Showing 126 - 140 of 140 comments found
I would say that police should be used anytime a couple of polite demands to leave the theater are ignored. A stern warning to desist from the uncivil behavior should precede the demands. Of course we have to realize that police may have more urgent priorities and not be immediately available in every community. In urban areas many of these punks are carrying guns or ready to start punching somebody out at the slightest provocation. I definitely don’t think it would be that good of an idea for management or their low paid, inadequately trained employees to try to forcibly remove these jerks. Of course if they choose to go after your demand, no problem!
I think most theaters could do a bit more to decrease the cell phone problem in general (which is nly getting worse from my recent experience!) I would have signs on the box office and on auditorium doors stating that cell phone use (including text messaging) is prohibited. After the preview trailers, an additional policy trailer should remind people of that. Some theaters do include the no cell phone message as part of their “our feature attraction” tag and it seems to be somewhat effective. You can usually see a few phones being pulled out and turned off. We are all human and forget to do things at times. A reminder can be helpful and effective. Others think that rules just don’t apply to them. They are the ones who deserve to be asked to leave and the police called without hesitation if they refuse. Just my humble little opinion!
That text messaging crap is just about the final straw for me! Those damn cell phones light up the whole aisle, especially distracting in stadium type theaters. Just last Sunday I went to see “The Illusionist” and this fine film was pretty much ruined for us by some teenage bimbo in front of us lighting up the aisle with her cell phone every few minutes. She obviously had absolutely no interest in the film on the screen, probably just a bored auditorium jumper waiting for the next showing of “Jackass 2”. If that wasn’t enough, towards the end of the film she moved to our aisle, using some super bright LED flashlight (maybe it was just her cell phone) to guide her way. You can’t talk to these jerks and management has little incentive to discipline or throw them out. DVDs look pretty good on my new Panasonic Plasma TV, high definition on satellite looks even better. One of these days I’m going to say “Enough is enough!” and just give up on going to the movies altogether. After over 50 years of loving theaters and loving movies I take no pleasure in saying this but it’s the truth!
Great news! Having been raised in the East Bay, I’m looking forward to this one almost as much as I was to Jack’s recent (and superb) book on San Francisco theatres. I’m on my way to Amazon to place my order right now. Thanks Jack!
I met Jack Tillmany a couple of years ago and asked him about writing a book on SF Theatres. His reply was something like “No, I’ll leave that to others!”. Obviously he has changed his mind and that’s really good news! Nobody knows more about Bay Area theatres than Jack Tillmany or has such a good photo collection on them. I can’t wait to get this one! Hopefully we will sequel a sequel covering the rest of the Bay Area.
I was stationed at Fort Bliss in 1961 and 1962. There were two very nice post theaters (with 25 cents admission for recent films, four single feature program changes a week) but the bonehead commanding officer decreed that us GIs wear uniforms or coats and ties to attend them so most of us boycotted those post theaters and went downtown or to El Paso’s many drive in theaters for our movie fix. The Palace was pretty run down (only the Crawford was worse!) but it was clean and they had some interesting double feature programs for very low prices. I spent quite a few afternoons and evenings there. I remember seeing Hitchcock’s “Psycho” for the first time there as well as a reissue of “Red River”, “Around the World in 80 Days” (with Spanish subtitles) and a bunch of ancient grind house fodder like “Drums in the Deep South”, “Tulsa” and a Bowery Boys marathon (four features on one program). Often the programming was more interesting to me than that of the first run downtown houses (the Plaza, Capri and State). I’m glad the building at least is still standing.
The Rex was the only downtown Oakland theater I was never in. It looked like a dump from the outside and I never felt brave enough to enter, even if they were showing some old Flash Gordon movie I wanted to see. When I joined the Army in 1959, three of us enlistees shared an Army provided hotel room in downtown Oakland before reporting to the induction center. I headed to the Central but the other two guys decided to catch an American International horror program at the Rex. When they came back they confirmed what I suspected. “What a dump!” they said. According to them, there was more horror in the audience than on the screen and they had also some insect bites as a souvenir of the majestic Rex!
I preferred the Lux or Central but I saw quite a few programs at the Broadway in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. It was a typical big city “grind house” with several program changes a week. Double features and later triple features with continuous shows from 10 a.m. It was open all night in the years I attended. You never knew what the program would be. Recent major films, reissues, stuff from poverty row you never heard of. I always liked to look in Oakland Tribune’s classified movie listings to see what was showing. The theater itself had seen better days but the programming was sometimes interesting and the price of admission was right…cheap!
I remember the Central fondly as still a grand old place in the late 1950’s. Like the nearby Lux, it had a second run double feature policy with continuous showings starting at 10 a.m. Admission prices were low and presentation was very good. I remember seeing “Oklahoma!: there in 4 channel magnetic stereo sound and it looked and sounded nearly as good as it would at the Fox Oakland a few blocks away.
I loved the Lux in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. It was an exceptionally clean and well managed second run house. Continuous showings of recent double features starting at 10:00 am with a nightly Spino game. A speaker was mounted outside so you could hear the movie soundtrack as you browsed the posters. Nice concession stand and as several people pointed out, the hot dogs were great! I would take the Key System bus from Richmond just to catch a double feature at the Lux. I think the last movie I saw there was “The Wild Bunch”. When they went to kung fu and other exploitation fare, I lost interest and heard in the final days the audiences were as rough as the movies on the screen. Every time I’m in downtown Oakland I stroll into the Goodwill store and look up at the portholes in the old projection room (now a storage area or office) and remember those pleasant days at the Lux.
The Park was an independent theater, built in 1949 by the Jeha family. Richard Jeha was the manager throughout the 1950’s when it was my neighborhood theater. Mr. Jeha had a great deal of patience with us rowdy kids and teenagers and also earned our great respect. My love affair with the movies and theaters started passing out monthly handbills for the Park in return for a monthly pass. Initially there were three program changes a week, then two and finally one by the end of the 1950’s. Except for rare major blockbusters, all were double features. Saturday matinees included a Republic or Columbia serial chapter, five cartoons and a prize drawing in addition to the regular program. A Friday night Bingo game, conducted by Mr. Jeha was a popular feature for many years. When wide screen and CinemaScope came along, a wall to wall screen was placed in front of the original and more attractive stage, screen and curtain. Magnetic stereo sound was not installed and 3-D died before it could make it to the Park. In the early 1960’s the Park was remodelled with a slightly smaller wide screen and the return of a screen curtain, then it was ruined by the twinning in the early 1970’s, just a few years before it closed and became a church, which it remains to this day. As I was reminded of at a class reunion 25 years later, those of us growing up in El Sobrante in the 1950’s have fond memories of the Park.
The State was a second run Fox West Coast house at 501 McDonald Avenue (5th & McDonald) with 610 seats. It sometimes featured move over programs from the Costa, just two blocks away on McDonald. It closed in the early 1950’s.
The Fox was a Fox West Coast Theatre at 710 McDonald Avenue, formerly the Costa. Due to the Consent Decree in the early 1950’s, FWC had to relinquish their lease on the other Richmond Fox (Fox-California) at 823 McDonald. That theatre became the United Artists (UA) and the Costa was completely remodeled (Skouras-style) and reopened as the Fox on April 3, 1952. Seating capacity was 1118 in 1950. Along with the UA, the Fox closed down briefly in about 1957 leaving Richmond, population roughly 100,000 at the time, with no first run theatres. Only the last run flea pit Rio was left on McDonald Avenue. Both the Fox and UA soon reopened and lasted for a few more years, until the early 1960’s. As I remember, it was the UA rather than the Fox that was converted into a Woolworth’s (as mentioned above by Garrett Murphy).
The United Artists (UA) was formerly the Fox California with a seating capacity of 1314 according to my records. About 1950, due to the Consent Decree, Fox West Coast Theatres had to relinquish their lease on it and it became the UA. The other FWC house, the Costa, two blocks down McDonald Avenue, was remodeled and became the new Fox. The UA was a rather nice first run theatre with a large main floor and a balcony. A large screen and four channel stereo sound were installed for CinemaScope. Both the UA and the Fox closed down around 1957 for a short time, leaving no first run theatres at all in downtown Richmond but both reopened (with a new agreement with the projectionists union) and lasted a few more years, until the early 1960’s. A Woolworth’s store was the last occupant of the building I believe.
In the 1950’s the Grand wasn’t all that “grand”…it had seen better days, but like all theatres in those days, it had it’s own “character”. It was then a second run Fox West Coast theatre near Richmond High School, sometimes playing move over programs from the downtown Fox (formerly Costa). What I remember most about the Grand were the kids matinees in the summer with an admission price of 9 cents. I first saw “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Yearling” there, along with many other current films and reissues. It closed down about 1956 or 1957, it’s final days being a weekends only operation. They never even installed a wide screen but did get CinemaScope lenses and played a few Scope films letterboxed on their old academy ratio screen.
The Uptown was a second run Blumenfeld chain theatre when I was growing up in the 1950’s. It featured three double feature program changes a week, evening shows only on weekdays, matinees on weekends. On Saturday they offered us kids three features (their regular program plus a bonus feature), 7 cartoons, a newsreel, previews and a raffle for a bicycle. You would go in at 10 am and come out at 4 or 5 pm. It closed down in 1956 or 1957. I vividly remember walking by the theatre the day after it closed (a surprise to me). They were already taking equipment out and the manager was standing there with tears in his eyes…as much as I loved movies and the Uptown, I felt like crying too!