Historic Oswego Theater 80th Anniversary Celebrated with Classic Movie Night on October 14 | Local history
OSWEGO – The Oswego County Historical Society (OCHS) is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the opening of the historic Oswego Theater in 1941. The annual Classic Movie Night event will feature John Huston’s classic 1941 film noir “The Maltese Falcon “. It will be presented at 7 pm Thursday, October 14 in the main auditorium of the Oswego Theater at 138 W. Second St. All proceeds from this special evening will support the iconic Richardson-Bates House Museum in Oswego.
The archives of cinema history have hailed “The Maltese Falcon” as one of the greatest films ever made. It was part of a momentous period in Hollywood history, known as the ever popular film noir period. This film is considered the first American film noir, with a unique writing, directing and filming style of mystery and suspense.
The year 1941 is known for some of the best classic films in the history of cinema. This recognition was due to the large amount of quality films by notable film companies and attendance records. Other famous films presented in the same year included such notable directors as Orson Welles for “Citizen Kane”, Howard Hawks for “Sergeant York” and Alfred Hitchcock for “Suspicion,” to name a few.
“The Maltese Falcon” was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. It would be a memorable start for already accomplished screenwriter John Huston. His career as a legendary director was launched by his first and very successful experience directing this film. He first adapted the hugely popular 1930 detective novel of the same name by famous author Dashiell Hammett. The Crime Writers’ Association ranked the novel number 10 on the list of the 100 best detective novels of all time. Hammett led a very interesting life and for some time worked as a private investigator for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. His experiences then were what inspired his mystery detective writings.
Huston went on to have a legendary career in acting, writing and directing roles in many other classic films. One of his closest friends before his official film career was future actor Humphrey Bogart, who had yet to start a role as a lead actor. Huston wanted Bogart as the lead man for the role. He carefully chose the rest of the cast. This included veteran actress Mary Astor to star as femme fatale. Astor was one of the few actresses to transition from a young early career in silent film to a transition to sound films. Bogart considered the film to be a masterpiece he was very proud of, and that solidified his recognizable character on screen. It was a box office success and instantly hugely popular with movie critics and a fan favorite of cinephiles.
“We are delighted that Classic Movie Night is the exact anniversary month of the film’s premiere in Oswego 80 years ago,” said Justin White of the OCHS Board of Directors. “We hope to have the same success with full participation from fans of classic films.” Interesting details have been added to make it a special event, including hosting it in the historic Oswego Cinema. There will be special door prizes related to the event and a souvenir program. One of the mysterious prizes is a Maltese falcon statue which will be one of the nice items that will be included. The mysterious original Maltese Falcon movie prop has been one of the most treasured and sought after classic movie prop artifacts. He broke records for an auction price. Movie tickets were designed by Oswego Printing to mimic a vintage-style 1941 movie and will make a nice keepsake as well.
“It has been a landmark year and we continue to promote the remarkable legacy of Oswego’s story,” added White. “The Oswego County Historical Society was formed in 1896 and is celebrating its 125th anniversary. For the first fifty years it did not have a permanent seat. It was in 1946 that the fourth generation of the Richardson-Bates family generously donated their Villa Tuscan residence to the Historical Society to be the first community museum and to celebrate its 75th anniversary.
Since the official opening of the museum, it has remained the oldest cultural and historical organization in Oswego County. It is one of the most intact 19th century house museums in New York State with the original furniture and contents of the family. The society maintains an extensive collection of artifacts, documents and photographs that preserve the history of Oswego County. The organization relies on fundraisers to support general operations. Such events are essential to maintain the house-museum and its services.
“All year round, we offer events and programs that showcase our history,” White said. “This classic film event is very popular and every year we work to make an interesting connection with the story of Oswego.” This year marks the 75th anniversary of the closure of the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter in Oswego during WWII. Memorial programs were coordinated throughout the year by the Fort Ontario State Historic Site and the Safe Haven Holocaust Museum. To highlight this remarkable story of the only refugee refuge in the United States during WWII, there will be a brief but compelling 1944 documentary titled “Over the Rainbow Bridge” before the film presented. This will be shown in the traditional spirit of the newsreels that were released around this time as reports before the films started. It helped educate the public ahead of home televisions.
The film will be screened in the original main auditorium of the historic Oswego Theater, designed by prolific international theater architect John Eberson in Art Deco design. It opened to the public in January 1941 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
“The historic Oswego Theater is the premier location to showcase classic films,” said Lyn Patterson, OCHS Board Member. It is a unique example of Art Deco architecture and a perfect backdrop for this event.
Tickets are a donation of $ 20 per person and are available at the Oswego Theater at 138 W. Second St., the Port City Copy Center at 115 W. Third St., and by pickup or delivery by calling the Richardson-Bates House Museum.
“There is nothing quite like seeing a timeless movie on the big screen,” White said. “It’s a whole different experience to see him on television. It will be a special occasion to appreciate and celebrate the history of cinema and also to support the museum. “
OCHS is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the county’s rich history. The company maintains and operates the Richardson-Bates House Museum at 135 E. Third St. in Oswego, a historic monument listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The museum is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the other days by appointment. For more information, visit the website at www.rbhousemuseum.org or call during regular hours at 315-343-1342.