Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Coleman

Last post I wrote a sad lament about all the lost movie palaces that no longer exist. Now, a happier post! In the Northeast Oklahoma town of Miami (pronounced Okie style: My-am-uh) exists such a movie palace that is still standing: The Coleman. It has never been torn down in any way, in fact, it has undergone an extensive renovation by the city and is now, by far, the most grand, beautiful theatre in Oklahoma.

The folks in Miami were fortunate to have a mining magnate in their midst--George Coleman. Thanks to Mr. Coleman's desire to have a world class entertainment facility in this small town, the Coleman was built and he spared no expense. Opened in 1929 with a lavish interior of Louis the XV furnishings, the theatre houses about 1,600, a large chunk of Miami's entire population.

The Coleman has gone the way of community playhouse but every so often they play a film. If you are really lucky it will be a silent with accompaniment from the original house Mighty Wurlitzer organ. I've seen two things recently at the Coleman--a Harold Lloyd comedy and a Roman Novarro two-hanky. It was magical for the experience of seeing something old with the organ booming away.

Seeing a film at the Coleman is the way all movie going should feel like--not like you feel in the standardized boxes of the modern multiplex. Movie going has become so homogenized and ordinary you could be in any city, any state, anyplace America. Not so with the Coleman. It is alive with a heart and pulse. When you watch a film here you can only be in one place in the world--Miami, Oklahoma.

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