By Charly SHELTON
This weekend, the Montrose Shopping Park Association in conjunction with the City of Glendale, the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley, Andersen’s Pet Shop and the Crescenta Valley Weekly will be presenting the first annual Olde Tyme Movie Festival over two nights, Friday, Aug. 27 and Saturday, Aug. 28.
The program each night includes historical speakers, vintage cartoons, a special surprise from historian John Drayman and a feature presentation.
On Friday, “My Wild Irish Rose” starring local actor/singer Dennis Morgan will be screened, and on Saturday it will be “The High and the Mighty” starring Glendale High graduate John Wayne.
The films are being shown
on the site of the former Montrose Theater, built in 1923 as a vaudeville theatre, but burned down in the 1980s. That location is now the home of Andersen’s Pet Shop parking lot/alley. That is where a screen will be erected for the screenings. Attendees of the free showings will enjoy free popcorn and the Montrose Candy Co. will have movie candy for sale.
Mike Lawler of the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley is excited about the festival that has been whispered about for years and finally organized by Crescenta Valley’s honorary mayor Steve Pierce.
“It’s been something that has been batted around for a while,” said Lawler. “John Drayman has been talking about it for a few years as well. So it’s been around for a while, but Steve Pierce was the first one to actually execute it.”
Pierce commented that it was a combination of the ever-present hope of doing a program like this and a catalyst in the form of Tony Smith, a former Dennis Morgan neighbor, that brought the plan together.
Smith approached Pierce to move the “Dennis Morgan Film Festival” from Two Strike Park where it has been held for many years down to Montrose where it could be expanded and become more of a film festival than a screening.
“This is going to be the first of hopefully many years to come,” said Pierce. “We are trying to make it like the Sundance Film Festival, only Montrose style.
“We are trying to also get the restaurants involved, so perhaps next year they will have some specials that they will do before the event. This year is going to be more like a theater event. We will have free popcorn in a popcorn machine there, we are going to have ushers all dressed up there, black pants and white shirts, and they will be ushering people up and down the aisles. We are just trying to bring the movies back to Montrose, and this is our way (of doing that).”
The stars of these movies were involved in this community in their day just as the organizers of this event are now. In addition to being an accomplished actor, Morgan – who was the highest paid Warner Bros. contract player and considered for the part of Rick in “Casablanca” before Humphrey Bogart, according to IMDb – was the honorary mayor of the Crescenta Valley back in the late ’40s and ’50s and founder of the Montrose Christmas Parade. He also led the fund raising for the creation of Two Strike Park.
John Wayne, known as Marion Mitchell Morrison when he lived here, was the son of Glendale druggist Clyde Morrison. Marion was reportedly given the nickname “Little Duke” while living in Glendale. He played on the champion 1924 Glendale High School football team before graduating and going on to USC where he got his start as a stuntman in western films, and then went on to become one of the most popular actors of all time.
The community is encouraged to come to the 2200 block of Honolulu Avenue on Friday and Saturday nights to see the work of these actors who called this area home. Admission is free and the presentation begins at 7:45 p.m. each night.