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Capitol Theatre to show Best Picture winners

March 12, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

When the house lights first dimmed for a movie at the Capitol Theatre in 1927, Norma Shearer and Conrad Nagel flickered on its silver screen in the silent romance "The Waning Sex."

The theater, at least as far as films go, has remained silent the past eight years since "Titanic" was shown there, according to Downtown Chambersburg Inc. President Paul Cullinane.

That will change Sunday, March 25, when the screen will light up again with a special presentation of "Gone With the Wind," winner of the Best Picture Award in 1939.

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In recent years, the theater stage has hosted stage shows, dance performances and concerts, but "one of the key factors missing was movies," Capitol Theatre Center Manager Linda Boeckman said.

"We've completed the puzzle of all the different elements of artistic expression being under one roof," Boeckman said.

While the theater showed films during much of its 80-year history, old movies will now be shown using new technology. The 22-foot-wide digitally reflective screen was purchased last year with a donation by Joan Mitchell and her husband, Dan Wiley, and the digital projection system is courtesy of a donation by Lady Moon Farms.

"Bringing a film program back to the Capitol was a very important thing to do to be able to reach out to broader parts of the community," Mitchell said.

The entire system cost about $53,000, Boeckman said. While most first-run films are still 35 mm prints, a new projector would cost up to $200,000 and require hiring a projectionist, she said.

The Capitol will be not be showing first-run films, but a mixture of classics, independent films and some Spanish language films for the growing Hispanic community, Boeckman said. Local filmmakers could also see their work on the screen, she said.

Although it opened in the 1920s, that decade is not represented at present. Boeckman said theater officials want to show the first Best Picture winner, "Wings," from 1927, "but that requires an organ score."

The theater has a Moller organ, and Boeckman said the silent film about the lives and loves of World War I fighter pilots could be shown this fall.

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