Within the former First Congregational Church building in downtown Jamestown, Angelo and Ylsa Giuffre offer a journey through the past every Tuesday and Thursday. On those nights, The Spire of Jamestown, the Giuffres' creation, plays short and feature films from decades gone. It's called the Forgotten Classics movie series, and at $2 per person, the admission price also traveled to 2012 from far back in the 20th century.
The series allows the Giuffres, founders of the event company Big Time Productions, to add to the downtown Jamestown entertainment landscape while doing something they enjoy.
"I've always liked old movies; I always thought they were fun to watch," Angelo said. "It's definitely not a big money-making venture, but we thought it would be something nice to have, so we decided to do it on off-nights. Nobody can say that on any given week there isn't something to do."
The Spire of Jamestown, located in the former First Congregational Church building at 317 E. Third St., Jamestown, will continue the Forgotten Classics movie series on Tuesday and Thursday nights, beginning at 7 p.m. each night.
P-J?photo by Scott Shelters
Typically, Tuesday and Thursday nights don't feature as many entertainment options as Fridays and Saturdays, but The Spire has drawn in an increasing number of people interested in an inexpensive-date or family-fun night.
The theater hosted no more than a couple guests for some Forgotten Classics movies early on, but as time passed, word of mouth and impressed audiences have helped draw in more area residents, according to Angelo.
"It's been a slow build," Angelo said. "A lot of people come, and they really enjoy themselves. They'll come back every week, and they'll tell their friends about it."
The Tuesday and Thursday night movie experiences differ slightly from those of modern theaters. Attendees walk through the front doors of the former church, located at 317 E. Third St., and step up to a desk where they pay their $2 each and consider popcorn, candy and water purchases. Upon stepping into the theater, attendees watch films on the 25-foot screen standing on the far wall of the former church sanctuary. Just like with any other theater, the Forgotten Classics crowd consists largely of couples on dates with an occasional family mixed in. The films themselves cause the primary difference.
"It seems to be a date night kind of thing. Some of the couples are regulars," Angelo said. "It's just like going to the movie theater. The difference is this is usually a double feature."
To provide guests with a two-hour movie night experience, the Giuffres play a short film or episode prior to each night's feature. Presently, murder mystery show "Mr. and Mrs. North" serves as each night's opener with a fresh episode shown each week. Each episode lasts 25 minutes, and the feature film follows after a short intermission. The Spire will air shorts featuring Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon and Captain Marvel following the conclusion of the "Mr. and Mrs. North" episodes.
The upcoming main attractions include "The Flying Deuces," "The Little Shop of Horrors," "The Bronze Venus," "The Last Time I Saw Paris," "Boy! What a Girl," "Something to Sing About," "The Hitch-Hiker," "Private Buckaroo" and "Quicksand," starring Mickey Rooney, which will hit the big screen tonight for its second showing of the week. The Giuffres have scheduled films through March 19 but will continue to accept suggestions for future "forgotten classics" via Facebook. Search "The Spire Theater" to find the page.
Regardless of which film plays on a given night, Angelo has noticed a common theme among newcomers to The Spire.
"They're always baffled by how cheap it is. We had a family of four come in, and they all bought tickets, they got popcorn, drinks and candy and I think they spent $14. I don't see why anyone couldn't scrape two bucks out of the cushions of their couch," he said. "A lot of the people who show up come in and say, 'What's playing tonight?' They don't even check to see. They know it's there every week. They know that whatever it is will be fun."
For the Forgotten Classics, The Spire works with attendees to accommodate their needs. The Giuffres reserved a block of tickets for a church youth group and made dessert arrangements for them. They'll offer a supervised play area for the children of attendees by request.
"That's the kind of thing we're willing to do," Angelo said.
In the future, the Giuffres hope to expand the movie series into a dinner-and-a-movie family night. For now, they'll just try to keep the Forgotten Classics running.
"I can't promise that it will go on forever if we don't build it up enough and it becomes too expensive," Angelo said. "As long as we're able to keep it going, we will. It's fun; I love doing it."
Each movie night at The Spire begins at 7 p.m. with an aforementioned short. For more information, visit www.spiretheater.org or call 450-7357.