Old Classic Movies Prove Popular

Deseret News, 26 October 1972, page D3

Older moviegoers are attending film classics for nostalgia and younger ones attend because they are studying motion pictures in school or because of curiosity.

These are a couple of conclusions of Arthur Proctor who operates three theaters in the Salt Lake area which show old films. He says he believes families attend because of the “lack of suitable movies in today's market.”

Proctor, who operates the Avalon Theater on South State Street and the Vista in Murray, recently opened the Blue Mouse at 260 East First South in Salt Lake. The Avalon is devoted exclusively to film classics, most of which have shown on television.

The new operation will have festivals of films devoted to specific performers or directors. It opened with “Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” first in a series of films starring Humphrey Bogart. The Vista shows second- and third-run movies with family ratings.

Proctor said that most of those attending the Bogart film have been students, but several older moviegoers have been in the audiences “because they wanted to see a decent film,” Proctor said.

He said that his Avalon operation is the most interesting because he has attracted all types of audiences and their reaction is interesting.

“When the trailers for 'Till the Clouds Roll By” showed Frank Sinatra, the audience laughed but applauded,” he observed. “I believe it was because he was skinny and young looking. The film was 25 years old. When a Robert Young movie from the past is shown, the reaction differs, as to age groups. The older people sigh. Younger ones laugh. They see him today on Dr. Welby and they can't resist the laughs.”

Proctor said that “Strange Interlude,” starring Norma Shearer, brought laughs because she had not cast aside her acting technique of silent days and “even older moviegoers found this amusing.”

The most requested movie for the Avalon has been “Random Harvest,” which Proctor will be presenting at Thanksgiving. Another one requested often has been “Yankee Doodle,” which will be on the Christmas bill at the Avalon.

Proctor has been trying to obtain a copy of the first “Smilin' Through” which starred Leslie Howard, but has been unable to get this oft-requested film.

He says the Jeanette Macdonald-Nelson Eddy movies also are on the request list, but he has been able to obtain nearly all of those and that “Naughty Marietta” is probably the most popular. “The audience [missing word] and applauded at the end of the showings,” he declared. “They did the same thing when we had 'San Fransicso,' especially when Clarke Gable, at the end of the film, asked Spencer Tracy how to pray.”

Proctor has seen nearly all the movies himself. He worked in the film department at Ch. 2 for 11 years and said he could see the desire for old films coming as the theaters turned to more explicit subjects. “My hunch turned out right,” he added.