Next time youre enjoying a bonfire, bottle, or bong at Ocean Beach, cast a glance at the northernmost condos facing the sunset. An amusement park lived there for nearly a century, until its last and loudest incarnation, Playland at the Beach, gave up the ghost in 1971. A cynic might assume there werent enough hippies on acid after the Summer of Love passed into lore to keep the rollercoaster rolling. The simple fact is that innocent pleasures lost much of that innocence and appeal as the '60s (and the Vietnam War) wore on. Doomed by disinterest and neglect, Playland was sold and razed, though many of its beloved Fun House attractions, including Laffing Sal, remained on display at the Musée Mécanique adjacent to the Cliff House (and now located at Pier 45). And the Fun Houses hall of mirrors lives on in perpetuity as the setting for the climactic ending of Orson Welles The Lady from Shanghai (screening for free, coincidentally, April 21 at the Castro Theatre). Tom Wyrschs new hour-long documentary, Remembering Playland at the Beach, conjures the joys of summers past through a seasons pass worth of archival footage and photographs, abetted by a slew of choice interviews. In a most fitting gesture, its playing within shouting distance of the parks hallowed location.
April 23-29, 2010