North Carolina Newspapers

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August 25, 1975 Section D The Dally Tar Heel 3
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by Michael Mcfee
Drama Critic
"Chapel Hill-Haven for Film
Enthusiasts" crowed a headline in last year's
orientation issue.
Well, don't feel too special. What you see1
in local moviehouses, whether dow ntown or
in Durham, has very little to do with the fact
that you are an insightful and intelligent
university student. The ultimate determining
factor, as the assistant manager of Durham's
Yorktowne Theatre bluntly put it, is the
"dollar bill." And the films which bring in
those meager student dollars are booked and
scheduled far away from our little cradle of
culture in large booking offices in Charlotte
and Atlanta.
Of course, there are non-commercially
motivated programs which would be a credit
to any community the sometimes esoteric
Alternative Cinema, the Chapel Hill Film
Friends and even the Union Free Flicks
(operating on a generous budget from
student fees). But each of the managers of the
local commercial theatres acknowledges that
although they can suggest movies to their
booking agents, they don't really know what
they're getting until the mail comes.
Two of Chapel Hill's houses, the
downtown Varsity and the triple Plaza
Theatres at Elliot Road, are run by the
Eastern Federal Corporation of Charlotte,
v. hich handles some 60 other theatres in this
region as well. The two are designed to
appeal to somewhat different clientele: the
Plaza to the first-run PG family
entertainment gangs and the Varsity to the
eclectic intellectuals who can enjoy second
run Antonidni, Behind the Green Door and
the American Film Theatre all in the same
month.
Sound unpredictable?"That's the doing of
the people in Charlotte," says manager Jerry
Robinson of the Varsity. "We really don't
Critics may quibble over whether
films should be regarded as art or as
entertainment, but one fact cannot be
disputed: they are an industry.
have much to do with it. For instance, they
end us an X-rated movie every six weeks or
so. I personally think they're trash, but some
people still come see them, so they keep
coming."
Even the features which seem to be aimed
toward the intellectual community foreign
films, or late shows, or the AFT are
essentially the whim of a booker who sees
Chapel Hill as a seat on the economic aisle.
"I don't think the politics of the academic
community make that-much difference," a
spokesman for the 'Yorktowne said. "The
ctT3lclfie"fifrn" 'is pretty much determined
h the size of the theatre and the distribution
among other theatres in the area. We have
er little control over it."
The management at the downtown
Carolina Theatre, a link in the huge ABC
chain, seems slightly more sympathetic both
to the booking agencies and to the film-as-art
university mentality. "Chapel Hill is a
crv hard tow n to book for, because films do
unexpectedly well here that don't do well
else here." said the assistant manager, citing
last year's popular French film. The King of
Hearts as an example. "Sometimes we book
films ve think will do well, and they don't.
Foreign films go big in a university town. But
;!-; tit J5fM
'Amarcord' was
one of the few fine
foreign films shown
commercially in"
Chapel Hill last
year.
"Foreign films go
big in a university
town," says the
assistant manager
of the Carolina
Theatre. "But
although we can
make suggestions
to a certain degree,
we eventually get
what Charlotte
sends us."
although we can make suggestions to a
certain degree, we eventually get what
Charlotte sends."
Critics may . quibble over whether films
should be regarded as art or as
entertainment, but one fact cannot be
disputed: they are an industry, they are a
business. When the lights come up, you
won't find the manager slumped in his
rockingchair seat musing over the artistic
merits of his newly-booked film: he'll be in
the box office seeing if he broke even, all
public serv ice aside.
H ow to compromise the two, business and
pleasure? One way is to program down the
middle of the road, like the Plaza or the
Yorktowne. Another is to bring an
unpredictable cross-section that will appeal
to everyone somewhere, like the Varsity.
Another cinematic option could possibly
come to Chapel H ill with the scheduled mid
September opening of the Ram Cinema,
three moviehouses in the NCNB Plaza
downtown. A spokesman for the Schneider
Merl movie chain in Raleigh (which also
books the Yorktowne) said that one of the
houses will probably be devoted to foreign
films that will make it commercially, like
those of Bergman or Fellini or Truffaut.
Program-wise this theatre aspires to be like
the Alternative Cinema on a less elite level;
price-wise it promises to be like the other
theatres.
Whether this much-needed venture will be
economically and artistically feasible in
Chapel Hill remains to be seen. Hopefully no
one will balk, booker or patron. But that's
still only one out of three new NCNB
theatres; the other two will persist with first
run swill like Give 'Em Hell. Harry, the gala
opener. And indications are that the four
barrelled Carroll's Cinema, a quadruple
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theatre planned to open in the mammoth
South Square Mall in a couple of months,
will bring us more of the same.
M aybe 1 shouldn't carp. After all. we don't
have to suffer the indignities of a nearby
skinflick barn like the Studio One located
conveniently across the street from State.
But neither should we have to sit by while the
Janus in Greensboro consistently captures
the premiere showings of major films like
Nashville or Love and Death, only to have
them turn up here a month later sandwiched
between Walking Tall Part 2 and Linda
Lovelace for President.
Perhaps if the local managers, all young
and reasonably schooled in the cinematic
idiom of Chapel Hill, were allowed by their
chains to have more of a direct hand in
booking films and less in checking popcorn
machines, a unified program at each theatre
and variety within the town could be
achieved. With the theatre population in the
area soon to double, it seems a small thing to
suggest.
No rats
at Town
Hall
Mike Strong, manager of Town Hall, has
informed us that, contrary to an opinion
expressed in another section of this issue,
there are no rats in Town Hall.
Strong indicated that it was
understandable that the little beasties might
be interested in his establishment, because it
has such reasonable deli prices and the
largest selection of beer around. Rats into
jazz might be interested in Town Hall's
Sunday Jazz Nites. Other rats might like to
down a few during Happy Hour from noon
to 3 p.m. or sniff around the game room
downstairs.
But only people can take advantage of the
Town Hall, Strong said. A special rat
bouncer (known also as an exterminator)
comes in regularly to make the establishment
a deadly place for rodents and a nicer place
for people.
f
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by Marty Lagod
Staff Writer
For those peripherally interested in
the study of the dance, UNC offers a
variety of opportunities. For those w ho
wish to make a serious attempt to enter
the world of professional dancing, UNC
is in the wrong place. North Carolina
School of the Arts or UNC-Greensboro
would better facilitate these people.
Foster Fitz-simons. faculty dance
instructor in the drama department,
says that, "here at the University and in
Chapel Hill we are not professionally
oriented toward dancing. If a
professional program is desired by the
student, he or she should attend a
School of the Arts and study dance
there. We offer as much as any student
and faculty member can take care of,
considering we do not have a dance
department. The opportunity for the
student to become acquainted with the
field is offered, but if a career in dancing
is preferred he should go on to a
professional school."
Fitz-simons, a nationally famous
dancer and author of a best selling
novel. The Bright Leaf, is the dance
instructor for the drama department.
He teaches two required courses for
drama majors in stage movement and
dance and one course open only to non
majors. Students from a variety of fields
ranging from public health to Botany
and Chemistry can be found in Fitz
simons' course, which is an elective for
anyone above freshman level. There are
two sections that are limited by space to
50 students each, and they fill up quickly
at registration time. Fitz-simons does
allow and even encourages those that
are interested to visit and observe his
classes.
The Physical Education Department
offers an alternative to those interested
in the dance but unable to get into the
drama courses. The P.E. dance in the
past has been primarily attended by
women students and has been well
received. This year another instructor
has been added to meet the demand for
the class.
For those interested in performance
Logos Bookstore
Christian books,
cards, gifts,
fellowship.
Located above Blimpie's.
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So vo
Cai
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Finished Laundry
Service
UNC
Carolina Blue
Blankets
Available
For
Sale . . .
WASH -DRY-FOLD
Service
Avery
933-1261 (Plant)
and choreograph) expet iencc. there is
the University Dance Iheutie. entering
its third year, i wo programs were
produced last
one ni liic la!
and
one in the spring. The Dance I heatre is
open to all interested in perlorming and
Saiural I laircntting
APPOINTMENTS ONLY
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Offsce Locutions:
Hall Craigo HaU Ehtinghaus Hail James Hall
Joyner (Basement) e- Morrison Hall
Plant Office, West Cameron Ave.
Coin-Op. Locations:
Avery Ehringhaus Craige- James --Jc-vner Morrison Odum Village
Conner -Wn',st:.n
UNIVERSITY LAUNDRY
provides an outlet for young dancers
and choreographers. Students and
faculty as well as some other members of
the University community participate in
the Theatre, which is lead by the P. I.,
class instructors.
-
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INCORPORATED
Hair Unlimited, Inc.
942-439 1
405 W. FRANKLIN ST.
CHAPEL HILL
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ODD BLANKET AND
PILLOW RENTAL
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933-1156 (Joyner)
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