Other Movies Seen By This Director (1)
- Footlight Parade
|06.24.07||Alamo Downtown||This Screening is part of event: Half-Ass-A-Thon|
Harry Knowles' last-minute goodbye to the original Alamo in the form of a semi-BNAT. The evening started with Tim saying there would be either four or five films depending on how many people stayed. I'm not gonna talk about Harry's intros, I don't remember all the trailers, the movies proved an interesting mix, but the main joy of the night for me came from hanging out at the theater for one last almost-all-nighter with almost all of the friends I've made by going there. The Alamo poster was gone, the neon signage gone, Mondo Tees gone, dishes were stacked up in the corner; the Alamo was slowly disappearing. Tonight was one last shot to see the place at 4AM and walk out into a completely empty downtown Austin. It's a unique feeling, sitting through more than three movies in a row, and not something I greatly enjoy.
The first movie was Wonder Bar, a run-of-the-mill 30s musical starring Jolson as a nightclub owner/performer. There's the usual gang of light comic relief as you sit there and wait for the Busby Berkeley music numbers to start. The first is in the BB DVD pack but strangely enough the second isn't. Although this wasn't a bad movie (I probably would've been a lot more into it had it played earlier in the day like noon or even 4pm rather than 7), the highlight is clearly the last musical number which depicts a kind of "black heaven" with Jolson in black-face meeting St. Peter at the pearly gates and singing songs about how pork chops grow on trees and Uncle Tom's a hero and stuff. It's really amazing in its racism and not in a designed-to-shock way like the 70s race riot films felt but in a 30s-form-of-entertainment way that makes it seem even worse. Funny, I don't know why that wasn't included on the DVD. There's even dancing watermelon slices at one point.
So I have to thank Harry for showing this because I know I'm probably never getting a chance to see it in a theater ever again. Unfortunately, his squeeky wheelchair wheels betrayed him whenever he left the theater so I was constantly aware of when he slipped out to the lobby to skip all the slow parts that we were all trudging through.