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To the right of the Howard Johnson in Times Square, is a little stairway leading upstairs to a theatre called the Duffy Theatre. They were running a play titled “Perfect Crime” until last weekend. I understand they’re moving to another Broadway address and a new 2nd floor theatre.
I did the Radio City tour this weekend, first time I’ve been inside since about 1977. Was it my imagination or did the giant mural become faded when it was cleaned?
Another question, was the theatre originally built with a sprinkler system or was that installed some time later? The guide didn’t know.
Keep in perspective, the era of the late sixties and early seventies when students were protesting the establishment, and first-run hollywood film wasn’t a cool way to occupy your leisure time. Especially at first run admission prices. The students were going to the Orson Welles midnight shows on the weekends in that era too. Of course, there were also dozens of clubs around Kenmore Square and Brighton as the time, competing for the student entertainment dollar.
Anyone from the area should make an effort to take some photos, inside and out, before it’s gone. So often, people don’t think about pictures until the place is gone.
Good point. I remember being inside about 30 years ago, and there was lots of white, very ornate, and a long entry hall with gold handrails, marble steps, and a smaller lobby. Wouldn’t color photos of the insides of these old theatres be great?
The seats look like 1980’s white metal back Griggs, similar to what GCC used to get rid of when they reseated auditoriums with the grey plastic backs.
If they’re the original metal seats from 1926, it’s a good deal, isn’t it? One could recushion for cheaper than the cost of a new chair.
Ron, thank you again for doing such a fine job of research, and making this site interesting, for those of us in the Boston area. Maybe someone can start getting into the suburbs too. There were lots of neighborhood theatres that are long gone, but maybe not forgotten.
A look inside the Tremont Temple would probably confirm that there’s no projection booth thus if there were film shown there, it may have been on a 16mm table top projector for a special event. (Much like local libraries occasionally do).
Keep in mind that in those days, 35 mm film was nitrate, lamphouses burned carbon, and needed exhaust ducts. Therefore, if a public hall or church or legitimate theatre did a once-in-a-while movie series from a temporary projector set up on the aisle or on the rear balcony, it doesn’t become a “movie theatre”. Boston was on the circuit for pre-Broadway shows, thus the existence of several legitimate theatres devoted to stage plays.
The Wilbur, Colonial, Shubert, and others would be called “legitimate theaters” not “movie theatres” and not even playing vaudeville. They didn’t play movies. I wasn’t saying the Film Daily left them out in error, just that the Film Daily isn’t the definitive source that Charles Van Bibber seems to think.
Film Daily’s stopped listing town hall auditoriums at some point in the 1930’s and occasionally corrected previous year errors such as the Saxonville entry I mentioned. Film Daily listed by State and town, but only contained street names in some large cities. In the 1950’s they began a seperate category for “art theatres” and “drive-in”, and by 1962, didn’t bother to keep a separate list of “movie theatres”.
Film Daily Yearbooks list civic auditoriums in addition to movie theatres. (take a look at 1934, for example, Massachusetts towns of Holliston, Hopkinton, Sandwich, Brookfield, with town halls and their seating capacity listed. They even contain errors such as a listing for Saxonville, which is a neighborhood in Framingham, and they list a town hall there as well. ) In Boston, the Yearbook lists a theatre named the Lancaster on Causeway St., a Waldron’s Casino on Hanover St. and I’m sure everyone who knows their region can find similar errors. Under Boston, there’s no Wilbur, Colonial, nor Shubert, but there is a Bowdoin Square, a Bijou-Dream, and a Grand Opera House, as well as a Repertory on Huntington Ave and a South Station Terminal, in addition to a Congress Hall in South Boston.
I’d guess that the ones you listed weren’t “movie theatres” but were “theaters” for other sorts of entertainment. (note the difference in spelling) For example, it’s probable that they were built without projection booths and no sound, and at the time, there were already so many movie theatres in the city that they weren’t considered locations for film. We should keep in mind, movies were considered entertainment for the masses, where plays were regarded as entertainment for the wealthy and upperclass.
A huge thank you to Ron for coming up with some excellent reference tools, online. I wonder what other newsletters and newspapers have digital files like MIT that one can browse?
Film Daily 1934 also lists a theatre called Riverside, which had recently closed. The Fellsway is listed in the 1957 edition without the seating capacity (could it have closed by then?) And the Medford Theatre is listed as 34 Salem St. with 1289 seats.
Old Film Daily’s list 3 theatres in Medford, the Fellsway with 750 seats. There was also a Medford Theatre with 1800 seats, and a theatre called the Square, with 1300 seats.
Fox also had an office in the Bay Village section. I don’t think any of the film distributors still keeps an office there.
Tom N, I used to walk around the Bay Village in the late sixties between classes at UMass Boston when they were located at 100 Arlington. (Also to find a parking place). It was also known as the film district, as Columbia, Universal, and MGM kept their offices there. If you search the web site that Ron is using, for Church St, you’ll see a couple of pictures of those office buildings. I couldn’t find a picture of the building across the street from National Screen Service, but Theatre Merchandising was located there. (They delivered concession merchandise to all the theatres around Boston).
Yes, the parking garage south west corner has a plaque.
Thanks for finding and linking all of the excellent photos, Ron. I started
exploring the site, and found a nice photo of National Screen Service which used to provide us with posters, stills, and pressbooks. I remember placing orders with Ann Morton who worked there for many years.
as you look at the building, take a left onto Peidmont St and you are on the site of the Cocoanut Grove. I believe it’s now a corner of a parking garage.
Who owned the theatre in the 1930s – ‘40s?
How old are the seats? Sounds like this could be an interesting
Maybe the grill work shown in the photo was in an earlier catalog, and discontinued by 1970? I think GCC stopped using that stuff in the mid 1960s.
There a Container Store in there now.
The Manager who ran this theatre in the 1950’s, was named Joe DiCarlo. He also managed the Cinerama, and joined General Cinema in 1965, becoming the manager of the Shoppers World Cinema in 1966, later a District Manager.
At the end of July, 1961, the Cleveland Circle was advertised in the Boston Traveler as being an ATC or American Theatres Corp. Theatre which also owned the Waltham Embassy, and in downtown Boston, the Pilgrim and Mayflower Theatres, as well as several other suburban theatres.
At the end of July 1961, the Boston Herald Traveler lists “The New Capri” at 175 Huntington Ave, playing Lolita.