December 19, 2014

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Lorain Palace Theatre to hold hometown premiere of John Penton movie

John Penton, left, meets with producer/director Todd Huffman at the premiere of “Penton: The John Penton Story” at the Cleveland premiere in June. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

John Penton, left, meets with producer/director Todd Huffman at the premiere of “Penton: The John Penton Story” at the Cleveland premiere in June. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

LORAIN — The documentary chronicling the life of pioneering Amherst motorcycle rider-designer John Penton will receive a hometown premiere of sorts Sept. 13 at the Lorain Palace Theatre.

The film was shown once at the Regal Cobblestone Square 20 theaters a few weeks ago after a Cleveland premiere in June at the Ohio Theatre on Playhouse Square.

“The film company did those, but the family is doing this one and they consider this a hometown premiere,” said Scott Muska, of the Palace.

The 7 p.m. screening will be preceded by a 5 to 6:30 p.m. reception featuring John Penton and his son, Jack, who stood in for his 88-year-old father during filming of scenes in Lorain County last summer that recreated the elder Penton’s competitive riding days.

Other members of the Penton family are slated to attend as well, Muska said.

Tickets cost $8. Call the theater box office 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at (440) 245-2323 from.

The evening also features some of the motorcycles used in the film, which was directed and produced by Todd Huffman of the California-based Pipeline Digital Media.

The $300,000 film is being released by Gathr Films, a small company that specializes in independent films.

Both Pentons will sign autographs as they meet patrons before the screening, Muska said.

The evening came about through the efforts of a member of the Palace’s board of directors who is a family friend of the Pentons.

The film’s single screening at the Regal Cobblestone 20 complex drew an estimated 350 earlier in the month, said Fred Barck, a longtime friend of the Pentons.

“They had to keep moving it into a bigger theater,” Barck said. “It had a real good crowd.”

Muska said the Palace anticipates selling up to 1,000 tickets for the Sept. 13 screening.

An Amherst native, John Penton’s storied career began as a motorcycle shop owner in 1950 but soon progressed to competing in rugged off-road competitions known as Enduro events.

Penton achieved worldwide fame in the sport in 1958 when he shattered a world speed record by riding a BMW bike from New York City to Los Angeles in a little more than 52 hours.

“This movie is for anybody who has ever ridden a motorcycle,” Muska said.

The theater also is “developing” an idea for a possible motorcycle cruise-in the night of the screening, Muska said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.