Last Remaining Seats film series

LOS ANGELES – It’s the perfect blend of two LA icons: film and architecture.

Each summer for nearly 25 years, the Los Angeles Conservancy has held screenings of classic films in classic theaters in the city’s Downtown core. For much of the city’s history, Downtown was LA: hub of business, haberdasheries, jewelers, food and flower markets and – most relevant here – 2,000-seat movie palaces. In the second half of the 20th Century, sprawl made Downtown into a ghost town at night, but as Angelenos tire of car culture and new Downtown restaurants, night spots and galleries seem to open every week (not to mention big-ticket draws like LA Live, the Music Center and Staples Center), people are moving in, and Downtown is bouncing back. This sold-out film series is just one indication.

Last week’s screening kicked off the Conservancy’s “Sixties Turn 50” series with the 1967 musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Before the screening, stars Robert Morse and Michelle Lee were interviewed by Matthew Weiner, whose TV series Mad Men is probably the decade’s most faithful recreation.

Morse and Lee were charmers both on screen and off, and the movie was equally adorable. But if you’re there just for the movie, you’re missing out. Half the fun of these screenings is exploring the theaters themselves. It’s easy to imagine men in trim suits suits and narrow ties and women in bouffants and candy-colored cocktail dresses (some audience members dressed the part) going out to smoke a Lucky in the soaring lobby…

Los Angeles Theater - lobby

…before making their way to their seats…

Los Angeles Theater - main stage

…beneath lush French-Baroque decorations.

Los Angeles Theater - detail

Last Remaining Seats even offered an opportunity Hal and Muffy wouldn’t have been offered – and would probably have sniffed at: visiting the vintage projection booth. But modern-day moviegoers lined up to ascend a Chandleresque staircase from the upper balcony.

Los Angeles Theater - to the projection booth

Los Angeles Theater - projection booth

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