Minneapolis, Minnesota, 7th Street between Nicollet & Hennepin Avenues, 1919....a street of movie palaces.
|You entered the Strand Theater in Minneapolis through a triumphal arch. Etching filigreed the glass doors. You passed over red terra-cotta floors to ascend the stairway sweeping to the mezzanine. Leather covered the 1600 seats. Mahogany and ivory enveloped the walls.|
|Playing the Strand this day was Tom Moore in Goldwyn's Just for Tonight, now lost. In 1914, one John E. Saxe opened this movie palace, calling it first the Saxe and then the Strand. When sound transformed movies, the Strand closed in 1928, the facade becoming the Spanish Renaissance entrance to the Forum Cafeteria.|
|At the Garrick—where the electric lights above the glass doors winkled in 1919—you viewed movies or vaudeville. The theater had opened in 1908, failed, reopened as the Garrick in 1915, became the Century for sound movies in 1929, passed through multiple hands and bankruptcies in the 30s and 40s and returned to glory as the Century Cinerama in 1954.|
|The star descending from the taxi cab was swimmer/movie star Annette Kellerman. In 1919, Kellerman was a star of first magnitude, now forgotten. Her nude scenes in A Daughter of the Gods (1916) made her notorious...and earned a fortune for William Fox, the producer. Was she testing the sidewalk with her toe to promote herself in Queen of the Sea (1918)?|
|Of Kellerman's movies, Venus of the South Seas (1924) survives in fragments, but most, like her name (and the bathing suit company bearing her name) have descended to oblivion.|
|Terry Ramsaye guesses in A Thousand and One Nights that 130,000,000 viewers patronized 20,000 movie theaters during a normal week in 1925 in America. At the Strand and the Garrick they entered the shimmer of movie land.|