Lights, camera, ‘Poetry’The Strand is back in the movie business

Published 1:00 am Saturday, March 17, 2012

For the first time in more than 48 years a movie will be shown at the Strand Theatre in downtown Vicksburg.

“Poetry,” awarded the best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival, will be shown at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The theater has been up and running since last year as a stage for the Westside Theatre Foundation, but a movie hasn’t been screened there since it closed its doors in 1963.

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Daniel Boone, owner of the Highway 61 Coffee Shop, has been the ring leader in bringing films back to the Strand said Jack Burns, one of Westside’s founders.

Boone who tout’s himself as a movie lover, said he had seen “Poetry” with a mixed group of friends and “Everyone seemed to like it.”

Boone said what he likes about foreign films is they show a side of the cultures and geography that you don’t usually see in an American film.

“We see the people interacting in their culture and the different systems and government they have,” he said.

“Poetry,” takes place in Korea and revolves around an elderly woman who is struggling with Alzheimer’s and finds solace in attending poetry classes.

Boone said that the movie is intended to be the first in a series of 10 screenplays that will offer discussion, in a loungelike setting, following the showing.

Admission to the show will be $5 in advance and $6 the night of the movie and will be available at the theater, the Highway 61 Coffee Shop or by calling 601-636-8313.

Proceeds and donations will aid in the continued infrastructure improvements at the theater and showing of films, said Boone.

Snacks will also be offered and Burns is planning to offer a retro style concession stand selling all the old movie theater favorites said Boone and a cash bar will be available. For more information, visit

The Strand was built around 1890 by Adolph Rose.

In the 1930s, the building was sold to Feld Furniture and a wall was put up in the center creating two long, thin commercial buildings. The east side was converted into a movie theater.

The theater operated from 1932-1963 and afterward housed a Civil War slide and sound show called “The Vanishing Glory.” “Glory,” a film, closed about 2005.

Factoids about the theater according to a website dedicated to the Strand Theatre, include:

• A trap door on the floor opened and a large fan in the wall drew up air through the room and across the reels…. Before 1940, most commercial film was nitrate-based and could spontaneously ignite when it degassed. Theater designers then knew the film had to be ventilated to reduce the danger of fire.

• The projection booth was lined with steel to reduce the danger of a fire burning down the rest of the building. The projectors were mounted on the floor and projected out small openings to the screen far away. So much heat was generated, the projectors were vented to metal flue pipes that went up to the roof.

• The earliest projectors may have used carbide lamps. The booth windows were equipped with guillotine-style sliding panels. The panels were held up with steel wires equipped with a lead plug. If a fire broke out, the plug melted and the guillotine door popped down abruptly, cutting off the air supply.