Northeast Historic Film is launching a series of movies, one from each decade since the Alamo Theatre opened in 1916, to celebrate the landmark theater’s 100th birthday. PHOTO BY CHARLES EICHACKER

Alamo Theatre celebrates 100th birthday through film

BUCKSPORT — To celebrate its 100th birthday this year, the Alamo Theatre is doing what it does best: showing movies.

From March until November, the Alamo will show a film a month, each from one of the decades that have passed since the theater’s construction in 1916.

The showings will include “The Wizard of Oz” (1939), a Hitchcock double feature (“Vertigo” and “Rear Window,” both from the 1950s), “The Sound of Music” (1965) and “Fargo” (1996). A full schedule is below.

Like the region it calls home, the Alamo has had its ups and downs.

After it was built and opened by O.J. Husset in 1916, it was bought by a man named Arthur Rosie in 1924.

For 40 years, Rosie and his son Bob successfully ran the Alamo, often showing multiple movies a day and throughout the week. The theater had more seats at the time, and also showed more dramatic and musical performances.

Dating from the 1940s, a 16 mm Bell and Howell Model 140Q projector is among the historic filmmaking equipment on display at the Alamo Theatre in Bucksport.  PHOTO BY JEFF KIRLIN
Dating from the 1940s, a 16 mm Bell and Howell Model 140Q projector is among the historic filmmaking equipment on display at the Alamo Theatre in Bucksport.

But in 1956, around the time the television was invading American homes, the Rosies called it quits. Their last showing was “Godzilla.”

For the next couple decades, the theater housed a variety of businesses: grocery store, health clinic, slot-car track, bar, restaurant and videotape rental store.

But it sat empty from the 1980s until 1992. That’s when the archival film organization, Northeast Historic Film, bought the space in a foreclosure auction.

By 1999, NHF had raised enough funds to reopen the theater with a new 35mm projection booth.

NHF continues to run the theater, and with the upgrade to a digital projector in 2014 and an electronic marquee last year, it remains one of the most happening spots in Bucksport.

Despite the closure of the town’s paper mill in late 2014, attendance at Alamo films has been growing over the last year, according to NHF Executive Director Brook Ewing Minner.

The theater recently started offering two showings of films on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as opposed to one, and eventually hopes to show more throughout the week.

“The movie theater is kind of booming for us,” Minner said. “It’s been very popular.”

It also happens to be NHF’s 30th birthday this year.

Before each of the films getting shown for the theater’s centennial birthday party, NHF staff members — who settled on the offerings — will provide short introductions on each one’s contribution to American film.

There will be live musical accompaniment to two of the older, silent films, and according to Minner, special guests may come to others.

The organization is continually working on new projects, and has also started a “Century Donor” program, through which fans of the Alamo can provide regular donations to the theater. Like regular members of the Alamo, they will have free entry to the films getting shown for the centennial.

“We see this series as an integral part of the Alamo’s yearlong birthday party,” the organization states on its website. “Each title has been carefully curated by our staff to not only represent a significant place in film history, but also to create a celebratory atmosphere for the community. These are films that we ourselves enjoy and are so excited to share with all of you, so come out and help us celebrate the Alamo with these films. It won’t be a party without you!”

Films are free for members and Century Donors. They cost $5 per film for nonmembers (except for the Hitchcock double feature: it will cost $5 to see one, $7 for both).

The films will be shown at 6 p.m. on the third Sunday of every month.

Off to the movies

March 20: “Sherlock Holmes” (1916) with live accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis

April 17: “Wings” (1927) with live accompaniment by Paul Sullivan

May 15: “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

June 19: “Leave Her to Heaven” (1945)

July 17: Hitchcock Double Feature: “Vertigo” (1958) and “Rear Window” (1954)

Aug. 21: “The Sound of Music” (1965)

Sept. 18: “Young Frankenstein” (1974)

Oct. 16: “Big” (1988)

Nov. 20: “Fargo” (1996)

Charles Eichacker

Charles Eichacker

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Charles Eichacker covers the towns of Bucksport, Orland, Castine, Verona Island, Penobscot, Brooksville and Dedham. When not working on stories, he likes books, beer and the outdoors. [email protected]

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