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29 Calendar

December 29, 2012 – December 1, 2013

Celluloid Seattle: A City at the Movies

Celluloid Seattle: A City at the Movies was the first exhibit to examine the city’s relationship with film. Curated by celebrated Seattle critic Robert Horton, this unique exhibition explored both the image of Seattle captured in films, and how the idea of going to the movies has changed in the city over the years.

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From a far-flung Western outpost to being hip, grunge-loving and trendy, Seattle’s image in the movie imagination has changed over the years. Likewise, the city’s residents’ movie-going habits have changed with popular culture from the grand single-screen downtown palaces to mega-multiplexes and back to the intimate theaters of nonprofit film societies.

Along with film clips and historic artifacts, the exhibit allowed visitors to truly engage with the historic movie experience through a set of recreated mini-theatres, interactive games, and activity kiosks.

Seattle Through Film

Feature Presentation

In its career as a movie star, Seattle has been the gawky ingénue, the scruffy veteran, even a trendy sex symbol.

MOHAI, PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection

Film Row

For several decades during the 1900s, 2nd Ave in Belltown, was known as “Film Row,” seen in this 1918 photo. Film Row was the center of film distribution in the Northwest, housing film exchanges from all the major studios. Theatre managers and owners came to Film Row to preview and select movies to show in their theatres. Universal Film Exchange was the last of these exchanges to close in 1980.

Photo: Eric LaCasse

Transporting to a Dream World

The original cinema palaces welcomed visitors in a grand and exotic scale, with vaulted ceilings, lush tapestries, and ornate features, as uniformed ushers stood by. Celluloid Seattle featured a grand movie palace lobby utilizing artifacts from the Fox (later Music Hall) Theatre.

Photo: Eric LaCasse

The Paradox between a City and Cinema

Up until the 1962 World’s Fair, Seattle’s portrayal on film was a far-flung Western outpost: a rough-hewn place where tugboat captains and lumberjacks roamed. The city’s actual movie-going habits contradicted its frontier image, though. This was the era of the Coliseum, Paramount, Blue Mouse, Orpheum, Fox (Music Hall), and the other grand, elegant movie palaces that showcased Hollywood’s golden age.

MOHAI, Mark Dempsey Collection

The Liberty Theatre

The Liberty Theatre on First Ave opened in 1914. Like most theatres of its era, it showed movies and live performances. Here, dancers pose below the proscenium arch.

The Primetime City

The television show Twin Peaks was largely filmed in North Bend; the town and its surrounds were regulars on the show. The Salish Lodge acted as the show’s Great Northern Hotel.

Give Him the Chair!

MOHAI recreated Dr. Frasier Crane’s living room from the hit NBC series Frasier. Visitors could have a seat on the sofa or in Martin Crane’s chair—with pup Eddie—and watch Hollywood’s reimaging of Seattle on the small screen.

A City at the Movies

Throughout the years, Seattle has been imagined in many different ways. Celluloid Seattle highlighted those films and television shows.

The Far City

Seattle was initially represented as a gritty frontier town, but that all changed with the 1962 World’s Fair.

Edison shorts

Tugboat Annie

The Far Country

North to Alaska

It Happened at the World’s Fair

The Streetwise City

In the 1970s and 80s, depictions of Seattle changed from economically-strapped and scruffy to a stylish film-noir setting.

McQ

Scorchy

Harry and the Hendersons

Hand that Rocks the Cradle

Parallax View

Cinderella Liberty

Streetwise

American Heart

Fabulous Baker Boys

House of Games

Trouble in Mind

The Slender Thread

The Sleepless City

At the turn of the 1990s, Seattle suddenly became hip, and movies followed to take advantage of it’s it factor.

Say Anything…

Georgia

Life or Something Like It

Sleepless in Seattle

Disclosure

Firewall

Assassins

The Ring

Mad Love

Singles

The Vanishing

10 Things I Hate About You

Highway

Eclipse

Love Happens

Austin Powers, the spy who shagged me

50/50

Chronicle

The Indie Seattle

Seattle has always had its homegrown filmmakers who have created their own authentic versions of the city.

Black and Decker Hedgetrimmer Murders

Beyond Kabuki

Shredder Orpheus

Hype!

Money Buys Happiness

Inlaws and Outlaws

The Business of Fancydancing

Buffalo Bill’s Defunct

Police Beat

The Heart of the Game

Outsourced

Great Speeches from a Dying World

Humpday

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle

Wheedle’s Groove

About a Son

Pearl Jam Twenty by Cameron Crowe

Grassroots

The Prime Time City

Television has also had its hand in imagining Seattle, although it followed the same path as movies and Hollywood.

Here Come the Brides

The Night Strangler

Twin Peaks

Frasier

Rose Red

Grey’s Anatomy

Dark Angel

The Killing

The Simpsons

Curator

Celluloid Seattle: A City at the Movies was curated by Robert Horton.

Exhibit Supporters

Generous support provided by 4Culture, Microsoft, USBank, the Seattle Foundation, and the Archibald Foundation