Friday, February 16, 2007

Yiddish Hamlet, Swinging Boobies and Jackie Chan


Thanks to Patrick for passing me this story relating to Toronto City Hall’s heritage department to designate the Standard Theatre at Dundas Street and Spadina Avenue as a heritage site. Originally a Yiddish cinema, the stanard later became the Victory Burlesque and lastly, was reincarnated three times as a Chinese cinema, The Golden Harvest, The Pearl and The Mandarin. Located only 3 blocks from my office where I currently write this, I began attending when it was the Pearl, catching packed Midnight shows of ARMOUR OF GOD 2: OPERATION CONDOR, HARD-BOILED, ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA, FONG SAI YUK, STORY OF RICKY and others. I would always be guaranteed a cheap double bill in a massive cinema, plus a snack bar rocking with exotic treats. I always wish that I dove into the Chinatown cinema circuit earlier and missed out on the days when Shaw Brothers films played in this city, but then again living in rural Ontario, I didn't have the opportunity. The cinema was a grand space and now, reading this story about the rescue, that was only the balcony!

I recorded an oral history of the space for the murmur project. If you walk by 285 Spadina, you will see a big sign of an ear on a lamp post with a telephone number and code. Dial that on your cell and you can hear me blabbing about the cinema. You can hear it on this page - BUT it is full of QT audio files that all start at once. Just hit pause on all of them and then listen at your liesure. I am at the bottom of the list.

When cleaning out another Chinatown cinema, I found a little album of photos from the Standard back in the day when it was the Golden Harvest and have had them scanned and stored in my computer until the day when I would do that big project on Toronto's Chinatown cinemas. Looks like this is as good an opportunity as any. I just hope that if the save the cinema, they don't deny recognizing the history of the space as a Chinatown cinema.

Here is the link to the article about the attempt to save the cinema.






3 comments:

Jason Gray said...

Hey,

Great to see those images...

I remember stumbling into The Pearl in 1989 and catching Angel 3 (Stanley Tong!) and A Better Tomorrow III. Watching Chow Yun-fat up in the balcony on that big screen and not even knowing who he was, I remember thinking "Why isn't this guy the most famous actor in the world?"

no prob said...

Hi, my names Jon Mccurley and i'm looking to put on a stage show in the 285 spadina ave. chinatown theatre. Do you know who owns the building? I've talked to the store owners who occupy the lobby but they have no idea.
Thanks

Jiangtou said...

No idea. Honestly, the place is a wreck and not set up to support any kind of show, especially a live one. There is no proper entrance as the lobby is crammed with all the stuff from the store... sorry. not much help I know...