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Oh man. Show me photos and break my heart some more …
I’ve worked in downtown Los Angeles for the last 30 years and yes, Broadway has improved significantly in the last 5 years. Of course all the extant theaters ceased daily operations years ago, but The Orpheum and The Los Angeles Theaters are booked with events a few nights a week. Plus, with all the loft space being sold downtown and influx of new residents moving downtown – along with the opening of the first uper market in downtown LA in 40 years, people are coming to downtown and sticking around at night as opppsoed to just heading home after work. I have noticed that quite a few of the old theater marquees are being relit also. I noticed that the one for The Tower Theater is lit at night, so Broadway is looking nice at night. However, I am dubious about the plans to put in a street car line and close off the street to cars which is well night ridiculous in Los Angeles. But I guess they can dream, can’t they? Plus, the plans to renovate all the shut theaters such as The Roxie, The Cameo and The Rialto are a wee bit grandiose, but I guess anything is possible if they find another developer like Steve Needleman who has the capital and the desire to make it happen. The Million Dollar Theater is scheduled to re-open soon, but the theaters I named are in some sad shape and would require a large outlay of cash to see them brought back to anywhere like their original condition. Perhaps The Los Angeles Conservancy can help in finding investors and they have been instrumental in saving many if not most of the significant theaters on Broadway. So, as the wiseman said, “I’ve heard this all before” and I remain cautiously optimistic…
Well, in that case I stand corrected. I may have been rather hasty in slagging off and blaming Mann for the National closing. It is just a sign of the times. You are correct; it is symtomatic of a much larger problem. People (like us) just don’t care about theaters like The National and they lose money, thus making them a liability and unprofitable. I know that. When folks would rather go to the local supermarket of mega-plexs and see a film in a box or, worse, on their Ipods, how is a single movie theater to survive? I’m still bummed though …
Those pictures of the National gutted just destoys me. Well the fat lady had most defintely sung, yeah? I recall all the films I saw there over the last 30 years with the last one being “North Country” in 2006. Wow, just so very, very sad. It’s a sad day when they close you favourite movie theater. Very much a “Last Picture Show” kind of moment. Hope springs eternal and I had hoped it would be saved from the wrecking ball at the 11th hour. A grand dame of a movie theater if there ever was one. I will miss the lobby and the stairs to the auditorium too as well as the snack bar – not to mention that big screen and when the guy in the booth would crank the sound during the THX plug before the feature. So, good bye old friend I will miss you. RIP Westwood National Theater. And FU Mann Theaters…
It’s from the ultra cool film “Bad Santa.” A line as a bonnie lass has it off in a car with Billy Bob Thorton who plays a down in the dumps department store Santa Claus. Brillant stuff that.
Was just at the Orpheum last Friday night for the screening of Buster Keaton’s “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” Incredible to be able to see the film – with a fantastic print – at this majestic theater. It was just what I needed after dealing with too many bland multi-plexs lately. The live accompaniment on the Wurlizer organ was just incredible. Though I have been to the Orpheum many times since it was taken over and totally removated, I am always blown away when I go back at the complete love and attention to detail the theater has been restored to. I told my friend if she remembered what the theater was like BEFORE the purchase and renovation by Steve Needleman and, strangely, she could not. But I do! Especially the smell that would greet you during on summer shows with no air conditioning. Anybody have any memories of what the place used to be like?? And while I am at it, I want to give a big shout out and thank you to Mr. Needleman and his group for the fantastic job they have done to the lovely and historic theater – so THANK YOU!!!
Westwood is dead. Period. It officially died after the huge riot following UCLA winning the NCAA basketball championship in about 1993-84. Before that it was the bad vibe that followed Mardi Gras at UCLA – remember that? It was like a big carnival every year on the UCLA campus but “a bad element” (i.e gangbangers) started to attend and pretty soon it was gone. This was about 1992 I think. Not to mention City Walk and the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica took a huge chunk of the biz away from Westwood. The worst was when they closed the Hamburger Hamlet and took away a pretty nice and affordable resturant. You used to see a lot of celebs eating and smoozing there on any given night. As mentioned, no more record stores; they closed the Westwood Tower records even before they liquidated their assets when they filed Bankruptcy. No bookstores and I believe Westwood had about 3 of them at one time. All gone. Mario’s Italian Resturant is gone – replaced by a CPK – and Mario’s had been there forever. Somehow the Haagen Dazs is still hanging on along with Stan’s Donuts across from The Village. Westwood had 2 pretty cool resturants at one time: “Yesterday’s and "The Old World.” They also had a “Good Earth” resturant. All long gone. The Gap is gone and so is Copelands Sporting Goods. I think all the bars are gone too. Used to have a pint at Statton’s. Gone. And let’s not forget that once upon a time Westwood had a “Ships” Coffee Shop accross from The Avco. Yeah, I’d say Westwood is pretty much dead. And they want to convert the lot where the National was into a retail outlet?? Good luck.
We ALL want to see the Rilato re-opened and, of course, restored. I am hoping it can be converted into multi-use and not just for rentals for so and so’s “Sweet Sixteen Party.” So, cheers “Rialto Saver” – good luck and I hope you can make a go of it. At least you’re trying which is more then can be said for the City of South Pasadena. You may wish to contact the city or maybe whoever is in charge of designating the Rialto a historic building, or perhaps Landmark Corporation in the hopes that they may have the info you need and again good luck – and thank you.
Gus’s BBQ has been sold and is now being completely gutted inside and will be remodeled, said to open in February 2008. I wonder what it will look like.
I can’t speak for this Saturday, but if you are in the wonderfully over-priced and over-rated city of South Pasadena, stop by the Rialto for “Eddie G’s Birthday Bash” on December 28th. It’s on the marquee.
P.S. The building is definitely on the market.
Anybody have photos of the Monterey Theater from after the remodel that included the larger neon marquee? I’d love to see it and recall my youth at this theater.
And thank you Joe Vogel for your comments and complete and thorough knowledge of the local and surrounding theaters. I am always amazed at how much you know and recall from your time growing up in the area.
And as for The Monterey Mall Cinemas on Atlantic Ave? I drove down Atlantic yesterday in front of the old site and the whole shoppping mall and buildings – including the old Monterey Mall theaters – have been razed and reduced to a smoking crater. So, what again will rise from the site of the theater I wonder?
R.I.P Monterey Mall Cinemas – 1979 to 2007
Stopped by the local Von’s which is located accross the street from the Rialto for a quart of milk (literally) last night and noticed that there is a sign on the southeast side of the building listing the building that houses the theater for sale. Anybody know if the owner is selling the building? As mentioned nothing is going on with the Rialto and though you can lease the theater through Landmark for special occasions or filming, the theater remains dark for the most part. Sometimes I see the young guy who managed the theater under Landmark when it was open through the front doors about the theater and lobby. He’s taken to listing fake movies on the marquee and turning on the Rialto’s neon marquee at night which is nice because it just looks so sad dark. This week he’s showing “What’s My Appeal” starring Hugh Grant and last week it was “Flesh Eaters.” I guess fake films are better than no films at the Rialto. Anyone with any info about The Rialto being up for sale would be appriciated and who, in fact, owns the building.
I made the mistake of going to the Chinese 6 on opening night to see “The Mist.” Though I had no expectation of anything other then what you would expect by going to the annex theaters to the Grauman’s, I was about to go mental after sitting through almost 30 minutes of commercials, advertisements and banal musical selections in what they call “Screenvision.” They should call it “Screamvision” because that’s what I wanted to do – scream for them to turn it off! It was truly unbearable. The Mann chain really socks it to you and hits you over the head with their policy of these pre-show advertisments. And now they have joined the ranks of the cel phone addicts where you can “text in” requests or answers to a central phone number. I swore I’d never set foot in that theater again or at least wait outside until all the consumerism ended. Have today’s audiences become so jaded and brainwashed that they can actually accept this and sit though this blatant advertisemnets? Remeber when we used to boo and hiss when the old Los Angeles Times commercials came on? What happened to those days? Here’s a tip: for an excellant presenation of a film and a wonderful expierence head to The “Vista” and see a film the way it is supposed to be presented. No pre-show canned commercials, but they play music and have great leg room in the seats and fantastic projection and sound all in a wonderful historic theater where you can look up from the screen and marvel and give thanks to the wonderful people who did so mush to restore the theater. And best of all? They have a curtain they raise and lower before and after the feature. I saw “American Gangster” last week and the matinee was only about $8.50. Thank God they is still have theaters in Los Angeles where some things are still scared. Shame on you Mann Theaters.
Frankly, I don’t know how this theater stayed open even this long. I believe it opened in about 1984 as I saw “Racing with the Moon” staring Nicholas Cage and Sean Penn in their early salad days. The 4 theaters are basically box like with no slant or rake and I’ve never seen more than a hand full of people there at any given time. We used to see big Friday opening night films there for the simple reason that we knew that the place would be empty and there would be plenty of seats. Having worked in downtown LA for 30 years the city rolls up it’s sidewalks and the place is a ghostown after the commuters have all gone home to suburbia. With all the lofts being build in downtown and a Ralph’s supermarket opening on 9th street, maybe this place can survive.
Yes, The Continental was defintely on Melrose on the south side and across from Paramont. I also saw “Vertigo” there when they finally got around to releasing those five Hitchcock films in 1982-83. A small theater, but memorable if for anything then seeing Vertigo there, a film which haunts me to this day.
Along with the old Starlight Drive-In in El Monte, the San Gabriel was truly our local neighbourhood Drive In. I recall the first film I saw there was “Goldfinger” in 1964 at the age of 5. Taken with my older brother Michael and his mates, I felt like one of the guys. My bro and his mates proceeded to get totally pissed on beer and what not and I have a vivid memory of him having to pull his big Ford over to the side of the road after the films let out so his mate could puke. Good times! Of course I did the same thing 10 years later with my friends too. Saw lots of good stuff there including “The Omen” and a bunch of other stuff I can’t rememeber. But they had a pretty good snack bar and I recall the pizza was not half bad! Hard to belive now that there were ever things like drive-Ins.
Alhambra as we fondly remember it, like Monterey Park is all gone and only a fond memory. Along with all the old single screen theaters that used to line Main Street and Las Tunas (The Alhambra, El Rey, Capri, Century and Temple), all the old business are also gone. JC Penney’s, Lieberg’s Department Store, Downer’s, the block of shops on the south side of Main steet where the Mervyn’s is now, all gone. Pedrini’s and Max West Sporting Goods are all gone as well as the bowling alley, but Yama’s Japanese resturant is still hanging on for dear life. The Alhambra Bookstore was something in it’s time but like most of the old business in Alhambra it was relocated to a nothing space next to a Starbucks on second Street and later closed. I guess nobody reads in Alhambra anymore.
Well something has to be done with the Rilato – and fast. It’s been shut now for over 2 months and, with the exception of a Zion Baptist Church holding services there, nothing is going on. I think Landmark still has many years left on the lease and are looking to make any money on renting it out for filming or commercials or sweet sixteen parties – basically rent to anyone that can pony up the fee they are asking. I know it’s not all Landmark’s fault, that the lack of interest in single screen theaters and the push in home theaters and high definition DVD has changed everything (for the worst), but Landmark could have done something. So, I have boycotted any Landmark theater and if their new theater “The LANDMARK” is any indication of where they are going, so much the better. That place has about as much warmth as a mortuary. The NuWilshire will close in the next week and I never liked what they did to the NUART when they renovated and got rid of the old box office. The owners of the building the Rilato also bear some responsibility and seem to go along with this so long as they get their rent. For a historic building that is so very closely identified with South Pasadena – hell IT IS South Pasadena – I am disgusted by the city’s lack of involvement so far. Maybe a bunch of us should show up at the next City Council meeting and raise the question, huh? South Pasadena prides itself on it’s abundance of well preserved craftman homes, why can’t they step up and restore the Rialto? Too busy fighting the 710 extension? I’ll get off my soapbox now.
This is something that has been bothering me for years. Years and years ago when Edwards ran their cinema empire in the San Gabriel Valley and Orange County I used to go to the Big Newport Cinema at the Newport Fashion Island – you know the place; Edwards Flagship theater – to see all the great new films that played there. In their lobby I remember there was an old advertisement from the 1930’s that heralded the opening of a new Edwards theater and I think it was called the “Apex” or something similar in Monterey Park. I seem to recall that it gave the same address as the old Monterey theater in Monterey Park. I always wonedered if the Monterey went under this name or where this theater was located (the Apex). I have not been back to the Big Newport for 25 years, so I do not know if this artifact is still on display in their lobby – especially since the Edwards theater chain is now defunct. The Monterey was very much my neighbourhood theater. Being a latch key kid I used to ride my Schwinn Stingray to the theatre for their Saturday matinees starting in 1967 at the tender age of 7. The Monterey’s employees kinda adopted me and watched my bike and used to let me in for some rather dicey films – including “The Fox” and “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” I had no idea what the hell I was watching and this was before the whole Motion Pictures rating thing in 1968 – remember those? “G' for General, "M” for Mature, “R” for Restricted and “X' for Adults only. This was when society had not become so prudish and "X” did not mean porn or “adult” films – but films like Midnight Cowboy and A Clockwork Orange. Hard to believe. Joe Vogel’s comments are spot on about The Monterey, though I was there in the last years before it became a product of Chinese programming in the early 80’s. But I have tremendous affection for the place. There used to be an A&P market next door before they creamed it and built a Shell station. I wish I could find a photo of it around 1969 when it still had the refurbished old marquee with the neon. The theater remains fondly in my heart these 40 years later and it was the first place that I learned the magic of film.
Anybody got photos of this drive in? I’ve lived in the area all my life and never saw it or can recall it.
What a shame about the Hastings. Just read the post and saw that it has been closed – again for lack of attention. It was, without a doubt, the best room to see a big screen presenation of a film in the Pasadena/San Gabriel Valley.. The first film I reacll seeing there was “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” in 1977 – pretty heady stuff for a naive 17 year old Irish-Catholic boy! I had to read the novel to figure out what I had just seen. Other films over the years included, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind;” Blade Runner;“ "The World According to Garp;” “Blue Thunder;” “Krull;” and “Indiana Jones and the Lost Crusade;” and “Crimson Tide.” Great theater, lots of good memories. It was bad enough when they divided it the first time, but when they divided THAT and created those little shoe-box theaters (greed?), it was really terrible. But as long as the main auditorium was intact – and you checked that your film was playing in it – it was still worth going out there to see it. Now it’s gone – along with all the great other Pasadena theaters and Alhambra theaters of my youth, including The Monterey, The Garfield, The El Rey and recently, The Rialto. Now they only exist in my memory. I even went to the Hastings a few times with my ex-wife and mother in law to see “Godfather III” and “Dances with Wolves!” Yikes. Lest we forget …
The last nail in the coffin of the Chinese – after building the horrendous Highland & Hollywood development, removing the old box office and hiring all those kitchy celebrity “impersonators” out front, was the policy of using the screen to project advertisments as “Preshow entertainment” before the feature. No more curtain and a chance to sit and appriciate the decor and motif. Nothing is scared. Now you are bombarded by advertisements whether you want to see them or not. Also their policy of between show tours is terrible. The last time I was there an usher told me I was in the way of the group – and this after I paid for a ticket to the film! This is NOT the same theater Harvey Korman goes to and tries to get in on a student rate in “Blazing Saddles.”
I seem to recall that the IRA blew this theater up sometime ago. Anybody have any details or can confirm?
I agree with the comments above, also, that the days of the Rilato’s single screen as a first or second run movie theater are over. I started seeing films there when it was a “revival” theater in the 70’s. Hard to belive that there were almost 20 of these types of theaters offering diverse cinema programming before home video killed them all. Yet, the future of the Rialto lies in it becoming a community/multi-use theater and I agree with all the ideas above for it’s potential use. It would require a tremendous infusion of cash to get the theater and the adjoining space (now occupied by an empty cafe and neglected trading card store) and could be developed in something similar to Arclight where you could enjoy varied programming such as a play, High School graduation, concert, speakers, etc and have a meal or a drink afterward in a cafe/resturant. But I suppose the current owners of the buliding would have to sell or take part in such a venture. Anybody know who owns the Rilato? Of course I may have to move out of South Pasadena before I see anything happen if the bloody rents keep going up.