April 30, 2013

The World's Largest and Finest Theatre

From the archive... Uptown, World's Largest And Finest, Opens By Rob Reel

Source: Chicago Evening American, 18 August 1925, p. 20.

Chicago became the possessor of the largest and finest motion picture theater in the world as a result of the informal opening last night of Balaban & Katz' palatial Uptown at Lawrence av. and Broadway.

The house, which surpasses anticipation, was thrown open to the general public formally at high noon today, with a repetition of the throngs which pressed around the entrances last night even though they were not permitted to enter.

Indeed, so much interest has already been manifested by citizens in both the central Uptown district, where an elaborate pageant is being held in celebration of the new theater's completion and throughout the city, that attaches of the Balaban & Katz Corporation predicted between 50,000 and 100,000 people will be attracted to the locality both tonight and the rest of the week.

The affair last night was really a dress rehearsal of the performance, members of the firms who helped to build the magnificent structure being invited that they might inspect the completed whole. Many notables of the Rialto also attended, as well as all those connected either closely or remotely with the Balaban & Katz organization.

The great lobby, almost an exact replica of that in the Chicago, only larger, grander and more golden, was banked with floral tributes from hundreds of firms who had cooperated in constructing and outfitting the theater, as well as hundreds of well-wishers throughout the country.

Monument to Prosperity.

William K. Hollander, director of publicity for Balaban & Katz, acted as master of ceremonies, thanking each and every one who had helped complete the Uptown and presenting the theater to the central Uptown district. A representative of the Central Uptown Business Men's Association felicitated him in turn and accepted the new monument to the prosperity of this section.

Under the supervision of Frnak Cambria, art director, the whole program was presented and everything was exactly as though for the formal opening today with one exception—the mighty Wurlitzer was silent. A crew of experts had been working night and day to get the great instrument ready, but were unable to accomplish it in time for the dress rehearsal. Those who had precious invitation last night, therefore, had to forego the pleasure of hearing Jesse Crawford.

Nathaniel Finston, however, was in charge of the orchestral baton, Tschaikowsky's beautiful "Capriccio Italienne" has been chosen as the premiere overture, and under his capable direction the great band of splendid musicians assembled as the Uptown's Symphony Orchestra render it in stirring fashion.

Pretentious Program.

What is undoubtedly the most pretentious presentation ever offered in a motion picture theater has also been provided by Balaban & Katz to accompany the theater's debut. First there are some fine syncopation specialties by the Oriole Orchestra of the Edgewater Beach Hotel, with Ted Fiorito at the piano and little Dan Russo as leader.

Then there is a musical production, "Under Spanish Skies," to harmonize with the Spanish motif which has been carried out in the architecture, presenting Don Jose Majica and Marie Herron, a tenor and soprano of high caliber. There is a very nice ballet incoporated in this, too, and a peacock dance that is truly gorgeous, Maria Montero also appears, a Spanish dancer with color, talent and fire, who shakes her castanets as only one who has learned the art from childhood can.

Last, but not by any means least, there is the movie—First National's "The Lady Who Lied."

Excellent Cast.

"The Lady Who Lied" is a pretentious picture, matching up with the pretentious program. Its scene is laid first in Venice during carnival time, then in Africa, and these strange locales as well as an extraordinary situation or two tend to lift it out of the ordinary eternal triangle type of film. Then, too, it is excellently cast with Lewis Stone as his polished self: Nita Naldi, as Oriental-eyed and attractive as ever: Leo White, priceless as a comic valet, and Virginia Valli, good to look at as the heroine whom it is all about.

Virginia, by the way, is a Chicago girl, who spent a good deal of her time in the Uptown district, especially when she was first struggling for recognition in films.

Taking it all in all, it's grand and glorious.

But you must see it to appreciate it.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin