Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More about me...and Billy Gilbert

As I was saying...when I became an adult and had to go to work, I found myself selling cameras and photographic equipment.  This added to my understanding of the process of making movies.  I was later able to attend many Photo Marketing Assoc. trade shows and once went to Photokina in Cologne, Germany, the largest photo trade show in the world.

During that time, my friends included a projectionist named Ray.  That was in the early '70's, before theater owners figured out how to multiplex theaters and show 24 movies in one location.  The booth had two projectors and the operator had to changeover from one to the other when each reel of film ran out.  That's why older movies have those flashing white circles every once in a while, to tell the projectionist when to click the changeover shutter.  If you see one while watching an old movie on TV, count to ten and then you will see the second one.

They added a second theater, then more and more.  Since one projectionist couldn't handle more than one film, they came up with platters, where the entire movie is spliced together and laid flat, pulling the film from the center of one platter, then thru the projector, and finally wrapping it onto a second platter.  Now one projectionist could run all the films in a theater, being there only if a problem arose, like a broken film.  Eventually the theaters eliminated projectionists altogether and you now have manager/operators.  My friend's union was not happy!

Ray was a great guy.  He retired and moved down south somewhere and I have lost touch.  But we saw a lot of films for free, thanks to Ray.  More about me tomorrow.

Now for the bit actor of the day.  How's your memory?  What do you think of Billy Gilbert?  He lived from 1894 to 1971.  IMDB credits him with 222 appearances from 1929 until 1962.  That's a career.  Did you know he was paid an additional amount if he was required to sneeze in a part?  Actually, he did at least part of the voice of Sneezy in Disney's 1937 hit, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  He had another good role as the bartender in the Jimmy Stewart film, Destry Rides Again.  I became familiar with Gilbert during my long membership in The Sons of the Desert, the Laurel and Hardy organization.  He appeared in the only film L&H made that won an Academy Award, a short called The Music Box  Let's talk about that next time.

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