What The Fox?


Don’t you just love movies?  I do.  I love all movies, except ones that don’t have happy endings and Armageddon.  That movie blew.

I’ve seen a ton of movies.  It helped that when I was in high school I worked at a movie theater called The Fox.

Built in 1949, The Fox Theater was a 1050 red velvet seated dream factory that I’m sure inspired countless young teens like myself to come to Hollywood and create cinematic masterpieces that would one day play on that very screen – only to find themselves decades later working a cruddy day job with one crappy B movie under their belt and a few unproduced projects sitting on a shelf at Disney.   Oh my god that theater ruined so many lives!

Anyhoo, back then it was the best place in town to work.  It had everything a person needed: movies, candy and a bathroom with a huge mirror.

Plus, you got to see everyone, because everyone came to the movies, including the boy you were majorly in love with … and his new girlfriend.  You waited on her at the candy counter and made sure she got the dregs of the popcorn and the box of Junior Mints that you’d already half eaten.

Oh, you didn’t suspect that the reason your chocolate almonds and Junior Mints felt a little light was because we’d already sampled them?  Yeah, the boxes weren’t sealed, you see, so when we’d get hungry, we’d open one, eat two or three and then put it back in the candy counter.  Then we’d sell it to you.

We did a lot of things we probably weren’t supposed to.  Remember all those times you’d stalk into the lobby to complain about the noise – not from inside the theater but from outside in the lobby?  That was us.  You probably wondered what we were doing out there to cause such a raucous.

Possibly you heard Danny, the Assistant Manager, and me chasing each other around the lobby, armed with squirt bottles of ketchup and mustard.  Or maybe you heard us reenacting the entire Muppet Movie for our co-workers.

Were you there when we were attempting to perform the final routine from Roller Boogie? Yeah, I said Roller Boogie.  Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about, I saw you there.  I sold you your popcorn and partially eaten box of candy.

Remember that move where the guy throws the girl into the air and she spins around and then lands on one foot?  We tried that move a thousand times.  What you heard was a thousand failed attempts of me being thrown into a chair, or the wall, or the candy counter.  Man, I was glad when that movie left.

Oh, and the people who confiscated your beer at the door, then told you that you couldn’t have it back because it had been dumped down the drain, that was us too.  But guess what?  We didn’t dump your beer.  We drank it after closing.

We were the ones who messed with the marquee so, when you drove by to get a look at what was playing, you read messages to our friends instead, like “Don’t call me Shirley,” or “Geno, where are my curly fries?”

I could go on for pages, because I have so many incredible memories from The Fox Theater and I’m sure all of you who grew up watching movies in it do too.  I wish it was still there to inspire the next generation of film lovers and filmmakers, but it’s not.  They tore it down because, in the end, The Fox Theater was just too awesome to exist.

You’ll no longer find it on the corner of Orange and Broadway, but it’s still around.  At least a little piece of it is.  It’s laying just off the road on Highway 93 at the bottom of Evaro Hill.  It’s the big, Fox neon tower.

A few years ago my friend and I stopped by to pay it a visit.  Part of me was really excited to see an old friend and the other part of me was super depressed that my old friend was lying in the dirt on the side of the road, rusting, rotting, disintegrating.  It made me feel old and I said as much to my friend.

She threw a sympathetic arm around me.  “You are old,” she said, “and those pants make you look really fat.  Go stand up there so I can get a picture to document it.’

So, I did.  And afterwards I actually had a hard time walking away.  I thought “What if I come back next year and it’s gone?”  That’s how movies start, you know, with a what if?   What if a shark ate a swimmer?  What if toys came to life when we left the room?

Hmm, maybe I’m onto something here.  Quick, someone get me Spielberg on the phone!

Missing Missoula ~ CC The Trained Monkey

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BIO:  Carol Chrest is a bitter old spinster living in Los Angeles. When she’s not working ridiculous hours at her cruddy day job, she writes screenplays.  She drinks.