From Chaplin to The Artist: Music and silent film as enduring allies

This article was originally published by CBC Music on February 29, 2012. It appears here in a slightly edited form. On the screen of the Museum of the Moving Image, Charlie Chaplin’s iconic Tramp character prompts roars of laughter from the audience. The film is The Immigrant (1917), and the seats of the Brooklyn-based theatre are filled with children seeing a silent film for the first time. Their eyes are wide, beaming, and the laughter…

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The world’s smartest dog at the Beach Theatre

The world’s smartest dog at the Beach Theatre

  We’ve written about several Allen theatres over the past three years, but often ignored is their majestic Beach Theatre, which opened on December 15, 1919, months after the premiere of their other east-end showplace, the Danforth. The Allen’s theatre chain extended nationwide, but in Toronto, they also owned the Allen, which later become the Tivoli, the College, St-Clair, Parkdale and the original Bloor Theatre, which now houses Lee’s Palace. Designed by Allen stalwart C. Howard Crane, the…

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Allen’s College Theatre

Allen’s College Theatre

  I had a great time covering Openfile Toronto‘s #citysigns project this week, including a look at Toronto’s remaining theatre marquees. The third and final story examines the curious history of the Matador Tavern’s neon sign dangling above 466 Dovercourt Rd. Mere steps from the tavern, which began its storied career as a dance hall during World War I and a bowling alley in the 1950s, was Detroit architect C. Howard Crane’s majestic College Theatre….

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Allen’s Bloor Theatre

Allen’s Bloor Theatre

For over twenty-five years, Toronto concert-goers and Annex residents have known the building at 529 Bloor St. West as Lee’s Palace. But nearly a century ago, the Allen’s Bloor Theatre was one of the most luxurious suburban movie houses Toronto had to offer. The immaculately detailed 782 seat theatre held its premiere screening on March 10, 1919 with Cecil B. De Mille’s Don’t Change Your Wife, featuring Gloria Swanson. It was the first theatre to…

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The Parkdale Theatre: a passion den for teenagers

The Parkdale Theatre: a passion den for teenagers

“This may seem drastic to you but I have seen the results of the work of some of these hoodlums,” wrote Ontario Censor Board and Theatres Inspection Branch chairman O.J. Silverthorne in 1953 after offering Famous Players some well-heeled advice on dealing with teen-age rowdiness at Toronto’s Parkdale Theatre. Located at Queen St. W and Triller Ave., the Parkdale was one of several theatres designed by C. Howard Crane for the national Allen chain of…

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