"Our Movie Houses" Delights Readers

“‘Our Movie Houses’ Delights Readers”
By Michael Aaron Gallagher

Review: 5 Stars (out of 5 Stars)

If I were to sum up my review for the new, best-selling book by author Norman Keim entitled, “Our Movie Houses: A History of Film and Cinematic Innovation in Central New York,” I would say simply, “I absolutely love this book!”

Our Movie Houses” is a must-read, a perfect fixture for every coffee table in Central New York. A thoroughly researched, thoughtful account of the rise and fall of some of our greatest movie palaces, it explores the city’s motion picture heritage and documents the relationship between old Hollywood and our community. It is a book, “twenty years in the making,” that has become so successful in its second printing there is talk of a second edition.
With photographs and descriptions of the more than one hundred movie theaters that glittered throughout the region, “Our Movie Houses” is sure to become a cherished keepsake for historians, film buffs, and movie-goers everywhere. Not only does it help set the record straight about where the first motion pictures were screened for public audiences, but it also displays stunning original photographs from the city, at a time when downtown Syracuse flourished with thriving businesses and a vibrant social scene.

On Nov. 16, Norman Keim delivered a lecture about his book to an audience at the Palace Theater in Eastwood. During the presentation he described the days of the epic movie palace when, “You just didn’t see a picture, you got a whole program, starting with an overture by the orchestra or the organ, they alternated showings; then maybe a short, either a comedy or a travelogue; then maybe a musical number, either a song or an ensemble (the State Theater had their own men’s chorus); then maybe a vaudeville act or a dance act; then a cartoon; then a newsreel; and finally the feature film. Now compare that with our present movie going experience, of going to a mall theater.”

Author Norman Keim presents his best-selling new book “Our Movie Houses”
to an audience at the Palace Theater in Eastwood, NY.

In his closing remarks, Keim said, “The movie palace and neighborhood theater era lasted only thirty or forty years. And now it’s over. But if you were privileged to be a part of it, I’m sure you have many delightful stories to tell. It is no more. But we still have our memories.”

It’s not often I buy a book I have already read, but “Our Movie Houses” by Norman Keim is a one-of-a-kind gem worth reliving again and again. It is the perfect resource for students writing research papers, for those interested in what movie stars had ties to Central New York, and for anyone who wants to travel back in time to an almost forgotten era, when a trip to the movie theater was a radiant experience that lasted a lifetime.
Not only does the book “Our Movie Houses” serve as a call to preserve the unique traditions of our region and its great historic landmarks, but it also shares untold stories with new generations of film enthusiasts who may now discover a side of their city’s past they never knew.
Our Movie Houses,” first edition copies are still available through Syracuse University Press. For more information visit www.syracuseuniversitypress.syr.edu or call (315) 443-5534.
“‘Our Movie Houses’ Delights Readers”
Photographs by Michael Aaron Gallagher
Copyright © 2008 by Michael Aaron Gallagher

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