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The gold of the silver screens



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.

In This Guide...

  • Annual Manual 2005

    Surprised by Rochester
    When I was getting ready to move to Rochester five years ago, my friends and family were confused. They wore worried faces when they asked me, "What's in Rochester?" and "That's not too far from the city, is it?" and "Do you like the cold weather?"

  • A newbie’s checklist

    Beginner’s guide
    So you've arrived, and now you need the basics: phone, utilities, a way to get around town, and, maybe, a way to get out of town. Here is some info to help you get settled in.

  • Who's representing

    Mayor Bill Johnson 30 Church Street, Rochester 14614

  • It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

    There is so much talk about how to revitalize Rochester's downtown and make the city a more attractive place to live. But many people have discovered the benefits of city life.

  • Pounding the pavement

    I've been thinking about changing my name to Where's Your Car? (though I would have preferred You're Stunning or Are Those Real?).

  • Finding a beat you can dance to

    Live music
    I know it takes a little more than turning on the tube, but heading out for live music is so good for you. Plus the audience (you) is an integral part of each performance.

  • We’ve got music

    We're proud of our musical talent; here are four reasons why. The event

  • Get yourself something to eat

    Welcome to the Rochester food scene. I write full reviews of different restaurants every other week in City, but here is a bit of a primer, by genre, to acquaint you with the area's amazing variety of dining options.

  • Why we love market day

    The Rochester Public Market can be noisy, crowded, and fishy, but that is part of the vibrancy and spirit that make it a unique experience. Where else in Rochester is it almost too crowded to move for hours at a time?

  • Tending to your health

    Major hospitals Highland Hospital

  • Get learning

    Each public school district in Monroe County has contact information (listed below) where you can get more detailed information about individual schools. To get an overall picture, for some general research, or to just get involved, here are some resources:

  • A little culture never hurt anyone

    For a city our size, we've got plenty of culture. There's enough for every taste and energy level, but not too much to overwhelm.

  • What's the alternative?

    Although Rochester has a number of respectable art museums and galleries, rarely will these venues show anything outside the mainstream. For an art space to do something daring, quite often it has to rely on the vision and resources of an individual or a small group of people.

  • A little place outside the city

    Monroe County has 19 towns and nine incorporated villages. Aided by short commutes, particularly between Rochester and its inner-ring of suburbs, many of these are bedroom communities.

  • High class

    Colgate Rochester Divinity School Can boast of a dedication for diversity, teaching students in over 20 Christian denominations.

  • We'd rather be out in the open

    The areas in and around Rochester are rich with green space --- diverse, convenient, and beautiful places to walk the dog, take out a canoe, find a zoo, or smell the lilacs. From the beautiful Seneca and Highland Parks, both designed by 19th-century landscape genius Frederick Law Olmsted, to Durand-Eastman Park, where you can feel the immensity of that Great Lake --- here is just a partial list of some of our favorite parks in the Monroe County (256-4950, www.monroecounty.gov) and City of Rochester (400 Dewey Avenue, 428-6767 or 428-6755, www.cityofrochester.gov) systems.

  • Block partying

    Go ahead, give us a reason to celebrate. I dare you.