Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Longing for Wednesday Matinees --- Days 10/125 & 126

Walk: 1.GG Pickleball 2. Hood Nails, de Young Museum and Ferris Wheel

Distance: 1. 2.5 miles, 90 minutes pickle  2. 6.5 miles

4-Star Theater, a San Francisco Landmark, lives

So here it is Wednesday and no matinee movies for Ciwt to go to.  But happily many of our theaters (movie and live) are open, and Ciwt was thrilled to read today that one of our wonderful but few remaining movie houses has a new owner.  Best of all, he plans to keep it operating as a movie theater!

So far, the 4 Star has had a rather charmed history.  It opened in 1912, and in 1992 movie visionary and programmer extrordinaire Frank Lee was hired to operate it. In 2006 he and his wife, who was also a hands on operator, were able to buy the property. Until the recent sale they had been running it for 30 years.

Thanks to Lee, whose father owned and ran theaters in Chinatowns throughout the United States, the 4-Star has had numerous Asian movie festivals and often was able to show first run Hong Kong and Asian movies days after they opened in Asia. These were interspersed with first rate main stream features; the posters from their last double feature before the pandemic are still up and advertise Parasite, and Uncut Gems.  Just before them, 4 Star was able to 'unspool' Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in its original format with its rare 35mm projectors. 

It's a bit of a hike, but Ciwt often walked to these and other features (or, truthfully, rode the bus 😉) so she couldn't be happier to read comments by Adam Bergeron, the new hire/old owner/operator of the other two SF landmark theaters:  These little neighborhood theaters — if you have one in your neighborhood, it really sets that neighborhood apart. It’s different; it’s not like every neighborhood has one,” he said. “So they really become a focal point of the neighborhood, and if you’re able to live in the city and walk to see a creative event in a little neighborhood space, it really is something special.

And she found Frank Lee's farewell words touching: “Thirty years in there. If I could work until 90, I’d still be there. … It’s been a long ride; I hope (the new owner) can be there 30 years like I was.”

Ciwt hopes so too!  Now, she has her fingers crossed for Wednesday matinees.

Ciwt's neighborhood gem, also operated and programmed by Adam Bergeron

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