The Love of Silent Movies

Our beloved Michigan Theater had a special presentation yesterday: Charlie Chaplin short films! Yay! I have to admit that I was not always the huge silent movie fan that I am today; in fact, silent movies used to sort of scare me. The people moved kinda fast and jerky (like monsters in horror movies sometimes do), they had the dark eyeliner around their eyes, and the music was stuff with which I was unfamiliar.

But the something happened, circa 2000. I was in a job I hated (I hated all law jobs, but this one was particular awful. $650/week for working in a pressure cooker, getting threatened with termination over any error, just awful) and naturally, I got really sick. That was my method of coping back in the law days. So I was at home and going through the channels when I happened upon TCM. They were showing a silent movie, and I started watching it. Something about the way they were acting, and the emotions, and the old timey sets…it hooked me in and I’ve been a fan ever since.

Until I moved here, I didn’t have much opportunity to watch the silents. When I first moved here, they had a monthly thing at the Michigan Theater where an older gentleman would bring his private collection of rarely seen silent clips. Sadly, he passed away and the Sunday Silents stopped. But the Michigan still shows them on occasion.

We have a long, proud history of theaters in our fair city. Let’s look at some!

Orpheum is open on week-ends, friends! Read all about it!

The Orpheum was on Main Street (where Gratzi is now), and opened in 1913. It was owned by the gentleman who also owned Wuerth Theater and the Wuerth clothing store. His name, interesting, was Steve Brown. Ha ha, just kidding! It was J. Fred Wuerth.

Speaking of the Wuerth, check out its marquee. Here is an ad of a movie it was showing in 1940. It was the BIG EMOTIONAL PARADE OF TODAY!

A 1940s era article tells of a fire at the Arcade theater–during a Charlie Chaplin show!

There is so much more that I could say about theaters, but I will stop for now! I will leave you with this…an article about a YO-YO contest sponsored by local theaters because Ann Arbor freaking rules!

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