Showing 26 - 50 of 148 comments
I met a gentleman in Mariposa this week who told me that as a high school student he was the last projectionist at the Mariposa Theatre before it closed. He wasn’t sure of the exact closing date but thought it was in the early 1960’s shortly after he graduated from high school. He said the theatre was located in the still standing structure at 5041 Highway 140 (Charles Street in the old days) between 6th Street and 7th Street which now houses a gym. A walking tour map of the city from the local History Society seems to confirm this location.
I hated these theatres and that awful “shadowbox” screen concept (no curtain, no masking). General Cinema started the then new to California single feature policy and drove a lot of older downtown theatres out of business or into porn before their final demise, the Ritz and Hayward in this case. These theatres were poorly maintained and managed from the beginning and really went downhill when they sub-divided them into little shoe boxes. The last time I attended the film was so dim it looked like it was being projected with a 100 watt light bulb. I asked for my money back and never returned.
Century came in and drove this theatre as well as the Festival and UA complexes on Hesperian Blvd. out of business with their new and much larger San Leandro and Newark multiplexes. That left Hayward with no movie theatres at all until Century opened their multiplex downtown, just a few blocks from where the Hayward and Ritz once stood.
Wow! In this day and age when theatres are abandoning 35mm in droves to go digital (even if they don’t want to!) somebody installing dual projector 70mm is big news and to be applauded! Alamo please bring a theatre (any format but film preferred!) to the Sacramento-Roseville CA market where we are starving for indie, classic & cult product!
Only twelve people including myself and my wife were at the 2:00 pm showing of “The Searchers” at Century 14 in Roseville CA which pretty much confirmed my previous assertion, that there really isn’t much of a market for older films nowadays. Cinemark hasn’t really promoted this series much but I’m not sure any amount of promotion would work. These films are just too widely available on other visual media and the generally older audience that would most appreciate them is dwindling. I’d be surprised if we see a similar series in the future.
The visual quality of the digitally transferred and projected “The Searchers” itself looked very good but not great in my opinion. It’s been over 20 years since I’ve last seen it in 35mm VistaVision but I seem to recall the image being sharper and the Technicolor more saturated on film. When I got home I immediately put on my Blu-ray of the film (probably from the same HD digital transfer) and that too appeared to have a slight edge over Cinemark’s presentation.
It was still a thrill seeing John Ford’s masterpiece on the big screen again where those beautifully photographed Monument Valley panoramas look particularly impressive. I’m glad I went and thank Cinemark for at least giving this oldies series a chance.
It will be interesting to see if older films like this, as great as they are but now frankly sort of overexposed with showings on cable TV, DVD & Blu-ray releases as well as streaming, can still draw an audience at the multiplex. You also have to consider that younger audiences think cinema history started with “Star Wars”. At least this one is in color! “Singin' in the Rain” will be playing in six greater Sacramento area multiplexes with a sort of steep adult ticket price of $12.50 (even for the 2 PM matinee).
Cinemark is doing a summer series of classic films on Wednesdays at select theatres. “Citizen Kane”, “Cool Hand Luke”, “That’s Entertainment”, “North by Northwest”, “The Searchers” and others. Regular ticket prices appear to apply to this series. I’m going to see “The Searchers” here in Roseville CA tomorrow 06/27. I vividly remember how stunning it looked in 35mm VistaVision IB Technicolor and anxious to see how it measures up with digital projection. I’m also curious to see how big of an audience it will draw.
Like the THUD-THUD-THUD sound bleed through from adjacent auditoriums isn’t bad enough already? Like your ears aren’t ringing enough after 6 ear blasting trailers for the latest action flicks? The home theater experience looks better every day!
Up until the early 60’s I found trailers very entertaining, an enjoyable part of the movie going experience. Now they bore me to death! With every trailer that plays at the local multiplex I think to myself “I sure hope this is the last one!”
Of course with the pre-show video program that most chains now play which is nothing more than a twenty minute marathon of commercials (and more trailers!) masquerading as entertainment, you’ve already had it with mindless hype in surround sound and ready to see the feature.
Admittedly a big part of my problem is that most current movies aren’t aimed at me or my generation. Unlike the old days I have absolutely no interest in seeing the the great majority of coming attractions. I don’t even want to see their trailers! Thank God on DVD’s there is usually a way to skip the trailers (even if you have to jump through a few hoops to do it!).
Not too unusual if the theatres are in different parts of town. If they are very close to each other it would be a bit unusual I guess. I share her frustration…the same 20 or so new flicks seem to be on the screens of about 90 per cent of the multiplexes in the country, up to 100 per cent if you don’t live in a big city. I liked it MUCH better in the good old days when there were first and second run (downtown and neighborhood) theatres, last run grind houses, art houses, etc. Films had “legs” then…they could play the circuit for a couple of years or more and you had lots of movie choices in most medium and large cities.
Oh yeah you had double features back then, along with cartoons, newsreels and shorts instead of a 20 minute pre-show commercial marathon masquerading as entertainment. You also didn’t have to take out a mortgage to go to the concession stand, people didn’t talk or text on their cell phones, the picture was actually in focus and framed correctly and the sound was at the right level…ah those were the days my friend…and I am well aware that we will never see them again!
When I came to Sacramento in 1962 the Rio was showing Mexican films. It closed sometime later but was then re-opened by a new operator showing 16mm. “pin up” (nude model) adult films! Live burlesque later replaced or was added to the film programs. I can’t remember exactly when it closed for good and demolished, sometime in the latter part of the 1960’s I believe.
The Blue Oaks 16 was built and initially operated by the SR Entertainment Group, a small chain headquartered in Santa Rosa, CA. A few months after the November 2010 opening Cinemark acquired a large parcel of land nearby and announced that they would be building a competing multiplex along with other retail on it. SR Entertainment must have seen the handwriting on the wall, mainly too much competition. In January 2012 SR sold the Blue Oaks 16 to Cinemark. The plans for the nearby Cinemark multiplex are now on hold, I suspect indefinitely!
Too bad for us locals. We could have used more movie choices (especially independent and foreign flicks!) in our area. Besides the presentation and friendliness of the staff seemed a couple notches higher at the Blue Oaks than at your typical Cinemark operation. They also showed a less distracting pre-show program, primarily just local advertising. Now we have to suffer through that Godawful Cinemark 20 minute video compilation of loud commercials masquerading as entertainment.
Like so much else in 21st Century corporate America the big companies get bigger and the small ones get smaller…or just fade away! Nice seeing you here and goodbye SR Entertainment Group!
The Cameo Cinema opened in 1913 and was originally known as the Liberty. It’s name was later changed to Roxy and starting in 1953 was owned and operated by John Aquila who became St Helena’s mayor from 1959-1976 and again 1988-1990. After being closed for a while (in the early 1970’s as I recall) it was reopened as the Liberty by another independent operator. It was still later operated by a small chain and after yet another closing Charlotte Wagner purchased the theatre in 1997, did a beautiful remodeling job, reduced the seating capacity and turned it into a little jewel box now known as Cameo Cinema. Cathy Buck purchased the Cameo from Wagner several years ago and continues to operate it with an eclectic mix of film programming. Every small town should be so lucky as to have such a cinema gem in their community. When I’m in the Napa Valley I always try to catch a show at the Cameo.
Absolutely one of my favorite sites which was made even better with your revamp this year. Thanks so much for providing this service to all of us who love the movies and the theatres that show them! Happy New Year!
The Bay Area’s two leading theatre historians combined to produce another superb volume in Arcadia’s “Theatres of…” series. Makes a great companion to Jack’s “Theatres of San Francisco” and (with Jennifer Dowling) “Theatres of Oakland” and Gary’s “Theatres of San Jose”. All are excellent reminders of what we once had in the Bay Area in the way of movie theatres and what is now mostly gone forever. If your local book store doesn’t have them check out Amazon or other web dealers. Highly recommended!
Here’s an interesting just released press release about all of the Cinerama (& 1 Cinemiracle) travelogs being digitally restored for limited theatrical showings (digitally, not the three projector film process) and subsequent release on DVD and Blu-ray in the Smilebox format. If you’ve seen the Blu-ray Smilebox version of “How the West Was Won” you know how good that process can look!
Also mentioned is a Cinerama festival at the Hollywood Dome in the fall of 2012 including part digital and part 3 strip film presentations of virtually all of the Cinerama products. I’ll be there!
Wow! How exciting to see this great website and your fine work recognized by such a prestige publication as the New York Times, the Sunday edition at that which of course is read around the country and throughout the world! Congratulations guys!
Hardly one of the great movie palaces the Encore was still an attractive and comfortable small theatre to see first run films when I was living in Sacramento in the 1960’s. As I recall they had some long exclusive runs of films like “Tom Jones” and “Lawrence of Arabia” (not the best venue for that one since the Encore was only equipped for 35mm projection on a relatively small wide screen).
One vivid personal memory of attending the Encore for me was on the Sunday after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Jack Ruby had just in turn killed Lee Harvey Oswald that morning, which I witnessed on live TV. Like so many of us I was in a state of semi-shock and felt I just had to get out of the house so I headed to downtown Sacramento to see a movie. There must have been nothing good at the Crest or Fox Senator or even the World grind house because I ended up at the Encore where the main feature was “The Sky Above, the Mud Below”, a documentary about native people New Guinea, hardly the kind of escapism I was looking for on that dreary Sunday afternoon!
During the time I lived in Sacramento 1962-1965 the Fox (Senator) was my favorite theatre. I even liked it better than the Alhambra. It was in beautiful shape and film presentation was superb.
The last time I was in the Fox it was doing a brief stint as a discount house with all seats 49 cents! That must have been in 1970 because I remember one of the features I saw that day was “Adam at 6:00 A.M.”, a 1970 release.
Personally I think it would have been much more practical to save the Fox than the Alhambra just because of it’s much better downtown location for a mixed use venue. Of course both theatres, our only real Sacramento movie palaces, were ultimately demolished and that’s doubly sad!
The Lincoln was closed when I moved to Sacramento in 1962 and sat dormant for several years until it was remodeled (more like rebuilt as Joe Vogel says in the above comment) and reopened as the Showcase. It was a first run house for several years and played some exclusive runs of big pictures such as “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines”. Landmark took over later and ran it as a calendar rep house for several more years. It was a nice, comfortable place to see films that I hated to see close.
That might be your opinion bigjoe59 but some critics are calling it a masterpiece and I have no doubt that it will be on most of the ten best films of the year lists this year’s end. Rotten Tomatoes says 85 per cent of critics liked it as well as 66 per cent of the public. I haven’t seen it but am looking forward to soon since I loved Malick’s “The New World”. It’s admittedly not for everyone, especially the “aliens, car chases and explosions” action flick crowd.
As far as the “no refunds” policy…I think the warning sign about the film’s content is appropriate but if I was manager I’d still give refunds for the first half hour or so but definitely not to people who stayed for most or all of the film after that warning.
Wow! When I was in LA in April and photographed the dormant looking Palace I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes. Thank you Mr. Delijani! It sounds like four of our Broadway Cinema Treasures are in good hands!
Oops I have the wrong date in this photo I uploaded. It’s several years later than 1991, not sure exactly when.
Just when you thought the multiplex experience could get no worse! Joe Sixpack doesn’t seem to mind at all though. Just as long as he can see the latest blockbuster on opening week he doesn’t care if it’s projected with a 100 watt bulb or even in focus or in frame. $15 for 3-D, ten bucks for a small popcorn and small Coke? No problem. “Dude I was first on my block to see \"Pirates of the Caribbean, Part…Whatever”!
As a teenage movie fan I used to love to walk along Film Row in San Francisco during the 1950’s. It was mostly on Golden Gate Avenue with a few distributors on the cross streets. I knew the manager of the Allied Artists (formerly Monogram) office who would frequently take time to talk movies with me and if I was lucky give me a one sheet poster or two to take home. These offices gladly accommodated mom and pop theater operators from the boondocks who came into town to book films as well as the big city operators, chains and independent film bookers. What a change there has been in film distribution as well as exhibition!
Another movie with an old time carbon arc/changeover projectionist as the hero is appropriately entitled “The Projectionist”. Chuck McCann plays the man up in the booth and his boss (the manager) is Rodney Dangerfield. It’s got a clever opening and closing that anyone who has done that somewhat lonely but rewarding job in an old fashioned theatre (NOT a multiplex!) will appreciate!
As a lad being a projectionist was my dream job! I was one of those audio-visual geeks who ran the 16mm Bell & Howell in the classroom at school and wanted to do the same thing with those big 35mm machines in a movie theatre. I learned the craft (the old fashioned way!) while in the Army, moonlighting part time at our post theatre. After the service I wanted to continue working in my dream job but quickly found out that the union in the big and medium sized cities wasn’t accepting new members (unless possibly your dad or uncle was a member!) and in small towns the non union jobs (if you could even fine one!) paid little more than minimum wage, sometimes just minimum wage and you were lucky if you got one night off a week! So I went to work for the railroad instead, eventually became a locomotive engineer. Probably just as well with theatre closings and automation on the horizon. Working in a platter/xenon multiplex has no appeal to me, sounds about as exciting as loading up a DVD into a DVD player. The couple years I did have in the dual projector/carbon arc booth while in the Army were great though and I look back on that time fondly! Loved those Simplex X-7’s!