With the coming of the Metropolitan Theatre, Boston suddenly emerges from the small-time moving picture palace and the two-a-day vaudeville house, to something that almost approaches cinematic opera. One wonders naturally if there are movies worthy of such an elaborate presentation. On first glance the Metropolitan seems to be taking the chance of looking a little foolish at times. But in the long run it is this very magnificence of setting which will insure its own success, and the success of moving pictures in general. Production can scarcely fail to feel the urge of such a stimulus.
It is still rather hard to imagine a moving picture house with a foyer that is strikingly similar to the great vestibule in the Grand Opera House in Paris, For here are the great marble pillars, the elegant promenoirs, the imposing balconies, and only the huge double staircase is lacking. The hush that pervades this, sacred place, is something between that of Napoleon's Tomb and Westminster Abbey. Patrons tiptoe incessantly up and down the heavy rugs in the corridors, looking strangely lost. Usually they are. It requires no end of time to find the theatre itself. Easy enough to run into smoking rooms and parlors, dress closets and telephone amphitheatres; there are hundreds of them everywhere. It is the theatre alone that escapes detection.
Out in the foyer are brass rails and stiff shirted attendants to keep the waiting people in place. There is no standing in line two or three blocks up a windy street far from the box-office. One waits for seats just as he waits for a train in the Grand Central Station.
The universal price of seats allows anyone to ramble from orchestra to balcony and back again. It is almost an excursion.
The Metropolitan opens its history with Adolphe Menjou in "The King on Main Street" an amusing and sophisticated farce on the troubles of Kings and things in general. Menjou lifts a supercilious eyebrow, shrugs a careless shoulder, and winks a languid eye with all the nonchalance generally associated with Kings. His affair with the Swedishly attractive Gretta Nisson has all the clever subtlety that made "The Marriage Circle" popular not so very long ago. Menjou's gallant courtesy in the latter part of the picture comes as near to wistful romance as a King very well can. So there you are. But, oh, yes, these is Bessie Love too, who does a very jazzy version of the Charleston, and Oscar Shaw whom we haven't seen since the failure of "One Kiss." The vaudeville is an inspiring but reasonably successful version of the melting pot theme. You've seen it all somewhere before.