Clay Theatre

2261 Fillmore Street,
San Francisco, CA 94115

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Showing 26 - 30 of 30 comments

GaryMeyer on December 14, 2003 at 4:31 am

Mr. Van Bibber’s comments can also be found on Landmark’s website where they provide a history for each theater.
PINK FLAMINGOES was far from the first midnight movie. Mike Getz ran them at the Presidio from the early 1960s. That had been a leading art film theater until the success of I AM CURIOUS YELLOW moved the owners, Art Theater Guild, in the direction of more films of a sexual nature (from Belle de Jour to Radley Metzger to hardcore). Mr. Getz (who still operates cinemas in Grass Valley) programmed a mix of underground shorts, cult features and camp classics each weekend. He expanded his clever programs into a national circuit, providing audiences and film rental for independent and experimental filmmakers.

Soon the North Beach Movie was also showing weekly midnight programs as was the Gate Theatre in Sausalito across the Golden Gate Bridge. And of course the Cockettes were accompanied by movies at midnight at the Palace from 1969 (when John Waters lived in San Francisco and was inspired by those events).

Now midnight movies go back much further. I don’t know how far but in the 40s-60s there were always horror films screened at the witching hour in both drive-ins and walk-ins. Often a traveling magician would accompany with a magic, hypnotism and spook show. They played at many neighborhood houses.

gsmurph on October 29, 2003 at 10:41 am

The Clay is NOT closed; in fact it is very much operating alive and presumably well!

ChuckVanBibber on October 28, 2003 at 8:42 pm

The Clay Theatre was built in 1910 and has been operated by Landmark Theatres since 1991. The mighty Clay is one of the oldest theatres in San Francisco. Built in 1910 by the renown Naify Brothers, builders of the first movie screen in town, the New Fillmore, the Clay was first a nickelodeon house. In April of 1935, Herbert Rosenor reopened the Clay as The Clay International, a foreign film showcase. In the early 1970’s the theatre was part of the Surf Theatres group, run by pioneering San Francisco film exhibitor Mel Novikoff. In 1972, the Clay hosted the first midnight movie in San Francisco with the premiere of John Water’s Pink Flamingos, and also hosted many other controversial films, including The Life of Brian. Since Landmark assumed management in 1991, the Clay has enjoyed such improvements as digital sound, new seats and an extensive refurbishment of its art deco and classic Greek accoutrements. The combination of classic appointments and modern aminities has helped keep the Clay a comfortable, laid-back place to see unique film programming for almost a century.

GaryParks on October 28, 2003 at 3:20 pm

Opened in the ‘Teens, the Clay is still in operation, and has recently been nicely refurbished. The ornamentation on the upper portion of the facade is original.

unknown on October 24, 2003 at 5:17 pm

This was a long running art house theater. Walter Reade Theaters ran it for years. Landmark was the last operator of this theater. Very popular theater for foreign films in its day. (Lina Wertmueller’s films were very popular here, in particular the 1977 film Swept Away.)