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In the 1960’s and into the 70’s, the variety of concession items was limited to Popcorn, drinks, and candy. (sometimes a dixie cup or ice cream sandwich was sold) Sizes were smaller, too. A small buttered popcorn was 24 oz, large 46. Drinks were 12 oz and 20 oz. Volume of business for concession was less, as I remember Cinemas used to buy butter at the local supermarket to melt in the buttermat. I’m sure ushers in the auditoriums were sent to aisles to sweep up spills in the 1960’s but the need for entire crews to pickup wasn’t there.
Once they introduced buckets of 83 oz and 123 oz, and 32 oz drinks, as well as larger candy sizes, the litter became a problem. If you go back to the earlier years, in the 1930’s and 40’s, I think concession stands were nearly nonexistent, and I’ve been told food was banned from auditoriums.
I worked at the Sack Cheri for a couple of months in the summer of 1968 as an usher/concessionaire. The Manager was Joe Sasso, who went to work at Pasek Lock when he retired. There was an assistant manager who’s name I’ve forgotten, who would cruise the city after work, chasing ambulances, I think. Sorry I don’t have any anecdotes, but it was so long ago.
I do remember parking my 63 Volkswagon on the side street and having a sign in the window which said “Theatre Employee” which helped prevent getting a parking ticket.
And one day, while walking past the Uptown, which was nearly around the corner, and being torn down at the time, I found some old painted movie posters. (read my story about that under the Uptown thread).
There was a Quintree Drive-In in Braintree before General Cinema’s South Shore Twin Drive In. The question remains, where was it located? Locals may want to check the old telephone books or microfilm at the Library.
Don Lewis' motion passes overwhelmingly. In anticipation of this, Happy New Year!
It wouldn’t make sense for them to advertise in the Boston Globe due to the cost. Usually only large chains put in directories for all their houses, or if there’s co-op money for a particular film. The Patriot Ledger is a large circulation paper on the south shore, which should be good enough for their advertising needs. Both theatres need to attract locals in order to survive. I think film cost and the Showcase/GCC/AMC competition/influence with distributors has probably hurt their business.
How close is the red line stop to Wollaston anyway?
Interesting note on the link to the Waltham Museum web site, was the statement from an Embassy “expert” that the original design for the lobby was Oriental. According to opening day ads in the newspapers, the design was Spanish.
There were 1432 seats in Cinema I. Cinema II across the lobby had 709.
To Richard Dziadzio, do you have a web site with your interior photos of the State Theatre? I’d love to see them. Or maybe you’d be kind enough to email them to me at
So, Mr VanBibber, what can you tell us about your listing?
to Jonathan9, there have been a lot of potential locations for you in the Treasures News section, including these two most recent:
and this one: http://cinematreasures.org/news/12491_0_1_10_C/
Any reason why you’ve chosen the two you did so far?
Sometimes I wish the folks posting would research for more information before sending in the name of a theatre in a town. It’s almost like a race to see who can “publish” the most buildings. Finding the name and address in an old Film Daily Annual doesn’t help much when we don’t know when a theatre opened, nor when it closed, nor what chain it belonged to. This is especially true for the little theatres that were on every single main street in nearly every town in America. One might consider checking the public library for old phone books or town building records for the year of opening, microfilm from the town newspaper about the grand opening, town historical society, and maybe other sources as well. In other words, sometimes it’s quality and not quantity that counts.
(I might ad that sometimes a vague place can prompt someone’s memory, so all’s not so bad.)
This Cinema was originally the Worcester Center Cinema, opened by General Cinema around 1973. the three auditoriums had a total of only about 700 seats. Actually, the lobby was larger than the three screens combined. It was my first theatre as Manager, from June 1975 until November 1975. It was a busy summer, with Benji and Pete’s Dragon amoung the films shown that summer. October of that year was a distraction from the movies, as the Red Sox were in the World Series.
Thanks Charles, but the address was already mentioned by Ken Roe, and the town is Framingham, not Farmington. (I know, sometimes the Film Daily has typos)
The Waltham Cinema was called a “buck house” along with Stoneham, Fresh Pond Cambridge, and Saugus. These Cinemas played after the first run
Peabody, Framingham, Braintree, Burlington, and Westgate Mall Brockton, in the Rte 128 perimeter of Boston. They were all General Cinemas, not a small chain at all.
Blackall, Clapp & Whittemore are credited as the architects of the Boston Colonial, Wilbur, Metropolitan (later known as the Music Hall and now called the Wang Center), as well as the Modern. The Modern had the first installed sound projection equipment in New England. The St George opened in 1921, and had sound installed in 1929. The Manager of the St George was George Sumter until he retired in 1946, followed by Anthony Capobianco, then James Collins who later became the Manager of the Natick Drive In, then John Berry.
Ben Sack won this theatre in a poker game. When the film “And God Created Woman” played here, the Assistant Manager, Izzy Strier, needed Mr Sack’s intervention to avoid being arrested by the Boston Police for running a film which violated Boston’s blue laws.
Nearly all Downtown Boston theaters were owned by Ben Sack from the late 1950’s and through the 1970’s, run by Mr Sack, and Alan Friedberg with Bill Glazer, until sold to the Loews Corporation. Any anecdotes and information on the history of Sack Theatres would be appreciated.
You might start at the Boston Public Library and check architectural publications. There are also technical publications with information on equipment, as well as design. The telephone book will give you the contact information for Boston Light and Sound, as well as RCA, for technical requirements. The telephone book will also list independent film bookers who can give you information on film cost as well as their percentage. This would come under the heading of “Film”.
If you check this web site, there was a lengthy explanation on the subject of theatre startups just a couple of months ago. It’s an interesting topic with lots of things to consider.
Best of luck on your thesis.
During the summer of 1968, I worked part time as an usher at the nearby Sack Cheri. While walking to work, I saw the Uptown being torn down. Hanging from a frame on an exposed wall of the second floor, was an old painted movie poster. I asked a worker if there were any posters I might take as a souvenir. He showed me a flooded cellar, with cardboard floating around. I managed to retrieve a poster for the Judy Garland film, “A Star is Born”. It was a cardboard, part paste-up, part painted. It was probably the only undamaged poster there, although I didn’t have much time to search, as I didn’t want to be late for work.
How did this theatre become a part of the Sack Theatre chain which was in Boston, and didn’t exist until the late 1950’s?
The Film Daily Yearbooks list the Norwood Theatre with 1200 seats. There were two other theatres in town, the Guild with 600 seats, and the Southern with 360. Any information on those would be interesting. Both the Guild and the Norwood were owned by the George Giles Co., which later merged with Phil Smith’s Theatrical Enterprises. In the early 1950’s, this Company became known as General Drive-In, and later, General Cinema.
The new Braintree theatre tenplex was built on the hill across the highway, overlooking the old South Shore Drive In, and the original Braintree Cinema was renovated into a Circuit City. The new theatre on the hill was designed by Cambridge Seven / Bob Luchetti in the late 1980’s.
The original Braintree was the South Shore Cinema, built in 1966. It eventually was split a couple of times to become Cinemas I,II,III,and IV. This theatre was one of General Cinema’s best grossing houses in the Boston area, especially when it played Disney films. It was managed by Izzy Strier from about 1967 until 1975 when he moved up the Home Office theatre in Chestnut Hill. I followed in his footsteps, running it from 1975 until 1977, and again from 1983 until 1986. Some great engagements included Herbie the Love Bug, the World Premier of With Six You Get Eggroll, Jaws, Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, Freaky Friday, Grease, and many others. One of the most interesting things about running this theatre, was the opportunity to do some fantastic paste ups for the ads in the Patriot Ledger. I used to try all sorts of special things, like reverse type inside the oval, with a slim white seperation. Those who used to take special care in paste ups, might remember stuff like that. The South Shore Cinema had a fine reputation in the town of Braintree, working with the Town Clerk, on charity shows, and an annual Safety Patrol kiddie show. In addition, we were right across the road from the South Shore Drive In, and the ushers and candy girls enjoyed the benefit of going to both places to see free movies.
You prompted some memories with that one! I had almost forgotten Timmy. Chestnut Hill had 3 screens, stadium style, which made pickups between shows a little harder. We couldn’t sweep the stuff forward under the seats. We were allowed more time between shows at Chestnut Hill, sometimes 4 shows a day instead of 5, in order to maximize concession time, and this gave us more time to clean, although the lobby would sometimes back up when it was busy. It also took longer to exit the crowds, as they took longer to come down the stairs.
Roger and dave-bronx, I think readers may be enjoying the anecdotes, at least I am.
Roger, I hope you’ll post some information about the Ezella under that theatre’s listing. Were there other theatres you’d care to share some stories about?
It was owned by the Mullen & Pinansky Chain, of 60 Scollay Square in Boston. There were 1400 seats. The other theatre in Haverill also owned by M&P was the Paramount. It was gone by the late 1950’s, so a bit of research is necessary. Maybe an old telephone book at the library could pin it down.