While the universe doesn’t necessarily need another blog dedicated to films, I’ve decided not to let that stop me. In this space I will discuss my favorite films, mainstream and cult, from big budget studio classics to obscure horror movies. I was lucky to have come of age in the 1950’s and 1960’s and want to share my perspective on the cinema of that era and all of the many changes in the popular culture that I witnessed during those years. I also want to showcase some of my favorite actors, actresses, and directors. One area I hope to explore is what is commonly referred to as Poverty Row, the Hollywood studios that produced those wonderful B Movies from the 1930’s until well into the 1960’s, studios such as Monogram Pictures, Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), Republic Pictures, American-International Pictures (AIP), and Allied Artists.
The photograph at the top of my blog is an old abandoned drive-in theater called The Illiana, located on Route 136 just east of Danville, Illinois, a few miles from the Indiana state line. I grew up in a small town a few miles west of Danville and it was in that working-class city of 42,000 people that I fell in love with going to the movies. Danville had three indoor theaters and three drive-ins, and my family frequented all of them. Only one of the indoor theaters is still standing. It closed several years ago and was deteriorating badly until the city began taking steps to restore it. The others were torn down. But the Illiana remains. It stands in ruins, a monument to a culture that no longer exists. Why it still stands, I have no idea. But it fascinates me. A few years ago I decided to venture onto the place and take a few pictures. The refreshment stand is still there, but I had a feeling if I attempted to go inside I might never come back out. It was the same with the dilapidated screen. There’s a door on the side, wide open, inviting me to join whatever ghosts are in residence there, but I declined the opportunity.
There was only one speaker stand, but no speaker in sight. If anyone reading this blog happens to be driving through Danville, you may want to make a pilgimage to this peculiar historical landmark.