Andorra provided movies - and community

Posted: January 09, 2003

When the news spread Sunday that the AMC Andorra was closing for good, moviegoers from the neighborhood encompassing Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy, Germantown and Roxborough weren't surprised. After 38 years in business and little in the way of recent maintenance, the speakers stuttered and the projectors needed corrective lenses. And let's not talk about why our soles adhered to the carpets.

"Audiences clearly prefer the modern megaplex theaters," AMC spokesman Rick King said yesterday, citing his circuit's state-of-the-art Plymouth Meeting 12 nearby.

Nice as Plymouth Meeting is, it can't duplicate the singular community provided by the Andorra, which drew from every conceivable economic class and ethnic group. Over the last 12 years that it's been my neighborhood theater, it was the place I took my stepdaughter to see The Secret Garden, my husband to see Bugsy, my daughter to see Babe: Pig in the City, my good friend to see First Wives Club. We loved the audience as much as the movies.

The Andorra provided my favorite filmgoing experience ever. It was 1995, the weekend that the first O.J. Simpson verdict was handed down, that we went to see Devil in a Blue Dress. In the opening sequence, as Denzel Washington strolled across the screen in a '40s undershirt, shoulders propellering, the woman behind us proclaimed: "They say America is a divided nation; I say we all can unite behind Denzel." The audience erupted into laughter and applause.

There are many things that can be said about Northwest Philadelphia, but chief among them is that we were a community united at the Andorra.

Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey at 215 854-5402 or crickey@phillynews.com.

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