by Nancy Bestor
Ever since I can remember, I loved going to the movies. When I was a pre-teen, living in the Bay Area, it was quite a popular summer activity to get a ride to the local theater and see whatever looked good. I have fond memories of waiting in line for the epic films of my youth (don’t judge, they were epic to me), like Grease, Rocky, Ode to Billy Joe (with Robby Benson!) and of course E.T. and Star Wars. Bob and I saw Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield on one of our first dates; I’m pretty sure I asked him, too. My neighborhood movie house was a four theater box of a building, but every now and then, as I got older and more cultured (well, a little more cultured anyway), I’d venture farther afield and see a movie in a classic theater, like Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater.
I love small and quirky movie houses, and the West Coast boasts some great ones. Portland, Oregon, of course, is home to many. The McMenamins Pubs & Breweries have some of the most unique, where one can drink a beer, eat a piece of pizza and watch a flick all while lazing on a comfy overstuffed couch. The Kennedy School Theater is housed inside the Kennedy School, which until 1975 was a Northeast Portland elementary school. It was refurbished by the McMenamins and reopened in 1997 as a hotel, restaurant, movie house and more (I’m quite fond of the Detentions Bar). Another McMenamins movie spot that I’ve enjoyed is the Bagdad Theater in Portland’s Hawthorne district. The Bagdad opened in 1927, and is perhaps most famous for the 1975 Oregon premiere of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with special guests Jack Nicholson and producer Michael Douglas.