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Movie Theaters - Sharing experiences from times past


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#1 of 11 OFFLINE   Brent Avery

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Posted July 14 2005 - 02:01 PM

Specifically - in my case - I was thinking back to the '60's to early '70's when, as a youngster I would go with my friends or family to some of the local theaters in Winnipeg. Two in particular, the Odeon and the Met were constructed in the early part of the last century and their interiors were quite grand compared to the concrete blocks of today. I know the Met had a wonderful long vertical sign with hundreds of bulbs that created a sense of movement as they went on and off. I used to love the atmosphere that was present in those old theaters with their large balconies and chandilers and people were quite well behaved overall. It really was a big event to go and watch a feature film. The Battle Of Britain ( where they had two display cases in the main lobby displaying models of various period aircraft ) 2001, The Sound Of Music, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Towering Inferno, Earthquake, The Hellfighters and That Darn Cat! are some that I remember watching. Problem is, I've forgotten so much over the years! It's kind of sad and regrettable that so many multiplexes have taken over in most larger cities and alot of the old theaters have either been converted to other uses or demolished. Hopefully some of you are still experiencing them but things aren't what they used to be as most of us who love the older films know too well. Guess I just loved the laid back atmosphere I remember so well - it was actually relaxing! Funny thing though that some of the best moments were either taking the bus or riding my bike to the other side of town to watch reruns of feature films - alot of John Wayne Westerns etc.- at a simple theater that charged 50 cents for three movies at the weekly Saturday Matinees. Nothing like 150+ kids having a great time on a lazy summer afternoon. You got so used to the darkened interior that when you stepped outside into the late afternoon sun - wow! Boy, what a great adventure it was - growing up sure takes some of the fun out of it. I feel sorry for kids today in that they never had the opportunity to watch a REALLY GOOD SHOW on the big screen. Well, thankfully we now have our own private Home Theaters and can joyfully anticipate the next release of a Classic film on dvd. So,if you have some stories you would like to put to words from the dim past please let us in on them. Some of you older members must have some fond memories you would like to share.

#2 of 11 OFFLINE   Brent Avery

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Posted July 14 2005 - 02:52 PM

Here is an article I found that says it all: www.umanitoba.ca/manitoban/20020306/arts_1.shtml It was a crying shame to read that article as my memory of those buildings is still there - such a waste.

#3 of 11 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted July 15 2005 - 03:41 AM

Brent, your thread has been relocated to the Movies area, which is where we discuss this sort of thing. And, yes, I regret the megaplex-mania that has led to the demise of those grand old single-screen movie palaces of yore. But, at least here in L.A., we still have some grand cinemas. In fact, in the downtown area a number of closed palaces from Hollywood's heydays are reopened annually to screen classic films. Then, of course, there are the cinemas that still are operating regularly. Even though the Chinese Theatre is technically a "multiplex" today, the original grand auditorium is the main venue.

#4 of 11 OFFLINE   Brent Avery

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Posted July 15 2005 - 05:16 AM

Thankyou Jack, I wondered about putting it where I did. I,m sure this has been brought up here and there but still, if anyone cares to post their thoughts it would be nice.

#5 of 11 ONLINE   David Norman

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Posted July 15 2005 - 08:06 AM

Alabama Theater

My childhood home.

Sound of Music.
Herbie the Love Bug
The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes
Plenty of other Disney's

It was down the street from my dentist so usually after my checkups, that was the reward.

I was so happy they restored it.
I wish I lived close enough to see the Wizard of Oz there.


I'm heading to Chicago in a few weeks -- what theater there is considered the best place to see a Movie? Either old style Palace or new State of the Art that actually takes pride in their presentation.

#6 of 11 OFFLINE   Dave Jessup

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Posted July 15 2005 - 01:53 PM

Earliest movie theater memory I have is watching a reissue of "The Ten Commandments" (and I believe it may have been accompanied by a trailer for "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever"). Plush seating, typical 1930s small-town-theater decor; the Elmira had been a venue for both films and live stage shows. That latter may have helped save it; when a highway was built through the center of town in the mid 1970s, the route was jogged just enough to miss the building (though the original lobby was sacrificed). It was converted into a performing arts center, and among other events I was able to be there the night Hal Roach came back to his (and my) hometown; the audience got an evening of his short silent films (including, of course, Laurel & Hardy's "Big Business") with live music and a chance to meet the man.

#7 of 11 OFFLINE   Joey Skinner

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Posted July 15 2005 - 04:15 PM

I remember my father taking me to see "Bonnie and Clyde" at the theater in my small hometown in Texas. He was a hard worker and usually didn't care for movies so this is one of those memories that stand out. Price of admission was 35 cents for me and I always sat on the front row if possible. There was a balcony and I always thought it would be cool to sit there but I later learned it was reserved for "coloreds only". There was no sign, it was just an unspoken rule.

#8 of 11 OFFLINE   JohnMor

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Posted July 15 2005 - 04:49 PM

I grew up in Houston and have vivid memories of my Mom taking me to see a few select films and reissues on the big screens, like the Windsor, the Gaylynn and the Tower. I especially remember the glorious booming sound of My Fair Lady and That's Entertainment at the Windsor as it filled the vast auditorium. I also remember the incredible (for that time, and my ears) sound of the radio station played before the films at my neighborhood Loews as it filled that room.

My Dad used to take me to a smaller revival house to see Marx Bros. and Universal Horror films. And we had a closer big screen theater that we would go to on weekends, The Oak Village, for more recent reissues, like the Disney reissues & second-runs and the Planet of the Apes films. I loved this theater because they sold big cold pickles, which I thought was the oddest, neatest thing to eat while watching a movie.

#9 of 11 OFFLINE   SteveJKo

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Posted July 19 2005 - 05:44 AM

Brent, this is a GREAT idea for a thread!

My earliest movie memory, in fact my earliest memory, is going to see The Absent Minded Professor in the late summer of 1961 at the age of two. We had moved to the suburban town of South Hadley, Massachusetts, from the industrial city of Holyoke, when I was less than a year old. We (my mom, sister, aunt, and two cousins) went via bus (only one car back then and Dad had it!) to the Victory Theatre. This was the biggest of Holyoke's grand movie houses. It was a 1919 built movie/vaudville theatre, that had been refurbished in art deco fashion after a small 1942 fire. I can still remember the hundreds of people waiting in line (a line that went around the block!)for a ticket. That day was really hot and humid, we could see thunder storm clouds in the distance and my mom kept saying she hoped we got our tickets and got inside before the clouds opened up. The screen seemed ENORMOUS. And the sound of 1800 laughing kids! Also the sound of the thunder from outside echoing through that big theatre! The Victory would be the place to see many great films over the next 18 years. It would close in 1979, but it still stands. The city has been attempting to re-open it for many years now. I wish them luck and who knows, if it does re-open, maybe I'll get them to play a certain Disney film one more time. Posted Image
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#10 of 11 OFFLINE   Greg_R

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Posted July 19 2005 - 12:40 PM

I remember going to see Empire of the Sun at Baltimore's Senator theater when I was young. This was my first experience with multi-track surround sound (it was the 70mm print w. 6-track surround). Hearing the planes (liberation of the camp scene) fly through the theater (from the back, left to right, etc.) was an awesome experience.

#11 of 11 OFFLINE   SteveJKo

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Posted July 19 2005 - 03:10 PM

Greg_R, I've heard wonderful things about the Senator, sounds like a place every movie lover should cherish.

My first experience with multi-channel surround was the 1970 Albert Finney version of Scrooge. The theatre was the 1965 built Showcase Cinemas of West Springfield, Ma. This multiplex had 3 large auditoriums of at least 1000 seats each, and though they featured typical 60's modern decor, they also featured state of the art 70mm projection on 60 foot wide deeply curved screens. I saw Scrooge in 70mm two days before Christmas. I remember the red velvet curtains stayed closed for the Cinema Center Films logo and started to open as the first credit hit the screen. I'll never forget the sound of christmas bells all around me, or carriages moving across the screen and the sound accompanied the image perfectly.
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