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I had almost forgotten about the Shirley Duke Twins. I was living in Alexandria in 1974 and I remember seeing “Night of The Living Dead” here. I still have a Shirley Duke handbill that I picked up in the lobby that day. I’ll post it here shortly.
Some Ritz memories from Saturday, October 3, 1964.
“A Hard Day’s Night” finally comes to the Ritz on a triple feature program along with “He Rides Tall” and “Summer Holiday.” The Beatle film is scheduled to run as the third feature. During the running of “He Rides Tall” theatre begins filling with hundreds of teens and pre-teens and a few adults. As I turned to look around the theatre I notice that just about every seat was filled. There were several people standing against the side walls as well as the rear of the auditorium. This was the first time I had seen the Ritz at full capacity…sold-out to the walls.
Not very many are interested in watching the first feature. The audience is noisy. Many kids are talking and laughing among themselves. Suddenly the feature goes off the screen, the house lights are turned up, and the manager walks onstage yelling, “quiet…quiet!” The noise finally subsides and he makes the following announcement, “several people have come to me saying they can’t hear the movie because of all the noise you people are making. I’m warning you…if you don’t quiet down and this noise continues I will shut the theatre down and give everyone a refund.” He walks off the stage, the house lights are turned off, and the film continues.
Aside from some mild whispering the audience is fairly quiet through the remainder of the film as well as the second feature, “Summer Holiday.” Near the end of the film the house lights are turned up again, the manager and assistant walk onstage and stand near the right side of the screen watching the audience. The film ends followed by several trailers. The United Artists logo for “A Hard Day’s Night” then appears onscreen. The opening scene showing the running Beatles incites screams from several girls which are suddenly cut short by the manager’s raised arms with hands outstretched as a warning. They ran the entire film with the house lights turned up and the manager onstage.
I believe management made a poor decision in running the Beatle film as the last feature. Had they run it first many kids would probably have left afterwards and those who were interested in the other two features would have been able to watch them in peace and quiet.
I updated the street view to show building at 2809 Martin Luther King Street North.
Address in header is incorrect. Please change to 129 Orange Ave. Verified correct location with theatre ad in Daytona Beach Morning Journal.
See front page for article on fire that destroyed theatre on April 2, 1956: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=OWslULmvb_UC&dat=19560403&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
Street view updated.
I think this may be the drive-in that appears near the climax of 1972’s “Night of the Lepus.” A brief shot of the marquee and the bottom portion of the screen are shown (a cartoon is playing) along with shots of cars parked on the lot as well as exiting the theatre under instructions from the sheriff. According to the Internet Movie Database the film was shot in Ajo, and unless the town had another drive-in this must be the one they used.
Just updated the street view although it took me awhile to locate the drive-in. Based on the address in the header Google maps the location at least a couple miles from the drive-in. I was finally able to locate the site based on the info furnished by jwmovies – thanks!
falcon3147, Great hearing from a former employee. I had applied for a job at both the drive-in and the new indoor in 1969 but they never called me. The drive-in and the rocking chair theatre were Tampa’s best showplaces at the time. I wish they were both still here. Yes, the indoor theatre had its grand opening with “The Undefeated.” A beautiful theatre that lasted about 9 years before it was ruined by twinning.
hispeed54, Appreciate the nice comment…thanks!
Just did some research on this theatre. It opened as the Playhouse Theatre in August of 1935. The last day of operation as a standard theatre was on September 6, 1966. It remained closed until October 12, 1966 when it reopened as the Playhouse Adult Theatre. It finally closed for good on May 22, 1973.
I didn’t see any ads for a Reno Theatre around the time the Playhouse opened. Since Andy has found evidence of a Reno Theatre either at or near this location a search of the 1933 ads will hopefully clear this up.
I’ll post a few ads from the Playhouse shortly.
Thanks John! Enjoyed reading your post. Great hearing from an employee of the Florida. Seldom do former employees of area theatres post comments. I remember the Weeki-Wachee promotions the downtown theatres would always run either before or after the feature. That was certainly a nice gesture on the part of Florida State Theatres to allow the Weeki-Wachee girls in for half-price admission. I’m sure the girls appreciated that! Thanks again for commenting.
In researching the closing date of the Capitol I found the theatre had changed names twice. January 5 1965 was the theatre’s final day as the Capitol. The last two features were “Love on Credit” and “Burlesque Girls.” Based on the daily ads adult entertainment had evidently been the Capitol’s standard fare for some time.
Between May and June of 1965 the theatre reopened as the Family Theatre with 2nd-run double and triple features. Then on February 18 1967 the Family Theatre became known as the 1st Street Theatre featuring (once again) adult films. The opening day double feature was “Love on Credit” and “Burlesque Girls.”
According to a published ad that appeared on July 4 1967, the theatre was to feature live burlesque beginning July 19th. But this never occured as the theatre closed a few days before the 19th and evidently never reopened. The theatre time clock listed the 1st Street Theatre as “closed for the summer.” A review of the listings through December of 1967 did not show any reopening date.
I’ll post some ads under the photos tab shortly.
You’re right Chuck. This theatre did in fact open as the Britton. I just found a photo of the entrance and signage on another site but unfortunately can’t post here due to copyright. In looking at the photo this was definitely the theatre I visited in 1972. But I don’t remember seeing the name at the time so not certain if it was still called the Britton then or if name had already been changed to Plant City Mall Theatre.
Chuck, I don’t recall that Plant City ever had a Britton Theatre but I could be wrong. It may well have opened as the Britton and was later changed to Plant City Mall Theatre, and later to the Mall I & II.
I had almost forgotten about this place. It was originally a single screen house and was later twinned. If I remember correctly this is the theatre some friends and I visited on a Saturday evening back around 1972. The theatre entrance was inside the mall and at the time it was a very nice single screen house with wall-to-wall drapery and curtains over the screen. We had driven over from Tampa one evening to see a horror double feature. I remember the theatre was packed. 500 seats is about right for the size of the single screen. Although I’m not positive about the title of the first feature—it was something along the lines of “Sasquach.” But I clearly recall the second film, “Frankenstein Conquers the World.”
Driving in the area around the early 1990s I stopped at the mall which was now a flea market. The theatre interior was completed stripped. The wall dividing the twins had been torn down. Walking to the back wall where the single screen had once stood, I looked up to see the original curtain rod was amazingly still attached to the ceiling!
Tampa Tribune/August 16, 1956. Portion of ad for the new Britton Plaza describing the new theatre.
Tinseltoes, I knew about the film being shot in the Tampa area but just realized I didn’t mention it in my post. I had also forgotten that during this period the Tampa Theatre was in the midst of it’s downward spiral and had already been playing 2nd run double features as well as blaxploitation films. So in hindsight I guess it’s not surprising at all that the film had it’s premiere at the Tampa Theatre.
Thanks jrock1956. Great to hear from someone who went to the Lincoln. I enjoyed reading your post—evidently there weren’t any Stones fans in the audience!
Thanks for posting this article Tinseltoes! I had almost forgotten about this film and the local premiere (matter of fact I’m probably standing somewhere in that crowd.) I remember seeing Terry Moore being escorted from the limo onto the red carpet and into the theatre amid flashbulbs popping. As for “The Daredevil” well, I can’t say I remember much at all other than it being a low budget production made for the drive-in market. The fact that the film was booked at the Tampa Theatre was a miracle in itself—probably the high point of it’s exhibition history. Interestingly I just checked the IMDB and there are only 4 reviews of “The Daredevil” with all reviewers giving the film surprisingly high marks.
Whenever I think about those poor people excitedly settling into their seats to see this latest blockbuster, unaware of the horror to come, it almost makes me physically ill. My heart goes out to all those affected by this tragedy especially to the victims and their families.
I cannot fathom how anyone would want to see a movie here again whether it’s weeks or months from now. I too feel they should level the complex. One option would be to demolish the theatre where the incident took place and build a memorial or small park in honor of those who died here. The one drawback is that this theater is at the rear of the complex so the memorial wouldn’t be visible from the front of the building.
But I suspect Cinemark may eventually reopen this location following a complete renovation of the affected theatre and/or the entire complex.
Thanks Tinseltoes for the photo link to the auditorium which looks just as I remembered. While staying with friends in 1974 in the apartments just around the corner from the theatre I saw two films here: “The Paper Chase” and “The Heartbreak Kid.” The Virginia had a wide spacious and comfortable auditorium. Sad to hear it was demolished.
Bill, I’ve spent hours at a time in the Boxoffice vault. A warning should be posted—this site highly addictive! Thanks for the “2001” review link. The film was a life-altering experience for many who saw it in Cinerama. Seeing it in any other format is not quite the same.
A mind-boggling engagement for “2001!” That 70mm print had to have been worn out by the end of the run. Wonder if it was replaced with a new print after a year or so of showings?
I had live visual contact with the marquee of this theatre 48 years ago. While vacationing in New Orleans in the summer of 1964, my uncle picked us up one evening and drove us across town to my aunt’s house. Driving on Interstate 10 I remember seeing the lit marquee of the Martin Cinerama Theatre off the Interstate as we passed by. “Circus World” was the Cinerama engagement playing at the time. As eager as I was to see both the theatre and the film I never had the chance during my vacation there.
Thanks again CSWalczak. Appreciate your additional info. and effort to help determine which format SOM was initially projected in. I had almost forgotten about the ad for the re-release of “2001” when it played at the Palace in 1970. The newspapers carried a blurb at the bottom of ad that mentions the projector model and screen size.
As stated in the ad, “you will see 2001 projected from the Century precision model projectors.” You guessed correctly! At least this verifies the booth had Century machines. Since these are capable of projecting both formats I guess this is no indication of the format SOM was projected in. This will probably remain a mystery for all time.
The machines in the booth upstairs were definitely not equipped with magnetic sound heads. Several roadshow attractions that played at the Palace were projected from this booth and none were ever presented in stereo. Cleopatra, Dr. Zhivago, Ryan’s Daughter are just a few of the many big attractions projected from the upstairs booth with an optical track.
Another thing I noticed when SOM was projected from upstairs was occasional distortion in the sound. During the main titles while the overture plays the soundtrack was slightly distorted during high passages. This was also very noticeable when Julie hit her very high notes. The treble speaker horn may have been the culprit. There had been no sound distortion with the prior print probably because other speakers were being utilized for the Century machines.
Your comment regarding the switch to 35mm requiring a less skilled less sophisticated crew makes sense. Management obviously realized they had a huge winner on their hands with SOM. After months and months of sold-out showings and crowds continuing to fill the house with no end in sight, management must have figured the huge savings they could reap by exchanging the 70 print for a 35 thus reducing the expense of both print and crew. Since the screen size wouldn’t have to be compromised their reasoning was probably who would notice the difference anyway? This could very well have been the reason for the switch!
Thanks CSWalczak for your extremely detailed explanation which clears up a couple of things. Nunzienick is actually me. When CT changed over to the redesigned website my ID username/nickname began appearing on several of my posts but it has since been changed back.
Regarding my posting on the 1965 initial run of “Sound of Music” as being in 35mm—I only assumed it was 35mm due to the screen which was masked for 35mm anamorphic. A former operator friend who had done some relief work at the Palace later told me if the film was being projected from the Cinerama booth then it had to be a 70mm print as those projectors ran 70mm only. I had wrongly assumed the projectors in the Cinerama booth were also capable of showing 35mm.
I saw the film a total of 7 times at the Palace in 1965-66 (plus two additional times when it was re-released in 1973.) I still have the ticket stubs.
On my initial two or three viewings I recall the image being bright and sharp with a richly defined clarity, and no noticeable grain. Also the soundtrack was in stereo. I think it was around my 4th visit when I noticed it was no longer being projected from the Cinerama booth but rather from the old 35mm booth upstairs. The masking did not change at all. I did notice the onscreen image was now slightly more grainy, and not quite as sharp as it had been before. And the soundtrack was no longer in stereo.
So for whatever reason after several weeks of showings in 70mm a decision was made to exchange the print for a 35mm print and project it from the upstairs booth. I’m venturing to guess that a good majority of the audience who were repeat viewers (and there were thousands of them) more than likely didn’t notice the difference in picture & sound quality but I certainly did.
Thanks also for the info & link on “Mad World.” I had
almost forgotten about the soundtrack album I have. I just checked and it does have the Cinerama logo. As for the projected 70mm width you’re probably correct in guessing that management probably made the decision to standardize all 70mm films with side maskings.
Clarification on my comment above: “screen masked approximately 10 to 12 feet on both sides”. I meant to say 10 to 12 feet inward from the original masking for 3-strip projection."