The grand opening of Gone With the Wind was at Loew’s Grand in Atlanta, not in Santa Barbara. It was the film’s sneak preview that took place in our town, but at the Granada—not the Arlington. This is cited in material at the Gledhill Library of the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, and was noted in the exhibit Lights, Camera, Action: Santa Barbara on Celluloid, presented several years ago at the museum.
David Bisol, the present executive director of the museum (and co-curator of that exhibit), is unquestionably the most knowledgeable authority on the history of the Arlington and Granada. Bisol was employed by Metropolitan Theatres Corporation for many years, where he managed these two theaters and oversaw the magnificent restoration of the Arlington in the late 1970s. His attention to detail in this project was particularly noteworthy. In the lobby décor, for instance, he took a truck to Los Angeles and selected pieces from Metro’s storage rooms, bringing back a collection of ornate period “movie palace” furniture to enhance the Arlington’s historic ambiance. His knowledge of the history of the Arlington and Granada is priceless.