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Garland of Praise 

by Michael Bowen

Spokane's beloved movie theater has stood on the corner of Garland and Monroe for 58 years. It's celebrating on Saturday with showings of Pirates of the Caribbean and (perhaps) Seabiscuit, along with giveaways (including free admission to all who can prove that they have a Nov. 21 or Nov. 22 birthday), contests and reduced prices on many snack bar items.

When the Garland was completed in 1945, it was the premier movie house on the West Coast. By the mid-80s, however, it had gone empty before Don Clifton revived it as a discount movie house with $1 tickets.

As a second-run theater, the Garland offers films that have exhausted their initial surge of appeal. "We've got a niche," says marketing director Loree Moore. "A lot of people miss first-run movies that they really want to see -- we're sort of their second chance."

Current owner Katherine Fritchie has already upgraded the seats, sound, picture and interior neon, and continues to make improvements. Moore notes that sure, "tickets have gone all the way up to $2.50," but that "you can still get popcorn and a soda and admission [at the Garland] for less than the admission alone at a downtown theater."

Moore would also point out to couch potatoes the advantages of going out to a show at a '40s-style movie palace: "It's a different experience than watching a DVD. You can't pause it, go to the bathroom, then go back. That sense of going out, the curtain opening -- it's an outing, an event, rather than just entertainment."

Publication date: 11/20/03

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