We all know that some old places just don’t make it, for various reasons, while others flourish and thrive. A perfect example of this can be seen in 2 theaters from my neck of the woods back home in Massachusetts, the Wollaston Theatre in Quincy, MA and not more than 10 miles away, the Coolidge Corner Cinema in Brookline, MA.
Filmmaker Justin Fielding was kind enough to let me share his short film about these 2 historic Boston area theatres, and seeing the Wollaston after not visiting it for so many years just breaks my heart.
I remember going to the “Wolly” a half dozen or so times before I moved away, and being absolutely fascinated by the history of the place (would you believe the Plasmatics played here?) and dismayed at the Haversham-esque dishevelment of the once grand space.
I asked Mr. Fielding to write a little something about the movie to share with Retro Roadmap Readers:
I make short films, features, and commercials with an ultra-low-budget production team called Castparty Productions, just south of Boston, MA.
In 2008, we signed up to do the International Documentary Challenge, in which you have five days to make a short, non-fiction movie. We decided to do a film about the long-shuttered Wollaston Theater, a beloved but decaying old movie house in the Quincy, MA neighborhood of the same name.
The proprietor, Arthur Chandler, showed up at the theater every day in what seemed to be — and, unfortunately, proved to be — a quixotic quest toward someday reopening the theater.
Mr. Chandler was very gracious, taking us on an extensive tour of the facility.
Fairly early in the process of developing the film, we got the idea to contrast “The Wolly” with the beautifully restored Coolidge Corner Theatre, in Brookline. Joe Zina, then-Executive Director of the non-profit Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation, gave us free run of the place and an interview that contrasted poignantly, I think, with Mr. Chandler’s.
Sadly, just a month after we shot A Tale of Two Cinemas Mr. Chandler passed away.
Since then, there have been attempts to re-open the theater, but they haven’t panned out, as yet. Local residents still hold out hope that some white knight will make Arthur Chandler’s — and their — dream of The Wolly re-opening a reality.
The world gets much poorer every time a classic moviehouse gets bulldozed to make way a parking lot or a chain store, and I hope our film might inspire someone to revive this little gem of a theater and stave off such a fate for it.
My current project, nearing the end of post-production — and I hope garnering some film-festival attention — is an irreverent slacker comedy called Inventory, about lazy furniture store clerks who are supposed to be counting merchandise. Along the way, they learn a lot about each other and themselves. It features a soundtrack stuffed with fantastic shoulda-been-hits by Beatlesque powerpop greats, including Shoes, Stackridge, and many more. We describe the film as The Breakfast Club meets Clerks, and we think it’s a whole lot of fun. Maybe you’ll agree….
Anyway, many thanks to Mod Betty for sharing A Tale of Two Cinemas with this cool retro-centric community!
If you want to save the Wollaston Theatre (like I do, when I win the lottery!) here’s where it is:
Wollaston Theatre (Closed)
14 Beale Street
Quincy, MA 02170
And if you want to visit the Coolidge Corner, which is still open, here’s the info!
Coolidge Corner Theatre
290 Harvard Street
Brookline, MA 02446-2917