“Everywoman” at the Grand Theatre in Salem, Oregon

On September 4, 1920, the Capital Journal in Salem, Oregon, posted an ad for the black and white silent film, Everywoman. The ad portrays pictures of all the actors and actresses, including lead actress Violet Heming at the top center, proclaiming the presentation of the film by Jesse L. Lasky and “A Paramount Artcraft Picture.” According to the American Film Institute Catalog, the film was about 7 reels long, with a publication date of December 1919. The original publication date provides the information that Everywoman took almost a year before reaching the town of Salem for a showing, also shown by the date of the published advertisement.

The Capital Journal ad then describes Everywoman as “The imperishable Story of a Woman’s Heart – The sublime spectacle of lavish beauty. The Picture Beautiful Beyond Words.” Following the film description is a list of prices; 50 cents for the lower floor and balcony, 35 cents for the gallery, and 15 cents for children.

Capital Journal, Sept. 4, 1920, p. 2

This film was to be played in the newly renovated Grand Theatre, previously known as the Grand Opera House, as told in a previous Capital Journal article almost a month prior to the Everywoman newspaper ad. This begs the question, was Everywoman the first film to be shown in the brand new Grand Theatre? The timeline would match up, with the article announcing the renovation published on August 12, 1920, and the ad for Everywoman published on September 4, 1920, giving a little over a month for renovation and enough time to advertise the first feature to be shown. If this theory is correct, then it would also tell us that Everywoman was a relatively successful film, as the owner of the advertisement and newly renovated theatre would want to start off with a popular showing in order to create some excitement in the city and some revenue for the Grand Theatre.

Pendleton, Oregon: ‘The Pastime Theatre’

I chose to focus on the ‘Pastime Theatre’ in Pendleton, Oregon. This theater opened in 1906 during March. They promised to show only movies that came from licensed companies which meant that the audience could expect the quality of the movies to be superb. Also, not all movie theaters allowed women and children to be present in their buildings during this time period; however, at the ‘Pastime Theatre’ women and children were indeed welcome. However, in the photo that was included in the newspaper, it looks like only middle-aged men and possibly one young boy were pictured. It would be nice to know how often women and children truly attended these theaters. They were a family friendly theater; material that may have been offensive would not be shown. Moreover, the newspaper expressed that this theaters ventilation system was one of its best features. Families could depend on the theater to be a place to escape the horrendous heat during the hot months of the year. This is important because as expressed by the author Rae Hark, average citizens did not have air conditioning in their homes during this time because it was a luxury that not many could afford (13). However, in this case, taking a trip to the ‘Pastime Theatre’ meant that these citizens who did not have access to air conditioning were able to enjoy a break from the heat during their viewing of the film(s). Also, since women were welcome in their theater, one can imagine that this theater served as an escape to get out of the house where they spent most of their time. In fact, the theme of theaters serving as an escape from the house can extend to everyone, and it is still prevalent to this day. Moreover, this theater was proud to state that they were using an Edison machine to project their films because the popular belief was that this machine was the best made one at this time; using the Edison machine ensured that the audience would not experience flickering during the film. An interesting and sort of humorous part is when they expressed that their curtain was made by a ‘secret manufacturer’ and that it was the only one in the city; it makes one wonder why the manufacturer was kept a secret. They also included the admission prices which was 10 cents for adults and 5 cents for children. Overall, it seems as if this theater appealed to families (all ages and genders); however, we are not explicitly told what groups were not allowed in this theater. Also, they ensured that their audience would only be receiving the best films that were from licensed companies and that the Edison machine would guarantee no flickering during their experience.

Works Cited:

Hark, R. (n.d.). Exhibition, the Film Reader. In Focus, 1-15.

The Pastime Theatre. (1906). East Oregonian (EO) [Pendleton].