"When I was young movie palaces were the rule rather than the exception, and I can't help but think that young people today who see films either on video or in those cramped little cinder-block spaces in the multi-plexes are missing a magical experience. The splendor of the great old theaters was a big part of what once made movie going such a communal experience. These photographs at least allow a glimpse of what was a splendid moment in American culture that is now sadly over."
--Martin Scorsese, director
"These sumptuous movie palaces, as presented by Robert Berger, Anne Conser, and Stephen M. Silverman, are a testament to cinema history. This is certainly a book to enjoy and cherish."
--Ismail Merchant, Merchant-Ivory Productions
"First-rate. First-rate. First-rate."
One hundred vivid color images by architectural photographers Robert Berger and Anne Conser record in lavish detail the spectacular, sumptuous and often whimsical interiors of 16 of LA's most important movie palaces built during the '20s and '30s. Architecturally themed, with expensive silks, imported marbles, gold leaf, and crystal chandeliers, these precedent-setting theaters laid the ground work for the look and feel of movie palaces in the rest of the United States.
How did the tradition of stars setting their footprints in concrete at Grauman's Chinese begin? What celebrated chanteuse was signed to her studio contract after performing at the Orpheum (where the chandeliers cost $45,000 each in 1926)? Imagine the illuminated bridge festooned with bouquets spanning Wilshire Boulevard where 100,000 fans watched the opening of the famous Wiltern Theater.
Lively text by noted film historian, Stephen M. Silverman, brings to life the characters who created the theaters and the era in which they were built. The reader will experience the sense of awe the photographers felt upon first discovering these hidden treasures and the mission they undertook to preserve-at least on film-the last of this vanishing building type. This breath-taking book will thrill anyone interested in Hollywood's rich past and become a treasured cornerstone in the library of every movie buff.
Robert Berger and Anne Conser have been working together since 1983, when they were both students in the photography department at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California. Photographing architecture and interior design for their clients has taken them around the world, and their work has appeared in numerous books and periodicals. Their shared fascination with historic properties has led to this personal project that has consumed much of their time for the past six years.
Stephen M. Silverman's five previous books include David Lean and Dancing on the Ceiling: Stanley Donen and His Movies. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he currently is the Editor of PEOPLE Daily Online, for the New Media division of Time-Warner Inc., and he teaches at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.