Hitchcock's "The Birds" opens at the Analy Theater, 1948 (courtesy of the Sonoma County Library)

I took my family to the movies this week — taking advantage of the Sebastopol Cinema’s Tuesday discount night to see the new Muppets movie. We all thoroughly enjoyed it and didn’t worry too much that it was a school night (though that fact likely contributed to the minuscule size of the audience). Our movie outing was my first time to see anything on the big screen in years. I think my previous one was a cycling documentary at the late, lamented Rialto Theatre in Santa Rosa and before that?  I’m not sure, but I’d guess it was at least six, maybe seven years ago. The previews were quieter and digital projectors weren’t required everywhere.

I was huge movie-goer as a teenager and 99% of my dates involved going to see some obscure art house film at one of the repertory theaters. I’m afraid I wasn’t very imaginative when it came to dating (and/or shy), so my dates endured a lot of bad movies.

The Analy Theater in 1951

Sebastopol still had a theater on the corner of North Main Street and  Healdburg Avenue when I was young. Once upon a time, the El Rey Theater, the first theater in town, operated by the Tocchini familyin what is now the Funk & Flash space.  The Analy Theater, Sebastopol’s second movie venue, opened in 1948 (also by the Tocchini family), but by the early 1970s, the Analy was threadbare and struggling. Redevelopment doomed the Analy in 1974 as the entire block was razed to make way for Safeway. It was a bad time for old movie theaters. The old Roxy Theater in Santa Rosa was damaged by the 1969 earthquake and was torn down in 1973. The grand old California Theater, also in Santa Rosa, survived the earthquake, but met its end when the Santa Rosa Plaza was built.

Remains of the Roxy Theater, 1973 (courtesy of the Sonoma County Library)

Despite various proposals for a new theater that were floated in the 1970s and early 1980s, including one that would be located at the corner of Pleasant Hill Road and Bodega Avenue (present site of Unico Duo and other businesses), we had to go elsewhere for to satisfy our movie appetites. Eventually, the bonded warehouse of the old Speas Distillary property was developed as the Sebastopol Cinemas, but by that time I had graduated from college and moved away from Sebastopol.

California Theater, Santa Rosa, 1948 (courtesy of the Sonoma County Library)

Even if the Sebastopol Cinema lacks some of the charm of the old, funky theaters, it was great to enjoy a fun movie in downtown Sebastopol, minutes from our house.

I’ll just close with this quote…

TV Executive: No.

TV Executive: No.
TV Executive: Lo siento, pero no.
Kermit the Frog: [excited] Oh, you hear that, guys?
[the Muppets cheer]
TV Executive: That means no.
Kermit the Frog: Oh.

(courtesy IMDB)

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