall Jr. If more Johnny is not enough, how about two more Tod Slaughter films! In Murder in the Red Barn (1935), Tod not only seduces the heroine but murders and buries her, laughing all the while. The Face at the Window is the most traditional horror film of the four with a monster and mad scientist scene. Is wealthy Tod the sinister Wolf Man whose hideous face appears at windows when murder strikes? All four Tod Slaughter films are highly recommended for their exceptional quality and refreshing dementia!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Matinee Jr. for Libraries!

Several observations unexpectedly merged into a new project this week. Some parents attending the Parkway Theater Saturday Matinee brought very young children, pre-schoolers who looked to be 4 and 5 years old, to see Flying Deuces. I'm sure they enjoyed the cartoons in a theater setting. I hope they laughed at Laurel and Hardy and who knows what they made of the serial? The point is, we had parents who wanted to introduce their kids to the vintage films but the show wasn't quite right for the extremely young. They surely won't be back for John Wayne or White Zombie, but maybe for the Our Gang / 3 Stooges festival that follows or for Gulliver's Travels.

On Monday Bob DeFlores offered to put up a Matinee flyer in a library where he had presented a jazz program and so he knew the program director quite well. Libraries are busy these days because the economy has driven families to seek free entertainment. Most libraries do give regular special programs in all-purpose meeting rooms that happen to be equipped with video projection. Library budgets keep getting cut, but the "Friends of the Library" parent group helps fund programs they feel are worthwhile. Bob had been paid $100 to introduce and present his jazz show. A Café Roxy show goes for $25, which is a library bargain.

Duh! An idea at last -- a Café Roxy series tailored to the special needs of Libraries. Thus was born Matinee Jr.

We felt library programs needed to be a short and snappy 65-75 minutes long. The solution for attaining that is ... drop the features! Shorts only. The idea was modified to abridge some features with an onscreen note such as: "Many Matinees included westerns. This excerpt from a Roy Rogers western gives a taste of the action and fun." This will allow the inclusion of John Wayne, Gene Autry, the Three Mesquiteers and obscure comedians like Joe E. Brown and Wheeler & Woolsey. Libraries don't have time to show features but excerpts will entertain and educate just as well.

Since all Library Matinees will be free shows, I will edit and abridge where needed to make each show educational, fun and family acceptable by deleting any racial content. The fun part is easy. The educational part is explaining in an opening montage what a Saturday Matinee was. While I dislike censoring innocent stereotype material, it is simply necessary because you can't expect young kids to understand and you don't want to offend anyone in a public library. It also easy to do without destroying a short. For instance, I cut a brief scene in the Our Gang "School's Out" where Farina salivates over eating watermelon. That's a stereotype that might offend today no matter how innocent in 1931. In the rest of the short Farina is just one of the gang and good friends with Chubby, Mary, Wheezer and Jackie Cooper.

So a typical "Matinee Jr." will include two cartoons, a serial chapter, comedy short and feature excerpt. A 3 Stooges/Our Gang Festival will include one short of each, two cartoons, serial chapter and that's it. Two longer shows in "Matinee Jr." will be serial chapter and Gulliver's Travels or serial chapter, cartoon and Flying Deuces. You can see the series develop as the 12 posters gradually appear at Matinee Jr. for Libraries.

We picked "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe" as the best serial because of the science-fiction adventure, sets, spaceships, costumes, villain, and also because it has less fist fighting than a typical serial. Each chapter runs 20 minutes. Should five minutes be cut out of each to accommodate short attention spans?

The first response from Bob's library contact was great enthusiasm for the idea and the low price. They saw the value of reviving a lost chapter of popular culture -- historical, educational and, yes, still entertaining. One concern was that they could only run one show a month because of other programming commitments. That is OK with me. Run the first four shows one a month and schedule them more often if there is demand. Other libraries might be able to schedule a film show in every Saturday at 10am, noon, 2pm, or sometime.

The next step was to create a Sample DVD for libraries. Done! Like the Roxy Sampler, I will send a free DVD Sampler of Matinee Jr. to any interested Libraries. You can view Matinee Jr. excerpts that includes the library pitch, comedy and cartoon scenes, a chapter ending from Flash Gordon and a trailer for Gulliver's Travels. This is followed on the sample disc by 7 minutes from "Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor," 9 minutes from Our Gang's "Bear Shooters," 7 minutes of the color Abbott and Costello film "Jack and the Beanstalk" where Lou first meets the giant, and the last 8 minutes of Roy Rogers' "Heldorado."

Onward to plan the shows, design 12 posters, tailor shows to the local library time and content requests, learn how to reach libraries all over the country and... onward!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Laugh Out Loud!

I just finished editing comedy clips that will run in an upcoming exhibit in Tampa, Florida called "The Amazing You." It will play continuously, I assume as part of a comedy segment. They requested 10-12 minutes as the maximum time a viewer might hang around to watch in the same spot. My first version ran over that at 16 minutes, but then I heard they might want 20 minutes, so I sent the 16 minutes, a 12 minute abridgement plus an extra 14 minutes of out takes in case someone there wanted to edit further.

This comedy montage is for the MOSI project, but I was not sure what that was until after I finished and finally googled MOSI. I found it to be Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry, and also found a link to The Amazing You, a 12,000-square-foot exhibition at which guests are invited to explore the developmental stages of life, from the beginning through adolescence. Part 1 opened in May, while Part 2 (that promises to be funnier) opens in November.

Dave Conley at MOSI first broached the project to me about supplying comedy clips and later about editing them myself. I thank him for trusting my editing ability when he had no such work of mine to look at. In fact, I have only been learning how to use iMovie on my MAC computer this year, and only got a DVD ripper last month so I can take film clips off DVDs to work with. Once you import a clip into iMovie you can delete fractions of a second and move clips around easily to see how each edit plays.

Dave's only requests were that all films be in the public domain and that I include Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" routine because he always liked it. Fortunately the boys performed an exceptional version in a 1951 Colgate Comedy Hour that was never registered for copyright. The best version of the entire routine is on Youtube here. I excerpted four segments running 41, 31, 57 and 1:32 seconds and spaced them through the montage in order.

The rest of the film selections were mine. It was time consuming but fun to pull favorite clips, trim them to the absolute minimum running time, move them around so they flowed smoothly and then watch to see if I thought people would laugh today. This must have been the process Robert Youngson went through when he made clip classics like "When Comedy Was King."

Besides the TV "Who's On First," I included clips from Steamboat Bill Jr., The Boat, One Week, The Pawn Shop, Never Weaken, Stolen Jools, Flying Deuces, Road to Bali, Fatal Glass of Beer, The Dentist, Disorder in the Court, Beverly Hillbillies and cartoons Jerky Turkey and Betty Boop's Crazy Inventions. Looking at it from another perspective, the greatest slapstick comedians are included: Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy, Hope and Crosby, W.C. Fields and the Three Stooges.

I was somewhat surprised by what I included over what I had expected to put in. In Fields' The Dentist, one first recalls the hilarious scene of the woman wrapping her legs around Fields as he tries to pull her tooth, but while editing I found the scene funnier when a piece of the ceiling falls into her mouth and she thinks he pulls out her tooth easily. "Why, it came out easily!" "Yes, yes it did. It surprised me."

I felt that splitting clips up from the same film was effective. For instance, Buster pulling his boat out of the basement and demolishing his house is followed a few clips later by Buster going down with the Damfino when the boat launches and sinks. Short jokes, quick laughs and on to the next clip. If an audience laughs the first time, then catches on that there will be more of the same later, they may well watch the entire montage. MOSI can of course edit out any clips they do not find funny. They may remove the 4 short clips from "Fatal Glass of Beer" where W.C. intones "It ain't a fit night out for man or beast." I thinks it's surreal hilarity, but someone who has never seen the film may not.

Youtube only permits films that are under ten minutes long, so here is a shortened version of my finished comedy montage minus the 4 segments from "Who's On First" that you can enjoy by itself. Have fun, and let me know if you laughed out loud!!!

Watch Laugh Out Loud! montage on Youtube!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Spooky Wallpaper! Ooooo!

I stopped by the Minneapolis Suburban World Theater on October 5 to see what their video projection system looked like. Monday night football was running with the local Vikings beating the Packers. The picture looked awesome. Don, the owner, said the state of the art projector had been installed that afternoon. I may have mis-heard the price Don quoted so I won't repeat it. I don't want to discourage any future Roxy entrepreneurs from buying equipment. I know projector prices have come down in recent years while quality has gone up. State of the art, however, is not cheap, especially to project from the back of the theater. Let's just say the Suburban World's system is pricey.

Built in 1927, the Suburban World is truly a unique venue. Built in classic Granada Style, the Spanish facades and original stars still shine and clouds float by giving the effect of being in an open air Spanish courtyard. Originally called the Granada Theater, this historic building was designed by local architect Jack Liebenberg. His innovative design featured stadium seating in an atmospheric theater giving the illusion that viewers are seated outdoors in a Spanish courtyard.

The photo of the screen on the right here is so clean that it almost looks like an artist's rendering, but it is an actual recent photo. Note the tables near the screen. The entire lower area has been transformed into dinner theater seating, while the raked rear section still holds traditional theater seats. A full bar downstairs center serves guests.

The theater remains much as it was when the Granada originally opened. Stars and moving clouds adorn the ceiling - making it appear as if it has no roof. Stucco facades of balconies, statues and plants further enhance the illusion. These features led the Minneapolis City Council to place the Suburban World Theater on a list of historically significant buildings in 1991. It is the only surviving example of an atmospheric theater in Minneapolis and one of few remaining in the state.

In 1954, the theater became known as the Suburban World Theater and it was during this period that extensive remodeling was completed. Wrought iron doors that adorned the front of the theater, as well as the lobby's iron chandelier, were removed and replaced by more modern fixtures. Further restoration has succeeded in restoring much of the original façade of the theater.

The Suburban World programming is in a state of flux, meaning I don't know their imminent future and neither do they! It hosts concerts by local bands, private meetings and parties, independent film festivals and a recent talk by liberal radio host Bill Press. A few years ago the theater held Saturday and Sunday cartoon brunches, which became extremely popular with the locals.

I would naturally like the World to show a few Café Roxy programs. I keep pushing, at the very least, for them to show Reefer Madness since the theater is in the hip Uptown area of Minneapolis. Charge $2 and make money off drink sales. This may happen and I will discuss the theater more if it does. Don did say he could use some Halloween "wallpaper" to run on the movie screen during an upcoming party or some event TBA on Friday, Oct. 30. Costumed party goers might watch some of the trailers some of the time, or just party through the spooky ambience.

So I put together two hours of classic horror movie trailers, including the public domain cartoons "Mad Doctor," "Wot a Night" and "Magic Mummy." The poster on the left features Frankenstein. I hope the theater runs the disc and discover that the old classic films are still fun today, or rather that "Trailers" for the old films are fun. The Monster Mania disc is for sale. Too bad it is too close to Halloween for me to find many buyers. If you know any bar, café or eating emporium in your area that will be open Halloween night -- send them my way!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Good Start!

The first Saturday Matinee at the Parkway Theater ran smoothly this afternoon. Cutting to the numbers -- about 50 people -- but lots of positives. The theater decor has been spiffed up since I last visited over a year ago and shortly after it was acquired by Pepitos Restaurant. In particular all the seats are in and the walls have new mural paintings. There are some tables and chairs in the lobby, presumably for use by the beer and wine drinkers before or during an evening show. Currently playing at the Parkway is "Julie and Julia."

The video projection looked good, and that was my main fear since I had not seen a test run. The sound on the Betty Boop cartoon was way too loud so I ran up to the booth to alert the projectionist, except he was downstairs selling popcorn. That got worked out so the sound was booming but not too loud the rest of the way. Even the night scenes looked bright enough and there are plenty in "The Most Dangerous Game," which mostly takes place in a jungle at night. Showing DVDs in a small theater for 400 is more than viable. The black and white Popeye looked tremendous. Radar Men looked good.

The audience clapped after chapter 1 of "Radar Men from the Moon," and the cartoons. There were some young kids who came and went. Popcorn was sold.

The Parkway did not get any free newspaper notices in various "What's Happening?" columns. The only notice I saw was the one they paid for on the page of movie listings: "SATURDAY FAMILY MATINEE SERIES. The Most Dangerous Game/Radar Men from the Moon/Toon favs Superman and more! All seats $2."

No TV coverage, which is not surprising. However, Return of the Saturday Matinee is the kind of story the media likes to report -- neighborhoody, cheap, different, historic, fun, etc., so I bet someone wants to do a story soon. That is my number one suggestion for promoting the show. In particular the free "Sun Newspaper" would be ideal to get a little article in since it goes to neighborhoods. That goal is being pursued.

My second suggestion is more posters. The poster at the top promotes the next 3 Matinees, and it will go in 3 comic book stores next week. The promo that splits into two half-page posters will be handed out at a big Twin Cities Comic Book convention next weekend, which is why it promotes Flash Gordon in the third week. The Parkway needs to get poster/flyers in 2 coffee houses only a block away, and in the Used Book Store might help as well.

Next Saturday is Laurel and Hardy, who have been phenomenally popular in the Twin Cities for decades, so if we can only get the word out...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Counting Down to Next Saturday!

One week from today the Saturday Matinee series starts at the Parkway Theater. It's been a quick learning experience preparing shows which will actually be seen by an audience in a 400-seat theater, and helping promote the series at the same time. Since last week....

Program Changes. I replaced the Kid's TV Show (that did not really fit with Matinee fare) with Gulliver's Travels, as you can see by the new poster. I moved White Zombie to Halloween and added the Buster Keaton short "Haunted House" to the same show for obvious reasons. You can see all 12 posters here.

Trailer for each week. I already had theatrical trailers for Ghosts on the Loose, Gulliver's Travels, White Zombie and House on Haunted Hill. I created "Coming Next Week" trailers for the others. Flying Deuces contains the song and dance number "Shine on Harvest Moon," a few shots of the boys flying wild and appropriate "Coming Next Week" words over the pictures. Terror By Night, New Adventures of Tarzan and Rocket Ship also contain scenes from the films. John Wayne, Roy Rogers and 3 Stooges / Our Gang shows are composed of stills or movie posters with music and "Coming Next" blurbs.

Press Release. I wrote one up as shown on the left below. You can read it full size at the new Press Release Page. Also at that page is a sheet of Free Passes. Pepitos will give out a limited number each week to those who eat in the restaurant. A poster inside the front door and at the cash register tells them to ask for passes.

The publicist for the Parkway is sending out normal releases to newspapers and TV station. We are hoping one will see the "Return of the Saturday Matinee" as a news item worthy of additional coverage. Film clips are available to TV stations, who like to promote new, fun and family activities.

Radio Discussion. This past Wednesday Bob DeFlores talked about the series for more than a half hour on the educational channel KFAI-FM radio. Bob had already been scheduled to talk about a Ginger Rogers series at the Heights Theater and was happy to have more to discuss during the hour and a half he was on. Bob was so good I wanted to go. Although that promo was ten days before the first show, KFAI plans to discuss the Matinee series each Wednesday since they have a good history with the Parkway. The Parkway has supplied food for KFAI fundraising drives and a benefit jazz show will be staged this fall in the Parkway.

Series Trailer in the Theater. Just yesterday I thought to give the Parkway a trailer for the series that they can run before their regular features. This is very close to the Trailer already accessible from the website. I gave them two versions on DVD for video projection -- one with and one without the Giant Claw Trailer. I was happy to hear that whenever they plan to project DVD shows, the projectionist runs it in advance and watches every single second to make sure the disc will not freeze.

Thanks to Tracy Tolzmann for plugging the series in the Laurel and Hardy club announcement for the October 5 meeting. 350 movie fans got the newsletter only yesterday. Some must live in South Minneapolis. Some might want to see Flying Deuces for the tenth time, but this time in a movie theater with a live audience. Hmm, does that mean "Blockheads" audiences are zombies? In the spirit of the club, Who Cares!?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

October 3!

Just two weeks from today on Saturday, Oct. 3 at noon, the Café Roxy concept will get the ultimate test under ideal conditions. I should say the test will begin, because the results won't be in until several weeks into the 12-week run of Saturday Matinee. We plan to promote the "Return of the Saturday Matinee" to the hilt. The "We" besides myself starts with my long-time friend and associate Bob DeFlores. Bob has been helping me find a local coffee house to debut Café Roxy but instead won the jackpot -- his friend Joe Minjares who owns both Pepitos Mexican Restaurant and the adjoining Parkway Theater.

The Parkway Theater opened for business in February 1931 and has been operating as a neighborhood cinema ever since. Although originally designed with a Spanish Mediterranean exterior, for reasons unknown it was erected with a deco modern facade which was revealed in the summer of 2006 when Joe removed the metal facing covering it installed in the 1950's. For the last four decades the Parkway Theater was owned and run by Bill Irvine who took the reins in 1972 and brought it back from the clutches of an adult film venue and turned the Parkway into one of the finest independent and offbeat film venues in the Midwest. So, now it's Joe's turn to add to the long legacy of the Parkway Theater, one of the last single screen movie houses in the Twin Cities. The theater presently has 360 set auditorium seats and 20 movable two person love seats for a total seating capacity of 400 guests.

The Minjares family first came to the south Minneapolis neighborhood at 48th and Chicago in 1971 when they bought the Colonial Inn restaurant and changed it to Pepitos. The Colonial had been in business since the early 30's serving 3.2 beer, hamburgers and pizzas in what had been a turn of the century hardware store.

Joe Minjares caught the acting bug and has had many character roles in films and TV. Read his credits at IMDB, where his mini-bio notes: Was born in Minneapolis Minnesota to Guadalupe and Benjamin Minjares. Served in Military from 1964 to 1968 with the U.S. Army intelligence corps. Founder of Pepitos Mexican Foods inc. 1971. Began acting career in 1982 in the movie Patty Rocks. Won the 1984 Minneapolis Comedy invitational as a stand-up. Worked on Stage in several productions at the Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis. Was a regular at the Comedy Store and Improv in Los Angeles. Worked as a Staff writer at Universal Studios on the "Tom" show.

So Bob got me together with Joe only this past week and Saturday Matinee is both a GO and is already being promoted at Parkway Theater Site. Just scroll down the home page to Saturday Noon Matinees. Then clicking "View Trailer" will take you to my poster page showing all 12 matinee programs. From that page there actually is a trailer posted at Youtube that promotes the series.

Because it is a 12 week series we anticipate newspaper and television coverage. We may not get much before the first show, but if it is as successful as we hope then the story gets bigger. It would be great to see a TV camera crew drop by some Saturday to film a line of kids. Yeah, we dream a lot. Last week I wrote: "I predict that every theater who is the first in their city to revive the Saturday Matinee with B-pictures, cartoons and a serial chapter will get a lot of local publicity. Crowds will build." I never expected I would find out myself so quickly if this is true.

I do expect the promotion currently in place will attract an audience. The poster on the right will be up in Pepitos windows and by the cash register a week before the second show on October 10. My poster question "If you post it, will they come?" is no longer rhetorical. (The debut show on Oct. 3 remains The Most Dangerous Game, and that poster is in last week's post.) Pepitos also plans to give away 50 or so free passes each week to their regular diners. Admission is only $2, but the theory is that a Free pass will encourage coming, and bringing a couple of kids along to see what the movies used to be like on Saturday afternoon.

The bigger test for Café Roxy and Saturday Matinee is whether audiences will enjoy the shows today. Will more come each week? Will the theater fill up? Will a second show be added in later weeks at 2:30? Anything can happen.

Check back to find out!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Matinee

Last Saturday I got the idea for a series of 12 programs that duplicate a Saturday Matinee from the 1940s and '50s. This would seem like the most natural series of all, and yet it is the 7th Café Roxy series arranged around a serial (Radar Men From The Moon this time). The first series were aimed at coffee houses, where I felt the shorts in the All-Star Series might work well with people coming and going throughout, or at film societies who might want a Horror Series or Film Noir Big Crimes, or at western-themed bars who might like to try Sagebrush Sagas. Next came the Golden Turkeys and companion Turkeys in Space, which are aimed at fans of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" or adventuresome 20-year-olds looking for something new to do at night (watch old but fun films like Reefer Madness while eating and drinking).

Then I started getting inquiries from movie theaters who wanted actual shows tailored to their audiences. This led to the recently started and far, far from finished Just Classics, that do not contain serial chapters but do have a cartoon, short or trailers before such features as His Girl Friday, D.O. A., The Stranger, Angel and the Badman or even single films like Little Shop of Horrors that are also included in one of the series. I am all for reviving classic films in theaters and love spicing up the programs with shorts. However, classic revivals have been around for years and are not likely to attract special press coverage.

Saturday Matinees were in theaters through the 1950s, but were pretty much a forgotten footprint in history until "Matinee at the Bijou" became a hit PBS series in 1980. Bijou combined a B-feature, cartoon, shorts and serial chapter each week, introduced by a host or film montage and closed with Rich Mendoza's snappy song "At the Bijou" as sung by Rudy Vallee:

"The movies were speaking; the market was peaking. We lived off the fat of the land. But the banquet was ending, a plague was descending, the day of the locusts at hand. But at the Bijou bitter gall became as sweet as brandy, and humble pie turned into cotton candy. America was standing in bread lines, Dillinger was stealing all the headlines, but down at the Bijou people said lines like Boop Boop Be-Doop, Boop Boop Be-Doop. Thru the dust bowl the black winds were wailing, the rivers were rising, Ohio was bailing, but little Shirley Temple always had clear sailing on board the good ship Lollipop. Andy Hardy never had to go hungry. There was no bank panic at Tarzan's branch. Il Duce and the Fuehrer couldn't have been obscurer on the Planet Mongo or the Melody Ranch."

Because I am part of the Bijou Team that is working to both get the original episodes back on TV and produce a new series in hi-def, I had subconsciously avoided a matinee series. I didn't want to appear to "borrow" the format or look like a branch of Bijou or in any way confuse TV networks we approach. Of course no one would notice unless Café Roxy becomes a hit around the country and Matinee at the Bijou gets back on TV, both of which would be nice. Because Roxy Saturday Matinees are planned for movie theaters and Bijou is a TV series, I now feel that success in either venue can only help publicize the other. The main goal of both ventures is to get new audiences to watch and enjoy the vintage films. We are confident they will love the films either at home or in theaters. I hope to test the idea very soon in a local Twin Cities movie theater, so stay tuned!

The Saturday Matinee programs fell into place remarkably fast and I finished the 12 posters the next day! I had long wanted to put The Most Dangerous Game into a series but did not have enough good adventure films for a series of 12. I had wanted to use the Laurel and Hardy's Flying Deuces but did not feel other vintage comedies would have as much appeal today. 12 weeks of matinees should above all have variety from week to week and not be limited to any one genre, so there are John Wayne and Roy Rogers westerns, comedy, horror, sci-fi and Sherlock Holmes. I repeat a few shows that are in earlier series -- House on Haunted Hill, White Zombie, Rocket Ship and Ghosts on the Loose. One show does not belong -- the 1950s Kids TV -- but it's really fun, I would like to see it with a theater crowd and it sure adds variety. At this point it can be removed because the shows have not been put together yet.

The 12 programs advertised on 12 posters are not set in stone. Only The Most Dangerous Game program is finished. I will work with the first theater who runs Satuday Matinee to create the best possible line-up even if it means altering a few shows or shuffling the order.

The posters currently say $1.00 admission. My first thought was to offer "Free Admission" and make money off concessions, but a small charge seems appropriate for a theater. Everyone in a bar or coffee shop is likely to buy food and drink, but theater-goers can sneak the eats in or go without. My thinking today is to charge $2.00 instead of $1 since $2 sounds like a pretty good bargain. It also allows any restaurant or coffee house next to the theater to give away free passes, which can increase business at both. I can change the price on the posters to customize them for whatever specific theaters desire.

I predict that every theater who is the first in their city to revive the Saturday Matinee with B-pictures, cartoons and a serial chapter will get a lot of local publicity.

Crowds will build.

Sounds like a plan worth trying.