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Hollywood palaces.

WHEN THE LIGHTS go down and the curtain rises, there is no more promising moment, no sweeter retreat. It's an instant of anticipation that transcends generations: a Hollywood movie is about to begin.

Being in a great movie theater adds to this anticipation, and some of the country's finest are still found in Hollywood. Though the area hasn't lived up to the Tinseltown hype for decades, its movie palaces are the bright spots around which planners are building a 30-year redevelopment (see page 79).

Of the area's dozen or so movie houses, the four described on these pages stand out. Whether new (the Hollywood Galaxy 6), old (Mann's Chinese), mod (Cinerama Dome), or spectacularly redone (El Capitan), each is a landmark of its era by an architect who fulfilled the old Hollywood adage to "give the people what they want."

Each also obeys Los Angeles architect S. Charles Lee's credo for theater design, "The show begins on the sidewalk"--a "show" that today includes show biz dreamers, immigrants (80 languages are spoken in ara schools), the
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Lansburgh's design--recently restored by Walt Disney Company and Pacific Theaters for $6 million--is pure movie fantasy. Walking from the hubbub of the street into the grand lobby, you feel like Dorothy from black-and-white Kansas waking up in full-color Oz. The start of a movie is a production in itself, dramatic enough that purists may forgive the recorded organ music; the theater even bongs a song.

The concession stand sells fresh popcorn with real butter and traditional movie candies best eaten under the cover of darkness, along with upscale offerings such as cappuccino, gourmet ice cream--even bottled water with a house label. Touches like these make El Capitan--depending on your tastes--either a moviegoer-s heaven or just another theme park.

6838 Hollywood Boulevard; $1.50 credit to park at Sunshine lot behind theater. Call (213) 467-7674 for program, 757-4722 for advance tickets.

Mann's Chinese

Theater

Most poeple never get past the famous forecourt into one of Hollywood's great spaces, the original auditorium. (Two smaller spaces were added in 1979.) Dimly lit and crimson-colored, this theater is almost exotic, a flip side to El Capitan's ebullience. Perfect for a noirish thriller with an L.A. setting, like Dead Again.

Of course, to get in you have to hurdle the tourists gaping at stars' foot- and handprints out front. Legend has it that the tradition began when Norma Talmadge stepped in wet cement during the 1927 grand opening; others claim that the original owner, Sid Grauman, got the idea when he saw Jean W. Klossner leaving his traditional mason's signature.

6925 Hollywood Boulevard; reduced validated parking at adjacent lots. Call (213) 464-8111 for program, 289-6266 for advance tickets.

Cinerama Dome

If the older theaters typify jazz-age Hollywood, then the Cinerama Dome exemplifies space-age Hollywood. Built for the '50s process called Cinerama, the Dome remains ideal for high-tech blockbusters, once you get used to the slight distortion of the wrap-around screen. Even sound surrounds, so you get great offscreen cues like the bad guy's car pulling up.

Regulars say the first rows of the low-slung balcony are best for getting Terminatored and thoroughly Dolby-ized by an invincible android assassin.

Hollywood Galaxy 6

The first all-new theater complex on Hollywood Boulevard in five decades doesn't have the grandeur of the old days; instead, you get choice (there are six theaters), highly touted sound, and strolling crowds outside. Built around a courtyard, the four-level complex with shops and restaurants steps down smartly toward the street scene. For old-fashioned premieres--and for galas like the complex's official opening February 12--red carpets roll out for Arnold, Julia, and the rest.

Hollywood Boulevard and Sycamore Avenue. Validated $2 parking in building garage on Sycamore. Call (213) 957-9246 for program, 757-4436 for advance tickets.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:movie theaters
Author:Jaffe, Matthew
Publication:Sunset
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Words:631
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