Tag Archives: classic theaters

Will ‘Rashomon’ be the Curtain Closer for The Senator Theater?

17 Jul


July 17th, 2009–

It’s kind of an interesting thing that this gets to be the 100th post of Cinematropolis, considering that the Senator had just closed it’s doors as I was setting up this blog, and now after three months of showing revivals, concerts and hosting mini-film fests that long dreaded auction date for the theater has finally arrived. Next week, the auction will occur, on July 21nst, and after that we wait and see whether or not The Senator will ever likely show films again. Is this the last flick to ever play the Senator? Obviously, no one knows that. I’m not even sure if this is even the last one that Kiefauber and company plan on showing. Continue reading

Stagecoach rolls onto The Senator’s screen– Floyd, Beatles and live bands help theater rock on in face of uncertainty

23 May


So, what happens to The Senator now? Wednesday night’s meeting, called together by State Senator Joan Carter Collins, was unfortunately one I couldn’t be in attendance for but Astro Girl covers it pretty thoroughly at her blog so I’ll just direct you THERE. Essentially, there are no resolutions or laid-in-stone outcomes as of right now. It looks like The Senator is headed to auction in something like 60 days and the recent CHAP legislation putting constraints on what modifications can be made to the theater’s interior may put off potential buyers and investors.

Adam Bednar of the Baltimore Messenger questions the timeliness and wisdom of that particular move by the City HERE.

So, nothings clear. We knew that much. If you happen to be reading this from outside Baltimore and have never heard of The Senator you can check out their website HERE and check out The Senator Community Trust as well as the Friends of the Senator Theatre  blog. All who are curious about what they can do to help the Senator at this time can find more information about that at the SCT’s website.

At this point I think it’s important to gather together as many who care about The Senator  as is possible and generate futher interest and passion about what happens to it in the future. I’m planning a few articles here and a feature covering movies from the Senator’s last 70 years of operation.

Questions I have. How much longer will the theater be showing these revival movies and concert attractions? Are suggestions regarding film selections welcome? Certainly, it would be the height of awesome to see something like 2001 or Lawrence of Arabia or Metropolis on the Senator’s screen one more time. I confess to being unsure about what rules are governing what is being shown or not shown, but if there is an opportunity for suggestion or community input wouldn’t that be helpful in generating interest?

If someone is interested in pitching a fundraising event, concert or whatever, who do they see about it? Are there ways other than what I have suggested here to expand the community’s interest?

Right now, though, The Senator is still showing movies and we can be thankful for that.

Choosing a movie from the year the theater opened for business–1939– The Senator screens John Ford’s delightful western Stagecoach featuring Claire Trevor and Ford’s own muse John Wayne, who made another 12 pictures after this one with the director. An interesting and insightful article about Wayne and Ford and their relationship is up over HERE.

The movie itself is one well worth seeing on a big screen and is historically the first picture where Wayne’s persona of The Duke shines. It’s his breakout film and a fine adventure on its own. I personally prefer the duo’s collaborations on The Quiet Man, The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance but Stagecoach is more lively and straightforward; a beaming highlight of matinee escapism. For five bucks, it could  make for a fun family outing at the movies–something a bit more unique than a rush to the local multiplex.

Returning for its third weekend at The Senator is the trippy Beatles toon Yellow Submarine. Not much to say about this one except that it yields endless rewatchability. I recall showing it to a summer art camp of 6-12 year olds many years and marveling at the varied reactions. None of the kids convulsed or exploded, so all in all it was success. Melding the Beatles music with bright, eccentric animation really does the trick as far creating a captivating playground in which to usher a younger mind into the halls of classic rock music. If, of course, thats what you are going for.

Also on the roster and perhaps a bit too trippy for the tykes is the Pink Floyd concert film P.U.L.SE.-Live at Earl’s Court 20.10.94, London. I can understand the purpose of this, but it wasn’t possible to show Floyd’s exceptionally odd, and just plain exceptional,  The Wall? Now thats a movie I’d like to see splashed across the Senator’s big screen.

Finally, in something more ambitious and part of the wishful thinking that would push the Senator forward as a potential market for musical venues, is “One More Saturday Night” a fundraising concert event that will feature live performances by  38 Cents A Gallon, J.D. and the Blades, and Shinola as well as Grateful Dead short films.

Information regarding all movies,events, showtimes and ticket prices are available on the theater’s website, which is once again, right HERE.   


Public Meeting called to discuss fate of The Senator Theatre

19 May

2009 050

May 19th, 2009-

A public meeting has been scheduled at The Senator Theatre off of York Rd in Baltimore to discuss the theater’s current situation and the city’s part in all of this. From The Senator’s own website:

Senator Calls For Meeting @ The Senator!

The media has reported in error that Baltimore
City now owns The Senator Theatre.

It has also been misreported that The Baltimore
Development Corporation [BDC] will soon choose the
new owner or operator of The Senator Theatre and
determine its future entertainment programming
through the RFP process.

It is our understanding that the ownership of the
landmark Senator Theatre will be determined by the
outcome of an upcoming public auction, expected to
take place later this summer. The successful bidder
at the public auction will own The Senator.

In an effort to separate fact from fiction regarding
The Senator Theatre and its uncertain future,
Maryland State Senator Joan Carter Conway,
who represents the 43rd third legislative district,
has called for a public meeting at the theatre
in response to constituent concerns.

The public information session will take
place at The Senator Theatre on
This Wednesday Evening, May 20th at 6pm

Please help to spread the word!

Senator Conway has invited City and State economic
development representatives to attend. Representatives
of Preservation Maryland, Baltimore Heritage, The
Baltimore City Historical Society, The Commission for
Historic and Architectural Preservation [CHAP] and the
media have also been invited, along with North
Baltimore business and community leaders
concerned about The Senator Theatre.

Scheduled government economic
development representatives include:

– Clarence Snuggs, Maryland’s Deputy Director of
Housing and Community Development, representing
Raymond Skinner, Secretary of Housing
& Community Development.

– Kim Clark, Executive Vice President of The Baltimore
Development Corporation, representing 1st Deputy Mayor
Andrew Frank, Neighborhood and Economic Development.

Topics to be discussed include:

– The State of Maryland’s financial investment in The
Senator Theatre. – State of Maryland’s position in
Baltimore City’s upcoming foreclosure proceedings.
– City of Baltimore’s purchase of the 1st Mariner
mortgage note secured by The Senator Theatre.
– Baltimore City’s public auction process intended
to transfer ownership of The Senator Theatre.

The Senator has become known as “The People’s
Theatre”. Apart from the theatre’s inaugural opening
in October of 1939, the upcoming transition from 70
years of continuous family ownership and operation is
a pivotal event in the renowned theatre’s rich history.

Please mark your calendars and encourage your family,
friends and neighbors to attend the upcoming meeting
at The Senator. For further info visit senator.com or

For further information visit www.senator.com
or senatorcommunitytrust.org

The latest details regarding the ongoing saga of Baltimore’s Senator Theatre have been hard to decipher as of late. I’ve been intending to write a piece ever since the York Rd theater, one of Baltimore’s historic landmarks, closed down as a first run attraction back in March. I attended the first Town Hall meeting, which was conducted only a few days after the theater closed its doors. Varying reports have been flying around via the media and local news outlets as well from people close to Tom Kiefaber(still the theater’s current owner) and The Senator.

It was recently reported that Baltimore City had fronted the money to buy the Senator and then ownership would be transferred to someone interested in running it as an entertainment venue. The Senator’s own website  has attested to the fact that this isn’t accurate, and that while the City has stepped forward, currently, the Senator will still go to auction in a few months. So, far, the only thing that has transpired is that the city’s Board of Estimates voted to spend the money to buy-out the loan the Senator has with First Mariner.  To complicate matters, the city’s CHAP(Comission for Historical and Architectural Preservation) recently voted in favor of a legislation that will prevent siginificant changes to the interior of The Senator. Kiefaber and others have been concerned that with these restrictions, The Senator will be a harder sell for someone who wants to keep it running as an entertainment venue.

While it seems that watching The Senator get turned into a thrift store or a laundromat have been evaded, its coming down to the point where we face two scenarios: museum or functioning, flourishing theater. Since the close and the cessation of first-run films, The Senator has been running a series of classic films, concert films and even a mini-horror convention(complete with guests and indie premieres). From Night of the Living Dead to A Star is Born to The Yellow Submarine–currently playing– The Senator has been putting its giant screen and spacious interior to good use. I think it would be ideal to see the theater continue in a similar vein-running classic films, hosting community events and fundraisers, and premiering smaller independent and local movies. Whats the likelihood of this happening?

To be honest, I’m not sure. I’ll be in attendance on Wednesday evening, and will report back on the whole thing. Here’s hoping to many long years of The Senator doing what it was intended for: providing a venue for entertainment and film. Hopefully it won’t all be smoke and mirrors and blame games like the last meeting proved to be.

For a more detailed account of the situations so far, check out astrogirlguides, a blog that in recent months has covered fairly thoroughly the ongoing tale of The Senator’s woes.