Uniondale Mini Cinema

886 Jerusalem Avenue,
Uniondale, NY 11553

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Showing 76 - 100 of 110 comments

Randyman on December 28, 2005 at 7:42 pm

I worked at the Mini in mid-70’s, rising through the ranks to asst. manager. An amazing parade of characters, on screen and in the audience. Spent one year as housemates with Billy Contin & Arlene Hewitt. We had so much fun, so much of the time. Of course, every 90 minutes we were interrupted by people entering or leaving theatre. I was the one who went on to open Cine Capri, and that is where the rolling papers (and Power Hitters) were sold at the snack stand. At the Mini Cinema, the repertory began with art films, such as Sorrow And The Pity and Felini films, but the counterculture films came to dominate and the art films stopped drawing. On behalf of everyone who worked at the Mini, we especially thank our blissed-out customers who were too stoned to realize the stash and other things that dropped out of their pockets during the shows. After closing time, we used to find the most amazing things on that auditorium floor, and they propelled many a late night staff party! The Mini Cinema was a really good time in life.

leof on September 1, 2005 at 6:23 am

Hi Kelli,
Sorry to hear about the latest update on your dad’s condition.
He is a great guy with a greatsense of humor and an infectious
laugh.I always enjoyed his company and loved working with him
on many Bookers club projects.I remember when we roasted him
and no one laughed louder than he when I was particularly
rough on him.He enjoyed it immensely.Please send my love to him and your mom.You are all in my thoughts and prayers on a regular
Leo F

kelistra on August 22, 2005 at 4:52 pm

Thanx Terry,
It does please him when we talk about the mini and people he used to know, the past is easier to remember, I will print this and read it to him, it will make his day…..Keli

TerryP on August 22, 2005 at 4:17 pm

Hey Keli,
Your dad is a great man!! He was and is all this and so much more. He was a leader, mentor and inspiration to so many. I worked for him as a manager of the Mini, and at Cinema 5 (Hewlett Twin). We worked together at many a Variety Telethon as we both served on the board and I am very honored to call him a friend. I was so sorry to hear about his ailment. So very sad. Please give my best to your dad and your mom for me. Thanks.

kelistra on August 18, 2005 at 4:32 pm

hello Everyone,
My name is Keli Messinetti, My Dad is Ralph E. Donnelly, he was the owner and originator of the Mini-Cinema.(anyone know why it was called Mini?) He thought, let me open a fun theatre , with a great sound system, hippie managers , near a college, and give the kids a safe house to spend their time, and wha-la the Mini. To think he used to drop me and a load of friends off and say have fun, and pick us up with our eyes all glassy-still blows me away , considering he was one of the straightest people I have ever met, an Irishman that never drank….anyway after a successful run at the mini-he went on to run RKO theatres in Ny, and then became president of City-Cinemas, the largest chain of theatres in Manhattan. He is a member of the Academy, he also belongs to the film society of Lincoln Center, and was pres. of a childrens charity called Variety Club. He has also been invited and went many times to Cannes,Vancouver, Sundance, Telluride just to name a few festivals. He has also cruised the world as a guest speaker with Movie Stars . Today he is in Tampa, Florida
, up till recently lived with his wife of 54 years Gloria, he now resides in a senior community and suffers from Alzheimers. Most important , last year at Showeast in Orlando he received a life time acheivment award his comment which so affected so many was “ It is great to know that I am remebered it is important.” Thanx for remebering, Keli

RobertR on July 7, 2005 at 7:11 am

Hey I knew Jan Jordon quite well from when she was running the UA Video stores. Remember them at the Astoria, Quartet, Bellvue, Midway and I forget where else. Did you guys know Richie Cortez? He worked for UA then left to open the Hollywood Twin and then returned to do something for Salah with UFD and wound up working with Jan for UA Video. A friend in California heard Jan passed but I don’t know if it’s true.

TerryP on July 7, 2005 at 6:59 am

Hey Bob, I do remember you. Pat is the one who told me of this site, actually. The UFDC days were interesting, to say the least. Still in touch with some of the old crew. I still speak with Leo Fisch. Saw him, Salah Hassanein, Bill Lewis, Joe Reid and John Kelly two weeks ago when I was in NY for a Motion Picture Bookers Club function. The 150 was an awesome theatre, for sure. Wonder what happened to Jan? What are you up to now?

BobT on July 6, 2005 at 7:22 pm

Hey Terry, this is BobT. Don’t know if you’d remember me but I was the manager of the UA Cinema 150 in Syosset and I worked with Jan Jordan for a while down on the first floor at UFD. Everybody saw Rocky Horror at the Mini. I think you guys were the only ones ever to show it at Sunday matinees too. I remember your Midnight Show Program at UA, with Pat Starace’s T-shirts. I’m sure you’ve seen Kentucky Fried Movie more times than anyone needed to. While we were producing “Day Of The Dead”, didn’t you get to go to Pittsburg? Maybe you’ll remember you lent me your copy of the Bugs Bunny short “Slick Hare” that I played at the 150 with the restored “Metropolis”? That made a great booking even greater, thanks to you. I saw you over at The Meadowbrook page. It’s amazing that after twenty years there are still people talking fondly of our places, yet between the Mini-Cinema, The Meadowbrook, and The UA Cinema 150, all are gone, but thanks to this site, not forgotten.

TerryP on July 6, 2005 at 7:48 am

Wow, what memories. I worked at the Mini, and managed it for a while until it closed in September 1981. Even still have the picture of the last Marquee I put up ‘That’s All Folks’. Sad end to an amazing era. Nothing ever like it.

Props to Billy Contin. Josh lives in CT now, and think his beloved dog Bandit has passed on. Melvin is the same. Jeff Batista was the best Dr. Frankenfurter ever, right?

It was a unique place that provided community and entertainment for a tremendously varied audience who could come together, even for one night. It reflected a time and culture, that just doesn’t exist today. Sadly. But, we must grow up at some point, right?

MicheleCatalano on June 23, 2005 at 1:01 pm

Oh, wow. The memories. I practically lived at the Mini for many years. Rocky Horror, The Kids are Alright, The Grateful Dead movie, concerts, parties – the place was legend.

I drive past there every day on my way to work in Hempstead and not a day goes by that I don’t think about all the good times I had there. I remember Jeff Batista (I believe he lived in East Meadow) and I briefly dated one of the assistant managers – I wish I could remember his name. He went on to manage the Jerry Lewis theater in East Meadow.

JakeSlatnesky on June 4, 2005 at 9:49 pm

Josh still lives and works on Long Island. Don’t know what happened to Jeff. Kathy, the snack-stand girl moved to Costa Rica. Billy’s main girlfriend, Arlene, became born-again and lives in Eastern Long Island. Mel, works in Manhattan, hasn’t changed at all.

chefjoseph on June 2, 2005 at 8:58 pm

I remember names like “Josh” and Jeff Batista whom worked at the theatre… does anyone know what became of them ?

Joseph Cacace

JakeSlatnesky on May 23, 2005 at 10:03 pm

I was one of the Assistant Managers for the Mini Cinema. I worked there for many years. If those walls could talk, if you knew what it was like behind the scenes, you brain would explode into a rainbow of stars woven by drumbeats. One glaring clarification: the original owners never opened a place called the Cine Capri on Long Island. I know because I managed that theatre. It was opened by a businessman who simply saw it as an oppportunity to compete with the Mini Cinema. The Mini Cinema owners did open a second art theatre on Hempstead Turnpike called “The Flick”. Credit for much of the Mini Cinema’s success goes to a young man named Billy Contin who ran the place. He looked like a Hell’s Angel and was sharp as a razor. Alas, Billy’s for the most part, dead now. But he was the one. Props to Bill.

Mull on April 12, 2005 at 2:11 pm

My younger sister frequented the Mini Cinema before I was lured into it’s wild world. I saw many low-budget exploitation/horror & Cult (before they were cult) films there. As well they often screened trailers to oddball obscurities like “The Incredible Torture Show” & “Shriek Of The Mutilated.” The latter played a double bill with “The Hills Have Eyes.” You won’t see this today.

I tried to have my super-8 features played there (Long Island Cannibal Massacre, Weasels Rip My Flesh), but they had dropped the super 8 midnight series. It was a great, bygone era for all of us.

extraluvable on February 24, 2005 at 12:01 am

The function of the site is not RETAIL but the home of Grace Apostolic Church of Uniondale. It still have the original seats and the sloping floors.

Z on February 5, 2005 at 8:04 am

Those aren’t questions for a little kid playing around a construction site. Kelly’s Heroes was a current release film at the time with the “star studded cast”. I remember posters for Boatniks then.
This may have been in 1970, but you will need to ask a grown-up.

micohen on February 4, 2005 at 11:22 am

Z: Since you were there from the very beginning (before the beginning, in fact) hopefully you can answer these burning questions:

1) What year did the Mini Cinema open?

2) Did it open as a revival house? That’s incredible if it did (i.e. that it didn’t open as a first run theater and eventually become a revivial house) but who knows? Was it the same management all along, or was there a major change at some point?

Z on February 4, 2005 at 10:05 am

When the Mini Cinema was being constructed, us kids used to play
on the on the beams. I didn’t know that this was to be my
introduction to the form of the theatersphere.

I could be wrong, but when it was completed, it may have opened to
the public for viewing prior to the grand opening run.
We did not see the opening show, but shortly afterwards
we did see “Kelly’s Heroes”. Everybody loved “Oddball”!
I guess the same way Ronald McDonald recruits children to
be his future employees, Oddball recruited me.

Poster snapolit points out the unmistakeable sound of the beer
bottle, which bounces and then rolls down the auditorium.

I don’t see any irony with the theater being a church.
A movie theater can be considered as being a kind of church.

chefjoseph on February 4, 2005 at 1:48 am

We used to show films tailor made for the Mini audience as “The Marzano Mini Players” the even had a special projector converted so that we could show our 8mm shorts. Marzano, Mike Russo and myself being the main filmmakers.
This was the theater where I first saw Eraserhead, Taxi Driver, A Clockwork Orange… so many more.

Those were the days…so many memories.

chconnol on February 2, 2005 at 2:01 pm

This theater and it’s strip mall are way off the beaten track in a neighborhood that has seen better days.

micohen on January 11, 2005 at 12:03 am

Stopped by last Sunday to take a photograph for this webpage. Although the theater has been gone well over 20 years now, the building is still surprisingly recognizable as the Mini-cinema – on the outside, at least. The marquee, ticket booth, and poster window are all still there. Maybe not for long, though, as the church that now inhabits the building seems to have expansion plans under way. Interestingly enough, the adjoining strip mall seems long gone also, having been converted to some kind of “Nassau Library Administrative Building.” Weird.

micohen on January 11, 2005 at 12:00 am

Stopped by last Sunday to take a photograph for this webpage. Although the theater has been gone well over 20 years now, the building is still surprisingly recognizable as the Mini-cinema – on the outside, at least. The marquee, ticket booth, and poster window are all still there. Maybe not for long, though, as the church that now inhabits the building seems to have expansion plans under way. Interestingly enough, the adjoining strip mall seems long gone also, having been converted to some kind of “Nassau Library Administrative Building.” Weird.

chconnol on December 14, 2004 at 2:42 pm

This theater was on Jerusalam Ave waaaaaaaaaaaaay in the back. It came right before you went over the bridge into Merrick. Red brick shopping center, right? Yep, this place closed long before I was old enough to be able to go there but I knew people who had been there. Said it was legendary.

Uniondale has changed a lot since the 70’s. So many things changed on LI from the early 70’s through the 80’s that a counter culture place like this was doomed.

micohen on November 8, 2004 at 2:36 pm

Alas, the UMC had closed (I believe) by the time I got my drivers license in 1983, so I never got the chance to really appreciate it, but I do have fond memories of seeing “Rocky Horror” and “A Clockwork Orange” there in 1980. “Orange,” in fact, was preceeded by “Thank You, Mask Man,” an underground cartoon based on a Lenny Bruce routine! In retrospect, it’s hard to believe a place as cool as the UMC actually existed in Nassau County – I guesss the 70s were a different time. I agree that today’s arthouses, even the ones on the Village, just don’t compare.