Those of us who love movies usually also love the grand movie palaces, dating for the 1920s and ’30s, that featured community-wide events. I grew up in the 1950s. TV was in and movie palaces were out, but even in my small town, there were four movie theaters, each with a unique design. Of those, one still exists. However, it is the one that was the least of the four in terms of design and “experience” of being in a special place.
In the movie “Showdown at the Grand,” there is a special theater at the center of the story. The Warner Grand is a throwback to the era of the great theaters that existed even in relatively small towns across America. But these are lawless times, and films aren’t being made anymore.
George Fuller (Terrence Howard – “The System”) owns the Grand, as did his father and other family before that. He takes pride in the building and the movies he shows – even if the audiences are sparse and the movies are B grade or lower.
When offered an opportunity to sell his theater to make way for a commercial development, he sides with his longtime friend, Lucky (John Savage – “Bosch: Legacy”), who runs a nearby pawn shop, and refuses the offer. However, the buyer, Spike (Piper Curda – “Legacies”), won’t take no for an answer, and sends out her thugs to change George’s mind.
Along the way, the washed up actor of many of the films run at the Grand, Claude Luc Hallyday (Dolph Lundgren – “The Expendables”), makes a guest appearance in time for the big showdown between capitalism and values. Lundgren’s character is particularly interesting: he has been out of the spotlight for so long that even an appearance before a full house in a small western town is terrifying for him. Yet, when the villains attack, the fighting spirit of his screen characters is roused and he redeems himself.
Director/writer Orson Oblowitz (“Trespassers”) has crafted a movie for movie and movie-theater lovers. The story is simple, but the affection expressed by the principals for their little place in the world and their fight to keep it is infectious.
There is a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor and movie references scattered through this little flick. And the brief segments used to illustrate the outrageous films Claude Luc is supposed to have starred in – “Moses vs the Nazis” for example – are hilarious.
Director/writer: Orson Oblowitz
Producers: Christian de Gallegos, Mira Pak Howard
Cinematographer: Noah Rosenthal
Editor: Bret Salem
Music: Daniel De Lara
George Fuller: Terence Howard
Claude Luc Hallyday: Dolph Lundgren
Lucky: John Savage
Spike: Piper Curda
Lynn: Amanda Righetti
Runtime: One hour, 32 minutes
Availability: Theaters and VOD on Nov. 10, 2023
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