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Day 34: 'American Graffiti'

American GraffitiTonight was an extra special movie treat for movie and venue. As part of the L.A. Conservancy's Last Remaining Seats summer series - a month-long program of screenings in the city's most treasured, classic movie palaces - I was able to catch George Lucas' pre-Star Wars, 1973 hit American Graffiti at the incredible Orpheum theater downtown.

The whole theme of the night, at least in my head, was how time flies and we all get old. It was fun to see original cast members Candy Clark and Cindy Williams show up for an enthusiastic pre-show Q&A. They look great. But it's a little strange to hear them reminisce about making this coming of age favorite almost 40 years ago.

Back then, they were making a film that waxes nostalgic on a period 11 years prior, with the famous tag line "Where were you in '62?" Applied now, we're recalling the grand 'ol year of 1999...is it just me, or does that just not have the same cachet? Like the latest versions of iTunes, memories and movie product seem to come quick nowadays, only to be discarded quicker.

Still, seeing Graffitti in a sold-out house of movie buffs young and old was a kick. The Orpheum's been around since 1926 when it was part of downtown's vaudeville circuit, and thanks to owner Steve Needleman, it underwent a multi-million dollar renovation in 2001. With its restored French renaissance architecture, and luxurious balconies, the theater is truly an awe-inspiring wonder. New multiplexes are cool, but they can't compare to venues like these.

If you're in L.A. (or visiting this summer), and especially if you're a movie or history buff, there are two remaining screenings this month available - one at the Million Dollar Theatre on June 23rd for the 1943 film Flor Silvestre, and one more at The Orpheum Theatre on June 30th for the silent, 1924 version of Peter Pan with a live, accompanying organist. I guarantee you'll love it, and if not, come find me and I'll give you some Fandango Bucks...I'm curious as well to know about some of your favorite movie palaces. Let me know if you have one and where it's at...I've still got 66 more movies and experiences to go...

 

Presented by L.A. film preservationist and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner...more Orpheum pics here...

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