I'm only about 5-foot-3-inches, but I totally towered over Isabella Rossellini.
Now, you may be wondering what sorts of circles a humble hometown girl like myself would run in that would enable me to reach that conclusion. It's not because I mingle with the hoi polloi --- it's because Rochester is one of the more important movie towns on the map.
Did you enjoy that scene in the Wizard of Oz where it finally turns to color? You can thank George Eastman and Thomas Edison for that (but just think it --- they won't hear you). Eastman and Edison introduced color motion picture film to the world in 1928 at Eastman's home at 900 East Avenue, the place now known as the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film. The Eastman House, which boasts the world's oldest photography museum and one of the foremost motion picture collections, is also the location of the Dryden Theatre.
Eastman's niece Ellen Dryden funded the 500-seat repertory house, which opened in 1951 and now provides Rochester movie lovers with a home away from home. Besides its usual schedule (info: 271-4090) of eclectic films --- be they recent, reissued, beloved, or nearly forgotten --- the Dryden acts as a venue for local film festivals and hosts visiting film people, including the shockingly lovely (and tiny) Ms. Rossellini.
If you consider the fact that the Little Theatre at 240 East Avenue (232-3906) opened a mere 12 days before October 29, 1929 --- aka Black Monday, the start of the Great Depression --- it's a miracle not only that it continues to stand, but that it continues to thrive. The survival of the Little can be credited to its clever reinventions as well as its diehard fans. Originally birthed as a part of a chain of arthouse theaters, the Little adapted to talkies, then acknowledged the trend toward Hollywood moviemaking and even went through a stint showing adult flicks before its current full-circle incarnation.
Bill Coppard and his partners bought the Little in 1981 and restored the historic theater, with its gorgeous Art Deco façade, to its former glory, programming the best in American independent and foreign film. The Little would go on to add four more screens and an 80-seat café that triples as a jazz club and gallery space. Now run by the nonprofit Little Theatre Film Society, the Little continues its commitment to quality viewing and now offers those who join the Film Society member benefits, including reduced pricing and opportunities to catch special screenings not available to the general public.
Some people may think that because of its rock-bottom prices and pink-and-turquoise exterior, the one-screen Cinema Theater (957 South Clinton Avenue, 271-1785) is the goofy little brother to the Little and the Dryden. In actuality, the Cinema is their cool older sister. Built in 1910, the Cinema is one of the oldest continuously operating movie theaters in the country. Today it shows double features of second-run films --- Hollywood, independent, and foreign - for $3. And its concession prices are the lowest in town. It's a great and inexpensive way to pass an evening.
Oh, I also once sold Marilyn Manson a ticket to see Trees Lounge. He was way taller than me.