The kick-off party started at 6, but I get there a tad late because of the lovely parking found downtown. I attempt the impossible quest of scoring free parking (at my age, I NOW know how nice that space on the Monopoly board actually is). Thursday I was thwarted in that quest, but a few bucks got me a solid space in a good location (i.e.- within walking distance under a hot Texas sun).
At the box office I receive my credentials and step inside The Paramount for the first time. The lobby was full of friendly faces and enthusiasts. The smell of popcorn from the concessions is warm and inviting. I meet Nick, The Paramount's web coordinator and my liaison. After an introduction to the film series, the theatre, and to my duties, I venture upstairs to glance at the movie memorabilia up for silent auction. Many were also browsing the collection of items.
There was an assortment of miscellaneous items up there, including costumes worn by Peter Ustinov and various other film treasures. All to benefit the continuing efforts of The Paramount, a Movie Palace that's been keeping Austin classy since 1915. It is completely supported by the contributions of others such as members, film fans, or other benefactors. The items upstairs for auction aren't merely to provide guests with memorabilia; they help ensure the continued excellence of the venue. Tables display all of the items available for bid: props, costumes, photographs, artwork, all available to those who wrote The highest offer. Heck, I even saw autographed photos of John Waters; you know, should you happen to be the type who needs just the right thing over the mantle to complete that the shrine you may have to Hairspray, Serial Mom, or even Pink Flamingos.
Just to be clear... No, I don't mean these guys above. In fact, if you don't know what John Water's Pink Flamingos is... Well, it's probably best you stay in the dark on that one.
But I digress.
After some visiting with fellow moviegoers and gawking at the items on display. I finally made my way to the seating area. Since I was already on the upper level, I ventured out onto the Mezzanine.
As a film lover with an appreciation for architecture and history, my first steps into this area were breathtaking. (to such a degree I forgot to take photos. Dern it.) The ornate detail of the ceiling was beautiful. I kept turning my head to capture all of the detail. I found myself spinning around and around so much I must've looked like Saul Bass's title sequence to Vertigo.
You think I kid, but I actually have photographic proof. Below is a rough transcript of my left brain and right brain trying to take it all in.
"Don't forget to some snapshots."
"Oooooh. This'll make a great photo for the blog!"
"Hey, what's that over there?!"
(Whips head while pressing shutter)
Awesome. That'll make me look like a pro. Surely I amused some seated patrons and ushers as well.
Glancing down at my watch, I saw the show was about to start. The preview party would have a screening of Casablanca, followed later in the evening by The Maltese Falcon.
I descend the stairs to grab a peek of the view from down at stage level, when the house lights start to dim. Quickly I take a seat on the lower level and get ready take in Casablanca like a fine glass of wine. As a part of a generation that has only seen classic film on DVD and VHS (remember those?) in my younger days, I was eager to see this film as it was meant to be seen.
Up there. On the silver screen.