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Some people are not content to leave their brainchild in the hands of another. Orson Welles was one such individual. He believed in a hands-on approach from start to finish and it can clearly be seen in what is unquestionably his greatest work, Citizen Kane. This story of a young newspaper man’s rise to fame started with an original screen play co-written by Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz. Welles chose to direct his film as well as star in it like many pioneers of motion pictures.

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Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin on May 6, 1915, he was destined for greatness. His parents were upstanding citizens of the community, his father an inventor and his mother a concert pianist. His home lacked for little. Sadly his mother passed away when he was at the tender age of 7. His father would join her eight years later leaving a 15 year-old Welles a Ward of the State. Luck continued to be with the boy despite his loses when he was taken under the care of Dr. Maurice Bernstein of Chicago. During this time he attended the Todd School for Boys in Woodstock, Illinois. He began writing his own plays and putting them on at the local Opera House. He graduated from The Todd School in 1931.

Woodstock_Opera_House,_Woodstock,_IL

Graduating from school he decided to skip college though he was accepted by several. Instead he traveled Europe doing a variety of jobs that included a sketching tour of Ireland and be a matador in the Spanish bullring. In 1934 he was once again stateside and acting in a touring company. Not to be bored he directed his first short feature film, began acting on the radio and married. By 1937 he’d established a radio drama team known as the Mercury Theater which did many dramatizations of famous authors of the present as well as the past.

He would shock a nation on October 30, 1938 with his rendition of The War of the Worlds based on H.G. Wells’ famous novel . His broadcast was done in such a way that many listeners tuning in late thought we were actually being attached by men from Mars. H.G. Wells was not happy and Orson almost found himself thrown in jail for what was seen as a holiday stunt gone wrong.

war-of-the-worlds-by-orson-welles

In 1941 Welles took his talents to the Silver Screen with his first feature. Citizen Kane. Though a box-office flop at the time it has since become widely seen as one of the best movies ever made. This from a first attempt was more than lucky, it was genius. It won many awards including the coveted Oscar for Best Writing and Original Screenplay.

Welles would go on to make many more films but none would reach the public conscious as much as the first. In 1975 he received the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award, an award associated with greatness as it is given to those persons who have enriched the American culture through motion pictures and television. He was the 3rd individual to receive this award.

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So why don’t you come join us. We’ll make sure you have a great time. More info and pictures can be found on our Facebook Events Page and on the official Webpage. Joining us will be film producer and Welles historian Michael Dawson. michael-dawson1For more information about Welles please check out the wonderful website Wellesnet.com and for information on how Woodstock Illinois celebrated his birthday last year look on this page.

What:

Citizen Kane (1941)

When:

February 11, 2016

Live Organ music by Famed Organist Jay Warren at 7pm

Feature 7:30 p.m. (119 Minutes)

Where:

The Pickwick Theater

5 S. Prospect Ave. Park Ridge, ILL

Why:

75th Anniversary Screening

Admission:

Regular – Day of $10 / Advanced $8

Seniors – Day of $7 / Advanced $6

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What’s the best way to watch perhaps the most famous Spaghetti Western of all time? Try watching it on the Big Screen in a classic theater that seats 950 guests! Imagine the atmosphere of that many people watching a movie together. It’s truly a magic feeling.

This Thursday join the crew of the Pickwick Classic Film Series as we bring this classic back to the theater for a one night only special 50th Anniversary showing. We give you, the guest, the Red Carpet treatment because you deserve it. We welcome new faces and love to see old friends visit month after month. It’s like belonging to a movie club only you actually get to to be in a theater.

Tomorrow night we’ll see legend Clint Eastwood as Blondie, the man with no name. He’s the Good. Then you have Lee Van Cleef as the Bad. Eli Wallach is the Ugly. Join this unlikely trio as they fight together and apart during Civil War times for goals not always mutually agreeable. They are truly The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.

Also notable is the unmistakably memorable soundtrack by Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Early in his career he wrote this classic and he’s still bringing us beautiful scores. Most recently Morricone wrote the score for Quentin Tarantino’s 8th film, The Hateful Eight (currently touring the country as a special Roadshow Engagement in 70mm.)

What:

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (1966)

When:

January 7, 2016

Live Organ music by Famed Organist Jay Warren at 6:30pm

Feature 7:00 p.m. (161 Minutes)

Where:

The Pickwick Theater

5 S. Prospect Ave. Park Ridge, ILL

 

Why:

50th Anniversary Screening

 

Admission:

Regular – Day of $10 / Advanced $8

Seniors – Day of $7 / Advanced $6

There are people of all sorts on trains and today (12-12-15) is no exception. Watching your fellow passengers can be most entertaining as long as they don’t realize you’re watching. Let me explain.

Take today for instance. It’s the second train of the day and people are piling on as if it were the last of the night. Seated before me is a medium-aged senior totally engrossed with the racing form. As it turns out, he’s a regular. He has a discussion with the conductor about another regular racing aficionado who left his gold racing card on the train by accident. The conductor is holding on to it but he hasn’t seen the man in a while. It’s no surprise when the passenger gets off at Arlington Park Race Track.

Then there’s the family who never takes the train but who’s afraid they’ll be bored and so brings every electronic form of entertainment known to man in order to avoid communicating with each other.

There’s a man with his nose stuck in a book and another who squiggles with his stylist on what looks like a Nintendo DS. Perhaps he too is recording what his fellow passengers are doing.

Two women across from me have been talking non-stop since they got on and that’s been nine stations already. There’s no sign that they’ll run out of things to talk about. If I didn’t have earbuds in listening to Frank Sinatra I’d most likely know their life’s stories.

Across from me on my top deck perch is another regular. She’s always worried the conductor will forget to take her money and today is no different. Even after she has her ticket she follows him with her eyes every time he goes by. Maybe she just has a thing for conductors? Still, she does wear a wedding band. I guess a man in uniform is an exception to the rule.

I always come across the group that comes aboard and talks so loud you want to put the old library sign up about being quiet. Likewise I find the vacationer who obviously has never been on a train in their life and brings enough luggage aboard to clothe the whole car. They practically bring a steamer trunk aboard and they wonder where they’ll put it. I wonder too.

Occasionally, and it’s getting more and more rare, you’ll find the dreamer who gazes out the window and actually enjoys the passing scenery. They have that whimsical look in their eye and I sometimes wish I could go where they are. It looks like a nice place.

It used to be that newspapers were king. These days the most popular devise on the train is the cell phone. It has many uses. Such as being a music player. From my own experiences I’ll admit I use it to drown out the cacophony of voices coming from all angles. It’s a camera for those all important selfies to remind us twenty years from now on Facebook where we were, who with and what we looked like. Both of those uses have some validity but there are other devises designed for those purposes. The biggest use for the cell phone is sending text messages to other people and avoiding talking to the people you came with who are seated in front of you. The reality is, why would you talk to someone right in front of you if you can text someone else?

Of course there are surprises. Like the little girl playing tic-tac-toe with Grandma. Funny how that came to pass since it was only fifteen minutes ago that she was busy fighting with her little brother. The conductor needed to break that one up. Strange power that man has. He asked once and the fight was over. Grandma and Grandpa asked and the children were deaf. Does that mean the conductor is a miracle worker who can restore hearing? I guess so.

Depending on how far the passenger has to go and what time of day it is you’ll see some strange commuter sights only found on the train.

This early morning I find a woman putting her makeup on. Her arms are shock absorbers that go up and down as we bump along the rails. She’s a pro who doesn’t smudge her mascara. She’s also a procrastinator or why else would she be doing this on the train?

Of course I have the man sleeping with his head on the window as a pillow. In the winter this sleeping arrangement becomes difficult fast. Since it’s December I wonder if his face is numb to the cold. Mine would be freezing. I touch the window and immediately bring it back. It needs warming.

And you see train passengers come in all forms. They dress in business professional style, sporting gear, casual and even pajamas. They come in large groups, as a couple or a loaner. They need one stop, half or all the way into the city. Work or pleasure is their objective. They either take the train to save money, avoid the hassle of rush-hour and the hell of parking or because it simply is the most convenient. Training is for some an acquired taste, for others a way of life and still others an adventure. It’s not for everyone but it is one of the oldest forms of transportation that continues to bring wonder to many a rider. If you haven’t taken a train before I encourage you to take a ride. It may not be for you or it could be a life changer.

ALL ABOARD!!!

Come join us this Thursday for our gala Centennial event as we celebrate the life of a man who gave us so much joy, Ol’ Blue Eyes will be at the Pickwick Theater on December 10, 2015. He’ll be joined on the big screen with one of his closest  friends – Gene Kelley (the man who taught Frank to dance and boy do they do a swell job), when they take the city of New York by a storm in “On the Town. Then, look at the girls they meet. How could anyone not have a good time?”

845155_origJoining us in the theater lobby will be Steve Darnall of Those Were The Days. He will be selling copies of the Winter Edition of the Nostalgia Digest.

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Frank Sinatra was prominently featured on the cover of the Autumn Edition.25bdc07864a39b4dcd0afbaca7a47cdc

Also joining us will be Chicago’s Formost Organist – Jay Warren of the Silent Film Society of Chicago. He will be playing some of our favorite Sinatra songs on the Pickwick’s Mighty Wurlitzer. Then he will be in the lobby where you can pick up your own copy of his Christmas  CD – “Organ and Chimes.”

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But we are nowhere near done. We also will be giving away a copy of the brand new documentary “All Or Nothing At All.” But in order to get this great DVD you MUST have a ticket. Pick up your FREE ticket at the table in the lobby.

What:
On the Town (1949)

When:
December 10, 2015
Feature at 7:30 p.m. (98 Minutes)

Where:
The Pickwick Theater
5 S. Prospect Ave. Park Ridge, ILL

Admission:
Regular – Day of $10 / Advanced $8
Seniors – Day of $7 / Advanced $6

 

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So… who’s ready to hear the King of Rock n’ Roll and who wants to see lovely Ann-Margret? They sizzle together in Viva Las Vegas and the Pickwick Theater is proud to bring it to the big screen for your enjoyment. Made in 1964 it is considered by many to be one of the King’s best films. Though it didn’t walk away with any first place prizes it did received second place as a musical and third place for both Elvis and Ann-Margret for their musical performances in the Golden Laurel category which is not surprising when you realize that there are no fewer than 10 songs.

In a very few days this film will open on the big screen and you and your family can experience the magic of Vegas with all its pomp and ceremony. See the casino’s, the girls and experience the clubs as only two men on the search for one girl can bring you.

Please be advised that our last show was nearly 800 people in a theater that seats 950. If you want to get a good seat (and there really are no bad seats) come early and make your claim. Also, know that the line for the popcorn gets long fast as well. Advance tickets are still being sold at the box office or online. Those will stop being sold on the day of the show.

For more information please visit Park Ridge Classic Film.

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What:
Viva Las Vegas (1964)
Starring Elvis Presley & Ann-Margaret
When:
November 13, 2015
Feature at 7:30 p.m. (85 Minutes)
Where:
The Pickwick Theater
5 S. Prospect Ave. Park Ridge, ILL

Admission:
Regular – Day of $10 / Advanced $8
Seniors – Day of $7 / Advanced $6

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What does it take for the stars to align correctly and a box office hit to occur? The answer is one director born 1899 (Alfred Hitchcock – London England), one male lead born 1904 (Cary Grant – Bristol England) and one female lead born 1924 (Eva Marie Saint – Newark, New Jersey.) Released July 28, 1959 North By Northwest became an instant classic. With a screenplay by Ernest Lehman and a score by Bernard Herrman how could it go wrong? The answer – it couldn’t and it didn’t. And so, it has stood the test of time.

As with Hitchcock’s earlier successes there was a misunderstood man who must fight to prove who he is and in the end discovers that there’s more to himself than even he knew. It’s a classic tale of misunderstanding but with lots of monkey wrenches thrown in. when you’re in trouble shouldn’t it be a trouble worth being in trouble for?

Cary Grant’s character Roger O. Thornhill is an advertising executive who’s used to twisting the truth around to sell a product. In his world that is a normal practice but in the real world doing what he’s used to can have some very big consequences. He soon finds this out when he is misidentified as George Kaplan. Without knowing it, he is now seen as a government agent.

At first Thornhill denies being Kaplan and tries to prove his true identity. Unbelieved, the spies who’ve kidnapped him attempt to kill him. By luck he gets away and in order to get himself out of the hot-seat he sets out to prove himself and find out who exactly, ‘this cap Kaplan is.’ Caught again and escaping again he must take on the identity of Kaplan in order to survive. Soon one of the greatest adventures ever to come to the big screen ensues but I won’t tell you any more. You’ll have to come to the Pickwick and see what happens for yourself.

The only other thing I’ll tell you is there is a beautiful blond who’s not exactly who you think she is and that the chase involves some breathtakingly scenic views of our great United States.

Other Notable Film Facts:

  • Budget = $4,326,000

  • Box Office = $9.8 Million

  • 1st Film to use Kinetic Typography (Opening Credits)

Script by Ernest Lehman

Lehman had 25 screenplays to his credit in which he amassed many awards including 6 Writers Guild of America Awards, 2 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, a Golden Globe and an honorary Academy Award in 2001 for his varied and enduring works. Among these works where such classics as:

  • The King and I (1956)

  • North By Northwest (1959)

  • West Side Story (1961)

  • The Sound of Music (1965) & wrote the soundtrack

  • Hello Dolly! (1969) & produced

Score by Bernard Herrmann

Herrmann worked a great deal for two men, Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Wells. Starting with radio he regularly wrote scores for the Mercury Theater On The Air and was the one man Wells trusted when it came to what would become one of both men’s outstanding legacies, the 1938 radio drama – The War of the Worlds. For film Herrmann teamed up many times with Hitchcock and amassed quite the repertoire. Later he would work on several Ray Harryhausen films and in television he’d do the score for The Twilight Zone and Have Gun Will Travel. As of 2005 this versatile composer has two of his works (Psycho #4 & Vertigo #12) in the top 25 Greatest Film Scores by the American Film Institute.

  • Citizen Kane (1941) Salary $10,000

  • The Ghost And Mrs. Muir (1947)

  • The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1953)

  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

  • Vertigo (1958)

  • The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

  • North By Northwest (1959)

  • Psycho (1960 & 1998) Salary $34,500 –1960 Version

  • Cape Fear (1962 & 1991)

  • Jason And The Argonauts (1963)

  • Taxi Driver (1976)

What:

North By Northwest (1959) Starring Cary Grant

 

Where:

The Pickwick Theater

5 S. Prospect Ave, Park Ridge, IL 60068

 

When:

September 17th, 2015

Live Organ music by Famed Organist Jay Warren at 7 PM

North By Northwest at 7:30 PM (136 Minutes)

Diamonds in Our Midst

Many people I know and consider my friends talk about finding their soulmate. That person, they tell me, is hard to find and once found the best gift the universe has to offer.

For myself, I’m not sure about the Universe but I do firmly believe that there are special people that will appear in each of our lives. Some are fleeting but they serve a purpose and fulfill a need for that small segment of time they are in our lives.

Others, are lasting. They might be lifelong friends we meet as children, who we grow up beside and remain with us our whole lives. Some find us in the middle and help us along and still others find us near the end and bring light into those remaining years. Each is equally needed and loved.

But there is that One person who is different somehow. That person is the one who stands beside us and holds our hand in times of need. They are the shoulder we cry on, the most trusted person in our lives. They bring laughter and joy. At odd moments of the day when they are somewhere else they are still beside us. That person’s love and support is with us at every turn in the road. If we are smart and very lucky that person, who sometimes is labeled soulmate, also is our helpmate.

Hopefully someone reading this, who perhaps was ready to give up, will change their mind. Someone is out there waiting for them as they have waited and it isn’t a little green man. It could be someone who wants to give you green (money, flowers).

Let me just start by saying that I went to the victory parade last week. That one sentence tells you that I am a fan and that I think highly of our players. Now, standing in the sardine can of fans I overheard others talking. Some where saying that there were a lot of fans present that were not True Fans. This was based on the notion that a True Fan was one who followed the team’s exploits before they became champions. There I must put my proverbial foot down as I disagree with the statement.

I myself am a recent convert to the sport. It is true that by the time I joined they had already won a cup in recent years. That alone would put me on the list of non-true fans. Here I raise my hand and put up a disclaimer and prove myself to be a True Fan. How? By claiming ignorance. I did not know that they’d won a cup when I began to follow. Therefore, I am not one of those newbies who jumped on the bandwagon as they say just because they were a winning team.

My journey began shortly before the playoffs began in  2013. I’d never been a fan of any sport and I didn’t particularly mind or care. My Dad, for no apparent reason, one night suggested we turn WGN on and listen to a hockey game and see what we thought. We weren’t sure after the first game so we tuned in another night and gave it another shot. At first, I think we all had headaches. At least,  I know I did. I kept going back and forth in my mind where the puck was and trying to get it out of danger’s way. After all, at that time I didn’t know the names of the players. Knowing which side of the ice the puck was at was the only thing I could hold onto and so hold I did.

Given half a dozen games listened to, I began to recognize the player’s names. I no longer had to move my eyes back and forth or make my finger move from one side of my knee to the other. I knew when we were safe and when we weren’t. I started to see patterns and understand the rules of the game. In short, I was hooked. When I figured out that the team was going into the playoffs I got excited. I didn’t understand exactly what it took to reach the final win but I knew we were getting closer with every game. I held onto that. I read the newspaper. At that time, I was alone in Hockey. I didn’t know anyone who was a Fan. I had no one to ask questions of. I was a lonely practisioner of the sport.

As the Hawks got closer and closer I listend eagerly to every game. I missed none. I didn’t go out of the house when the game was one because the game had a life of its own. That night when we played Game 6 against the Boston Bruins was an eye opener. They were tough and I was sure we were headed to Game 7. Then suddenly the puck found the back of the Bruin net and I, along with everyone else, felt sure overtime was at hand. After all, there was almost no time left. Then, out of nowhere the puck was once again in the Bruin net. 17 seconds had elapsed since the tie and now if they could hang on for just a little bit more, they had the coveted Cup. It happened. I listened as John and Troy exploded and my family went wild from our own livingroom. We were Stanley Cup Champion Fans!

The next season was eagierly awaited and with it brought the knowledge that there were others like me out there who loved this sport just as much as I had gotten to. It was a wonderful feeling. I went almost a whole year without ever seeing a single game. I didn’t have to see a game to know what went on. The games were brought to life to me by two men who had played the game and who now told a new generation what was going on at ice level. The newspapers showed me what the players looked like and between the two  I learned much. In fact, I know more about the rules than many of my fellow fans who watch the television. They say I’m missing something by not watching the games, I say they are missing something by not listening to the games. Maybe we’re both missing something but the reality is that we are all Hawk Fans. That is the most important thing of all.

So now I’ve been a fan for over two years. I’ve been with the team almost every game through the ups and downs of the seasons. I’ve heard and watched the players get hurt, return and show the world that they are a force to be reconned with. The Hawks prove they are the team to beat on a regular basis and they have enough Stanley Cups in recent years to show the whole hockey world that they are champion stock. So am I a True Fan? I think so. In the end that’s all that matters.

These days there are so many ways to get from point A to point B. We drive, train, fly and boat. Each has it’s advantages but some give benefits not necessity thought of.

If you drive you decide to the second what time you’ll leave, arrive and which routes you’ll use. You can make unplanned stops. You can do as you choose but you must also always be alert. Other drivers don’t drive as well as you do and each of those seconds you’re behind the wheel brings new dangers.

Now, taking the train means living a scheduled life. Miss it and you’re late or you just don’t get to do what you thought you were going to. Once on, the only thing you have to remember is when to get off. You can sleep if you want. You can work, mingle with other riders or look out the window without driving off the tracks. Taking the train is a comedy. These is always something new. Passengers with odd clothing combinations, the smells of a variety of foods and then there are those conversations. Did they really just say that out loud?

Now if you live in Chicago and take the L you have a whole new experience. You pass homes with windows wide open practically butted up to the tracks. The train stops and you hear arguments with the occasional flying pan, TV shows in snippets and most importantly you watch life unfold as families grow up before your eyes one day at a time.

Flying is a little bit like taking the train. Only now it’s impossible to miss your stop. You’ll find some commuters but mostly you will find vacationers. Happiness is in the air (pun not intended but it works) as passengers expectations rise closer and closer to the surface.

Finally there is the boat. Like the plane, some use it often but that’s smaller vessels and not the norm. Vacation is not got going on the boat, the boat is the vacation. Being on a cruise is a 24 hour party. What more could you want?

We Americans love to travel. We’re full of life and we like to get there fast. America, the land of opportunity, the land of dreams, the best nation in the world to travel around and so much to see. Options? Sure, we have them. Plenty of them. Which one is your favorite and why?

Poster-Casablanca_13

In 1942 Hollywood released a hurriedly made movie meant to capitalize on another movie with a setting also taking place in South Africa. Algers had been a hit but now that Warners’ next film was ready they were no longer sure a success was possible. They knew they had a good cast but besides that they just didn’t know. The whole film’s production had been fraught with difficulties and so uncertainty hung in the air as they waited for the public’s response.

What Warners got was a huge surprise they have never stopped feeling blessed with. Casablanca was a hit with a capital H. The film’s earliest beginnings were steeped to the ceiling with doubts that it ever would be made. After all ~ it was based off a play that had never been produced. To say that Casablanca has a story to tell is a vast understatement. The making of this classic has its own lore.

What can I tell you that you don’t know? That all depends on how immersed in the movies or how much of a Casablanquiste you are.

Let’s start with the basics. It all began with a play written by Murray Burnett entitled Everyone Comes to Rick’s. The play was never produced but Warners bought it from Burnett for $20,000 in 1941. It wasn’t until May 25, 1942 that shooting began. What held it up? There was no screenplay but they were shopping for actors/actresses to play a part that they had trouble describing because there was no script and they were making the storyline up as they went along. That problem remained through the whole of shooting as no one knew the ending all the way to the final days of shooting. The big question? Who was Ilsa going to go with?

The legacy of Casablanca is very much like the earliest of Mack Sennett comedies where the cameras roll and whatever happens happens. The script was written day to day with the ink barely dry before being handed off to the actors only hours before shooting began for that day.

The norm on the set was confusion and arguments. People walked off and lines were rewritten by everyone. The characters evolved and without anyone knowing they created a masterpiece that to many film historians is #3 behind #1 Citizen Kane and #2 Gone With the Wind as the greatest film ever made.

Interesting Facts

Bogart was 43 ~ Bergman was 27

Henreid, Lorre & Veidt were all refugees of the Nazi party in real life.

The Film cost $878,000 and was 8% over budget.

Filming took 59 days and that was 11 days over schedule.

What: Early Valentines Day Showing of Casablanca
When: February 10, 2015 at 7:30 pm
Where: The Pickwick Theater ~ 5 S. Prospect Ave Park Ridge, Illinois
Admission: Regular $7, Seniors $5

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