Film by Shane “Road Trip, Anyone?” Hnetka
There’s a character and design in old theatres that you don’t see in modern cineplexes. In Regina, The Capitol was the showcase theatre. It was located on the corner of Scarth St. and 12th Ave., and if memory serves it had a balcony and really cool designs in the ceiling. Now, those theatres are all gone. Or are they?
Mae Wilson is 100
Well, the Mae Wilson Theatre in Moose Jaw is 100 years-old anyway. See, unlike Regina, which destroyed all its historic movie theatres, Moose Jaw saved their theatre (as did Saskatoon with the Broadway, so props to it too).
Known as the Allen Theatre when it opened in Moose Jaw in 1916, the 420-seat theatre was renamed the Capitol in 1922, and played movies until 2001 when it closed. Fortunately, the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre bought the building, restored it, and renamed it after the mother of the late Larry Wilson who financed most of the purchase. It’s been used for live shows and the occasional movie screening ever since.
To celebrate the theatre’s 100th anniversary there’s a classic movie week from July 5 to 9 with an awesome movie being screened each night at 7:30 p.m. Admission is a mere $5, and the movies, in order of screening, are The Adventures of Robin Hood, Bringing Up Baby, All About Eve, Casablanca and North by Northwest.
All About Classic Movies
For those unfamiliar with the movies, I’ll say a few words about each — also, for shame if you’ve never seen any of them. The Adventures of Robin Hood is a fantastic 1938 swashbuckler starring Errol Flynn in his prime. It’s a romanticized version of good ole Robin Hood stealing from the rich to give to the poor. The movie’s popularity at the time was the inspiration for Batman’s sidekick Robin. Bringing Up Baby, also from 1938, is a hilarious screwball comedy featuring Cary Grant as an archeologist who gets mixed up with wacky, rich socialite (Katherine Hepburn) who sorta does whatever she wants.
All About Eve (1950) is an excellent drama that sees a rising Broadway star (Anne Baxter) slowly insinuate herself into an aging star’s life and career (played by Bette Davis). Casablanca (1942) shouldn’t need an introduction but just in case: Humphrey Bogart is the owner of bar/casino in Nazi-occupied Morocco during World War II. His old Paris girlfriend (Ingrid Bergman) shows up with her resistance leader husband who the Nazis want. Then there’s North By Northwest (1959) — one of my favourite movies. Alfred Hitchcock is at his best in this thriller, which sees Cary Grant mistaken for a spy and chased across the United States.
All these films are must-sees, and it’s awesome that Moose Jaw still has a classic theatre to show movies in. Here’s hoping the Mae Wilson is still around in another 100 years.
Shane Hnetka is a Regina film and comic book nerd. He also writes Dog Blog’s weekly “Sunday Matinee” column at prairiedogmag.com.