Beverly Thrills

Nicole M. Campbell is a KFI editrix. She doesn't understand how the yellow lines in parking lots stop the shopping carts. This week, in the continued movie wasteland that is the post-Oscar landscape, the Girl on Film pens her own La La Land love letter to the cinematic vending machine that has nourished her life, the New Beverly Theatre.


Think about what you know and how you know it. More specifically, how you learned it. It was probably from people, not a place. 

Much of what I know about movies I learned at the New Beverly Theatre. 

I started going to the one-room picture house, as the Brits like to say, when I was a teenager. Some people know they want to see the Eiffel Tower or hike some of the highest peaks in the world. My life was not going to be complete without seeing "Citizen Kane" on the big screen. 

The New Bev, as I affectionately call it, was many things before it was a movie theatre. That includes a candy factory and vaudeville house. Then it went to the saucy side, showing movies your mother warned you about. In 1978, a man named Sherman Torgan took over the closed theatre space and created the New Beverly, a place where classic cinema thrives. 

The New Bev shows double features - for cheap - with a theme. Maybe it's two by director Alex Cox. (You can see a young, pre-nose job Courtney Love in one of my favorites by Cox, "Sid and Nancy." And yes, I first saw it at the New Bev.) Maybe it's two starring Jack Lemmon. Maybe it's two movies with a plot about alien abduction. No matter the offering, it will be movies that are important in the historical cinematic canon, cult favorites, rare prints. And the programmers show the original previews, all scratchy negatives and sepia tones. There are even retro snack reminders. 

When Torgan - or Shermie, as my friend Carrie and I would secretly nickname him - died in 2007, I was worried the New Bev might close. Its insides had seen better decor days and the prime real estate on Beverly Blvd., west of La Brea, most certainly was attractive to developers. 

Carrie and I would wonder aloud about how cool it would be if Quentin Tarantino, a film fanatic who grew up in the Southland, would be the New Bev's benefactor. He could pay for the seats to be reupholstered, new drapes. But we worried a makeover would take some of the magic out of the theatre. We didn't want it to become a smaller version of the Arclight. (I call it the Barflight - why are people okay with paying upwards of $21 for a movie?) 

From our mouths to Tarantino's a "Reservoir Dogs" robbery gone right, everything fell into place. The famous director bought the New Beverly and took over as head programmer. Many films the theatre screens are from his own collection of prints. Yes, he shows his own stuff - mostly during midnight movie madness - and a wee bit too much grindhouse/gore/'70s kung fu offerings for this gal, but he has kept the spirit of Shermie alive. And for that, I and countless other hardcore repertory movie fans are forever grateful.

I'll be at the New Beverly this weekend, delighting in the disaster flicks that are my cinematic guilty pleasure. Of course the New Beverly was once a candy factory. It shows so much silver screen sweet stuff.

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