Showing 26 - 34 of 34 comments
What I miss most about the Torrance Drive-In is the music you heard on your window-speaker while you waited for the movie to start. Also the trees as the sun went down. Also The Swinging Cheerleaders.
Also there was a children’s play-area in front of the screen. During 1941 (the movie) a friend and I took places at the edge of the play area, and every time there was a forward-tracking shot in the movie, we’d run toward the screen. Anyone who hasn’t done this should try it, if there are any drive-ins left to try it at. You feel like you’re running super fast and you barely keep your balance. 1941 on laserdisc was a real disappointment after that.
To Manwithnoname: I remember you having scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast. (Just kidding.)
Some of my favorite memories of the Fox are of movies I never really saw there, usually because they were Rated R. For instance, for years I thought MAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN was a horror movie, like THE DOBERMAN GANG but too intense for children. As big a fan as I’ve become of Geraldine Page, her Aunt Alice isn’t nearly so scary as the one I imagined after seeing the poster for WHATEVER HAPPENED TO AUNT ALICE?, which shows a face partially covered by sand—I took it for a doll’s face that Aunt Alice had cracked apart. And here’s a scene from ROSEMARY’S BABY that I never saw and will never forget: Rosemary has hidden her baby in a shoe box and run from the devil to the roof of her apartment building. The devil lurches at her and she drops the box. The end.
It may be blasphemous to say it here at Cinema Treasures, but I like that the Fox Redondo belongs so completely to the world of Things that Are Not. If the place were open today I would campaign to keep it open—but that said, I like that THUNDERBALL played there and STAR WARS did not, that WOODSTOCK played there and XANADU did not. The Fox is where I feel like I went to WOODSTOCK even when the movie wasn’t playing there. During the talkier parts of CRY OF THE BANSHEE, or almost any part of FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED, the Fox was where on a rowdy Saturday night somebody might call out, “Give me an F!” and a good part of the theater would shout out “F!” and so on. It seemed terrible to me as a ten year old—and can’t have been much fun for the management either—but I like my memory of WOODSTOCK as a terrible event even more than I like the real event as I’ve come to understand it, or the movie, which is also very beautiful.
Now the Fox is its own kind of movie. It had reality in a specific place and time—now it’s echoes sounding on in the hearts of the people who loved being there. This is me doing my best to be profound—but if I come off sounding grandiose or corny, even that seems kind of appropriate to the Fox. It’s a palace with popcorn under its floorboards. It has a beautiful golden curtain with stains on it. And the great thing about discovering this site is that the movie gets bigger all the time. The Fox that I know used to have a basemnent where a little girl ate her parents—now it has many more underground rooms, as well as organ pipes and vaudeville players and Helen Twelvetrees.
Please keep writing, everybody. And Sally—I know it’s a long shot, but my mom and her friends were attending the Fox at the same time you did. Did you happen to know the Beachums?
I wish my memory was better, but I can’t think either what movie I witnessed being interrupted at the South Bay Theater; I can only think of movies that were not. My apologies to the late Mr. Rogers and his foundation.
Bruce, your story got me hungry for a tub of popcorn with extra butter.
Speaking of stopping a movie in progress: I remember a period in the early seventies when at the South Bay Theater they would interrupt a movie between reels with a short for some charity or other (sorry I can’t remember which charity), then bring up the lights and pass collection baskets through the auditorium. I sure wouldn’t have liked being an usher during that experiment. But that’s a South Bay Theater story …
Manwithnoname, I think it’s great you remember the poster for DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE. I actually saw that twice at the Fox—or 1 and 1/13 times, because on the first try I was too scared to stay for more than a few minutes. Afterwards I went to school with a couple band-aids on my neck, as a sort of homage to the movie, and wound up being sent to the school psychologist.
One more great Fox memory I have is that one night before the main feature they showed the FRAZIER/ALI CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT—it was about a thirty minute film and the nearest I ever got to experiencing an old-fashioned night at the movies, with newreels and whatnot.
O.C. or Bruce, I know that the last show to play at the Fox was WOODSTOCK with MAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN—but do you happen to remember if WOODSTOCK also played there at another, earlier time? Also, during your time at the Fox was there electricity in the old dressing rooms or were they pitch black?
Thanks, Bruce Berns, for writing again about our big old favorite ghost ship! I can’t wait to hear more. I am thinking the cigarette smoke might have helped mask the smell of the chemicals and dead mice.
I think I know which photo you mean, George, and it isn’t a pretty sight. I am using an interior shot I got at http://www.hollyb.com/oldsouthbaypictures.html as my Internet Explorer Wallpaper. Every now and then I remember another movie I saw at the Fox and add it to my profile, for posterity. I think this site is great.
I either saw or dreamt I saw a movie at the Fox that ended in a lagoon, at the center of which stood a gigantic skull, out of which Jerry Lewis or Don Knotts or maybe Soupy Sales kept being blasted by huge sprays of water. If anyone can tell me the name of that movie I will send them a dollar.
I also remember one Saturday night when the manager (maybe O.C. Frandsen, except I remember his hair being black) shut off the projector and told the crowd the movie would not continue until they quieted down. It may have been that same night that my dad got hit in the head by a marble. Years later my cousin and I got drunk together and it turned out he had been there that same night. A real marble, not a spitball or some popcorn.
Here’s one of my best Fox memories: At the start of the 007 movies you’re watching James Bond through what I thought then was an eye (what is it? the barrel of a gun? a telescope?) and he turns around and shoots you. Every time he did that my dad and I clutched our chests and sank down in our seats. I guess it was four times: we saw two double-features. I wanted to be either a spy or a projectionist when I grew up.
Good to meet someone else who’s had some of the best times of his life in a movie theater. Going by yourself is always great once the lights go down. I miss the dollar movies at the Marinas where on weeknights you might have an auditorium nearly to yourself. And I like to think I bought the last ticket ever to a midnight showing of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. This was at the Surf/Bijou in Hermosa in the very late seventies, and I was the only one to buy a ticket, so they cancelled the film and did a second showing of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, which was already in progress next door. When I asked for my money back the girl at the ticket-booth told me I would have to come back in the daytime and speak with the manager. I got mad and she gave me my refund. Now I wish I’d kept the ticket.
O.C., I look forward to reading that book. My mom remembers seeing a lot of Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies at the Fox before I was born, and smoking with her girlfriends in the balcony. I remember about 20 shows, mostly double features, that I saw at the Fox between the ages of 6 and 11. I also saw movies at the Marinas & Surf, the Torrance Drive-In, and the South Bay Theater, but none of those places held a candle to the Fox. I remember JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN not because it was a good movie but because I got bored with it amid fantastic surroundings. Something else I remember is that audiences used to applaud when a movie started and finished. The Fox was one place where that probably made sense.
Thanks, Terrance, for helping me find the interior shots at http://www.hollyb.com/oldsouthbaypictures.html I’ve never forgotten those guys in the murals, but I had forgotten how beautiful the ceiling was. Also now that I know that the lady out front was a flamenco dancer (not a mermaid), it seems to me she wore a red gown and had castanets in her hands. Also someone above remembers a red carpeted stairway, but I remember the carpet being more yellow/brown/green and having a leafy pattern. I remember the stairs made a sort of horse-shoe up from the lobby, identical curving stairs on either side, but I can’t remember if from the top you could look down into the lobby, or if there was a lobby ceiling. Also the lobby snack bar—was it off to the left from the entrance, or straight out front? Anything anyone remembers about the FOX REDONDO is of interest to me; the FOX is my favorite place that ever was. Hopefully we’ll be seeing some pictures of the lobby sooner or later.
I remember a very small rip in the screen. Also that when they showed BEN there somebody brought in a lot of rats, though I never saw any myself. Also riding my bike there one afternoon and finding the doors open and no one around that I could see, and being seriously tempted to steal a poster for COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE that was standing in the lobby, but not having the nerve. Also having a fist-fight with my cousin on the stairs that led up to the balcony, during THE LAST GRENADE or KELLY’s HEROES, and being called into the manager’s office and him being nice to us. Also that you could stomp your feet on the floor toward the front and it would make a huge sound. Also that sometimes the floor got flooded, in the late 60’s. Also sneaking in with my dad when WOODSTOCK was playing to see if my sister was there when she wasn’t supposed to be, and looking down over the balcony railing at a lot of people not in their seats. Also the 007 double-features, and the first two PLANET OF THE APEs together. Also thinking WHERE ANGELS GO, TROUBLE FOLLOWS was a great film (it’s always on Stella Stevens' face that I remember the little rip). Also HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS, FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED, and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD on a triple bill—and when NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD started the whole place went quiet, which was rare on Saturday nights, and watching that movie you felt like you were on the Titanic and everybody going down. Also how great it felt to see a matinee there and come out in the late afternoon and be near the sea. Also hearing they were going to tear the place down but not being prepared to truly never see it again until I found this site. If I were a ghost there isn’t any place I’d rather haunt than the FOX REDONDO. Also that the projectionist’s quarters was a sort of booth at the back of the balcony—is that right? Also were the murals the same on either side of the balcony, and what were they of? Also on the outside front of the theater, above the marquee—was that a mermaid, and was she blue? Also they sold popcorn both downstairs and separately upstairs, and the poporn was always great, and so were the hot dogs, and so were the people. Also the rating M. Also the last few minutes of SPIRITS OF THE DEAD, which was rated R but played with THE OBLONG BOX, which was an M, and the little girl bouncing the silent ball. Also very early in life seeing THE SOUND OF MUSIC there with my mom; we rode there on bikes, and we saw it there more than once and always in the daytime. Also wearing my roller skates after WHERE ANGELS GO, TROUBLE FOLLOWS and thinking the sound of the wheels on our pebblestone walkway sounded a lot like the song from the movie. Now you can own all these movies on DVD but it isn’t the same. Bruce, I hope you write your book someday. And O.C., you may have been the guy who had my cousin and me in your office—you were memorably decent to us. Also could you exit from the balcony and walk down some stairs to the street? If so, I remember doing that.