Casablanca (1942) at the Pickwick Theatre

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What: Casablanca (1942) film screening
Also: “Our Wife” (1931) starring Laurel & Hardy
When: February 10, 2015  7:30 PM
Where: Pickwick Theatre, Park Ridge, IL
Who: Jay Warren performing pre-show music at 7:00 PM
Why: A DCP (digitally restored) presentation of the classic film voted #1 screen romance by our fans.

“Casablanca has been called a perfect film, capturing the spirit of romance, patriotism, intrigue, and idealism with artistic integrity and honesty that is rarely found in film. I tend to agree.” ~ Lauren Bacall

Join us for an early Valentine’s Day treat when we present a film that is not only one of the great screen romances, but is considered to be the greatest studio film ever made. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman– along with an outstanding supporting cast– star in this World War II story of love and intrigue in Morocco.

Casablanca was a winner of three Academy Awards including Best Picture. It was honored in its day and it continues to be honored today. The film is often listed near the top of most lists devoted to the greatest films ever made. (The AFI lists it as #2 behind Citizen Kane.) The film’s screenplay also won an Academy Award. This comes as no surprise since so many of the film’s lines are instantly recognized and quoted– seventy-three years later.

Casablanca remains one of the finest examples of studio filmmaking starring some of the best actors of its time– names like Bogart, Bergman, Rains, Veidt… It was directed by one of the most proficient craftsman in Hollywood, Michael Curtiz, whose films are noted for their fluid camerawork, lighting, and story pacing. Curtiz embodied the studio system, and under it, he made dozens of classic motion pictures.

But beyond all its many fine technical merits, Casablanca is a film that reaches its audience– then and now. There is truth that viewers recognize and respond to. It is a story of redemption and sacrifice. Its images and words have become iconic, and it is part of American movie mythology.

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PRPL Classic Film Series Feedback

With our Gone With the Wind screening over– and no Pickwick Theatre show until February 10– our attention has shifted back to the upcoming film program at the Park Ridge Public Library. The Classic Film Series is set to return in the spring. For those only familiar with the theatre series, we cordially invite you to attend the library program beginning in March 2015.

The following is a very kind letter written by one of our series regulars, Karen Nagel. We are grateful to patrons like her for their continued support of our film study program.

One of our favorite programs to attend as a family was the Park Ridge Classic Film Series. Since its inception we were thrilled by the outstanding collection of films, shorts, cartoons, and lectures. Not only has the series provided us with the opportunity to see beloved films again, we were also introduced to some other movies that proved to be equally a pleasure. These classic films have depth, substance, and represent an overlooked art form. The Series provides a much-needed respite from the mundane banality of what passes for entertainment today, and we are a better community for having such a program.

For us, the best part of the Classic Film Series has been the erudite insight offered by Matthew Hoffman. Mr. Hoffman’s delightful introductions into each movie’s history are informative, and brimming with a rich imagery that leaves us wanting to know more. Through his lectures, we are offered a compelling peek into the fascinating private world of the classic films and the people who made them great. As the Library’s resident film historian, Mr. Hoffman has the ability to take complex artistic themes and present them in a way that engages and enlightens his audience. Like the elegant prose of a well-crafted preface to a literary masterpiece, his introductions offer an enticing combination of historical fact, keen analysis, and the personal stories of the people who gave life to the magic of cinema. Thus, the Park Ridge Classic Film Series is not just a collection of old movies; it is a tribute to a cultural legacy. We loved the Film Series so much we made it a tradition. It was wonderful having an activity we could enjoy on a regular basis as a family.

After my father passed away, my mother and I found it difficult to feel social as we worked through our grief. Once again, the Park Ridge Public Library helped us by offering a warm, welcoming place where we could start to participate in activities again. Our experiences at the Library have always been positive, and it seemed natural to go to a place where we had spent so many pleasant hours as a family. We associate the Library with such good memories! When we started to slowly ease back into social events, the Library was the place we chose to go. Our familiarity with the Library’s many programs and services made it seem natural for us. We started by attending the Classic Film Series again. For a few hours each week, my Mom and I were transported to another time and place so we could forget our pain. It helped. When we left the movie, we would always talk about how my father would have enjoyed that night’s selection. We found solace in these evenings at the Library, and a comfort that allowed us to start moving past our grief and enjoying life again.

Park Ridge’s Forgotten Theatre

The Ridge Theatre– Park Ridge’s first movie house.
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The Pickwick Theatre is the most identifiable landmark in Park Ridge. It’s been a source of pride for the community since 1928. Filling the theatre, however, is not always an easy task. Suburban multiplexes and the repertoire theatres in Chicago provide stiff competition for the Pickwick. Within this milieu, the Pickwick Theatre Classic Film Series strives to bring in good “box office.” But once upon a time, the Pickwick’s closest competitor was right here in Park Ridge. Few people today realize a second theatre once existed in town. In fact, it had been built years earlier. For those who appreciate the glorious movie theatres of yesteryear, we thought we’d post a few words about the forgotten “Ridge Theatre.”

The Ridge Theatre was located at 203 Vine Avenue (next to the building which now rents to the d’Vine beauty salon). It  was built by architect Elmer F. Behrns (1899-1980), who designed many movie theatres in Illinois, including the Egyptian in Dekalb and the Woodstock Theatre. Unlike the Pickwick’s modernistic style, the Ridge Theatre’s terra cotta facade distinctly recalled Spanish Colonial, and it was nearly identical to the York Theatre in Elmhurst. The York, which was also designed by Behrns, opened in 1924. Though we have no photos of the interior of the Ridge Theatre, we know that it, too, was patterned after the York. The interior design was done in the style of the French Renaissance and was supervised by John Paulding and the McPherson Decorating Company. The interior included a dome decorated in silver-leaf that also featured a three-color lighting scheme. The rear wall of the theatre was near the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, which may have affected the acoustics during performances. But any screening would’ve certainly been enhanced by the Gottfried pipe organ that had been installed.

The Ridge was originally part of the Chicago-based Lynch theatre holdings. “Lynch Theatres” receives top billing above Ridge Theatre on the programs; it was affiliated with and operated by Balaban & Katz.  According to a 1931 edition of the Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures, the Ridge seated 1200 while the Pickwick had 800 seats. This is inaccurate since the original design for the Pickwick had nearly 1600 seats. By 1941, years after the Ridge had closed, the seating capacity of the older theatre had dropped and was reduced to 800. (The Pickwick’s seating capacity, meanwhile, would eventually drop to 1400, but today it is currently around 950 with the newer seats.) Though the Ridge was a good-sized, neighborhood theatre, William H. Malone, the town’s second mayor and eventual developer of the Pickwick, thought the Ridge was simply not big enough. (Keep in mind that the population of Park Ridge in 1928 was considerably less than 10,000.)

The Ridge opened its doors just over ninety years ago on November 15, 1924– four years before the Pickwick. The theatre operated on weekdays from 7:00 to 11:00 PM; Sundays 2 to 11 PM, and there was a children’s matinee on Saturdays from 2:00 to 6:00 PM. General admission was normally “15c for children and 35c for adults.” The programs that have survived reveal a theatre operating at the height of the silent era in the late 1920s. The movie ads inside feature names like Ronald Colman (Beau Geste), Harold Lloyd (Speedy), Dorothy Gish (Madame Pompadour) Renee Adoree (Back to God’s Country), Victor McLaglen (The River Pirate), Myrna Loy (State Street Sadie), Lewis Stone (Freedom of the Press), Mary Philbin (Surrender), John Gilbert (The Big Parade), and hundreds of others. These silent films were given a voice thanks to the Gottfried organ. Programs from the era (see below), reveal that several house organists performed on it during the course of the year.

A typical evening might include a double feature program, a “Junior Fun Frolic,”  or a Chinaware Night (“Free Chinaware to the Ladies.”) Whereas today you might pay $12 to see TV commercials, back then you could also see a comedy, a newsreel, and a movie serial chapter with the feature presentation. A wonderful ad for the jungle adventure Chang (1927) lists the added attraction of a “Crazy Cat Cartoon and Paramount News.” Though the programs are simple bi-folds made up of silent movie artwork, they conjure up a strong sense of time and place. There was genuine excitement to be found with such previews as: “Coming Next Week: Lon Chaney in The Unknown.” A handful of other film stars and their films might also be listed for the following week.

The theatre was managed by R.C. McGregor, who was also part owner. In The History of Park Ridge, author Orvis Jordan writes, “The Greater Chicago Magazine  was enthusiastic over the modernity of the new show house. It had oil heat, which had only recently come to Park Ridge. It also had washed air. The entire output of United Artists, Paramount, First National, Universal and Fox was controlled, though not all of this output was used, for under McGregor no picture that would offend public taste was shown.”

A 1928 advertisement in the Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World for the Kohler Electric Plant. Note the films on the marquee: The Big City with Lon Chaney and The Crowd. The building also included retail space for a lingerie and hosiery business.
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William H. Malone eventually bought out his competitor, forcing The Ridge to go dark. It closed its doors around 1936. The Ridge made a brief comeback in the mid-1950s as an art house– renamed the Park Avenue Cinema– but it was a short-lived venture. In 1956 the theatre was converted to a Michael Kirby ice skating studio. The skating rink lasted until 1973. Then, ten years later in 1983, a condominium complex went up on the site of the theatre. No doubt most people today, making their way along Vine to City Hall and the residential area, would never guess that a theatre had once stood there. Sadly, nothing visible remains of this wonderful theatre. Even the Gottfried organ is a thing of the past. (If this instrument was relocated, it never survived to the present day.)

For more information about the Ridge and the era of American movie palaces, visit the following website:

The covers of two weekly programs. The Ridge Theatre operated in the heyday of the silent film era.
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The inside of two other programs…
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Another angle of the Ridge Theatre (left) with the Park Ridge News Company staff. (The news office was next to the theatre.)
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The York Theatre in Elmhurst resembled the Ridge Theatre and was designed by the same architect.
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Special thanks to Paul Adlaf of the Park Ridge Historical Society, the Reference staff of the Park Ridge Public Library, and Elizabeth Rye (who first asked me about the Ridge Theatre after seeing it listed in her copy of the Film Daily Year Book).


Record Turnout for Gone With the Wind!

The line stretched down the block even past 7 PM…
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Our 75th anniversary screening of Gone With the Wind (1939) on December 4, 2014, was a colossal success with 735 people attending! This is a new attendance record for the Pickwick Theatre Classic Film Series. The evening had the feeling of a re-premiere; it was a major event for the Park Ridge community. We tried to do the film justice by making the evening a big celebration–something you would not have found in a cineplex. We were honoring the film’s actual premiere, which was seventy-five years ago in Atlanta, Georgia.

Radio Host Steve Darnall of “Those Were the Days” (90.9 FM) and his wife, Meg, were in the lobby meeting fans of old-time radio. The Spring 2014 back issue of the “Nostalgia Digest” featured a cover story on the “Films of 1939″ written by program host Matthew Hoffman. The new Winter 2015 issue was also available. Radio Hall of Famer Chuck Schaden and his wife, Ellen, were in attendance as well.

From 6:30-7:00 PM organist Jay Warren performed prelude music on the theatre’s Mighty Wurlitzer. He played a medley of instantly recognizable themes. There were the Civil War-era melodies that composer Max Steiner himself incorporated into Gone With the Wind– as well as a rousing rendition of the “Tara Theme” from the movie.

Before Gone With the Wind began its Overture, Matthew Hoffman revealed some of the upcoming shows the theatre was planning to present in 2015. The audience’s excitement was clearly evident when the titles were unofficially announced onstage. Afterward, movie hostess Allison pulled the winning ticket (out of a film can, of course) for the GWTW gift basket. For an hour before the show, audiences had an opportunity to participate in the raffle. The wrapped basket had been prominently displayed in the lobby. The winner was a very nice lady named Jennifer who had purchased five tickets– and the winning number was on the second to last ticket she had.

We screened a gorgeous DCP (digital) restoration of the film that included an intermission (which audiences quickly took advantage of since the entire presentation was about 233 minutes). Gone With the Wind looked spectacular on the big screen. Audiences applauded when the four principal stars made their respective debuts. Perhaps the largest applause, however, was reserved for Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler during his first appearance at the staircase in Twelve Oaks.

A very festive atmosphere could be felt at the Pickwick Theatre. Those who came knew they were seeing something very special. Even the few patrons remaining in the library that night were wondering what was going on across the street. The line outside the box office continued to stretch down the block past 7 PM. It was a mixed crowd that included seniors (one of whom had seen the original release of the film), Baby Boomers, and younger people who made GWTW their date night. In fact, over 400 were $7 admissions (people under the age of 60). We are extremely grateful to all those who came out to support this show.

The following is a sample of some of the feedback that has been coming in since last Thursday:

I wanted to follow up with you on the presentation of GWTW on Thursday. The entrance foyer with the girls in period gowns generated an atmosphere of romantic antebellum elegance. People seemed to be truly excited that a great event was about to take place. My wife Jean and I were transfixed by the opulence of the sets and beauty of the Technicolor scenes. We waited patiently for years for the right time to see GWTW in the right kind of theatre and weren’t disappointed. You did a great job putting together the entire evening.


Ben and Jean

Program host Matthew Hoffman with movie hostess Allison…
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Elizabeth in a green velvet dress!
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Radio host Steve Darnall and his wife in the lobby…
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Elizabeth at the raffle table…
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The winner of our gift basket, Jennifer Barabas!
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Movie hostess Allison, host Matthew, raffle organizer Elizabeth, and ticket-taker Shannon…
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Gone With the Wind (1939): 75th Anniversary at the Pickwick Theatre!

WHAT: Gone With the Wind (1939): 75th anniversary film screening.
WHEN: December 4, 2014    7:00 PM (Doors will open at 6:00 PM)
WHERE: Pickwick Theatre, Park Ridge, IL
WHO: Organist Jay Warren will perform prelude music between 6:30-7:00 PM.
“Those Were the Days” (90.9 FM) radio host Steve Darnall will be a special guest in the lobby before the show.
HOW MUCH: Admission is $7/$5 for seniors 60+
WHAT ELSE: We will raffle off a giant GWTW gift basket including the 75th anniversary blu-ray. (Raffle tickets are $1 each/5 for $4.)
We will also make an announcement about the second half of Season 2. We will resume in March 2015.
NOTE: There will be a 10+ minute intermission during the feature.
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Seventy-five years after its release, Gone With the Wind remains the most popular movie ever made. Although three directors worked on the production, GWTW was largely the result of one man’s vision: producer David O. Selznick. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Margaret Mitchell, this is Hollywood studio moviemaking at its zenith. Set against the epic backdrop of the American Civil War, the story follows the passions of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), a free-spirited Southern beauty captivated by two men: Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard), the gentleman she can’t have– and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), the roguish admirer whom she’ll eventually marry. When her Southern way of life begins to crumble, Scarlett fights to save her beloved Tara and forge her own destiny. A winner of eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture– as well as two honorary Oscars– GWTW is filled with images, in all their Technicolor glory, that have become indelible in popular culture. The supporting cast includes Olivia de Havilland as Melanie and Hattie McDaniel (Best Supporting Actress) as the housemaid Mammy. The instantly recognizable film score was composed by Max Steiner.

Though Gone With the Wind had a recent national release in late September, the Pickwick Theatre showing is the only one in the Chicago area that will honor the actual premiere (December 1939). Those who have patiently awaited our long-delayed screening will be rewarded when we present the film in a historic movie palace. Films like GWTW need to be seen in a theatre like the Pickwick– not in a little cineplex or, even worse, on a TV or tablet. Only the big screen can best capture scenes depicting the pageantry of the Old South– or the burning of Atlanta. If this is your first time seeing GWTW, then this is the only way to see it.

A great many view GWTW as the greatest motion picture ever made. Others see it as a 3 1/2 hour soap opera. But regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, it is an undeniable must-see film. Whether it’s Vivien Leigh’s Academy Award-winning peformance or William Cameron Menzies’ unifying production design, there is something in it to be admired; the film is composed of grand elements. For these reasons, we proudly present this celebration of Gone With the Wind. We invite you to return with us to Tara for the conclusion of our “Films of 1939″ series.

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An Evening to Remember: A Salute to Donnie Dunagan

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A record turnout of 614 theatregoers attended the 75th anniversary screening of Son of Frankenstein (1939) on October 30, 2014– an evening made unforgettable by the presence of Donnie Dunagan. Donnie signed autographs in the lobby before and after the feature presentation. Though the film ended around 10:30, the demand to meet him was so great that he was still signing and meeting with fans well past midnight!

The evening began with a costume contest for the kids. A lottery system brought six contestants to the stage where they were judged by movie hostess Allison and two other assistants: Allie & Elizabeth. The prizes included Universal monster figures, Dracula/Frankenstein lunch boxes, and other items– some of which were designed to get a laugh. The top three winners also received a movie pass to the Pickwick Theatre as well as a ticket to the upcoming Dec. 3 holiday concert sponsored by the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra.

After a 5-minute video that introduced Donnie– “FrankenDonnie”– Donnie Dunagan took the stage and answered a wide variety of questions from program host Matthew C. Hoffman. Though 80 years old, Donnie had the energy and stage presence of a man half his age. Passing on the available chair, Donnie stood the entire length of the interview and engaged his audience with wonderful stories of working with the likes of Boris Karloff and Walt Disney.

In addition to his days in Hollywood as a child star, Donnie also talked about his career in the military. Donnie had spent twenty-five years in the Marine Corps and served two stints in Vietnam where he was wounded multiple times. He has received the Purple Heart three times as well as other decorations. Near the end of the interview, Matthew surprised Donnie by bringing out the Marine Corps Honor Guard. They had been waiting behind stage.  Donnie was visibly moved when Captain James Stenger and First Lieutenant Leroy Um of the 9th Marine District at Great Lakes presented him with a letter of recognition for his many years of service. The major returned the salute of the younger men as though not a day had passed since his retirement in 1977.

The highlight of the evening was seeing 600+ people on their feet giving the Marines on stage–past and present– a standing ovation. Organist Jay Warren began playing the Marine Hymn while Donnie was led offstage.

Donnie was surprised to be honored 37 years after leaving the service. But this recognition from the Marines is a testament to the man himself– that after all these years, a country remains grateful to him. There is a saying in the Marines: once a Marine, always a Marine.

Shortly after 8:40 PM, the feature presentation began. Donnie received more applause from the audience when his character in Son of Frankenstein, Peter von Frankenstein, appeared onscreen for the first time.

The audience was universally grateful and appreciative afterward. These were people who truly understood the value of what they had just seen. This was a memorable evening for the community of Park Ridge. It was perhaps the last time they would ever see any star from the 1930s, but more than that, it was a salute to a fascinating man who has had an unbelievable life. Though the evening ran late on a school night, those kids who were paying attention would’ve learned more about life from listening to the words of Donnie Dunagan than from anyone else. Every story was a treasure.

Donnie Dunagan is not someone who promotes what he has done in life. This is the reason he has not written an autobiography. But he is a hero and a patriot, and we were honored to have had him for an evening. Without any doubt, this was the most rewarding show we’ve ever presented at the Pickwick Theatre Classic Film Series.

Thank you to all those who supported us.

Donnie met many fans on this night, including fellow Marines and their families.

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(Above photos courtesy of Elizabeth Ishoo Photography)

Elizabeth Rye and program host Matthew Hoffman with Dana & Donnie Dunagan.
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(Photo courtesy of Sara Fenwick, f-Stop Photos)

Visit our Photo Archive for additional pictures!

For more about the event, visit the 9th Marine Corps District website for an article. Click Here!

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Return to Castle Frankenstein: Son of Frankenstein at 75

“Well, Hellllll-lo!” ~Peter von Frankenstein (Donnie Dunagan)

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WHAT: Son of Frankenstein (1939) 75th anniversary screening
WHEN: October 30, 2014 at 7:30 PM
WHERE: Pickwick Theatre, Park Ridge, IL
WHO: Donnie Dunagan (“Peter von Frankenstein”) will be our honored guest.
HOW MUCH: General Admission: $7/$5 seniors (60+)/Autographs: $20
WHAT ELSE: We will have a costume contest for children 12 and under. Also, Jay Warren will be performing Halloween “prelude music” on the theatre’s Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ starting at 7:00 PM.

Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone), the son of the late doctor, returns home to an inhospitable reception. The village of Frankenstein, it would appear, is haunted, but it doesn’t take a Sherlock to know it’s more than a ghost.  Wolf soon meets the “grave robber” Ygor (Bela Lugosi) and discovers an old terror lying dormant. Consumed by the monster mania of his family’s past, Wolf sets out to restore the comatosed Monster (Boris Karloff) and vindicate his father. Lionel Atwill lends a hand as the suspicious Inspector Krogh. With Josephine Hutchinson and Donnie Dunagan.

Son of Frankenstein (1939) is the last great Frankenstein film from Universal. It’s also the last time Boris Karloff portrayed the Frankenstein monster in the series. It contains what is arguably Bela Lugosi’s finest performance as the broken-necked Ygor. Additionally, the film benefits from the masterful direction of Rowland V. Lee, the bizarre, Expressionistic sets of Jack Otterson, and the atmospheric musical score by Frank Skinner. For all these reasons and more, the film itself is worth coming out for. But our showing will have one added attraction– the presence of the last surviving cast member from the film: Donnie Dunagan.

There are almost no opportunities these days to see a star from Hollywood’s Golden Age of the 1930s, but that will change on October 30 when we welcome Donnie Dunagan to our stage. In addition to playing a third generation Frankenstein (and the last surviving Frankenstein from that universe), Donnie worked for Walt Disney and provided the voice of young “Bambi” in the 1942 animated classic. Ten years after his film career ended, Donnie entered the Marine Corps and became a decorated soldier during the Vietnam War. While serving as a career Marine, however, Donnie remained silent about his earlier career in Hollywood.  In 1977, he “retired on wounds,” having attained the rank of Major. In 2004, Donnie reemerged into the public spotlight and has since made numerous personal appearances. Fans everywhere have embraced this once “lost” Hollywood player.

Donnie will be meeting with fans and signing autographs before and after the show. After our costume contest, Donnie will be interviewed onstage by program host Matthew Hoffman. Besides his vivid memories of working on Son of Frankenstein, Donnie has a wealth of knowledge about many stars from Hollywood’s greatest era. This will be a rare opportunity for fans in the Chicagoland area to experience living history from a great storyteller.

As author/historian Tom Weaver introduced him in his excellent Video Watchdog interview from October 2004: “Now meet the real Don Dunagan– career Marine, champion boxer, combat officer, counterintelligence agent, Green Bay Packer, mathematician, physicist and American Mensa Society member…”

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Boris Karloff signed this picture to Donnie…
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And here is one from Basil Rathbone, Donnie’s onscreen dad…
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Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi star in their greatest teaming…
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Son of Frankenstein was originally planned to be shot in Technicolor…

Donnie Dunagan Visits the Pickwick Theatre on October 30!

He’s Still Alive!!!   He’s Still Alive!!!

Donnie Dunagan, Co-Star in Universal’s 1939 movie “Son Of Frankenstein”, is coming to a Theatre near you!

Born in 1934 to Irish parents fleeing for their lives to America, Donnie Dunagan has had a tremendous impact on his adopted country. Arriving in Houston, then San Antonio, after being born at Sea on a tramp steamer, the little child grew to be a fascinating man.

During the Great Depression in our country, a common entertainment was a talent contest in a small town. Entered in such a contest (Donnie was all of 4 years old!) to win a grand prize of $100, Donnie was spotted by a talent scout for RKO Studios, and his movie career began.

Donnie has many films to his credit, and was a popular child star of the Golden Era of Hollywood. Universal’s “Son of Frankenstein,”  “Tower of London”, and Walt Disney’s “Bambi” (Donnie was the face model for Bambi, and the voice actor for the young deer) are some of his films.

Tragedy struck Donnie’s home life, and Donnie was eventually placed in an orphanage for his young life. Truly, from Rags to Riches to Rags!

Academics and Football were his Savior.

Leaving the orphanage at age 14, Donnie worked and supported himself in a boarding house while attending High School. Determined to be a doctor, but with no funds or adults to help him attend college, he became a star athlete in order to hopefully obtain a scholarship. Donnie’s plan worked, and although he was awarded a scholarship, he was too young at 16 to attend college until the following year.

Our country was still involved in the Korean War at that time, and when it was his turn to report for a draft physical, Donnie’s career with the United States Marine Corps began, with a question from a tall Marine recruiter, who asked “…Son, haven’t I seen you play football? You know, the Marines have a football team…..”, and so, 25 years later, from private to Major, Donnie loved the Corps as home. A Medal of Honor Nominee, with the Navy Cross, 3 Purple Hearts, Two Silver Stars, Three Bronze Stars, Navy Commendation Medal, are among his acheivements for Valor.

Other chapters were included in Donnie’s life as well.

OSS trained Cold War Counter Intellligence Agent, DOD, DIA CIA.

Business Owner.


Between these times, Donnie Graduated from Oxford University in England with a PhD in Mathematical Physics.

Today Donnie is retired and travels to share his adventures with Fans Everywhere.

                                                                     — Official Press Release for Donnie Dunagan

Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, and Donnie Dunagan during the making of Son of Frankenstein.
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Coming Soon: Son of Frankenstein (1939)!

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(Video courtesy of Robert Harrison.)

The Golden Screening

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The line stretched down the block for our showing of Goldfinger!

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A record turnout of 461 patrons came out for our 50th Anniversary screening of Goldfinger on September 18, 2014. (The film had originally premiered in London on September 17, 1964, but was released in the U.K. on September 18.) Colin Clark of The Ian Fleming Foundation was our special guest and provided the memorabilia seen in the lobby. The main attraction was the Jet Star model plane used in the making of Goldfinger. (Special precautions had to be taken given the extreme value of this prop.)

It was wonderful to have a part of film history on display. In an age where everything is done on a computer, it’s interesting for fans to see a tangible piece of movie magic. (The Jet Star was cleverly used in the film. It was painted differently on each side, and with the simple trick of a reverse camera angle, the plane appeared in a second sequence later in the movie.)  In addition to the jet, Colin brought with him one of the gold bricks used in the Fort Knox set. (These were actually made out of lead.) Though hundreds of these were undoutedly made, we like to believe ours was the one thrown at Oddjob in the movie!

After the prize giveaway, which included an Aston Martin collectible car, Colin was introduced on stage and spoke about the history of the jet and how it came into the possession of The Ian Fleming Foundation. The prop originally had been given to an executive of Lockheed Martin after the film’s production, but it surfaced years later in an antique shop where it was acquired. The Foundation, in fact, owns several Bond props and vehicles, many of which are currently stored in a warehouse in Kankakee, IL.

Colin Clark and his wife Kelly representing The Ian Fleming Foundation. With them is the Jet Star model used in the making of Goldfinger.
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From its very first image of the famous gun barrel sequence, it was clearly evident– based on the audience reaction– that Goldfinger holds up as well today as it did fifty years ago. The crowd applauded, cheered, and laughed at all the appropriate moments. It’s a film that fans love and respect. Our screening offered a unique perspective, though; this was perhaps one of the few theatrical screenings in its half-century history where the first shot of the jet itself received applause!

We are extremely grateful to all those who helped us with this event, including Colin Clark, our house organist Jay Warren, and our golden Bond girls: Allison, Shannon, Monica, and Elizabeth.

For more about the work of The Ian Fleming Foundation and their role in preserving the James Bond legacy, Click Here!

Film Historian Matthew Hoffman with movie hostess Allison…
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Colin Clark discusses the Jet Star– and some Bond trivia!
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The lobby afterward…
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Striking a Bond pose after the show with one of our Bond girls, Elizabeth.
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