Video Village With Ask Chris: Art Deco Road Trip To San Diego


Theater designer Joe Musil grew up in Long Beach in the 1940s and spent his childhood poking around grand old movie palaces that disappeared a generation ago. His fantasy art deco designs of the 1980s and ‘90s spiced up the Crest in Westwood and the El Capitan on Hollywood Boulevard. He especially loved “curtain shows” (the one at the El Cap is over the top) and installed a multi-layered extravaganza inside his studio in Santa Ana, which I was lucky enough to visit a few times. Musil passed away in 2010, after completing designs for a major renovation of the long-closed Village theater on Coronado Island near San Diego. I recently had the chance to catch a movie in these posh surroundings and loved it. The crisp and elegant moderne theater felt like a new sports car inside an outrageous art deco shell. The black light murals depicting the Hotel Del Coronado and Balboa Park are intense and glowing and wonderful. It’s an elegant way to spend an afternoon and is run by the same folks that operate the Vista on Sunset, which is one of my all-time favorite places to see a movie. Here, check out this video tour and my slide show. I might have to head south again before the summer is over.