Owner throwing free screenings for anniversary

BREMEN — Ijinio Flores sure knows how to celebrate his 10 years as owner of the historic Bremen Theatre.
He’s throwing a community party of sorts this weekend, featuring the free showing of the classic Buster Keaton film, “The General,” and live piano accompaniment so audiences can experience the film’s release as it was when it debuted Feb. 5, 1927.
The free events get started at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, with the showing of a classic silent cartoon followed by Keaton’s Civil War comic masterpiece.
The fun continues Saturday, Sept. 11, with two free showings of “How To Train Your Dragon” at 4 and 7 p.m., but doesn’t end there, either.
For those who wish to see how the movie magic works, Flores will host a free “Theatre Open House” and projection booth tours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day, too. Guests can see the behind-the-scenes view of how Flores operates the small, historic theater, and view memorabilia from the theater’s many years of operation in Bremen. He’s hoping former owners will also be on hand to share memories of the theater’s many special events.
Flores, who celebrates his birthday Sept. 9, said of his reasoning for the special free showings, “Well, I bought the theater on my birthday 10 years ago, so why not have a party now?”
Flores fell in love with the theater after working there some six years, where he said he “had so much fun” that he had to own it when the opportunity came up in 2000. That’s when he purchased the theater from Betty Richards, owner of Bremen’s Downtown’r Restaurant next door. The theater seats about 150 people comfortably — Flores removed seating when he noticed that movie-goers had become taller, and sometimes wider, over the years. It has been in operation in downtown Bremen since 1934.
Flores generally operates the movie house on weekends, but is usually closed over the weekend during which Koontz Hardware & Gifts, almost directly across the street at 112 E. Plymouth St., holds its annual tractor show because of its timing on or near his birthday. But this year is different.
He’s enlisted the help of an Indianapolis film historian who will bring his own personal copy of the film, “The General,” along with a pianist who will play music to accompany the silent classic that is similar to that movie audiences would have experienced during the film’s first run in 1927. That way, Flores can enjoy the community party, too.
The star of the featured film, Buster Keaton, is considered one of the greatest silent film comics with his dead-pan demeanor. He co-wrote the script of “The General” with Clyde Buckman. The movie, released by United Artists, had an incredible budget for its time, $750,000 put up by Metro Goldwyn Meyer.
The plot begins on the eve of the Civil War with Johnnie Gray (Keaton) shown as loving two things in life: girl friend Annabelle Lee (played by Marian Mack and the name taken from Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabelle Lee) and his locomotive, The General. He’d already tried to enlist with the Confederate Army and his girl friend thinks he’s a coward. Need we say more?
Hilarity and non-stop motion ensues when Union Army spies steal the locomotive with both Johnnie and Annabelle Lee aboard. Johnnie’s not about to let them have either of his treasures, and he goes through enemy lines to prove his point.
The film was placed on the National Film Registry in 1989 and features Keaton’s monumental pieces of stunt work, for which he had no double.
For more information, visit the theater website at www.brementheatre.com.