1040 S. Hill Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90015

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Showing 51 - 75 of 119 comments

HowardBHaas on August 18, 2008 at 6:03 pm

1st comment of today named 2 of the films. Again, introduction’s 3rd paragraph elaborates on the Belasco.

DonSolosan on August 18, 2008 at 5:56 pm

You might not have been, Vokoban, but I was. From my limited research, I thought that the 1949 play was the first produced. I didn’t know about the 1926 play until now. Sorry for the confusion.

vokoban on August 18, 2008 at 5:32 pm

which theater was a shoe store? i’m curious now….

kencmcintyre on August 18, 2008 at 5:26 pm

I can’t imagine that this is not considered a movie theater wherein some converted shoestore that showed adult films is allowed in. I have nothing against adult theaters, but this seems inequitable.

vokoban on August 18, 2008 at 5:22 pm

I wasn’t questioning that they were referring to a stage show in the article about Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. There are plenty of articles discussing the opening of the Belasco and the production of its opening play. I was just saying that there is some evidence that the theater showed some kind of movie at some point. There was a movie named Girls For Sale! in 1930 (released 1934), although I doubt this was a revival showing of that obscure movie. Most likely these were low budget semi-porn movies, whatever that entailed in 1950.

kencmcintyre on August 18, 2008 at 4:24 pm

It showed movies for two years and it doesn’t qualify? Don’t we have theaters on here that opened in the beginning of the year and closed six or seven months later?

DonSolosan on August 18, 2008 at 4:13 pm

Okay, I read the 3rd paragraph and confirmed that a play was produced in 1926. It all fits. Nothing to see here, folks. Go about your business…

DonSolosan on August 18, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Interesting, Vokoban, but still confusing. I assumed that the photo of the Belasco with “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” on the marquee to be from the late 40s run of the play. However, it turns out the book was adapted to silent film (now lost) in 1928 — two years after the theater opened — and that’s what they seem to be advertising (and talking about in your article). Could it be that the Belasco opened in 1926 but didn’t show its first film until 1928?

HowardBHaas on August 18, 2008 at 3:59 pm

already dealt with in 3rd paragraph of our revised Introduction above. Note that the 1926 show was a stage show.

kencmcintyre on August 18, 2008 at 3:56 pm

There have been discussions about adding the Belasco, but the consensus has been live theater only. I think your item above puts a hole in that argument.

vokoban on August 18, 2008 at 2:16 pm

This is in response to the thoughts above about the church sign and the Belasco….it sounds as though they did show a few movies at one point:

(June 7, 1950)
The Belasco Theater, scene of many a dramatic triumph in the boom days just before talking pictures arrived, was sold yeysterday to be converted into a church. The Immanuel Gospel Temple bought it for $200,000. The church will dedicate it at 11 a.m. Sunday. Down will come the signs of the last motion-picture double bill: “French Nudists” and “Girls for Sale.” These marked the lurid end of a dramatic trail which began in the heyday of the legitimate stage in Los Angeles. The Belasco was built by the Doheny interests at 1050 S Hill St. and opened Nov. 1, 1926, with a glittering premiere of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” (excerpt)

HowardBHaas on August 5, 2008 at 4:58 pm

Photos of neighbor Belasco Theatre being converted now into a nightclub:
View link

shoeshoe14 on April 29, 2008 at 1:38 pm

The film Rock and Roll High School had its ticket booth and marquee and the upper portions of the building (panning down to street level) at this theatre. In the film it was called the “Rockatorium”. Production notes on the special features icon had the original production call sheet with this info. (Backstage was at the Whiskey and live performance at the Roxy).

kencmcintyre on April 25, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Here is a 1988 photo from the UCLA collection:

DonSolosan on March 6, 2008 at 4:47 pm

The images all say “circa 1925”; those crafty people at USC slipped you up!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 6, 2008 at 4:40 pm

That date should be ca.1927, of course.

I’ve also come across cards in the California Index which cite L.A. Times issues of August 16 and September 5, 1929. The first article announces that the Mayan will soon be presenting a talking movie, and the second is about the world premier of the new Marion Davies film “Marianne”, to take place at the Mayan that night.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 6, 2008 at 4:23 pm

The USC Digital Archive has changed the URLs for the photos of the Mayan to which ken mc linked in his post of October 4, 2006. Rather than recreate the individual links which might vanish again, here’s the Archive’s home page. Search on “Mayan Theater” (note the spelling- using “theatre” will fetch only three results) to access 21 historic photos and renderings of this splendid building, most of them ca.1925.

kencmcintyre on March 5, 2008 at 6:58 pm

Also remember the scene from “Save the Tiger”, a 1973 film, where Jack Lemmon and Jack Gilford go to a porn movie at the Mayan to meet with an arsonist.

stevebob on March 5, 2008 at 5:23 pm

The timeline with respect to triplexing and porn isn’t quite right, though.

Porno started at the Mayan well before 1977. Besides the examples already cited on this page, “Deep Throat” and “The Devil in Miss Jones” had a long run c. 1974 — in an undivided auditorium.

nickb on March 5, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Nice, though “It Could Have Happened…But It Did” (1963)

should actually read “It Couldn’t Have Happened… But it Did” (1936).

HowardBHaas on March 5, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Enjoy the new Intro.

kencmcintyre on February 22, 2008 at 7:32 am

Here is an October 1950 ad from the LA Times:

nickb on January 25, 2008 at 2:51 pm

The Mayan opened on August 16 1927 as a playhouse, not first as a movie theater (per the top of the page).

To quote the Los Angeles Times (July 31): ‘The property will be devoted solely to the presentation of musical comedies.’

and in an Aug 17 review of the opening night:

‘Messrs David, Butler and Belasco have done well in presenting such a sparkling general production, to open their new theater, which is to cultivate the lighter muse, as an adjunct to their already successful playhouse, the Belasco.’

Evidently they’d changed their plans within the first couple of years of operation (per Ken’s Nov 1 posting).

A rather glib description of the theater from the latter article:

‘The Mayan casts an agreeable warmth over the spectator. It is abundantly decorative, but the effects are well blended, and typical of an architectural scheme that has never previously been expressed in any playhouse in this locality. It is a building that in its richness and detail elicits a curious as well as a pleased interest, because it is in every sense a novelty.’

DonSolosan on November 24, 2007 at 9:17 am

Thanks for the responses, Chas, Joe. I have the Conservancy’s theater district walking tour book, and under “other theaters” it has a photo of the Belasco. The marquee reads “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” but according to Wikipedia the novel was turned into a stage musical in the late 40s. That probably explains that.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 24, 2007 at 12:21 am

Don S: The Hill Street Belasco isn’t listed at Cinema Treasures because nobody’s presented any evidence that it was ever used as a movie theatre. In short, it’s a theatrical treasure but not a cinema treasure. In fact I’m not sure it even has a projection room.

However, the Main Street Belasco is listed here under its final name, the Follies.