The rapid development of the cinema industry on a large scale between 1905 and 1915 resulted in the erection of many motion picture houses. Atlanta's first movie had been shown at the Cotton States Exposition in 1895, but the venture was a complete failure. With the turn of the century, however, the improved technique of making and projecting films captured the public interest, and several motion picture houses were opened. Many Atlantans remember the years Dave Love and his orchestra held forth at the Criterion Theater, during which time he introduced the playing of classic overtures between showings of the feature picture, an entertainment pattern that was copied by other Atlanta theaters and maintained for more than a decade.
One of the greatest celebrations to be held here in the twentieth century was the festival attending the premiere of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's "Gone With the Wind" in December 1939. Hundreds of visitors streamed up and down Peachtree Street, a few of them searching, in all seriousness, for the site of "Aunt Pittypat's" house, others conjecturing as to the spot Scarlett O'Hara would have chosen for the erection of her "chalet" with the scrollwork trim. Thousands lined the streets for two hours in a cold, gusty wind awaiting the arrival of the stars, only to catch a kaleido- scopic view of furs, red roses, and bared masculine heads as the delayed parade streaked past. Crowds blocked the streets around the Georgian Terrace Hotel to see the actors and hear brief speeches of welcome from the mayor, the governor, and other prominent men. A public ball, at which men and women danced in costumes of the 1860's, was given at the auditorium that night and featured entertainment typical of the Old South.
The night of the premiere crowds packed the streets around the theater, on the fagade of which a concrete, large-columned portico with Greek pediment had been superimposed. Giant magnolias flanked the pillars, and multicolored flowers bloomed in the garden that extended into the street. Spotlights played over the theater front, the people thronging the streets, dotting surrounding roof-tops, and peering out of near-by office windows. In the theater, approximately three blocks from the site of the State Square park that served as an outdoor hospital in 1864, Atlantans saw the picture.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
(Hardcover - Sept. 1, 1936)
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The Wind Done Gone: A Novel by Alice
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