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Hello Trouble: 1937

December 1937. Midcity Cinema at 1223 Ninth Street NW in Washington, D.C. View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon for the FSA.

December 1937. Midcity Cinema at 1223 Ninth Street NW in Washington, D.C. View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon for the FSA.


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Mid City Address

Tthe address of the Mid City was probably 1223 7th St.

During our research on the address of the Alamo, the most reliable source of info was the website about the Shaw District of Washington DC where the theaters were located:

This document mentions the address of the Mid City Theater twice on p. 14, including a reference to the theater's owner:

"As early as 1907, Shaw residents could enjoy a vaudeville act or be treated to the new technology of a moving picture show in their own neighborhood. The Happyland, Gem, Alamo, Mid-City, and Broadway Theaters were all built between 1907 and 1921 within five blocks of each other on 7th Street; the Raphael was two blocks over on 9th Street.

Of these, the Broadway and Mid-City were owned and operated by African Americans for the largely black patronage in Shaw by this time. In 1919, well-known vaudeville performer Sherman Dudley advertised his Mid-City as “the only theater on Seventh Street catering to colored people that does not discriminate.”


Midcity Cinema

This location is now Washington Convention Center.

Midcity Cinema

A chunk of ceiling and chandelier fell on audience in 1945:

[Thank you. Now we know the address, which I added to the caption. - Dave]

Lobby stills

Those movie stills - which incidentally were almost always displayed in glass-fronted cases outside cinemas in the U.K. - were never actual prints taken from the movie footage. They were specially taken on-set by a studio stills photographer shooting with a 5 x 4 camera from more or less the movie camera position. As a result sometimes, though not often, they showed angles and even set-ups that didn’t appear in the movie itself.

Washington D.C.?

Why was the Farm Security Administration taking photos in D.C.?

I can understand that the govenment might need images of small town and rural American but this was just a few blocks away.

At the Movies

A rather curious mix of pictures at the Midcity. They're showing a double feature of two movies made five years apart. The main feature is "Easy Living" which was released on July 7, 1937. It starred Edward Arnold, Jean Arthur and a young Ray Milland, and was written by the great Preston Sturges. The second feature is the real puzzler. According to IMDB, Charles "Buck" Jones made "Hello Trouble" back in 1932. In fact it was release July 15th 1932 meaning it was a week shy of being exactly five years older than "Easy Living." Also visible but nowhere near as prominent is a poster for a serial "The Black Coin". Even it was newer than "Hello Trouble." having been released September 1, 1936. A line-up that would seem to indicate at best a second run house.

The cast of "The Black Coin" is sort of interesting. It included a couple of really major silent movie stars - comedian Snub Pollard and Clara Kimball Young - as well as the legendary stunt man and stunt coordinator Yakima Canutt. Canutt was the second unit director who directed the chariot race scene (among others) in the 1960 remake of "Ben Hur." Also in the cast were Dave O' Brien, who would go on to win an Emmy as a writer for Red Skelton, and Ruth Mix, the daughter of legendary cowboy star Tom Mix, in what would turn out to be her final movie.

As for Buck Jones, he is considered to be one of the greatest of the "B" movie western actors. He made 57 more movies in the ten years between "Hello Trouble" and his death in 1942 in Boston's Coconut Grove Fire (November 30, 1942).

King's Beauty Parlor

King's Beauty Parlor offers the Poro System of beauty treatment, which, though now mostly forgotten, was probably the most significant and socially important factor in the assertion of Afro-American women's self-esteem in the first half of the 20th century. See the bio for Annie Turnbo Malone.

Sign in the Window

Confectionery ads

Love the ads on the lower front of the store "Welcome Students Get A Lift With A Camel".

I had forgotten about the movie stills. Our local theater placed the big advertising poster in a display behind glass and had the movie stills in small frames all around it at one end of the lobby. If I remember correctly, they were also in frames seen from the outside of the theater too. All those beautiful brass fixtures, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, crystal drop sconces on the walls that dimmed slowly as the movie started, velvet wallpaper, all gone now.

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