Published: Aug 19, 2008 06:15 PM
Modified: Aug 19, 2008 06:15 PM
Lights ... camera ... action
Historical Society calendar celebrates 100 years of movies in Chapel Hill
The Pickwick, described by The Tar Heel as "a theatre for musical comedies and moving picture shows," opened its doors at 128 East Franklin Street in late November of 1909. Chapel Hill's first movie theater was a huge success; right from its first night, the UNC newspaper reported, "the stately and artistic ticket office has been massed and thronged by surging, anxious, not-to-be-forbidden students and otherwise."During the century since the Pick welcomed its first mob of rambunctious, peanut-throwing students, movies have been an important part of life in Chapel Hill.The Chapel Hill Historical Society is celebrating that history with its 1909 calendar, "100 Years of Movies in Chapel Hill." The society will introduce the calendar, a feast for local cinephiles, with a celebration Thursday from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the Carolina Inn. The event will include talks by several people with ties to the movie industry and by several contributors who wrote sections for the calendar. It is free and open to the public.On display will be Academy Awards, photos and movie posters, including one for "You'll Find Out," a 1940 haunted house picture that starred longtime Chapel Hill resident Kay Kyser and was notable for being the only movie in which all three of the best-known horror film stars of the era -- Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre -- appeared together.Val Lauder, who was president of the Historical Society from 1996 to 2001, created the calendar. It features images of local theaters, stills from notable films that played here, movie posters and more, along with extensive commentary about various aspects of Chapel HillÕs life in movies. "It was a lot of hard work, but it was a lot of fun," she said. "I love movies, and I love history. I dug up a lot of stuff, and the North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library was invaluable."Lauder wrote most of the commentaries, but she also included excerpts from previously published works, including reminiscences by William Prouty and Cornelia Spencer Love, and she recruited other contributors, including Woody Durham (on sports films), D.G. Martin (on being an extra in Robin Williams' "Patch Adams," filmed on the UNC campus) and Kimball King, professor emeritus who introduced the popular course in film criticism at UNC (on film noir).Only a few films have actually been shot in Chapel Hill, including "Patch Adams" and the silly 1960s romp "Three in the Attic." But the town has lots of other ties to motion pictures. Actors such as Andy Griffith, Louise Fletcher and Billy Crudup attended UNC. Major motion pictures have been made from books written by locals, such as Daniel Wallace ("Big Fish") and Betty Smith, whose novel "Joy in the Morning" was made into a movie that had its world premiere at the Carolina Theater, attended by star Richard Chamberlain.And UNC playwright Paul Green wrote a number of screenplays, including "The Cabin in the Cotton," which gave Bette Davis one of her most memorable lines: "IÕd like to kiss you, but I just washed my hair."The calendar will be available for purchase at local book stores, specialty shops and gift shops, including A Southern Season, Borders, McIntyre's Fine Books, the Laughing Turtle and the gift shop at The Carolina Inn.
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2008 The Chapel Hill News