Jefferson Movie Theater|Airdome (Location Key)


When Mink Snopes comes to Jefferson in The Mansion, he is surprised to see something called an "Airdome" in what had been "a vacant lot"; he can hear a piano playing behind the "big high plank stockade" around the lot, but doesn't pay the ten cents to join the other people who are going inside the fence to see a new diversion: a moving picture. This is in 1908. By the 1920s, movie theaters were a regular feature of the landscape in American towns, and in "Dry September," set in that decade, the inside of the theater on the Square in Jefferson resembles "a miniature fairyland with its lighted lobby and colored lithographs of life caught in its terrible and beautiful mutations" (181). The town's theater on the Square in Jefferson appears in 10 texts, though "Dry September" is one of only three that take readers far enough inside to get any glimpse of the movie. That story describes what Minnie sees over the heads of the "paired" couples in the theater as an accumulating "silver dream," which is abruptly broken into when she begins laughing hysterically (181). The same trope is used to describe what Mink could have seen on the screen (probably a large piece of white cloth) in the Airdome: "the passionate and evanescent posturings where danced and flickered the ephemeral hopes and dreams" (37). (See also Intruder in the Dust, where Chick Mallison is sitting across from the theater when the movie ends; the "blinking" and "fumbling" audience coming out into the light of the Square is described "bringing back into the shabby earth a fading remnant of the heart's celluloid and derring dream," 33). The third movie Faulkner describes, less abstractly, is the serial installment of a western that the Grier family witnesses in the early 1940s, with a villain who carries a "pearl-handled pistol" and a hero who rides a "spotted horse" (112). Beginning in 1932 Faulkner himself, of course, went to Hollywood a number of times over two decades to work as a studio script writer, and it's interesting to consider the influence of film on his fiction. But in his fiction the movies are treated mainly with a kind of disdain, as a debased alternative to the stories he is trying to tell. At least, when the wife of the deputy sheriff in "Pantaloon in Black" stops listening to her husband's account of Rider's story, it's because "I'm going to the picture show" (255).

Display Name: 
Jefferson Movie Theater|Airdome
Sort Name: 
Jefferson Movie Theater|Airdome