Magic in the Dark

The growth of the film industry no doubt also opened the door to many new job opportunities. In the case of B.S. Moss, Moss followed his calling to build a large and prestigious theater chain in New York. To this day, Moss Management continues to keep his theater chain alive, surviving the transition from vaudeville entertainment to enjoying films in exquisite Art Deco palaces, and on to today’s multiplexes.

Magic in the Dark: Our Family’s Century of Adventures in the Movie Business by Charles B. Moss, Jr., and Johnathan Kay details the life of Moss as well as the history of his family’s business achievements. Drawing from their family archives in their Times Square headquarters, Moss and Kay document the fascinating ups and downs of Moss’s theaters and the challenges Moss faced.

Overall, Magic in the Dark is an interesting book that showcases the many gambles and difficulties Moss faced while dealing with the realities of world wars, union battles, and real estate values. The challenges continued over the years with additional Moss family members, now working against the threats of radio, television, and streaming services. Most impressive to me is the inclusion of rare photographs from their archive, though not all are captioned to full detail. In particular, a rare photograph of cabaret singer Hildegarde Sell appears in the book, though she is not documented in the book as a film premiere attendee.

Magic in the Dark is recommended to those interested in the history of the film industry, classic film, and theatrical management.

Magic in the Dark: Our Family’s Century of Adventures in the Movie Business is available for purchase via Sutherland House.

About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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