One of the highlights of Fargo is the Fargo Theater, a renovated landmark that plays alternative movies and classics as well as hosted events. While there are lots of similar type places in the cities that do such things, we hadn’t really found a good correlation. Enter Heights Theater in Minneapolis.
For $8 a ticket, Becky and I spent a delightful evening watching a classic neither of us had seen before, “Paper Moon.”
The 90-year-old theater built in 1926, showcased movies, theater, and vaudeville in its early days. The theater is maintained by Tom Letness, whose love of cinema history is present in every seat, every note of the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, every part of the lovely entryway, lights, walls and ceiling.
What’s so special about the type of organ? Here’s what you get
The organ currently has 16 sets of pipes (known as ranks) and also boasts a glockenspiel, xylophone, chimes, piano, and marimba, as well as an assortment of rhythm percussions and original theater pipe organ sound effects such as train whistle, bell, birds, and so forth. The section which currently plays is housed in the former dressing room on the right side of the auditorium. The organ’s voices include Tuba, Trumpet, Post horn (the loudest stop) strings clarinet, and a variety of other organ voices to fill out the ensemble.
And if you can forgive a paragraph of film nerd… Also, they can play digital and film prints. They kept their 35mm-70mm projectors in place and operational. They also do reel to reel and not from an automated platter system, like, old school film-going!
Paper Moon started after a brief introduction about the theater. And we were swept away quickly, like one minute in, by this delightful movie of a grifter and a young girl he picks up who may or may not be his daughter in the Great Depression. Real life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O’Neal play the leads. It’s shot in black and white, which fits the setting well, and, as our wedding photographer said, “If you want to see a person’s soul, you use black and white.”
Tatum won an Oscar, at age 10, in 1974, for this movie. Here she is stealing a scene:
Also in the movie is a fantastic Madeline Kahn who nails a monologue so fucking hard she was also nominated for an Oscar. Here it is – she’s trying to convince Tatum, who doesn’t like her, to get in the car.
If that isn’t enough, there’s a super young Randy Quaid as a hick.
The movie was directed by the great Peter Bogdanovich, who also directed The Last Picture Show, Noises Off, and She’s Funny That Way. You may recognize him as the psychiatrist’s psychiatrist in The Sopranos.
So those are the bona fides. Story wise, it’s abut a little girl who just lost her mother getting sucked along into a journey with a man (possible father) and finding common ground while ripping people off. A bit like a precursor to Matchstick Men.
It’s also a beautiful look at the countryside and small Midwest towns with the type of idiosyncratic personalities you often find in them.
I’ll be heading back in June for a movie I’ve always wanted to see on the big screen, Lawrence of Arabia, which they are showing in 70MM film. I’ve seen the movie so many times on a TV, and can’t wait to feel the music through Dolby Surround Sound and burn those indescribably beautiful dessert landscapes onto my retinas.
Other classic movies coming soon include the original Cape Fear (35MM), City Lights (35MM), All About Eve (35MM), Singin’ in the Rain, Doctor Zhivago, The Wizard of Oz (35MM), The Shining (35MM), and 2001: A Space Odyssey (70MM).
If you are heading west after the movie, it’s totally worth stopping at Marina Grill and Deli for some amazing gyros.
I felt good about not having to push our car across the bridge after:
So yes, high recommendation on going to this theater for a fantastic night out this summer.