The Bedford Falls Sentinel

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Movie house from the Movie! The Bedford Falls Bijou Theatre

   Writing about the movie house in Bedford Falls creates a lot of twists concerning movies within a movie, as  there is a lot of things which relate to the Bijou theatre which are reflected in the creation and cast of It's a Wonderful life. The movie house is most prominently presented in George's famous joyful run by it toward the end of the movie as he makes his way past Potter in the bank, past all the famous family sites, and eventually of course back to his family.

Bijou Theatre along main street. 
      This building is a tale of two, or really 3 buildings essentially as it changed over time through the course of the film. As far as we can see, the structure was known earlier as the Bijou theatre, and then at some point after George and Mary's wedding the owners built a classic movie theatre front to it. Seen below earlier in the film without the front we can compare the changes. We get our best look at it as George is walking out some lonely frustration along main street before meeting Violet.

As a single lady walks by George eyes her with possible thoughts of taking her to the Bijou
     Notice how alive the town and theatre seems. Capra really did a great job with the various cars and extras walking around in this scene to create a Bedford Falls we can believe in. Violet runs over away from her two bow tied interests who offer a creepy glimpse at just how Ms. Bick does manage to get by in town.

Losers trying to court Vi:  Bow Tie brothers as I call them.
Bailey in the 60's, is it the same guy?

    One of them, while only listed as an uncredited role, the actor on the left is named Jack Bailey. He can also be found cast in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie 20 years later. Or at least I'm pretty sure that's him. Listen to his voice as he calls after Violet and in the episode as I think the voice matches more than visual recognition can tell us. Bailey, best remembered for his role as host of the popular Queen for a Day show. had a lackluster career before passing away in 1980. Queen for a day intro seen here, is worth taking a look at for its nostalgic 1950's feel.

      Drifting back to the structure, here is what the changes brought to the building as it came to be referred to by George as the "movie house". Earlier when speaking to Ernie, we see that the location sits right beside Mr. Gower's establishment.

Gower runs out soon after this shot

Merry CHRISTmas movie house!!!

    The front section was added to create a famous marquee signage which became popular in the 30's and 40's. The famous Chicago Theatre still holds its famous marquee and was completely restored to it's original look. A great vintage version can be seen during the footage of the Gone with the Wind premiere in 1939.

   On our Bedford Falls marquee we find that in light of the CHRISTmas spirit, the movie showing on this important night is none other than the famous Bing Crosby picture "The Bells of Saint Mary's" along with an unnamed second feature. From what we can see along the side of the marquee the current show also features a cartoon Disney short with Donald Duck as well as some kind of newsreel from RKO Pathe News. You can find an example of just such a newsreel from late 1945 and quite likely the one that might be referred to here at this link. Donald's role on the other hand was featured in 7 films in 1945 so we don't know which one is being shown here but you can see most of those on You Tube if your curious. 

   A great film, that is itself a sequel to the even greater hit "Going My Way", this film also stars the wonderful and beautiful Ingrid Bergman. Also ironically appearing in the film is Henry Travers, and creates an interesting bit of self promotion by RKO in using one of their films inside another one. Travers acting in a film that is being promoted within another film he's acting in is a strange bit of irony too. You can see Clarence ... errr I mean Travers in the clip linked here. The film was the highest grossing movie ever made by RKO pictures, garnering almost seven times what It's a Wonderful Life originally brought. I don't have to tell you who history has chosen as the better film though do I :) 

    The third version of the Bijou theatre is the one that forms in the world without George (WoG on this blog) and Pottersville. As main street is turned into a collection of run down and dirty questionable business and gambling operations, the movie house of course was altered too. Apparently a cast of “gorgeous” girls “sings” as a choir of some sorts. Focusing in on the newly title marquee we can read the advertisement of this musical group. 


  Atomic Energy huh? Quite the change from Father O'Malley. Just another reason we're glad George found his way back home.

   And onto the village piece and unboxing. The Enesco Bedford Falls Bijou movie house is from the second series of the collection. It's one of the better pieces, yet I find myself saying that a lot. There is however one major flaw, or perhaps the word should be defect as I think they really dropped the ball on the mold design. Enjoy the show! 

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Box front. Please click below at 'Read More' to continue with the photos. 

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Side view

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Rear face with village display

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Top box

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Box front angle

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Cert

And now some shots in the light. The big thing you'll notice is the disappointing front marquee. It's small, is missing the vertical signage, isn't the right shape, and just overall lacking an impressiveness that betrays the entire point of the sign. Note along each picture. 

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Front face. 

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Front 

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Side view. Like the snow hanging. 

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Rear view not that impressive but again the snow hangs is a nice touch. 

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Side view, notice at least some note of the news reel and cartoon. 

Enesco Bijou Theatre: If they took enough attention to add and notice this, how could they not put together a more impressive front?

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Front angle

Enesco Bijou Theatre:Front angle 2

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Top down boring square. 

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Snow overhang. 

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Marquee sign. At least they got the right film. 

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Entry way. Seems like there are two doors for some reason. 

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Signage angle

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Marquee angle. Sad they didn't use a bit more design changes to create a unique front. 

And onto the night lit up shots. It's here that the marquee of the theatre should literally shine, but instead it's missing anything remotely close to that though process. Judge for yourself. 

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Front lit up. Nice and bright door ways, but NOTHING within the marquee

Enesco Bijou Theatre: 

Enesco Bijou Theatre:

Enesco Bijou Theatre:

Enesco Bijou Theatre:

Enesco Bijou Theatre:

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Apparently they shut off the lights tonight. I can't believe they couldn't find a way to channel some light into the already poor looking sign. Shame

Enesco Bijou Theatre: Doors look good. 

Enesco Bijou Theatre:

Violet: "Why, it's ten miles up to Mt. Bedford!"

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