Vista Theatre

4473 Sunset Drive,
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Unfavorite 58 people favorited this theater

Showing 101 - 124 of 124 comments

filmymcfilm on July 11, 2005 at 2:56 pm

You seemed very well-informed, sinclair. I’m a journalist working on a piece about the Vista. Any chance I could talk to you about it?

sinclair on July 11, 2005 at 2:38 pm

Dear Filmy McFilm: Yes. You are correct!

filmymcfilm on July 11, 2005 at 1:39 pm

I was wondering where sinclair got his info about the Vista’s ownership. Who is the mysterious owner in the ‘70s who won the countersuit against the union? Is it Shan Sayles?

cunniff22 on May 30, 2005 at 1:06 pm

My very first encounters with the Vista Theater happened back in the early 1960’s. A bunch of my college friends and myself would get all boozed up and hit the late night porn flicks at the Vista. They were pretty tame by today’s standards, featuring the likes of the immortal “Temptest Storm” with her spinning pasties. It was enough to send a pack of over sexed college boys into a midnight trance.
In a later era we use to go and watch the arty flicks at the Vista with dates that talked about Bergman and James Joyce. I think I like old “Tempest” better. The place was kind of run down, and a Bergman film is depressing enough.
I rediscovered the Vista in the year 2000, when I took a bunch of my 12 Step recovery buddies to see the Russell Crowe spectacular: “Gladiator.” They were a bunch of thugs, fresh out of prison from drugs, in a program called IMPACT. They had never seen anything like it.
My retirement from 39 years of government and military service, has been blessed by this old movie buff seeing such films from “De Lovely” last year to “Sin City” this year. It is the great bargain in town with senior prices at $4.00 a head. Tomorrow, my friend Trip and I are going to see the new Star Wars.
Check out my photos and writings on my AOL profile: Also, my new web page:

alaskaman on May 22, 2005 at 10:46 am

I saw the free premier of “ED WOOD” here, hosted by Tom Lykis and KFI am 640. One of the actresses from the movie, in horror costume,
wanted to sit in the seat next to me, but it was broken.

sleazyred on March 31, 2005 at 1:41 pm

Some Vista Facts I’ve picked up along the way:

The Vista is built on the original location of Silent film director D.W. Griffith’s biggest and most expensive movie – Intolerance (1916). This set is now the theme and look of the Hollywood & Highland mall is based on.

Cult movie director Ed Wood used to have an office in the building.

dfranco on March 20, 2005 at 9:17 pm

Does anyone know why the “Vista Cafe” adjacent to the theatre remains closed, and is only used for movie shoots???

sinclair on March 20, 2005 at 4:58 pm

For many years in the ‘70s, this business was owned and operated by the same person that owned the very gay Nob Hill Cinema in San Francisco, a legendary character who made Variety front page with winning a counter-law suit while being sued by the union many a year ago. He was responsible for the careers of many adult film legends, gay and straight. The Vista was sold to Mike Thomas who owned the Strand in SF for cash, and a lot of it. This owner also owned the long-gone Paris gay theater and made John Holmes first film, which was gay, by the way. Also the legendary “Song of the Loon."
It can be witnessed in its former '70s 'glory’ in "The Back Row,” if you can find it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 27, 2005 at 5:27 pm

I believe that stevebob is correct that the Vista is on Sunset Drive rather than Sunset Boulevard, as the theater is east of Hillhurst Avenue, which is where the street name changes. Sunset Boulevard bends south at Hillhurst.

stevebob on December 25, 2004 at 2:37 pm

The correct address for the Vista is 4473 Sunset Drive. This is a side street off the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards.

Manwithnoname on December 25, 2004 at 1:59 pm

I am ashamed to admit that being an avid theater/film buff (more theater than film these days) yesterday was my first visit to the Vista. It was my 16 year old daughter, who had passed it many times heading to the Dome, who suggested we bypass the Dome and see “Phantom of the Opera” here instead. The first thing that made the experience unique is their apparently recent embrace of the “footprints in cement” honor which includes names such as Peter Bogdanovich, Ryan & Tatum O'Neal, Laszlo Kovacs, Ray Harryhausen & Forrest Ackerman, Elvira and others. There are slabs commemorating certain films such as the 30th anniversary of “House of Dark Shadows”. The next thing that impressed me, because we were at the first show, was the $4.75 admission price. Merry Christmas! The same show at Arclight would have been $11. This was followed by our tickets being taken by a guy in a full Phantom outfit. Terrific! What a pleasure it was to stretch out with so much legroom that with legs fully extended I was nowhere near the seat in front of me. I’ve never seen anything like that anywhere. The interior is gorgeous and it was wonderful to hear appropriate music before the feature instead of ads or dead air. Presentation was flawless and the sound excellent for this musical. I did not find the volume to be too loud and I am sensitive to things like that. The Vista plays many films day and date with Arclight and this showing was well over half full on Christmas Eve. We WILL be back!

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 21, 2004 at 3:53 pm

Opened as Bard’s Hollywood Theatre on 9th October 1923, the opening movie was “Tips” starring Baby Peggy plus vaudeville on the stage.

The original seating capacity was given as 838, which today has been much reduced due to larger seats and the removal of alternate rows of seats throughout the length of the auditorium.

The exterior of the building is in a pretty Spanish Revival style of architecture, which was to be the theme for the entire building. However during its 1922 construction, King Tutankhamen’s Tomb was discovered in Egypt and from the entrance lobby into the auditorium the building is decorated in an Egyptian style, that became the ‘in’ style of the time.

The theatre was re-named Vista in the late 1920’s.

mattepntr on November 13, 2004 at 12:54 pm

I worked as projectionist at the Vista from ‘82 to about '84 or 5, during the Landmark years. They really struggled to find the right way to program that place, and we never did very good business. But that was (and still is) a fun place to see a movie. We had a brand new, beautiful silver screen which gave an ultra-bright, clear picture. I had a great time working there, the staff was terrific and we were all good friends. I’m thrilled to see that the Vista has found it’s true niche as a friendly neighborhood first-run house with great picture and sound! But if you’re planning to go and see the latest new blockbuster du jour, see it fast! They only show a film for a week or two.

Manwithnoname on October 25, 2004 at 10:13 am

There are some gorgeous shots of the interior on the new DVD release of “The Mummy Legacy Collection”. Film Historian Rudy Behlmer hosts the accompanying documentary from the theater.

Knatcal on October 10, 2004 at 10:44 am

The Vista Theater is one of the last remaining single screen theaters in Los Angeles. And it is one of the nicest theaters in Los Angeles with lots of charm. The lobby is small but nice with kitschy Egyptian decor. And of course, the auditorium does have lots of leg room. The surrounding area is now really improved with lot of great restaurants and clubs nearby as well as access to a Red Line station. A film at the Vista Theater accompanied by a trip to any of the nearby restaurants and/or clubs is a great night-out.

scooty on August 5, 2004 at 11:42 pm

As mentioned, the most unique aspect to this spot is the legroom. You can stretch out your legs completely and not even touch the seat in front of you! Unheard of!

I must disagree with the poster who loved the loud sound. I find it irksome and always ask them to turn it down.

cnichols on July 21, 2004 at 2:04 pm

Are you sure you’re talking about the same Vista?

In the last 5 or 10 years, they have restored the interior, the facade and neon sign, they show first-run movies and even offer Toblerone at the snack bar… It’s a REALLY nice theater in a rapidly improving neighborhood.

BillSims on July 21, 2004 at 1:58 pm

07/21/04 Wednesday Bill Sims
Like most of the beautiful movie theater buildings in downtowl L.A., Vista attracted its share of transients, homeless and alcoholics. I finally had to stop going there, because, even for me, things were getting to be a bit too much.

RickyofL on April 11, 2004 at 8:36 pm

This was the second movie theatre I attended as a kid. I lived in Moreno Highlands at this time and used to walk to the theatre from my home with my sister and other friends from grammar school. It was a long walk. The picture cost a dime and my parents would also give each of us a nickle to buy a grab bag of candy at the candy store next door. The films always included a couple of features, usually of the “B” variety a newsreel, coming attractions and a serial. I don’t remember any of the films except one very scary one which we saw when I was about seven. My sister remembers this and told me she had nightmares about it for awhile after. The only serial I remember was a Rin Tin Tin series. We also got a cartoon.

cnichols on February 2, 2004 at 6:43 pm

I’ve been researching L.A. Smith and have compiled a list of his work in Los Angeles. In addition to the theatres, he did apartment houses, factories and warehouses. I am trying to attribute the Lido Apartments (1926) in Hollywood to him. Does anyone have further information on Smith or an affiliated architect named F.A. Brown? Thank you.

William on January 17, 2003 at 7:18 pm

L.A. Smith, the designer of the Vista and many of the other Bard Theatres worked extensively in this area. His first theatres were situated in the southern section of Los Angeles and give little promise of the highly stylized movie houses of the middle twenties which he design. By 1925 he supplied plans for most of the Fox West Coast Theatres, among them are South Pasdena’s Rialto, The Highland of Highland Park and the Beverly of Beverly Hills. All unusual and all have had long and successful runs as theatres. The West Adams, Vista, Pasadena Bards, Glen, Garfield, all Egyptian in styling were done for the Bard circuit. With Balch & Stanberry, his successors, he designed such large theatres as the Fox Riverside and San Bernardino’s Fox Theatre. Before bankruptcy forced him out of the theatre design field, some forty theatres came from his drawing board.

William on January 17, 2003 at 6:29 pm

When Sid Grauman opened his Hollywood Egyptian Theatre in Oct. of 1922. With this Hollywood would become the second theatre district of Los Angeles. Locally Egyptians suddenly appeared in Pasadena, Glendale, Arcadia, Maywood, Pomona, Alhambra and Los Angeles. With a design from L.A. Smith, the Vista got it’s start. When it opened on Oct 9th of 1923 at a cost of around $70,000. It was known as the Bard Hollywood Theatre. This theatre wound become part of a local theatre chain. Run by Louis L.Bard. Bard’s first theatre opened in 1920, was located Downtown Los Angeles. Known in its early years as Bard’s Hill Street Theatre, it became the Towne in the 1930’s. And later before being razed as a Pussycat Theatre. He also leased the smaller & older College theatre across the street. Bards would open his next theatre at Adams & Crenshaw Blvds. That theatre was first known as the Bard’s West Adams Theatre, then the Fox Adams during its Fox West Coast years. Then after World War II as the Kabuki. Most recently as the Apollo West, a black cabaret theatre. During this time he opened Bard’s Glendale, Bard’s Colorado in Pasadena (which would later be called the Academy), Bard’s Garfield in Alhambra and then his last the Olympic in Downtown Los Angeles. In 1938 the 20th Century Lites, Inc. company put up the present marquee replacing the original marquee from 1923. Using flashing neon, the new marquee cost $1000 dollars. Around that time it was part of the Fox West Coast chain.

William on August 20, 2001 at 11:56 am

This theatre has a history going back to the mid 20’s, as the Bard’s (Bard’s was a local showman, who built about 4 theatres in LA. All of the theatres have a Egyptian style inside. The Vista seated in 1939 around 638 people. The three other theatres are the Fox Adams [1100 seats] @ Crenshaw & Adams Blvd., Fox Academy 1700 seatsnow a 6plex & one Glendale theatre. Now the Vista runs day and date with the theatres down Hollywood Blvd.. In it’s long history the Vista has run 2nd, 3rd run films, the classics under the Landmark chain and porno in the mid 70’s.

mikefalcon on April 6, 2001 at 7:23 pm

The Vista is one of Los Angeles' very finest movie theaters,and one of my personal favorites, for a number of reasons:

The interior has a lavish fantasy cosmic “Egyptian”-style decor that stops just this side of camp with reassuringly subdued lighting before the flick rolls, making it a very visually appealing environment.

A number of alternating rows of seats have been removed, providing enormous legroom and a comfortable distance from the sounds of popcorn munching behind you. The seats are comfortable, but short of Starship Enterprise envelopment. Cup holder, of course.

Thoroughly revamped sound system usually amped up to visceral levels makes listening a treat. Someone programs in arcane “classical” music before the curtain goes up that is always a treat to get you ready. Quite the mellow vibe.

Crowd is usually remarkably civilized. Maybe it’s a reflection of the local film industry craftspeople and creatives in the area. Or maybe, because of the distances between seats, you don’t hear as may comments.

Food remains utterly indifferent, and the theater’s only negative in my mind. The usual assortment of overpriced and oversized candy bars and undersized hot dogs. Ask for lots of extra “butter,” however, and you’ll get it in sopping amounts (which is, I think, a good thing).

One parking hint: loads of room to the WEST on Hollywood Boulevard, on both side of the street. The North side in well-lighted. Watch the crossing signal carefully, though —– it’s a complex 3-way cross with very impatient drivers attempting to wait out the lights without killing someone in the suddenly ill-lit crosswalk.