THE SHOW STARTS ON THE SIDEWALK: An Architectural History of the Movie Theater, Starring S. Charles Lee by Maggie Valentine (Yale University Press: $35; 231 pp.). Though his name is not the one up there in lights, S. Charles Lee was probably the most prolific and creative movie theater architect Southern California in general and Los Angeles in particular ever saw. After moving here in 1923, Lee designed close to 300 theaters in the next three decades, including downtown's mock-Versailles Los Angeles, the Bruin in Westwood, the La Reina in Sherman Oaks, the Alex in Glendale and the Bay in Pacific Palisades. One of the first architects to plan elaborate theaters for ordinary neighborhoods, as well as a pioneer in such practical matters as candy counter design and the accommodation of the automobile, Lee, says author Valentine, "offered workable solutions that combined feasibility with creativity." Her thorough book places him in the context of movie exhibition history and is illustrated with wonderful photographs and plans in both black-and-white and color.
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