100 Things About Me #170

Fabulous Fun
When I was a small boy watching motion pictures inside Atlanta's premiere theatre, The Fabulous Fox -- it was always branded as "The Fabulous Fox" -- my mind was often off the wide, sixtyish-foot screen with wandering eyes busy consuming and embracing the mammoth movie palace, unlike any other I have ever experienced.

Plucked down, enveloped by a sea of seats underneath the vast balcony and star-like twinkly lights and fluffy clouds rolling across the ceiling, my earliest, fond memories of the showplace include "No Time for Sergeants" (1958), "The Guns of Navarone" (1961), "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" (1962), "Hatari!" (1962), "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" (1964), plus Jerry Lewis performing in person on opening night of "The Nutty Professor" (June 21, 1963).

And I got to see most, if not all, of those events on 25¢ admissions!

I enjoyed numerous films here throughout the '60s and into the early '70s, when the theatre business changed, moving first-run product to smaller venues dotting the suburbs. As in many cities, the shift was death to downtown exhibitors, even the architectural treasures like the Fox, which was forced to end its daily screenings after more than four decades as the south's most prestigious cinematic destination.

Shortly before the demise, I was there along with a sell-out crowd on the first evening of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969).

In the last gasps, a few years later, I recall viewing a rare revival of "King Kong" (1933).

My final visit, circa 1974, was an all-day fur-fest featuring five "Planet of the Apes" flicks. It was a Sunday. I doubt there were three dozen patrons in attendance.

The Fox struggled, but, for me, it went out like a champ -- and, sure, chimps.

I knew from the early visits, I had to be a part of this theatre. By third or fourth grade, I felt a yearning, as well as some gum under my chair.

As you may know, I have worked inside movie houses and drive-ins since the age of 10, beginning as a flunky and weaving through a full career in projection rooms. I regret never making the Fox payroll during its picture show heyday. I had the experience and connections, but the wrecking ball snuck up on me and shuttered my dream.

Continued: "Fox: In the Box"

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Fox Theatre sign photo from biskuit @ Flickr, Creative Commons license
Fox Theatre audience from hoyasmeg @ Flickr, Creative Commons license
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