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Questions on movies, theaters, and a recommendation

Hi Jon,

I noted the recent letter about movies like Slapshot and All theRight Moves that brought back familiar scenes of Johnstown. The plot of the latter movie was for Tom Cruise to be awarded a college football scholarship and escape the rigors of the steel mills (or coal mines). Similarly, manyWestern Pennsylvanians, those fortunate enough, got educated and relocated elsewhere seeking to escape the “hard life.”

Interestingly enough, a new movie titled October Sky, about life in aWest Virginia coal mining town (the movie was actually shot in easternTennessee), was just released and it is getting good reviews. Like Tom Cruise, the hero (an 18-year-old newcomer named Jake Gyllenhaal) seeks to escape his fate in the coal mines with his strong interest in science and rocketry. In a recent interview about the movie, the new actor is asked, "Can you imagine working as a coal miner?" His response was, "I would never think of being a coal miner. I think it would be a horrible job. But when it really comes down to it, it is so honorable in so many ways, and there are people who work down in the mines who are literally in love with it, like his father in the film." This ringing statement certainly applies to many coalminers that we have known from our past.

On the Nanty Glo pop quiz, theaters like “Star” and Majestic and Rivoli must go back to the prehistoric ages, because I can't remember them. It would be interesting to know the names and eras of all six theaters. In addition to the Capital on Chestnut Street and Grand on Shoemaker Street, I do remember the Victory Theater operated by the Lamantia family being located across from the Capital. How do I recall it? The movie Hellzapoppin, released in 1941 with comedians Olsen and Johnson, was featured there. An old actress, Martha Raye, played in the movie. TheVictory Theater went down in a devastating fire, probably in the late forties, together with a lot of other businesses located in the block.

I bet Siskel never realized that he would have a replacement so fast.

Best Wishes,
Frank Charney

Webmaster's note: I didn't come anywhere near Ron's recommended target of seven correct answers, but it was fun and Ron deserves much credit for his great work on the quiz page. I do remember two theaters in Nanty Glo, the Capitol, of course, and the one that later became Commons' Hardware Annex on Shoemaker. I remember it by its nickname, "The Ranch House" (because it showed westerns most of the time) but I didn't remember it as the Grand. Can anyone fill us in on the names and eras of the six? —Jon Kennedy


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