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City Lights at the Los Angeles Theatre

Every once in awhile, you get to be part of something special.  Something that transports you back in time and allows you to see things from a unique perspective. This past weekend I enjoyed a little bit of nostalgic history.

Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre


As part of the Los Angeles Conservancy’s series Last Remaining Seats, which brings vintage films and showcases them in the stunning theaters of Los Angeles’ heyday of old, I was able to see a Charlie Chaplin film in the very theater in premiered at in 1931.  While this is a very unique opportunity, it actually wasn’t my first.  A few months prior I was able to do the exact same thing through the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre.  At that time, I saw Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, which premiered there on June 26, 1925. Los Angeles never ceases to amaze me at the stellar opportunities we are given to appreciate our distinctive past.

The film I was able to see at the Los Angeles Theatre was Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, his personal favorite, and widely heralded as one of the greatest films ever made.  I’ll admit it, the final scene made me cry – what a sentimental, romantic gal I am.  Chaplin wrote, produced, directed, edited and composed the music for the film.  What was unique about the showing was the very fact that, as John Bengtson, the host and film historian for the evening, said, you could be seated in the very seat Charlie Chaplin or Albert Einstein, who also viewed the premiere, were sitting in.  Yes, I understand the seats have been reconfigured a bit since then, but you get the picture. It was a lovely, immersive experience and you could easily imagine yourself transported back to 1931 and seeing the film as it was originally meant to be seen.

Last Remaining Seats City Lights

After the film concluded, you were allowed to roam throughout the Los Angeles Theatre, the most ornate of Los Angeles’ many lovely theaters.  The theater opened in time for the premiere of City Lights and is designed in a majestic Louis XIV style, with gold embellishments, elaborate murals, crystal chandeliers, and a sweeping staircase.

Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre
Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre
Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre
Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre

After the show, we ventured onto the stage of the Los Angeles Theatre and got a close up look of the incredible main stage drape, which you realize upon close inspection is a three-dimensional rendition of a scene in fabric with elaborate scenes of the life of Louis XIV of France.

Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre
Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre
Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre
Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre

Downstairs we viewed the lovely ballroom and I took special interest in the ladies room, which featured an elaborate foyer where ladies could inspect themselves and bathroom stalls each ensconced in a different type of marble.

Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre
Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre

Just off of the ladies room was a fantastical play room that at one time was staffed, so guests could drop off their children while they enjoyed the film.

Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre
Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre by Lady by Choice

The theater is a great treasure and one that you should endeavor to see, perhaps at the next Night on Broadway, Conservancy walking tour or Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation tour.

Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre 1920s dress

Dress: 1920s silk satin shift with printed chiffon scarf – Wildfell Hall Vintage
Purse: 1930s black crochet handbag – unknown vintage store
Shoes: Naturalizer, from several years ago (most comfortable heels ever!)

Last Remaining Seats Los Angeles Theatre

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8 comments so far.

8 responses to “City Lights at the Los Angeles Theatre”

  1. Kate says:

    That sounds like so much fun! I actually saw City Lights a few weeks ago, although it was in a modern movie theater. I cried at the end too! (I rarely cry during films, so I was a bit surprised by my reaction). I'm normally not a big Chaplin fan, but it was certainly one of his best films. That theater looks amazing! I'm sure it must have made the whole movie experience that much more magical.

  2. admin says:

    Kate, it was pretty special. I had to buy the blu-ray of the film, I liked the film so much.

  3. Mim says:

    WOW! That cinema is simply amazing. How great to be able to see a film there.

  4. admin says:

    Mim, it was a surreal experience.

  5. Oohhh, what a gloriously gorgeous theater. Should I ever have the chance to be in that part of the States, I truly want to make a beeline there myself. Thank you for giving me a new place to add to my dream US travel itinerary.

    Love your elegant outfit – and the photo of you holding the silent movie caption sign is just too fabulous!!!

    ♥ Jessica

  6. admin says:

    Thank you, Jessica. You should go. We have lots of pretty sites here in L.A.!

  7. Brad Alexander says:

    My wife and I also attended the viewing of City Lights that night. You are right, it was a magical experience. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the Los Angeles Theatre and City lights with 2,000 people in the audience laughing the whole time.

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