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Thank you very much, CT contributors. I appreciate the kind words.
Aside to Lost Pittsburgh: I don’t think I can lay my hands on the story about what occupies the former drive-in properties, but I do have an original of the most commented-up story I ever did: A 1983 roundup of what occupied at that time the sites of many dozens of former Pittsburgh area moviehouses.
As I recall, the indoor theaters story led to the followup on what happened to the drive-in properties.
I’ll send you a Xerox of the indoors story by postal mail if you email me at
Enrolling with this link.
For the record, nothing about the floor plan of the theater changed after it ceased being a late-run neighborhood house and started being a first-run art house. The seats were replaced, I seem to recall, but the structure and layout were the same.
The Shadyside Theater had no balcony. The Balcony restaurant, as it was called, was named for the fact it was upstairs. It did, in fact, occupy the area formerly used for the theater’s projection booth plus the (former)air space over the smallish lobby and the back several rows of seats.
The Strand Theatre is on Cinema Treasures. It’s No. 6947. I have not gotten around to putting an entry on there yet. Can’t give you the Strand’s closing date offhand. It was mostly a second-run neighborhood house but tried a bit of art in its later years. I believe that it had the second-highest capacity (to the Schenley) of all the Oakland theaters.
You’re thinking of the Strand, which straddled the years from the era of the Schenley through the early years of the King’s Court. The Strand was on Forbes Avenue like the other two.
There was a bowling alley on the second floor of the Strand.
But its main distinction was being one of the only two Western Pennsylvania theaters that I know of (the Etna in Etna being the other) where you entered the theater from behind the screen and walked up a slope toward the projection booth to select a seat.
One correction in the caption under the photo of the Miller marquee for “Three Faces of Eve”: Joanne Woodward may have been unavailable to attend the premiere because she was making a picture with Marlon Brando, but it wasn’t “The Young Lions”; it was “The Fugitive Kind.”
In Pittsburgh, as in Manhattan, “The Trouble With Harry” played its first-run engagement in the city’s most prominent art house, the Squirrel Hill. Being a Hitchcock film, “Harry” did move on to neighborhood engagements, most often shoring up a different, but also same-time, Paramount release, “Anything Goes.”
Does anyone have any idea how the Castle festival performed at the b.o., taking into account the fact that double bills in shoebox auditoriums limit the turnover? By chance the featival included all of my favorites – three in the “Whistler” series, “Homicidal” (Is it even possible to be fooled by that one?) and “The Night Walker,” especially for Vic Mizzy’s spooky and imperishable score.
Gimmicks notwithstanding, Castle’s mysteries and thrillers are hopelessly contrived and often plain terrible (“13 Ghosts”), but he was such a consummate ham that he kept me returning as a kid. Anyway, I hope “Night Walker” did well and that Film Forum is encouraged to book more of such Americana festivals.
I, too, collected and devoured the rep schedules from several Manhattan sites – Thalia, Elgin, Bleecker Street (as I recall), Gramercy (briefly), Carnegie Hall Cinema, Hollywood Twin, 80 St. Marks (where fixed combinations tended to play together whenever they returned) and, by far the best, the Regency (and later Frank Rawley’s scheduled for the Lincoln Art, or whatever it was called when he moved there from the Regency).
I loved reading the descriptions, scrutinizing the feature times, spotting the occasional error in show times and keeping them all handy so that at any hour of the afternoon or evening back here in Pittsburgh, I could envision what was going on on every screen.
When my semi-annual two-week trips to NYC were on the horizon, I especially looked forward to the schedules, knowing I’d soon get to partake in the rep house banquet.
Now the only schedules are from Film Forum, and I pay $25 every three (or two?) years to receive those.
It’s great having a home video collection, but it’s somehow not the same as knowing that when I got to NYC I’d see the long-available “Sudden Fear” at the 80 St. Marks, the long-unavailable “Call Me Madam” at Lincoln Art, “The Whisperers” at the Regency or “Burmese Harp” at the Thalia.
And then to pick them off in double bills all day every day while scurring around Manhattan on subways and awaiting a Broadway show in the evening.
“Love Story” definitely premiered at Loew’s State, where I first saw it. Not at RCMH.
I do clean house daily. That’s not the issue. The apparatus you’re using to post some videos is triggering a “sign up or get lost” message. No way around it. Never ran into this on Cinema Treasures before. I believe that in all cases (wasn’t kleeping track at first), short video clips are involved. It’s OK, though. If I’m missing only video clips, it won’t impair my ability to learn more about the theaters from the texts. I won’t address this issue again because I don’t want to clutter the flow of historical commentary. Thank you, though.
Doesn’t work, Tinseltoes. No amount of clicking on the empty box activates it. It seems to require subscribing to something called eFootage. But thank you.
Just within the past few days I’ve found I cannot access any of the clips being posted on various Manhattan sites without going through some sort of licensing process.
Is this a whole extra step that will be necessary permanently, or does it have something to do with the way the clips are being posted by one or two individuals?
Is the licensing free and safe?
Clearly the folks who post on the National Hills site and other Augusta GA-based sites are friendly people who cherish the years they spent working in Augusta theaters and making life-long friends of their moviehouse colleagues. They mean no harm here.
That said, I must concur with Chuck 1231’s observation. Nearly 100 percent of the postings on all of the Augusta sites are of minimal historical significance. They’re more like emails, text messages or blog remarks that feed on each other without any value to the background or significance to the theaters they’re supposedly about.
The notes that matter are lost in a sea of minutiae.
And because those of us who really want to know more about the theaters themselves have no way of knowing which messages are irrelevant, we call them up one by one.
The National Hills, for whatever reason, has become the most abused of the Augusta sites, which is why I finally gave up and removed my checkmark from the box at the bottom of the site. But as many of us have figured out, the checkbox system is imperfect at best. I can’t stop getting the many daily National Hills notifications. It’s kind of like a kid who rings your doorbell and runs several times a day. You gotta trudge to the door each time to be sure it’s not important.
Believe me, Augusta folks, I mean no malice in finally, finally speaking up. And I do have a suggestion for you: Set us a “closed-circuit” email group that you can use every time you want to exchange notes on reunions and your personal comings and goings. It’s very easy to do.
That way, every passing, incidental thought will not go out to a (potential) international audience.
We can see that you’re nice, well-intentioned people. Please give my suggestion some thought. Cinema Treasures truly isn’t the correct forum for what you’re writing. Thank you, one and all.
Any idea of the whereabouts of Adele Bouvy, who seemed to be George Pappas' main assistant during most of the theater’s operating years?
I think Adele might have been Chuck Bouvy’s sister. Very nice lady.
Hi, Bill. Thanks for your very kind comments.
I arrived at The Pittsburgh Press in October 1967, a year before Kap Monahan’s retirement. His departure created a space for me in the Features Department (entertainment and style/women’s/living pages).
His direct successor, though, was Tom Blakely, who had been Kap’s backup on theater and movies for about 20 years. I did TV & radio while Tom was Drama Editor. Then I moved over and succeeded him in January 1972.
I saw Kap at parties and picnics during his retirement years. He and Tom have both been gone for maybe 30 years now.
The razing of the once-revered South Hills Theater (Cinema 4 in its chopped up final days) has begun.
I stand corrected. What a couple of us remembered was the plan to twin it – a plan that never materialized. The same could be said of Showcase West’s goal of installing stadium seating, which never happened.
The second and final Nixon Theatre – this one – was named for the first. Neither had anything to do with the late U.S. President.
Todd-AO was inaugurated with “Oklahoma,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” “South Pacific,” “Porgy and Bess” and “Can-Can,” all of which had their Pittsburgh premiere roadshow engagements at the Nixon.
I concur. The legit theaters east of Broadway sense “off the beaten path” to theatergoers.
A blockbuster booking such as Denzel Washington in “Fences” can override that perception, but I don’t think people like going down the darker side streets where there’s only one playhouse. They feel isolated, vulnerable and removed from the merry hustle-bustle.
Also, if you go to a show at a theater that’s very much in the middle of things – say the Imperial or the Music Box on West 45th, you notice the titles on marquees of the other theaters, which gives those shows a bit of allure.
The other, more isoloated theaters don’t benefit from that visibility and the street-traffic factor.
This is truest of the Nederlander, which is truly a block beyond the perceived border of Broadway. Again, a big enough hit, such as “Rent,” can override the disadvantage. But in that particular case, “Rent” was helped by its funky nature, as “Hair” would be. “Rent” attracted a disproportionately young (teens, 20s) audience that is just naturally less concerned about the amenities of being in the heart of the highly illuminated heart of Broadway.
At “Rent,” more than any show of its era, you’d see early-arriving patrons curled up on the sidewalk. Fancy that at “Morning’s at Seven” or “Fiddler on the Roof.”
I remember that at the packed performance I attended of Lena Horne’s “The Lady and Her Music” at the Nederlander, she remarked candidly – OK, snidely – about the, uh, theater her show had been plunked down in.
The theaters at Lincoln Center are even farther afield than the aforementioned but have the advantage of being in a cluster of upscale artsy activity and seem, if anything, even tonier than Broadway itself.
The Nixon was still operating during the first half of the 1970s although struggling from the time the subscription series collapsed and the theater stopped getting major (true) National Touring companies.
In October 1975 the Nixon had a touring production of an all-black play called “What the Wine-Sellers Buy” with Bill Cobbs and Ron Trice.
The final production opened Nov. 27, 1975. It was conceived, choreographed and directed by Gene Kelly and was called “Gene Kelly’s Salute to Broadway.”
Its cast of 10 was headed by Howard Keel, Ken Berry, Mimi Hines and Lainie Nelson. Kelly did not visit with the production.
Most of the shows the last two to four years were threadbare productions, mainly “bus-and-truck companies.”
I cannot find a newspaper clipping to confirm this, but I believe the darkened theater was intact until after a final fire broke out in 1976.
Regrettably, my computer skills fall very much short of being able to do that.
I am holding the souvenir program for the opening night of the Eastwood Theatre. It was June 26, 1947. The inaugural attraction was Eliz Kazan’s “Sea of Grass” with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. The final attraction was “Krakatoa, East of Java.”