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Yes this is the BELL theatre (w/ correct address) I’d recalled under nearby CORTLAND theatre comments last week. Despite its alternate latter-day use the place I recall still looked like a theatre (w/marquee) and name still identifiable, when it disappeared from sight altogether around 1962.
AKA time again: this theatre on Milwaukee Ave was perhaps more commonly called the WICKER PARK (after its' neighborhood). The name BELL usually applied to the one recently identified @ 3064 W. Armitage Ave (of all this I am sure). Somebody else out there must also remember this.
GRAND theatre demolished around ‘81 – empty lot now still. Last saw SON OF BLOB there (w/ Larry Hagman) in early '70s, and they went X-rated mid-late in the decade. Very typical of small neighborhood operations I’d say, with a druggist/soda-shop 1 door east. In the early '60s my Dad painted custom posters for their management and I got a free 1/week pass as a result.
The CRYSTAL’d have Saturday a.m. kiddie shows in the early ‘60s, for
which free passes sometimes were distributed around my grammar school (7 FACES OF DR. LAO for example). Unique was that the theatre’s outside movie poster displays were NOT glass-encased (just tacked-up at all times); many budding film poster collections were begun here as a result of this. They gave up the ghost around 1965 and quick demolition without the usual conversion or darkened aftermath (which stunned me a little then).
Most piquant memories re-surface from my childhood of the ROYAL! “DINOSAURUS!”–“BRIDES OF DRACULA”–“THE COSMIC MAN”, etc. Yeah the bathroom was colored hellfire red. Cheapest place around – 35 cents for triple features. Remember the pair of timers/clocks behind the ticket booth telling ‘time getting-in / time getting-out’(when we’d leave ‘cause “this is where we came in at”)? Perfect baby-sitter place for my Mom while she went shopping at Milwaukke Ave stores, and I couldn’t have been happier. In the late '60s their fare was Mexican flix.
LUNA was able to thrive years longer than other small neighberhood theatres because of the economics when the projectionist/operator also is the owner (or so the popular story went then). One funky aspect was only a heavy black (fabric) curtain separated the lobby/ entrance from the auditorium! The dates given in the heading for closure/demolition are accurate ‘cause I went there till the end, and yes in their final years seemed to specialize in the gorier product. To their credit they were the only ones here to run (1969?) POOR COW w/Terence Stamp ('Genl. Zod’).
In the early ‘60s the MilFord tried its’ hand as a ‘mature audiences'
art house (i.e., topless nudies, before X-rated) for a few years, even offering serve-yourself free coffee. But that changed and in the '70s alternating weekly between US sub-runs and Polish films,
earning itself the nickname 'cinema Polski’ among the locals. Screen was in bad shape when I last saw Beetlejuice (M.Keaton) there