The Tennessee Theatre

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  • 16 Jan 2015 at 7:03 am #6216


    In his just published meticulously researched and lavishly illustrated new historical work, The Tennessee Theatre: A Grand Entertainment Palace, Jack Neely mentions how Cormac McCarthy referenced the Tennessee in his novel Suttree [pp. 381-382]. “His hard-bitten characters were not the sort who’d buy tickets to see Gene Kelly movies in a fancy air-conditioned theater, and McCarthy does not mention the Tennessee by name. But his characters spend a lot of time in Comer’s walk-up pool hall, across the street from the Tennessee. Of his title character the novelist writes, ‘He’d sit on the front bench at Comer’s and watch through the window the commerce in the street below, the couples moving toward the box office of the theatre in the rainy evening, the lights of the marquee slurred and burning in the wet street’” (Neely, 2015, pp. 92-93).

    Although Neely does not mention this, I believe a good case can be made for McCarthy alluding to the Tennessee Theatre in his novel The Road as well (Remember that the father showed his son his family home in Knoxville). “Seated in a theatre with her beside him leaning forward listening to the music. Gold scrollwork and sconces and the tall columnar folds of the drapes at either side of the stage” (McCarthy, 2006, p. 16). Have a look at the beautiful photographs in The Tennessee Theatre and you decide.

    You can take a virtual tour of the Theatre at

    • This topic was modified 3 years ago by  Webmaster.
    • This topic was modified 3 years ago by  wesmorgan.
    19 Jan 2015 at 6:53 pm #6250

    Peter Josyph

    Here’s the great sign of the Tennessee on Gay Street.

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