On February 11, 1972, Richmonders got their first dose of a Biograph party. That was the day of the Biograph Theatre's invitational opening, which offered a screening of "King of Hearts" (1966) and all the champagne you could drink. It was wall-to-wall film buffs, scenesters, media folk and so-called beautiful people.
Chuck Wrenn called this morning to wish me a happy 41st anniversary. As always, it was fun to hop aboard the Wayback Machine for a few minutes with my old friend.
In its first year of operation at 814W. Grace St. the optimistic Biograph, which billed itself as a repertory cinema, presented over 200 different feature-length films. That year's avalanche of movies and new associations proved to be an eye-opening education for the somewhat cocky kid who was the Biograph's 24-year-old manager.
Fast forward to December of 1987: With the Golden Age of Repertory Cinema already in the rear-view mirror, the exhausted Biograph closed its doors forever.
During its run, that little independent movie house not only encouraged us dreamers to seek out a world outside of Richmond's traditional limitations, it focused our attention on subtle details that tattooed our minds with images. For some who poured our time into watching light move on a screen at 814W. Grace St. those
images still have the power to enlighten.
Like me, Chuck was on the Biograph's staff for its opening. To follow suit, I want to wish everyone who worked at the Biograph -- with just two exceptions -- a happy 41st. And, please don't forget to have a good time.
Here are links to some stories about the Biograph at a web site of mine called Biograph Times:
- The Devils in the Details
- Discovering the Fan
- Willard's Wretched Demise
- Time Warping
- How About 139 Worthwhile Movies?
Want even more? There are plenty of other stories at that web site.