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Free Classic Film Series debuts at The Paramount

June 06, 2018

Electro-Mechanical Corporation is commemorating its 60th anniversary by presenting a series of blockbuster movies that topped the box office in 1958, the year the company was founded in Bristol, Virginia.

“Bristol has been home to our family and a wonderful place to grow our business for the past 60 years. We invite everyone to join us in celebrating our company and our community at The Paramount this summer,” said Russell Leonard, President and CEO, Electro-Mechanical and son of Frank Leonard, EMC’s founder.

“This series is a rare opportunity to see these classic movies as they originally appeared on the big screen in The Paramount’s richly embellished Art Deco auditorium,” said Miles Marek, Executive Director of The Paramount Center for the Arts.

Frank Leonard was a veteran who served with the United States Navy in the Korean War. He bootstrapped an electric motor repair business in a small building on Williams Street and grew it into an international company that is still family owned. In addition, Mr. Leonard was a philanthropist who believed in sharing his good fortune by giving back to the community.

In the early 1990s, Frank Leonard served as Chair of the Paramount’s Founding Board of Directors. He led a group of benefactors who understood the theater’s importance as a cultural anchor of State Street, and were instrumental in raising the funds to bring it back to life. The Leonard family carries this legacy forward through their generous support of the Paramount and other institutions that enhance the quality of life in Bristol and the region.

The Paramount attracts tens of thousands of visitors to downtown Bristol each year, fulfilling the founders’ vision of the theater as a community-gathering place and “a center for expansion and enrichment of every art form.”

The screenings are free to the public and are general admission. All shows begin at 7:00 pm. Doors open at 6:00 pm. Canned goods donations to the local food bank will be accepted at each screening.

Thursday, June 14: SOUTH PACIFIC
Director Joshua Logan’s filmization of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s smash-hit Broadway musical starring Mitzi Gaynor as WAVE officer Nellie Forbush, stationed overseas during World War II, who falls in love with French planter Emile De Becque (Rosanno Brazzi). Brazzi sings the film’s most famous song, “Some Enchanted Evening.”

Thursday, July 19: THE BIG COUNTRY
Director William Wyler’s classic Western with an Academy Award-winning score. The film starsGregory Peck,Jean Simmons,Carroll Baker,Charlton HestonandBurl Ives, who won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Thursday, August 9: THUNDER ROAD
Robert Mitchum stars in a thriller about moonshiners battling the mob and outrunning the law in the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee in the late 1950s. Robert Mitchum co-wrote and performs “The Ballad of Thunder Road,” the movie’s theme song. The car chase scenes are breathtaking.

As a special treat prior to each screening, Rex Ward, The Paramount’s House organist, will play songs and scores from each of the classic films on the Mighty Wurlitzer theater organ.