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In the mid-70s they had a re-release of SOUND OF MUSIC with the strongest (clear and resonant) magnetic (penthouse) soundtrack I’ve ever enjoyed and on a 1st class musical, with uniformly sharp 70mm picture throughout! From then on this installation couldn’t be beat for cinema quality (with one unfortunate sour note, later), proven to me again bringing my young sons on the opening of TITANIC there in more recent times.
On a Friday night late in August of 1981, having just seen CONDORMAN, while walking back to my car in the theatre parking lot off Skokie Blvd there I had my closest encounter ever with lightning.
A blinding ball struck in the middle of the parking lane between me and the theatre, during a thunderstorm of course. I was alone so every once and awhile I have to tell others about it, simply to remind myself.
The sour note was in their final years when I saw MISSION TO MARS (2000?) there, and the magnificent stereo sound system was now little more than an articulate buzz.
Yes! My (own) Dad does. He grew up in the Bucktown neighborhood, and besides the WEBSTER nearby, he says if he walked south on Milwaukee Ave you got first to the BANNER (right at North/Damen Ave), then this one the WICKER PARK (a few doors past North), then shortly thereafter the ROYAL (running the longest), and before one reached Division St. the PAULINA. All these would be to your left, or East side of street, as you continued down Milwaukee Ave. And at Division/Milwaukee you finished with the CROWN and CHOPIN (which actually still remains in some form for live theatre). So there.
This bargain venue was a favorite of mine, as apparently it also was for so many others, to the mid-‘60s. (I don’t think it made it to the '80s). Saw there HOUSE OF WAX (what a scare Vincent Price gave this little boy with that icy line “You shouldn’t have done that, my dear”), HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (with Peter Cushing, who I regarded at the time as the British Vincent Price), RODAN, and so many more. I remember the ALEX had some parking lot validation arrangement with the (formerly) nearby Goldblatts store on Madison Ave.
Sometime back in the ‘70s my cousin Bill’s wife KAREN FERET was assocaited with the THALIA operation. I was under the impression she was a manager
Yes, this was the CINERAMA place w/ 3 seperately-boothed projectors operating simultaneosly. “CINERAMA HOLIDAY” was another title, and the panorama effect one got was quite different from 70mm. You could notice a trace of the 2 picture ‘seams’, though they tried to minimize that with aperture plates in the projectors that actually vibrated. Then there was “HOW THE WEST WAS WON” where the director cheated and substituted 70mm-filmed scenes among the true 3-camera scenes (public never noticed), and from that point it was inevitable that the CINERAMA people just went to straight 70mm for their process. Hrrrumph.
A variation on the process called CINEMIRACLE, which the Bismarck also ran, put all 3 projectors into one central booth but re-directed (2 of) the lightbeams w/ mirrors I think (so one person could handle it in one place). Only one title – “WINDJAMMER”, another travelogue derivative. (Whatever became of that film?)
You probably guessed I know this place primarily as the BISMARCK. They used to have a very tall, modern-style, neon sign for the name.
Last film I saw there myself was TORA TORA TORA (1969, probably 70mm blow-up). In its' heyday, this place was obviously quite a classy joint, but for me it lacked the very ornate, romantic quality of other ‘Palaces’. Why it went unused in ‘80s-'90s is peculiar.
Ahhh….RENA (not RENO). Thanks Ken & Bryan. Could never quite put my finger on it before ‘cause this theatre did'nt have a proper AKA for search purposes.
I’m gonna go by it sometime soon.
‘House Photographer’ for the OAK Theatre in the ‘70s?!! Did you manage to get “SPERMATOZOA ROSA’ in action?
(More) seriously…how many out there remember the OAK’s illuminated dial-face clock, up above the (emergency) exit just right of the screen? I saw too many movies at that place to enumerate. Took guitar lessons @Melody Music School right next door, too (owner: Joe Guido).
Well then, if the BYRD didn’t change name to RENO, where exactly was THE RENO??? I was sure this was it, and I WAS there, or very near closeby. Somebody please tell me I’m not imagining….THE RENO.
Boy, do I remember when MICHAEL TODD road-showed MUTINY—it was films like that one that helped downtown (Chicago) theatres lose their appeal into the late ‘60s. Other klunkers with that dubious credit would be STAR!, SHOES OF THE FISHERMAN, DR. DOOLITTLE (Harrison), GOODBYE MR. CHIPS (O'Toole-Clarke). I could unfortunately go on.
I say these types of things with all wise-cracking fondness
A few weekends ago PORTAGE ran, and I saw, a 2-part Italian made biopic “KAROL: THE POPE, THE MAN”. An excellent film, by the way (starring one Peter Adamczyk with the right smile, flair, sensitivity). And I can say unquestionably here’s a super-rare instance where a favorite big-city neighborhood theatre, formerly multiplexed, has been restored in every important way to its' original theatrical condition (though with modern sound of course). Done without well-publicized fanfare, too. I intend to support it. Maybe the LaSalle Bank 16mm screening room, now a ½ blk away, would consider an arrangement to use these digs. It could be done by smart people.
Bryan: the silent movies @GR were projected continuously, I seem to recall, by some (antiquated, even then probably) endless-loop 8mm system. (You don’t remember the X-rated outdoor movies?) And I remember the Jo-Jo’s too, if only because they served a favorite of mine dish called THE SANTIAGO SKILLET. But what was the name Jo-Jo’s restaurants changed into after a few years…or was it the other way around? (How’s that for WAY off-topic!!)
Lucky I was but once to see a pic at MARBRO – BEN-HUR when it opened.(I even remember what film scene my Mother and I walked in on, reminded of that everytime I see this on TV or video). All the awesome-type theatre comments about the MARBRO above I’d say are 100% real—spectacular-looking balcony(s) & mezzanine. At the time I was an impressionable kid, comparing it to the downtown theatres in my mind, and MARBRO wins hands down. Unfortunately I don’t believe I ever went to the nearby PARADISE (saw it closed by that time), though I did visit the (also nearby) CRAWFORD a time or two.
Am guilty of occasionally calling it the MARLBORO in my youth (though I never smoked).
The ROCKNE to me had a more respectable reputation than other neighborhood theatres it seems; saw SOUND OF MUSIC there first, later THE GRADUATE. I say this knowing it went the adult route later on. It was the theatre one took the Division St bus to the end-of-the-line to.
If the BYRD was open that late, and I agree it could, the name would actually have been the RENO. I also was there sometime then (saw RETURN OF THE FLY).
Yes HARLEM OUTDOOR ran X-rated movies (mid-late ‘70s?) as I remember you could plainly see them from certain points on Harlem Ave! Now there’s an attraction the newest version of the HIP mall can no longer lay claim to. The GROUND ROUND Restaurant right there was a
favorite of mine.
The ARMITAGE Theatre auditorium (exterior) today is very readily identifiable, if one but looks from the DRAKE Ave side there.
This was a favorite childhood haunt of mine, and I recall the Sat. matinee kiddie contests mentioned above. The kind of place one went to for Jerry Lewis or Japanese monster movies. The screen unfortunately showed the usual signs of juvenile abuse.
My guess is that although the auditorium’s used as warehouse/ storage, there’s still a lot of (old) theatre inside of it even now. I say this because I was able to take a peek myself not too many years ago.
Does anyone know about another theatre just a few doors north of the WEBSTER, once called the JINGLES. Probably during the days before Damen Ave was called Damen—it was known as “Robey”. I’ll be digging around for something on it myself. Thank you.
Across Division St and a few doors east ( W.) (once) stood the HARMONY Theatre, of similar size. Gone since the early ‘50s and that’s all I know.
(Not to be confused with another HARMONY on E. 43rd St.)
ALAMO had a sideways auditorium. I saw THE 10 COMMANDMENTS re-release there in early ‘60s on Sat. matinee. Crowded it was.
They have to call it the LASALLE BANK THEATER; is it a bank, or a theater; a theater or a bank, etc. 2 mints in one!
The description says it sometimes played films. This jogs my memory that MY FAIR LADY was road-showed there (1963). Si? No?
My Dad took me in 1959 to see (Jacque Tati’s) MON UNCLE here when it was still (definately) called the GOLD COAST. Somewhat art-house fare, as it did win an oscar for ‘best foreign film’ back then. The auditorium looked completely different then, even as a single-screen. And thanks, Dad.
Took my 2 older sons to see THE SHADOW here (VILLAGE this time) in the mid-90s; kinda neat they gave Jonathon Winters a little improvisatory room.
One more remembrance, if you don’t mind: (probably) just before they ‘plexed it I saw ONE TRICK PONY (w/ Paul Simon) there and during
the intro they cranked up the volume for “Late In the Evening” to distortion levels, and that is certainly one way to see (hear) it. The film also served to add the work 'mellifluous’ to my regular vocabulary (you’ll have to see it).
If the old (JUN ‘68) theatre ad in the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES newspaper movie section is to be believed, then the correct IMPERIAL street address no. is 2329 W. (not 2339). Says here they’re running DAY OF THE EVIL GUN, SAMSON & THE SLAVE QUEEN, and BONNIE & CLYDE—a dyed-in-the-wool triple-bill if ever there was.
Yes AVON had advertised sub-runs in the late 70’s-early ‘80’s; it was the only time(s) I was there myself although I can’t remember a single films’ name. Overall it wasn’t a remarkable venue.
Thank you BW (I think).
In the ‘50s the NEW APOLLO bldg was a favorite grocery store of my Mom’s, and remained so until about 1968. I wish I could remember the stores’ name.
Warning! Warning! DOWNER ENTRY! When WILL ROGERS ran BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA in “SENSURROUND” they didn’t seem to me all that concerned if a few more plaster chips fell off the already (water?) damaged ceiling, due to the vibrations. Also, when they ran INVADERS FROM MARS (the ‘70s remake) they actually began a reel of it BACKWARDS and didn’t notice till I came out to complain (which I didn’t right away, shame on me).