Remembering Cinerama Part IV

posted by Coate on September 26, 2008 at 4:15 pm

REMEMBERING CINERAMA
Part IV: Houston

The following is Part Four of a series of retrospectives on the revolutionary and historic Cinerama process (and copycat formats Cinemiracle and Thrillarama), which provides nostalgia to those who experienced Cinerama when it was new and highlights the great movie palaces in which these memorable events took place.

Part I: New York City
Part II: Chicago
Part III: San Francisco

And now…Part IV: Cinerama Presentations in Houston!

THRILLARAMA
Theater: Metropolitan
Premiere: August 9, 1956 (World Premiere)
Engagement Duration: 1 week
Format: Thrillarama
Promotional Hype: “In an era of startling motion picture inventions…the most ingenious of all has been perfected…and here it is!”

WINDJAMMER
Theater: Uptown
Premiere: May 15, 1959
Duration: 7 weeks
Format: Cinemiracle
Hype: “Never Anything Like It Before…”

THIS IS CINERAMA
Theater: Rivoli
Premiere: August 25, 1960
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “You are there! The Only Theatre In Texas That Can Or Will Show Cinerama!”

CINERAMA HOLIDAY
Theater: Rivoli
Premiere: November 18, 1960
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “Now the new, the 2nd Cinerama adventure pulls you into a breath-gasping story filled with thrills you never experienced before!”

SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE
Theater: Rivoli
Premiere: December 30, 1960
Duration: 7 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “Escape With The New Cinerama To The Sun Splashed, Moon Drenched, Mystery Washed South Seas!”

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD
Theater: Rivoli
Premiere: February 17, 1961
Duration: 7 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “The Seven Wonders of the World as seen through the greatest wonder…Cinerama”

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM
Theater: Windsor
Premiere: December 21, 1962
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “The First Dramatic Film In Fabulous Cinerama!”

HOW THE WEST WAS WON
Theater: Windsor
Premiere: March 14, 1963
Duration: 33 weeks
Format: 3-Strip Cinerama
Hype: “The Great Dramatic Motion Picture That Puts You In Every Scene!”

IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD
Theater: Windsor
Premiere: December 19, 1963
Duration: 19 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “The Biggest Entertainment Ever To Hit The Cinerama Screen With Laughter!”

CIRCUS WORLD
Theater: Windsor
Premiere: July 23, 1964
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Cinerama Puts You In The Middle Of The Most Action-Filled Story You’ve Ever Seen!”

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
Theater: Windsor
Premiere: March 18, 1965
Duration: 15 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: None

THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL
Theater: Windsor
Premiere: July 3, 1965
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Cinerama Sends You Roaring With Laughter And Adventure Down That Wide, Wonderful Fun-Trail!”

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD (Return Engagement)
Theater: Gaylynn
Premiere: August 19, 1965
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: None

BATTLE OF THE BULGE
Theater: Windsor
Premiere: December 17, 1965
Duration: 15 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “The Super Action Show In Super Cinerama”

KHARTOUM
Theater: Gaylynn
Premiere: June 30, 1966
Duration: 8 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Where The Nile Divides, The Great Cinerama Adventure Begins!”

GRAND PRIX
Theater: Windsor
Premiere: February 1, 1967
Duration: 33 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Cinerama Sweeps You Into A Drama Of Speed And Spectacle!”

CUSTER OF THE WEST
Theater: Gaylynn
Premiere: January 25, 1968
Duration: 5 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “A man too big for legend. A motion picture too big for any screen except Cinerama!”

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Theater: Windsor
Premiere: April 10, 1968
Duration: 31 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “An Epic Drama Of Adventure And Exploration!”

ICE STATION ZEBRA
Theater: Windsor
Premiere: November 12, 1968
Duration: 19 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “Ice Station Zebra…remember the name, your life may depend on it!”

KRAKATOA, EAST OF JAVA
Theater: Gaylynn
Premiere: July 2, 1969
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “The New Cinerama Hurls You Into The Incredible Day That Shook The Earth To Its Core!”

THIS IS CINERAMA (Re-Issue)
Theatre: Windsor
Premiere: June 6, 1973
Duration: 4 weeks
Format: 70mm
Hype: “THIS IS CINERAMA Is Back To Entertain A Whole New Generation”

Compiled by Michael Coate

Sources: The Houston Chronicle, The Houston Post and Variety

Comments (11)

Aparofan
Aparofan on September 26, 2008 at 7:52 pm

These are great! Any chance for Kansas City?

markp
markp on September 27, 2008 at 2:02 pm

Great job. What history. I did notice however, that it appears the duration of the runs appear to be shorter than in parts 1 & 2. I did not see the 50, 60, 70 week runs as we did earlier. Still it had to be great to be able to expierience this in a large venue, with a giant bigger than life screen.

MPol
MPol on September 27, 2008 at 7:11 pm

What about Boston?

carolgrau
carolgrau on September 29, 2008 at 4:32 pm

What about Pittsburgh,Pa or Washington D.C.?

Coate
Coate on September 29, 2008 at 8:45 pm

The suggestions for posting the Cinerama details for other markets is encouraging. I can state that, yes, there will be more to come, but in the spirit of creating anticipation, I would prefer not to reveal in advance which markets will be featured.

Coate
Coate on September 29, 2008 at 8:51 pm

I thought I should add that while researching the Cinerama presentations in Houston, I could find no booking details for the following Cinerama films, suggesting they were never commercially screened in Houston:

SEARCH FOR PARADISE (1957, 3-strip Cinerama)
HOLIDAY IN SPAIN (1960/61, 3-strip Cinerama)
THE BEST OF CINERAMA (1962, 3-strip Cinerama)
MEDITERRANEAN HOLIDAY (1962/64, 70mm)
RUSSIAN ADVENTURE (1966, 70mm)

Also worth mentioning is that Houston was among the handful of markets that did show CUSTER OF THE WEST (1968; see list) as a reserved-seat Cinerama (70mm) presentation. Most Cinerama markets (including all of the major markets previously featured in this series) showed CUSTER only as a 35mm general release.

philbertgray
philbertgray on September 30, 2008 at 3:20 pm

I saw a “special presentation” of “Thrillarama” in 1956 at the Tyler Theatre in Tyler Texas. It was a poor man’s version of Cinerama with a specially installed portable curved widescreen. It utilized the existing two 35 mm cameras instead of the three required to be installed for Cinerama. There was a visible join line down the middle of the presentation where the projection of both cameras running at once met.

After a scant few presentations the film disappeared. It most likely would have never played in Tyler except one of the sequences was a performance of the “Apache Belles”, an all girl sports support precision group that performed at sports functions representing Tyler, Tx. More info can be found about Thrillarama at the below webwsite

View link

Rotwang
Rotwang on January 27, 2019 at 7:46 pm

I saw Thrillarama at the Metropolitan theater in 1956 and boy was it awful. The seams were bad enough in Cinerama, but having one big fuzzy line running directly down the middle of the screen was intolerable, because there was no way to ignore it. The only movie made in Thrillarama was a Texas travelogue and I don’t see how they could have ever used the process for a dramatic movie. I saw Windjammer in Cinemiracle at the Uptown in ‘59 and I loved that movie. Unlike Cinerama, the three-strip Cinemiracle seams were barely noticeable. A year later I saw This is Cinerama at the Rivoli in the original three-strip Cinerama. Before they converted the Rivoli in Houston to Cinerama one had to drive all the way to the Melba Theater in Dallas to see the original three-strip Cinerama films. The first thing I noticed about the remodeled Rivoli after the shock of the giant curved Cinerama screen wore off was how they installed two new projection booths on the sides of the theater for the two additional projectors. Not only were the seams noticeable in the original Cinerama, but the color of the sky in the three panels didn’t match in many scenes and there was noticeable distortion in the image. I’d swear that I saw 2001 in 70mm at the beautiful Gaylynn Theater in '68 but this page says it was shown at the Windsor at that time. My mind could be playing tricks on me, but I saw It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World at the Windsor and I don’t see how I could get the two theaters confused, because the Gaylynn had a spectacular lobby, which was not like the lobby in any other Houston theater at that time. 2001 had an intermission in the middle of the 70mm version, so I had plenty of time to roam around the lobby drinking my lemonade from an elegant little container. The Gaylynn was so fancy when it first opened with 2001 that they didn’t sell popcorn, only lemonade, which one had to drink in the lobby. And at night, men wore suit coats with ties or sport jackets to see 2001. It was really special to go the the Gaylynn back when it first opened. Years later I took a friend to see a revival of 2001 at a different theater. The re-issue was printed down to 35mm CinemaScope. Without the razor sharp image of 70mm shown on a giant curved screen, and without the 6-track stereo surround sound, the 2001 revival was like a completely different movie. In addition, the inferior CinemaScope print was so scratchy that we got up and walked out. 2001 is still my favorite movie, but if you’ve never seen it on a big screen in 70mm with six-track stereo surround sound, then you’ve never actually seen it.

Rotwang
Rotwang on January 30, 2019 at 4:09 am

Correction to my previous post: It seems that my mind was playing a trick on me after more than fifty years. 2001 did in fact open at the Windsor Cinerama Theater in Houston in 1968 and not at the Gaylynn Theater the way I remembered it. I just found a newspaper ad confirming that it was the Windsor theater. The newspaper ad says the theater was at Post Oak and Richmond, the funny thing is I can’t ever recall going to see a movie at that location.

marketmoonman
marketmoonman on September 2, 2021 at 2:18 am

Battle of the bulge was an excellent film!

landscaping services

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment