IF YOU GO
What: Grand Reopening 1930s Film Festival
When: Five screenings from March 4-6
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.
Cost: $1 per film at the door only
1930s FILM FEST SCHEDULE
7 p.m. March 4: “King Kong”
2 p.m. March 5: “The Wizard of Oz”
7 p.m. March 5: “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”
2 p.m. March 6: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
6 p.m. March 6: “Gone With the Wind”
What: George Lincoln Rockwell documentary
When: 8 p.m. March 9
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.
George Lincoln Rockwell
Founded the American Nazi Party in 1959
In 1960 told a reporter his desire was to execute 90 percent of the Jews in the United States
Coined and promoted the phrase “White Power” in 1966
David Duke (former KKK Grand Wizard who has endorsed Donald Trump for president) is reported to have called called Rockwell “the greatest American who ever lived.”
Budget was $672,000 (equal to $12 million today)
Box office gross was $2.8 million (equal to $51 million today)
The film holds an amazing 98 percent positive score on RottenTomatoes.com
The first original score composed specifically for a full-length “sound” movie in the U.S.
“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”
Nominated for 11 Academy Awards
Was quite controversial at the time of its release
Considered to be the movie that made Jimmy Stewart a star
Over the past several decades, scores of older, historic movie houses across the U.S. have found themselves converted for other types of commercial ventures, with the structural modifications required for such “progress” rendering them essentially unusable as any sort of auditorium.
Those cinemas not overhauled often wind up sitting abandoned, ignored for years or even generations due to changing neighborhood demographics, unforeseen zoning constraints or merely the high cost of preserving older properties and retrofitting their audio-visual equipment to keep up with modern technological advances.
So, generally speaking, it’s a rather uncommon occurrence when a long-shuttered (or otherwise repurposed) cinema regains the ability to screen motion pictures, let alone embraces that ability in a big way.
And yet, over the past two decades, three different beloved, historic and once-closed theaters in the greater Savannah area have been granted new leases on life.
In 1998, the old 1,200-seat Weis Theater on Broughton Street reopened as SCAD’s Trustees Theater after a decade of darkness (and now serves as the headquarters of the annual Savannah Film Festival); in 2000, downtown’s 1,100-seat Lucas Theatre awakened once more after almost a quarter-century of inactivity (and now screens a couple of dozen repertory titles each year); and in 2014, almost 60 years after its last show, Springfield’s Mars Theatre began welcoming the public to regular engagements of both first-run and classic motion pictures.
It brings me great pleasure to say that our area can now add yet another revitalized venue to that already impressive list.
This weekend, for the first time in five decades, the recently reopened Tybee Post Theater (originally built in 1930 for military families stationed at Fort Screven) will offer movies on the big screen. This will be the first use of the venue’s just-installed digital projection system, and that technology will allow the theater to offer a wide variety of both new and older films year-round.
With the nearest other first-run cinema nearly 30 minutes from the island, the Tybee Post Theater (which also plays host to live concerts and plays) seems primed to be a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike.
Billed as a “Grand Reopening 1930s Film Festival,” this weekend’s event is from March 4-6. The lineup includes five bona fide silver screen classics from one of Hollywood’s most celebrated decades. Titles include the groundbreaking 1933 romantic horror adventure “King Kong,” 1939’s proto-psychedelic fable “The Wizard of Oz,” 1939’s political everyman tale “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” the first-ever full-length cel-animated film (and the movie that cemented Walt Disney Studios’ reputation as the premiere animation outlet), 1937’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” and the timeless 1939 Civil War melodrama “Gone with the Wind.”
Each film will screen only once during the weekend, and there are only 206 seats available for each screening (the theater is very intimate). As a special “thank you” to locals who have waited patiently for this venue to reopen and generously supported its renovations, admission is only $1 per movie. You read that right — tickets are only a buck.
However, tickets can only be purchased at the door on the day of each show, and cannot be reserved in advance online. The theater’s box office opens 90 minutes before each film, so arrive early to avoid disappointment. Concessions will be available. For the theater’s full schedule, go to www.tybeeposttheater.org.
Looking ahead to next Wednesday, March 9, the Psychotronic Film Society presents a very special and unusual film at The Sentient Bean that is designed to provide a unique perspective on the current, sad state of public discourse regarding our upcoming presidential election.
It’s no secret that this 2016 campaign has found many candidates spewing perhaps the most blatantly racist political rhetoric heard in the past 60 years. Donald Trump, for example, has recently been endorsed by David Duke, the disgusting White Supremacist leader and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. However, many people are unaware that Duke’s worldview (and much of Trump’s rhetoric as well) is directly based on the teachings of George Lincoln Rockwell, founder and leader of the American Nazi Party, who was assassinated in 1967.
The PFS has gotten its hands on an insanely rare VHS copy of a documentary on Rockwell made in the early 1980s by true believers in the White Power movement. This film has never been released in the mainstream, and instead was circulated solely among Neo-Nazis and skinheads for use as a recruitment tool. In other words, it was not meant to be shown outside of private screenings by pro-racist organizations.
It features a treasure trove of amazing, little-seen archival footage of speeches by and interviews with Rockwell, and charts his rise to power from a disgruntled WWII veteran (he battled Hitler’s forces in Europe for the U.S.) to a fanatical cult leader who fancied himself “America’s Führer.”
By screening this incredibly obscure piece of twisted propaganda, the PFS hopes to shine a much-needed light on the pervasive, destructive problem of homegrown terrorism and religious extremism — a problem which has unfortunately infiltrated our country’s current presidential politics.
This is a very rare chance to see the world through the diseased hearts, eyes and minds of White Supremacists. Showtime is 8 p.m., with $8 admission.
Until next week, see you at the movies, and don’t forget to turn off that cell phone.
Jim Reed directs Psychotronic Film Society of Savannah. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.