Monday, August 13, 2007
Los Angeles has a few tresures. One of those jewels is The New Beverly Cinema. It is the ONLY repertory movie theater in LA. Sherman Torgan, founder and jack-of-all-trades at the New Bev, died recently. The following is a letter I wrote to film critic Roger Ebert about Torgan and the New Bev.
If you are lucky enough to have a rep movie house in your area, give them your business.
Hello Roger – I hope this letter finds you well and improving.
I am writing today because Los Angeles lost one of its angels. Sherman
Torgan, the founder and proprietor of The New Beverly Cinema, here in
Los Angeles. The details, biographical and otherwise, can be found
I'm not sure if you were familiar with Mr. Trogran. Something tells me
that you might have been. I have this image of you popping into small
theaters wherever you find you yourself. But the reason I am writing
is not so much to eulogize Mr. Torgan but to express anxiety. You see,
"The Bev" is the ONLY repertory movie house in Los Angeles.
This bears repeating: in Los Angeles… Hollywood… a town built on and
supported by the film industry, there is only a SINGLE rep theater. I
actually didn't know this fact prior to this week. Living in LA, you
take for granted that you can find whatever you want if you are
willing to drive. But reading the various obituaries and tributes, it
became clear that Mr. Torgan and his small movie house provided an
exclusive service. Three times a week the Bev changes its offerings.
Three nights of Brando followed by two nights of Peter Sellers
followed by two nights of Keaton (and maybe even a midnight of Repo
Man thrown in for good measure). The sheer variety of the offerings;
the eclectic, eccentric, idiosyncratic selections communicated to the
moviegoer that someone loves movies as much as I do. High-brow,
low-brow, middle-brow, Mr. Torgan understood that variety was the
spice of life and the life's blood of a cinemaphile.
Sadly, with the passing of Mr. Torgan, the Bev's days may be numbered.
Years of providing the best bargain in town (a double-feature for $7
is what they charge NOW!) to an increasingly select audience have
taken it's toll. Perpetually on the verge of closing since it opened
in 1978, the Bev may finally be on its last legs without its
My ulterior motive in writing to you, Roger, is not so much to lament
the passing of a great Angelino and friend of cinema, but to touch on
your inherent sympathy for the cottage industry that is the repertory
cinema house. If I can walk ten block in Paris, France and find two
rep houses, it is scandalous that in 500 square miles only one house
can be found to honor the diversity of world cinema. Perhaps you can
use your bully-pulpit to sermonize and perhaps evangelize the need to
maintain and expand this invaluable cultural resource.
Thank you, Roger, for taking the time to read my petition.