As noted in yesterday's blog, the movies were very much a community affair during the silent film era - especially in small towns.
Despite partial studio ownership of some theaters, and practices such as block booking, the managers and local owners of at least some theaters did manage to have a say in the nature of motion picture exhibition in their communities.
And, as has also been pointed out in prior posts, films could be seen just about anywhere - even in churches, under tents, and in fire stations. Here are a couple of advertisements for motion pictures which were screened at local high schools in California.
The first, for Down the Stretch (1927) starring Marion Dixon, was shown in the High School Gym in Fall River Mills. At the time this newspaper advertisement was run in November of 1927, Fall River Mills was a very small community in Shasta County in the northern most reaches of the state. However, despite the fact that only a few hundred people lived there, Fall River Mills seemed to need at least two venues for films. According to the Cinema Treasures website, movies were also shown once a week in the local Town Hall. And, apparently, they were also shown in the high school gym.
Also on the bill along with Down the Stretch was Fighting with Buffalo Bill (1926), a Universal release. That's two feature films for 50 cents! And the following night, there would be a high school basketball game. "Good game assured," the ad reads.
The second advertisement, for It's the Old Army Game (1926) starring W.C. Fields, promotes a screening which took place in the High School Auditorium in Gonzales, California. Gonzales was then a small rural community in Monterey County. Readers of the local newspaper might have noticed this discrete advertisement - meant to resemble a ticket or coupon, or they may have noticed larger and bolder ads for films in neighboring Salinas. In any case, admission for this single feature was still half-a-buck. One wonders what was the nature of the seating.