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“The Melrose Theatre had gone from listings by 1950, possibly due to the opening of the nearby Esquire Theatre in August 1947.”
Chuck, Ken, I would peg that as a certainty rather than a possibility, as the two theaters were the same seating capacity, right next door to each other, and operated by the same company. My question is, what was so wrong with the Melrose that it had to be done away with at less than 20 years old? Anyone out there have the answer to that one?
Right you are, Ennis – also opened THE CARDINAL in 1963, as well as MIDNIGHT COWBOY in 1968. Like the Wilshire, the Esquire was a class act all the way.
The building may have burned, but I believe it still stands, having a stair-stepped pyramid motif in its street elevation (see street view in map link).
Address should be changed from 661 to 616 E. Jefferson, in accordance with address published in newspaper ads.
Also, map link takes you to W. Jefferson, which is nowhere near Lancaster, where the Cliff Queen was.
Mike – forgot to mention in the above post – I think (could be wrong) optical superiority of Panavision optics to those produced by Bausch & Lomb was a contributing factor to the demise of CinemaScope which, if I understand correctly, is an identical optical anamorphic process to Panavision but which used lenses that produced an inferior image in close-up shots due to the use of a cylindrical focusing element in the camera lens. Somehow, engineers at Panavision overcame this drawback soon after the introduction of CinemaScope, and also came up with a way to produce NON-anamorphic wide-screen images on 35mm film, all of which made the film-makers' jobs easier/cheaper and afforded them more flexibility of image size choice.
Mike – this was after the heyday of 70mm motion picture PRODUCTION, but 70mm PRESENTATION was still a good marketing gimmick, if that makes sense. I believe THE SAND PEBBLES (1966) was the first such example, at least that I know of. Panavision lenses had become so darn good that a picture could actually be shot in regular anamorphic 35mm, and enlarged to 70mm for first-run exclusives with no significant loss of image quality. THE COWBOYS was one such production. I saw it at Loew’s in 70mm/6-track stereo, and again several months later at a neighborhood venue (forget which) in standard 35mm Panavision – I guarantee you, I could not tell the difference visually. Therefore, I think by the time of THE COWBOYS' release, 70mm had been relegated to a marketing ploy.
I saw more movies at the Tower than at all the other downtown Dallas theaters combined – isn’t it odd, then, that I have such vivid memories of what the Majestic, Capri, and Palace looked like inside and have virtually no memory of what the Tower looked like. Could it have been that plain?
Saw many films here as well as at the Tower, Capri, and Majestic. My first memory of going to the Palace was when I was 12 in 1966 and I accompanied projectionist Ruben White to work here – I had never seen such a huge or ornate theater and I was absolutely overwhelmed by the visual impact of the auditorium. Then he took me up to the spacious balcony and up that damned little iron ladder to that cramped little fire trap of a projection room! I couldn’t believe that such a lovely theater would have such a small space for the vital machinery that gave the whole place its reason to be! Two huge Norelcos just about took up the whole space! What wonderful memories.
Forgot to mention seeing Charlton Heston here in his football flick, “Number One” in 1969.
Saw many films at the Majestic over the years – first one I remember is “North to Alaska.” Then “McLintock;” Then “A Hard Day’s Night” opening with about 2,000 screaming teenage girls rushing the stage to kiss the close-ups of Paul and John; Then “Thunderball,” “The War Wagon” world premiere with John Wayne in person, and I believe the last picture I saw there was Burt Lancaster in “Valdez Is Coming” in 1971. For some reason, missed the final feature, “Live and Let Die” with Roger Moore as 007 (that’s probably why I missed it) in 1973. Hated to see it close, but glad the old girl survives.
Saw many films at the Melba, but my days only go back as far as when it was named Capri.
First film I remember seeing here was “The Alamo” in it’s reserved seat Todd A-O run; then “King of Kings” after it had ended it’s reserved seat 70mm run at the Tower next door; then “How The West Was Won” in Cinerama; then a re-issue of “Bridge On The River Kwai” in Cinemascope, but projected on the huge Cinerama screen without the masking being pulled back down for regular 2.35:1 widescreen; then a reissue of “The Longest Day” followed by “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Here is a link to a photo in the Dallas Public Library digital archives that shows the Capitan Theater at night, 1952 – marquee says “Member of the Wedding.”
The Medallion was the first in a planned new generation of Interstate suburban venues dedicated to prestige exclusive first-run bookings; included in this plan were new single-screen suburban showplaces to replace the old downtown prestige venues, Palace, Tower, and Majestic, all of which were scheduled for closing and/or demolition. This plan was never carried to ultimate fruition and, though the three downtown venues were indeed eventually shuttered, only the Medallion was constructed before Interstate itself ceased to exist. Everything about the Medallion was first-class except, IMHO, for the screen, which was ruler-flat instead of curved. Overall, not much to complain about.
Well, thanks, Mike, that’s more info than I had.
I was there once in the early 70’s – I remember it as the most beautiful drive-in I had ever been to – a long, long drive through the pines from the marquee on the highway and, once past the boxoffice, you’re suddenly in a clearing in the pines and there’s the screen – no ambient light, clear bright picture, great movie-going experience…except for the movie, which I can’t seem to recall…what WAS I preoccupied with?
Bob, here is a photo of the Garland Plaza –
Upshot of all this is: I don’t think we have a pic of the old Plaza Theater that used to be across the street from North Dallas High School.
Name should be spelled “Ascarate.” I’m an old El Paso hand.
Don, I believe the date on that pic is about two years off, as the Leo was demo’d in 1953, according to a Dallas Times-Herald article covering the demo. I will try and locate that pic and post it if I can. This photo was obviously taken just prior to the razing, as the marquee is deteriorating.
BTW, even after its reopening as the Leo, with a big vertical sign stradling the marquee (already dismantled in this view), the new owners never covered up the old Queen sign painted on the west side of the building. Guess they figured everybody in Dallas at that time knew, so why cover it up?
In the 70’s, when this drive-in had switched to showing skin-flicks, I seem to recall some major traffic jams due to accidents on R.L. Thornton Expwy caused (so it was said) by drivers paying too much attention to what was on the screen and not what was on the road!
That ad nails it, Chuck – East Grand it is! Should’ve checked it first. Thanks.
Hey, Mike, thanks for the info – you don’t happen to have the addresses or approximate locations of those drive-ins, do you?
Rmoreno – do you have any info. on Kingsville’s three drive-in’s – the Brahma, the King, and the El Rancho?
Also, do you remember what block of East Kleberg the Rialto was located in?
I am wondering if the opening of the Major (aka Lido), at 2830 Samuell Blvd (just a couple of blocks east of this theater) around 1950 directly led to the closing of the East Grand the following year.
Also, a poster on another nostalgia site dedicated to Dallas corrected me the other day when I referred to this theater as the EAST Grand – he said there was no “EAST” to it, it was just the GRAND; anybody know any of this for sure?
Did the opening of this theater lead to the closing of the East Grand (which closed in 1951, according to a poster on the East Grand page /theaters/27561/),,) which was located just a couple blocks west at the intersection of Samuell and Grand?