And all the film buffs in Los Angeles said, at the top of their lungs…
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MICHAEL TORGAN!”
For those who may not know, Michael’s father Sherman was the original force behind the New Beverly Cinema, which celebrated its 31st birthday on May 5, and after Sherman passed away far too soon, two summers ago, the charge of keeping the flame of classic and cult cinema at the New Beverly was passed to Michael. And I must say, as I have said many times before, Michael is doing a hell of a job honoring the memory of his father by doing so.
I let the New Beverly slide from my own regular experience many years ago and had just begun to attend regularly again before Sherman died. Over these past two years the New Beverly has become far more than just another theater to me and to my family. This is due not only to the kind of specialty programming, like hosted events and film series from some pretty wonderful filmmakers, that has become a hallmark of the New Beverly calendar, but also just to the day-in-day-out schedule that has afforded me the opportunity to take my daughters to film school several times a month courtesy of Michael’s programming acumen (and that of Phil Blankenship and Julia Marchese too—sorry, Brian and Eric, but my girls aren’t quite ready for Grindhouse Night!) Thanks to Michael and the New Beverly, I have a nine-year-old who knows the work of Jimmy Stewart (and Anthony Mann), Randolph Scott (and Budd Boetticher), Barbara Stanwyck (and Preston Sturges) Terry Gilliam and Joe Dante, to name but a few. And last week she had one of the most gut-busting experiences of her young movie-going life seeing Duck Soup projected for an appreciative audience that was more than ready to laugh, one noticeably populated by lots of other children beside my own. (More on that night in the next post.)
At the risk of repeating myself, I said last week that to me and my girls, the New Beverly feels more like a second home these days than just a place to see a movie. That welcoming environment and great line-up of films for us all to enjoy has everything to do with the way Michael has carried on, perhaps not tirelessly but certainly with tremendous effort and dedication, extending the dream of his dad to a whole new generation of young movie lovers.
A man like this deserves all the praise and the patronage we can shower on him, for selfish reasons as well as altruistic ones. So if you make it out to Phil’s great Back to the Future triple feature tonight (with special guests Christopher Lloyd and Claudia Wells), or perhaps Sunday evening with me and my girls to see Meet Me in St. Louis, please offer Michael a birthday greeting and an expression of how much you appreciate what it is he does every single day at the New Beverly Cinema to keep alive the world of revival cinema. The theater marquee his father worked so hard, against all odds, to keep lit is still shining bright over Beverly Boulevard, heralding to all passersby and eager patrons the ongoing project that Michael has sustained and fulfilled most excellently.
Thanks, Michael, and again, the happiest of birthdays to you! You and the New Beverly make going to the movies a special experience, one that we certainly will never take for granted again.