News Column

The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.) Margaret Bikman column

July 15, 2014

By Margaret Bikman, The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.)

July 15--Michael Falter's love for film took on episodic proportions when, in 2002, he came to work as the new manager of what was then the Pickford Cinema. Eventually he became program director for Pickford Film Center.

Now there's a new installment in his life: Falter is leaving Bellingham soon to open a movie theater in Florence, Ore., City Lights Cinema, a fourplex movie house that was unable to transition to digital formats and closed more than a year ago.

Although he will not be in Bellingham physically, Falter will still program films for Pickford (and Pickford memberships will be honored at City Lights).

Susie Purves, the recently appointed executive director at Pickford, says "nobody knows the Bellingham audience as well, and we will see his choices on our screens into the future."

But Falter is not fading on Bellingham's silver screen without one more blockbuster.

He is guest-curating an exhibit, "The Art of Genre: Posters from Hollywood's Golden Age," with original artwork of movie posters, mostly from the 1930s to the 1960s, at Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher and Old City Hall buildings, opening Saturday, July 19, and showing though Oct. 12, with numerous workshops and special events during the run of the exhibit.

And perhaps the stars of the show are the films that will show at Pickford in conjunction with the exhibit; such films as "Rio Bravo" "Kiss Me Deadly" and "Forbidden Planet."

Here's what Falter says about how the exhibit came about.

"I was inspired to reach out to Whatcom Museum two years ago, after I spent a week in Los Angels at the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. Not only was I surrounded by classic and mostly restored films, but the artwork on display was brilliant.

"I strolled to a bookstore a few blocks away and picked up a book called 'Translating Hollywood.' Personally, I love the posters of Poland, Mexico, Cuba and elsewhere, featuring artwork that is sometimes surreal and frequently is some distance from any imagery culled from the film. This is the idea I pitched to Patricia Leach (executive director of Whatcom Museum).

"The idea took some time to schedule and also to determine what resources we had available -- I already knew we had one world-class collector, who wishes to remain anonymous, in town -- but there was another.

"Josh Mersereau, who has collected and sold posters for 35 years, is perhaps the nicest man I've ever met. He has so many posters he doesn't even claim to know exactly what he has-and he likes it that way.

"Between the two collectors, I realized we had one of the greatest collections of original posters from several different genres-namely science fiction of the '50s, film noir of the '40s and '50s, and Westerns from the '50s.

"Thus the thrust of the show became about celebrating Hollywood's genres from the studio era-when marketing was at its zenith in the film business. Perhaps the translating Hollywood idea will be a show for another time!

"Their collections include some of the great classics of the genres -- such as 'Shane,' perhaps the defining '50s Western, or 'Pickup on South Street,' one of Sam Fuller's most important works, which will be hanging as a six-sheet (six times as large as a standard movie poster).

"As for science fiction, we have classic creature features to original 'The War of the Worlds' (1953) half-sheets -- important pieces.

"It's mind-blowing to have such priceless original pieces from collectors who call Bellingham home -- to me it seemed like we had all the ingredients for a world-class show without the need to supplement from other collectors or other collections further afield.

"The show inspired our slate of films that we're featuring all summer at Pickford Film Center, starting with a matinee of 'The War of the Worlds' (1953) and a brand new 4k-restoration of Orson Welles' 'The Lady from Shanghai,' starring the ravishing Rita Hayworth."

Falter is not out of Bellingham's movie frame yet.


Exhibit: "The Art of Genre: Posters from Hollywood's Golden Age"

When: Saturday, July 19, to Oct. 12.

Where: Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher, 250 Flora St., and Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St.


Behind the Scenes focuses on the people who make the arts and entertainment world of Whatcom County happen. It appears in Take Five, The Bellingham Herald's entertainment section, each Thursday. Margaret Bikman is the Entertainment News Coordinator at The Bellingham Herald. Contact her at or 360-715-2273.


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Source: Bellingham Herald (WA)

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