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Yeah, just saw this theater in the 1979 film “Boulevard Nights.” The ese vato younger brother “Chuco” walks right in front of it as he wanders the nightlife of East L.A watching to make sure that “11th Street” don’t put a filero in his back.
Used to pick up my girl on Monday nights afer she got done with classes at UCLA and stop off for a meal and a bottle of Lancers before we hit the Centinela Drive In. Nothing says “Love” like a bottle of Lancers! This was in 1984 when there were still such things as Drive Ins. We used to alternate between the Studio and the Centinela Drive In, depending on the movie. Sometimes we even watched the movie if you know what I mean. Fun times. Today I think I’d just savor the expierence and actually watch the movies and not partake of those “other” youthful activities. Oh the sweetness of young amour …
This drive in was located along the east bound lanes on the San Bernardino freeway (10) and from your car speeding along you could always tell from the marquee what was playing. I remember they charged $5 for admission by the carload. We used to go to the In and Out Burgers stand not far away and take burgers in with us.
Yes, I can vouch for these photos as they are, in fact, the Monterey Theater shortly before it was demolished and after it was turned over to exclusive Chinese programing. The theater lasted about 3 years as a Chinese run theater. Today the site is a parking lot for the Garfield Medical Center.
From all indications, the owner still refuses to sell or play ball with the city of South Pasadena about the redevelopment and putting this theater right and restoring it back to a state that befits it’s place and history. Everyday this theater decays a little more. It breaks my heart to see this theater crumble away bit by bit and the owners really don’t seem to care. The paint is chipping and badly faded and the original marquee blade looks like it’s only held together by rust. Glass has been broken and not replaced and the ajoining space which used to house a resturant and card shop is also looking very decrepit. With some interest and TLC this theater could be restored into a multi-use theater similar to what was done with the Alex Theater in Glendale, the Orpheum on Broadway in Los Angeles, and the Warner Grand in San Pedro. The owners and the city of South Pasadena should be ashamed and a pox on both their heads!
Thanks Joe. Brings back a lot of memories. I recall there was a bar next to the Garfield at the corner called “Tabu Isle.” I know that because when I worked there in the mid 70’s I had to go there and collect the manager who would have a few drinks until the second feature was over. I remember when the remake of King Kong played there in 1976 it did sell out business. Belongs to a totally diffrent era and I have to remind myself that these theaters once existed.
It is indeed. Thanks for posting. A branch of the Pacific Electric Railway (Red Cars) once ran up Fair Oaks and in front of the Rialto. The tracks can be seen in this photo
The old Pasadena is gone. All the original movie theaters that once lined Colorado Blvd are now long gone! That includes The UA, the Esquire, the Colorado and the State. Even the UA Marketplace in Old Town Pasadena is gone. The only theaters that are left on Colorado are the Laemelle Playhouse 7 and the ghost of the once lovely Academy Theater – now living out the last years of her life as a 6 theater multi-plex. A real shame. The Pacific Hastings theater at Foothill and Rosemead is now closed. I used to go to the State when it was a revival house and pass the time before the showtimes at the old Bungalow News which stocked every newspaper and magazine you can imagine and did not care if you stayed there and read for a few minutes or a few hours. Used to love the smell of that place; the smell of newsprint like a bookstore is supposed to smell. Now closed – a victim of the soaring rents in Pasadena and the so-called “Playhouse District.” If all this is not bad enough, the City of Pasasdena has begun a policy of cutting down all the beautiful ficus trees that line the boulevard including the ones in front of Vroman’s Bookstore and Cliff’s Books. Rumor has it that the owner of Vroman’s is behind it and if that is the case I will not be giving them another penny of my money and am encouraging people to boycott the store. I used to support Vroman’s but cannot anymore. Colorado Blvd. is now nothing but an ugly and over priced retail district with ugly and over-priced condos. The trees gave shade and beauty and used to make it nice. No more.
I am from LA and spent a week in NYC on holiday. Went to the IFC 2 nights running and saw “CHE” Parts 1 & 2 at the IFC. Wish I could have seen the it as The Waverly in all it’s glory back in the day before the twinning and it’s rebirth as the IFC. Saw Part One in the downstairs main theater. Not bad – lots of leg room and the seats are comfy, though you have to look up at the screen. Good projection and sound and all state of the art. The theater has been stripped to it’s brick walls, so not a whole lot of decor and nothing I think remains of the old theater. The whole feel of the place is sort of industrial but it works. Saw Part 2 upstairs in one of the “smaller” theaters and wish I’d seen it in the downstairs theater. Very, very small with a less then large screen. Good thing the place was not crowded as it would have sold out really fast. Maybe 10 people in the adudience for a 10 pm showing on a weekday. Very cosy but it was HOT! Might have been 35 degrees outside, but inside it must have been 90! Had to peel off all my layers and even my shoes and the heat put me right to sleep. All in all not a bad theater, but still wish I could have known it when it was still the Waverly. Oh, and it’s $12 admission for an adult. Don’t know if they do a bargain price. Good popcorn too! They sell DVD of the films they present at the snack bar. What would Bob Dylan have thought?
Yes, what people fail to realize is that Landmark chain does not actually own these theaters nor the buildings they are in, but merely “lease” them and operate the theaters. So, if revenue falls enough and it becomes prohibitive to operaee them at a loss, they will just leave and cease operations. Same thing happened to another Landmark opeated theater in my hometown of South Pasadena – The Rialto in September of 2007. Landmark had leased and operated the Rialto Theater from the long time family owners from about 1976-77 and opeated it as a revival house well into the late 80’s until the adevent of home video killed revival theaters and then switched to a more arthouse and first run fare. It is a sign of the times that single screen theaters cannot generate enough of a profit to justify their continued operation by Landmark and I guess as the wise man once said. “it’s just business.” I don’t know what the specifics are regarding the closing of the Nu-Wilshire as it was running with 2 screens and I recall how sad I was when they plexed it by spliting the theater into 2 seperate theaters, but the place was still doing good buisness up until the day it closed wasn’t it? Did the owners of the building just not renew Landmark’s lease or did Landmark leave it as the new Landmark glass tower multi-plex at Pico and Westwood Blvd had just opened? I don’t know – you tell me. I do know that all we live in an era where it is very conceivable in the not to distant future where with the exception of privately owned thaters that do multi-use like the Broadway theaters in Los Angeles, the era of the single screen movie house is coming to a rapid end but thank god for the good people such as the folks that contribute to this site that still love these theaters and hold them in high esteem and will will work to preseve them.
Does anybody remember when “Handlebars Saloon” was a drinking establishment (bar) that was located in the same building as the Academy and was entered from the back of the building along an alley near Catalina Street? It was later converetd into “Toe’s Tavern.” “Handlebars Saloon” was this faux 1890’s style saloon that had an interesting admittance policy. Men had to be 21 years old and wear a shirt with a collar to enter, but women only had to be 18 years old to get in! Oh the 1970’s were a great time!
Yes, it defintely had 4, albeit small screens. I recall seeing Tom Cuise and Nicole Kidman at a matinee screeing of “The Age of Innocence” there in 1993. They were at the snack bar buying stuff for a show. Yet another of the Westwood theaters to close or be converted to a new space.
Fond memories of this place. I saw “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” there in the summer of 1970. While traveling to visit relatives in Laguna Beach in the early 70’s I’d take the Santa Ana freeway and the Cinedome was one of the landmarks I’d pass that told me I was getting closer to the Laguna freeway/Laguna Canyon Road turn off.
Here’s my yearly update on this theater as my last visit was a year ago. The place is still open and went to see the new Bond movie. Sunday evening showing and the place had about 20 people in it – not bad! Place still needs alot of work, though the staff are very friendly. Bathrooms are worn out but clean. Tile needs to be completely replaced. The projection is still bright, but there was a hum through the film that would come and go. Absolutely no asthetics in this theater. Still a great place to see a first run film without the crowds. I did see a “Available for Lease” sign out front but did not get a chance to ask any of the staff if this applied to the theater space. Still wondering if this place will remain open when the LA Live theaters open early next year. I hope so. In a way this little place has soul and is a little secret in downtown Los Angeles. Lammelle did pull out of their lease at the “Colorado One” theater in Old Town Pasadena. Now they only have the “Playhouse 7” complex open which does great business. So, I am rooting for this place to stay open as long as it can
So, Prop SP did pass in South Pasadena which greenlights the planned redevelopment of downtown South Pasadena. What, then, are the plans for the restoration and preservation of the Rialto Theater being as their claim that a yes on Prop SP would save the Rialto?
Vote no on Prop “SP” on November 4th. Don’t be duped by the propaganda – voting yes will not save the Rialto.
Excert from the “South Pasadena Neighbors” newsletter about the Rilato’s role in the planned redevelopent and facelift of downtown South Pasadena:
The Rialto Building
“Revitalization of commercial districts must capitalize on the assets that make them unique, such as distinctive buildings and human scale that give people a sense of belonging. These local assets must serve as the foundation for all aspects of the revitalization program. In South Pasadena, our most recogizable asset is the Rialto Theater.
At the onset of the CRC’s work, we included the Rilato in the area of the project, in the hope that the theater could be redeveloped along with all the other properties in the southern two blocks of the project area. However, owners of the Rialto, along with a few other property owners, have declined to sell their property to the CRA, or to otherwise partiscipate in the project. Both the city and the developer have negotiated with the owner and the operator of the Rialto, but none of the offers have yet to be accepted. Without resorting to eminent domain, there is no means available to obtain control of the theater. As a result, the Rialto is not included in this project at present. That does not preclude the Rialto from becoming the next project of the CRA, using tax increment funds from this project as the funding base."
So, there you have it – the owners of the Rialto won’t sell to the city. Of course the city, should they suceed in buying the building, may plex the Rialto to make it more profitable as part of their grandiose downtown redevelopment plan. I had heard that the family which owns the Rialto building would never sell it under any circumstances regardless. I find the hint of eminent domain in the article ominous. Quite a few long time businesses in South Pasadena are holding out in opposition to the proposed redevelopemnt
Walked by the theater yesterday and it looks terrible. Hope they put some money into refurbishing the exterior. I recall in 1980 when Grateful Dead played a memorable string of shows here. Good times.
With all of this talk in South Pasadena of a major redevelopment plan and, with a grass roots drive by long time city residents to keep that developement in South Pasadena small and in porportion to the character of the city, what then are the plans for the Rialto? Next month will mark the 1 year anniversary since Landmark gave up and stopped full time screenings in the theater. Since then, with the rare exception of independent and private screenings, the theater has been used, for the most part, for filming, private birthday and anniversary parties and renting out the use of their marquee to wish “Becky a Happy Sixteenth Birthday!” The theater is literally crumbling before our eyes and is looking sadder and sadder by the week. If the signs on the south and east sides of the building that house the theater are to be belived, the theater has been up for sale for some time now. Anybody know anything about the fate of this theater one year after the fact?
The New Beverly is celebrating their 30 year anniversary this month. Godspeed and here’s to another 30 years! In celebration, they are reproducing the May 1978 schedule film for film. It is truly a wonder that this theater is still with us and all credit goes to the late Sherman Torgan and his son Michael for continuing the tradition his father began way back in 1978. For me, it’s hard to believe that I have been going to the New Beverly since 1980 and it has been a constant in my life for the last 28 years. It is now the last of it’s kind, so come out and support the last great revival theater in Los Angeles! The New Beverly is indeed a treasure! Thank you Sherman (RIP) and thank you Michael for keeping the New Beverly going and for all the new and comfortable improvements you have made to the theater recently.
Thnaks again Landmark – for nothing!
Actually it is the South Pasadena Middle School – they must be using the theater for their production. The school is about 3 blocks south of the Rialto.
I agree with the last post. I remember when “Raging Bull” opened at the Regent in November 1980. Shows were sold out well in advance. Of course back then Westwood theaters had a late night 11:45 p.m. showing too, with the films letting out close to 2 a.m. Seems incredible now, but often times you had to wait around until that 11:45 p.m. showing to see a film. But then again in 1980 there was plenty to do in Westwood to past the time. Lots of entertainment on the streets too with people busking and, I seem to recall, lots of break dancers on the streets. What in the hell happened?
Landmark dumped The Rialto in South Pasadena back in August and nobody picked up their lease. I firmly believe that Landmark, with the exception of the NUART, will end up dumping all their single screen houses in the near future in favor of that white elephant they opened on Pico and Westwood Blvd. last year.
Great idea, but I’d have to go to bat for the Rialto in South Pasadena first to be given the American Cinemateque treatment as it’s near Pasadena and thus might stand a chance of surviving as opposed to the Westwood theatares which are too close to the Aero and that lot in the westside/Santa Monica area. But unfortunately, American Cinemateque cannot save all the great single screen theaters as they can only program so many theaters and they survive on membership and donations, so there is only so much that can be done …