Stockton, California's Crown Jewel: Classic Cinema at the Iconic Bob Hope Theatre | Visit Stockton
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Stockton, California's Crown Jewel: Classic Cinema at the Iconic Bob Hope Theatre

Enjoy this first-hand account of experiencing a classic film at this beautiful Stockton venue. Then, go experience it for yourself time and time again.

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The sun peaks over a towering structure in Downtown Stockton. This structure is home to hundreds of memories created by the experience of viewing classic cinematic adventures within its walls. For those who do know not of this structure, settle in and continue on with this first-hand account of what it's like to attend a classic cinematic showing at Stockton's Crown Jewel, the Bob Hope/Fox Theatre.

A Feast for the Eyes

"Every time I go to a movie, it's magic, no matter what the movie's about.” - Steven Spielberg

It's difficult to miss the Bob Hope Fox Theatre in Stockton, California. After a presence in this city that has lasted 90 years, its Spanish mission-like appearance towers over Main Street. The bright lights of the FOX sign attached to the cupola and the marquee's big capital letters announcing an upcoming show automatically give you the nostalgic vibe of a classic movie house—especially when you walk up to the ticket booth. The six-foot structure is complete with windows and an opening at the bottom, leaving room for eager moviegoers to receive their tickets for the night's event.

If the exterior of this iconic structure didn't send you back in time, stepping through the main doors immediately transports you to a different era. Within a few steps, you're standing in the middle of an exquisite rotunda complete with twelve carved, plaster columns. Each column is detailed with carved faces encased in a lattice of gold-leaf plaster ribbons, each rising up to a capital supporting the ceiling. The artwork doesn't stop there with a ceiling adorned with scenes of conquistadores, heraldic shields, knights, and lions. The ceiling is topped off with a gorgeous chandelier featuring over 100 lights. Lower your gaze to the floor and you'll see the beautifully red-patterned carpet and terrazzo floors. Stare long enough at this astounding display in architecture and you might assume you're inside a vintage Victorian castle.

A Stockton Wonder

"Cinema is a mirror by which we often see ourselves.” - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Through the beauty of the rotunda, where local vendors present their crafts and a concession stand offers snacks and beverages for you to enjoy, comes the main entrance to the theatre. Just before you walk through those doors, catch a glimpse of the beautiful, eight-foot-tall, gold-leafed, etched-mirrored panels. A sight that is reminiscent of the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. Then, you pass through the doors and take in the magnitude of this legendary theatre's auditorium. Numerous rows of red cushioned seats on a slight decline lead to the main stage. A proscenium arch with a rose-colored ceiling featuring gold, copper, and silver stenciled stars. The center of the arch features a gilded carved face surrounded by a shell and a long red curtain draped down to the stage floor.

If the entrance and rotunda are just the geneses of transporting a visitor to a past golden era, this auditorium solidifies the experience. Beautifully carved wooden frames and brackets outline the lofts and ceiling, and a balcony half the length of the main floor provides an exceptional view of the stage from above. All this wonder and amazement in one setting—and the movie hasn’t even started yet.

Hollywood Comes to Stockton

"The power of story and the power of a well-crafted film… is really all you need to speak to people". - Jordan Peele

The Bob Hope/Fox Theatre has housed numerous live events for years, ranging from musical performances to stand-up comedy. However, its history is engrained in motion pictures. The Friends of the Fox—the voluntary organization preserving the status of the theatre as "a significant institution interwoven into the history and culture of Stockton"—resurrected the theatre's original purpose by showcasing monthly showings of classic Hollywood films. Yet, the selling point isn't just the film. It's what accompanies the film. As attendees enter the auditorium, they are greeted by the magical sounds of Dave Moreno tickling the ivories on the "Mighty" Morton organ. Just before the curtain opens, master of ceremonies extraordinaire Matias Bombal commands the stage calling out raffle ticket winners (with prizes connected to the feature film) and some trivia and fun facts about the specific film.

Then, Matias exits the stage, the curtains pull back, and the lights slowly dim until the only light that exists is that of the projector displaying the evening's feature presentation on the theatre's massive screen. With a crystal clear image and booming sound, you get to experience these classics the way they were on their initial release date. Memorable films like Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz, The Breakfast Club, and A League of Their Own have jumped from your televisions and mobile phones and once again grace the silver screen from which they first were witnessed. A delightful experience for any film lover that is no longer duplicated anywhere else. The Bob Hope/ Fox Theatre in Stockon is the only remaining Fox theatre that continuous to show cinematic classics in its auditorium—and the Friends of the Fox are striving to keep it going.

An Enduring Gift

"Cinema is not only about making people dream. It's about changing things and making people think." - Nadine Labaki

Standing as one of the alluring staples in the city, the Bob Hope/Fox Theatre lives up to its title as Stockton's Crown Jewel. One that deserves to be preserved and maintained for generations to experience. An easy way of doing this is simply bringing your family or friends for a showing and experiencing the aforementioned spectacle yourself. Plus, as an added bonus, an in-depth tour of the entire theatre is given immediately after every presentation. Moreover, while you're there, you can pick up "Stockton's Crown Jewel: The Bob Hope/Fox California," a heavily-detailed book on the history and development of the theatre which provided additional information featured above.

So, what are you waiting for? Come out to the Bob Hope/Fox Theatre and experience classic Hollywood films the way they were initially meant to be viewed. Grab a snack, take a seat, kick back, and lose yourself in the magic of cinema in the perfect setting.

"I want people to leave the cinema feeling that something's been confirmed for them about life." - Danny Boyle

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