Remembering Cinerama (Part 38: St. Louis)

posted by Coate on August 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

REMEMBERING CINERAMA
Part 38: St. Louis

The following is Part Thirty-Eight in a series of retrospectives on Cinerama, the legendary motion picture process that kicked off the widescreen revolution. The series focuses on providing a market-by-market historical record of when and where Cinerama and its multi-panel clones were exhibited. The easy-to-reference articles serve to provide nostalgia to those who experienced the Cinerama presentations when they were new and to highlight the movie palaces in which the memorable screenings took place.

Part 1: New York City
Part 2: Chicago
Part 3: San Francisco
Part 4: Houston
Part 5: Washington, DC
Part 6: Los Angeles
Part 7: Atlanta
Part 8: San Diego
Part 9: Dallas
Part 10: Oklahoma City
Part 11: Syracuse
Part 12: Toronto
Part 13: Columbus
Part 14: Montreal
Part 15: Northern New Jersey
Part 16: Charlotte
Part 17: Vancouver
Part 18: Salt Lake City
Part 19: Boston
Part 20: Philadelphia
Part 21: Fresno
Part 22: Detroit
Part 23: Minneapolis
Part 24: Albuquerque
Part 25: El Paso
Part 26: Des Moines
Part 27: Miami
Part 28: Orange County
Part 29: Pittsburgh
Part 30: Baltimore
Part 31: Long Island
Part 32: Kansas City
Part 33: Milwaukee
Part 34: Nanuet/Rockland County
Part 35: Denver
Part 36: Worcester
Part 37: Toledo

And now… Part 38: Cinerama Presentations in St. Louis!

THIS IS CINERAMA
Theater: Ambassador
Premiere Date: February 10, 1954
Engagement Duration: 54 weeks
Projection Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Promotional Hype: “Now that you’ve seen all the others, get set for the only REALLY NEW wonder of the motion picture world!” “The spectacle show that puts you in the picture! You don’t need glasses!” “The Ambassador Theatre is the only theatre between Chicago and Los Angeles that can or will show CINERAMA”

CINERAMA HOLIDAY
Theater: Ambassador
Premiere: February 21, 1955 (Mid-West Premiere)
Duration: 61 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “It’s Every Holiday You Ever Dreamed Of…Come True!” “A Whole World Of Entertainment Awaits You. And You Can See It Only At The Ambassador Theatre!”

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD
Theater: Ambassador
Premiere: April 26, 1956 (Mid-West Premiere)
Duration: 76 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “An Entertainment of Such Irresistible Fascination…That Only The Miracle of CINERAMA Could Encompass It!” “You see motion pictures…but you’re there in CINERAMA!”

SEARCH FOR PARADISE
Theater: Ambassador
Premiere: October 9, 1957 (Mid-West Premiere)
Duration: 26 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “The New CINERAMA Production” “CINERAMA Opens the Gateway to Your SEARCH FOR PARADISE”

THIS IS CINERAMA (Return Engagement)
Theater: Ambassador
Premiere: April 6, 1958
Duration: 9 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “Back to Thrill You Again!” “Be Sure You See It This Time!” “The One, The Only” “Don’t Miss It!” “It Will Never Be Shown on TV.”

WINDJAMMER
Theater: Ambassador
Premiere: August 13, 1958
Duration: 11 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “The Wondrous Adventure of Youth” “The Exciting Adventure of Boys at Sea…” “Thrill After Thrill…and You’re Right in the Middle of it All!” “Produced in CINEMIRACLE, Presented in CINERAMA”

SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE
Theater: Ambassador
Premiere: October 29, 1958
Duration: 17 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “Ride These Tickets to the Last Romantic Refuge Left on Earth! Escape With the New CINERAMA to the South Seas!” “You cross half the world without leaving the luxurious comfort of your theatre seat…as CINERAMA catapults you to the lush islands of swaying palm trees…bronzed maidens…pounding surf and pounding adventure! Your wonder-filled CINERAMA tickets will skim you over the ocean on fabulous adventure that plunges into blue lagoons…dances at the exotic, color-splashed luaus…and leaps with excitement at the hundred-foot head-long jump of the savage Nambu tribe!” “The Story of 6 Who Surrendered to the Lure of the South Seas!” “Imitations Come and Go But There is Only One CINERAMA!”

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM
Theater: Martin Cinerama
Premiere: January 10, 1963
Duration: 13 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “The first dramatic story-telling motion picture in fabulous CINERAMA!” “The first new million dollar theatre built in St. Louis in 35 years!” “The only SUPER CINERAMA theatre in the entire area”

HOW THE WEST WAS WON
Theater: Martin Cinerama
Premiere: April 11, 1963
Duration: 44 weeks
Format: Cinerama (3-strip)
Hype: “The Great Dramatic Motion Picture That Puts You In Every Scene!”

IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD
Theater: Martin Cinerama
Premiere: February 20, 1964
Duration: 37 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “The Biggest Entertainment Ever To Rock The CINERAMA Screen With Laughter!” “Exclusive! Only CINERAMA Theatre Within 250 Miles!”

CIRCUS WORLD
Theater: Martin Cinerama
Premiere: November 5, 1964
Duration: 19 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA Puts You in the Middle of the Most Action-Filled Story You’ve Ever Seen!” “CINERAMA thrills…as the wildest Wild West Show you’ve ever seen rocks you with breathtaking feats of daring!” “CINERAMA suspense…as two beautiful women are torn between their fear of a deadly fire and their love for the one man they both needed!”

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
Theater: Martin Cinerama
Premiere: March 16, 1965
Duration: 34 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Presented in CINERAMA” “Only once in a lifetime…an entertainment so rich…an experience so rewarding”

THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL
Theater: Martin Cinerama
Premiere: November 10, 1965
Duration: 6 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA Sends You Roaring With Laughter And Adventure Down That Wide, Wonderful, Fun-Trail!” “Now See How the West Was Fun!”

BATTLE OF THE BULGE
Theater: Martin Cinerama
Premiere: December 22, 1965
Duration: 14 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “SUPER CINERAMA is unlike anything you have ever seen!” “SUPER CINERAMA launches the attack of the monster Tiger tanks, the mightiest armada of men and machines in history!” “SUPER CINERAMA hurls you into the parachute assault like an invasion from Mars!” “SUPER CINERAMA engulfs you in a battlefield turned into a roaring sea of flames!”

RUSSIAN ADVENTURE
Theater: Martin Cinerama
Premiere: April 1, 1966
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “This is the ultimate in CINERAMA. This is the last word in truly incredible adventure!” “YOU are on stage in the Bolshoi Ballet. YOU are in the middle of a wild troika race. YOU harpoon a whale and fight an octopus. YOU see the Kremlin sights and enjoy fireworks over Moscow. YOU are part of an adventure more incredible than an Arabian Nights' Dream.”

KHARTOUM
Theater: Martin Cinerama
Premiere: June 23, 1966
Duration: 18 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “Where The Nile Divides, The Great CINERAMA Adventure Begins!” “The Most Realistic Battle Action in Movie History!” (Life Magazine review quote)

GRAND PRIX
Theater: Martin Cinerama
Premiere: June 22, 1967
Duration: 19 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “CINERAMA sweeps YOU into a drama of speed and spectacle!” “CINERAMA puts you into the loves and lives of the men who are the heroes of the world’s most passionate adventure!” “He didn’t know what he wanted more…the grand prize or another man’s wife.” “She held out for the right man even if he was married to the wrong woman.” “He was one of the fastest. So was she.”

CUSTER OF THE WEST
Theater: Martin Cinerama
Premiere: January 25, 1968 (Mid-West Co-Premiere)
Duration: 8 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “A man too big for legend. A motion picture too big for any screen except CINERAMA”

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
Theater: Martin Cinerama*
Premiere: May 29, 1968
Duration: 29 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “An astounding entertainment experience, a dazzling trip to the planets and beyond the stars!”

  • During the course of the 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY run, the Martin Cinerama became the Trans-Lux Cinerama

ICE STATION ZEBRA
Theater: Trans-Lux Cinerama
Premiere: April 2, 1969
Duration: 12 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “ICE STATION ZEBRA…remember the name, your life may depend on it!” “An American nuclear sub… A sky full of Russian paratroopers… A race for the secret of ICE STATION ZEBRA!”

KRAKATOA, EAST OF JAVA
Theater: Trans-Lux Cinerama
Premiere: June 25, 1969 (Mid-West Premiere)
Duration: 13 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “The New CINERAMA hurls YOU into the incredible day that shook the earth to its core!” “YOU drop into its fiery mouth! YOU desperately search for the lost children! YOU outrun a raging river of molten lava! YOU are engulfed by the terrifying tidal wave!” “No Seats Reserved. Every Ticket Holder Guaranteed a Seat!”

THIS IS CINERAMA (Re-Issue)
Theater: Trans-Lux Cinerama
Premiere: June 13, 1973
Duration: 5 weeks
Format: Cinerama (70mm)
Hype: “THIS IS CINERAMA Is Back To Entertain A Whole New Generation”

NOT SHOWN IN CINERAMA IN THE ST. LOUIS MARKET:
HOLIDAY IN SPAIN
THE BEST OF CINERAMA
MEDITERRANEAN HOLIDAY

TRIVIA:
St. Louis was the 10th market to equip for Cinerama presentations.

St. Louis was the first market to show a Cinerama presentation of WINDJAMMER (all previous presentations were in CineMiracle).

St. Louis was the first market to host a return engagement of a Cinerama film.

Compiled by Bill Huelbig & Michael Coate

References: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Variety

Theaters in this post

Comments (16)

KingBiscuits
KingBiscuits on August 15, 2009 at 4:31 am

Wow, 76 weeks on Seven Wonders Of The World. I’m surprised that one was that successful.

Mark_L
Mark_L on August 15, 2009 at 11:42 am

According to Mike’s lists so far, SEVEN WONDERS is the second most popular CINERAMA film after THIS IS CINERAMA, measured by total weeks played.

JSA
JSA on August 15, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Reading the hype for some of these presentations is a hoot, specially “South Seas Adventure”, “Battle of the Bulge”, “Circus World” and “Grand Prix”. But they saved the best one for last: “Krakatoa”.
“YOU will want your money back!”

JSA

JAlex
JAlex on August 16, 2009 at 1:38 am

Let’s not forget encore engagements of “2001” from 10/21/69 to 12/24; 9/29/70 to 10/5; 12/1/71 to 12/13; and 9/13/72 to 10/3. As well, “Mad World” back from 10/13/71 to 10/19.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 16, 2009 at 3:45 am

JSA: I’m glad you appreciated and enjoyed the hype. Like I said to Michael, St. Louis' ads seemed to have more and funnier Cinerama hype than most other cities so far. Maybe because it’s in the Show Me State, so the ads went all out to show ‘em? I sure miss movie ad hype …

Will you be attending any of the upcoming Cinerama shows at the Dome? This will be the first time since 2003 that they’ll be showing Cinerama in LA and I won’t be able to go see it.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on August 16, 2009 at 4:36 am

Michael: I assume you will be at every Cinerama show, even “The Golden Head”. How lousy could that movie be to have never been released in the US? (unless it was for other reasons).

JSA
JSA on August 16, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Bill, I’m hoping to at least catch “This is Cinerama”. It all depends on a pending business trip that has been tentatively scheduled for that week. Ironically, the trip is to Seattle, and I would be staying not too far from the Seattle Cinerama!

Too bad you can’t join us in the fun this time. Hopefully next time you’ll be able to make it!

I’ll be attending the Aug 24 “Mad World” show.

JSA

KingBiscuits
KingBiscuits on August 17, 2009 at 6:07 am

The Golden Head makes its US premiere next month.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on August 20, 2009 at 9:39 am

Why were the engagements so short in comparison to other Cinerama cities? 29 weeks for “2001” is rather insane! What in the world could they have possibly replaced that with? Or did the place become a one-stop-shop for all things 70MM by the close of the 60’s?

Mark_L
Mark_L on August 20, 2009 at 10:36 am

Actually, Chris, of all the cities Mike has given us so far, the average number of weeks played by 2001 was 30, so St. Louis was actually pretty typical.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on August 20, 2009 at 10:56 am

I think it has to be remembered that ‘2001’ was not always seen by folks in 1968 as deserving the milestone status it has achieved in the decades since its original release. A great deal of revisionism has occurred with regard to the esteem in which this film is held. (I saw it at the State in Cleveland in Cinerama, and although I loved it, I still remember some people muttering and shaking their heads as they left the theater). The original reviews ranged from “masterpiece” to “boring”. There was actually a great deal of variation with regard to the original engagements of “2001.” It only played 26 weeks in NYC and 37 in Chicago (see list of enagagements here: http://www.in70mm.com/news/2004/2001_in_70mm/chapters/engagement.htm( )

I also recall reading in a book about the film, that at the time, MGM, aware of the original mixed critical reaction, was anxious to get “Ice Station Zebra” into Cinerama houses. This may have have caused some runs to end prematurely, at least from the perpective of the present day. After the film gained real traction, there were a number of 70mm re-releases of 2001, especially in the late 60s and early 70s.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on August 20, 2009 at 11:14 am

Oops – a stray parenthesis slipped into the URL above;it should be: View link

Coate
Coate on August 20, 2009 at 10:50 pm

CWalczak: The New York City roadshow run of “2001: A Space Odyssey” went for 37 weeks, not 26 (24 at the Capitol + another 13 on a direct moveover to the then-newly re-named Cinerama). I’m not sure why you claimed 26 since the New York entry in this series and the in70mm article of mine you just cited both list its duration as 37.

You’re correct, though, that in many markets the release of “Ice Station Zebra” cut short the runs of “2001.” This wasn’t the case in St. Louis, though, as “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” is what followed “2001.”

JAlex
JAlex on August 21, 2009 at 2:43 am

“Star!” was the film following “2001” in St. Louis, opening 12/18/68. “Chitty, etc.” was shown at the Esquire.

Coate
Coate on August 21, 2009 at 5:24 am

Whoops! “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” followed “2001” at the same-named Trans-Lux Cinerama Theater in New Orleans.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on August 21, 2009 at 6:55 am

Sorry, MC, no slight intended; When I wrote the comment, I remembered your 2001 engagement list on the in70mm site and I was only looking at that list on when I wrote my comment and did not think to compare it against your more detailed and meticulous data on your NYC Cinerama retrospective entry. Twenty-four weeks is the number listed for the Capitol run on the in70mmm site and I did not think to scan down to the information on the later moveover in NYC. My apologies.

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