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Sad to see this theater close as it is the last first run theater in town that is not an ugly multiplex. I have a long history with the Westhampton going back to November of 1967 when I first visited there to see GONE WITH THE WIND. I have certainly spent many hours over the last five decades there as movies and exhibition styles have changed.
The most recent news I heard is that this theater will close in May. Has anyone heard any updates?
Great theater which always showed the best films. Among those I saw there first run were: 101 DALMATIANS, HARD DAY’S NIGHT, THE STERILE CUCKOO, MANHATTAN, SLEUTH, PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (in four track stereo!), BARRY LYNDON, LAST TANGO IN PARIS, LAST PICTURE SHOW, PLAY IT AGAIN SAM, CARRIE…. and so many more. It was a class venue.
Thanks for fixing the location. It was right next to the Baskin Robbins shop.
I saw CABARET here during its brief run… I think with reserved seats. In ‘68 saw BONNIE AND CLYDE there with my father. Even when it became a 2nd run venue the projection (on a fairly large curved screen) and sound were always good.
Info for the address here is incorrect. The theater was past Willow Lawn, across the street from what is now a shopping center featuring a Target and a Barnes and Noble…NOT in the Fan. It was not the prettiest of theaters… very much in the slick modern 70’s style with lots of plastic and shiny surfaces. The downstairs theater did have an impressively large and slightly curved screen. Upstairs was tiny but did offer the Richmond premieres of many art films including DAY FOR NIGHT, LAW OF DESIRE, HESTER STREET, and even a showing of BIRTH OF A NATION.
Rumor has it that the Westhampton will close at the end of this summer and be demolished. Can anyone confirm this?
Thanks Ed. The lowered projection ports is what made me think it was the Rivoli. I guess this was not that uncommon in the 50’s as various widescreen processes caused changes in the theater layouts. I will say that SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS probably gives us one of the best looks at what parts of NYC looked like in the fifties.
I recently watched the movie SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, where you can see some ads in the street for the Rivoli and OKLAHOMA! But there is a scene in a theater here which looks very much like the picture of the Rivoli posted on AMERICAN WIDESCREEN MUSEUM. Does anyone know if this scene was shot in the Rivoli… and if not does anyone know what theater it was. Thanks.
Now that the Naro is completely digital I have technical question about their old days. I know during the 70’s and 80’s they had 70mm capacity. But back when the theatre was still called the Colley, did they also have 70mm? I ask since I know the Norfolk premiere showings of both CLEOPATRA and PATTON played there. I know other road show pictures played there in the 60’s as well. Can anyone shed some light on this? Thanks.
There was another Plaza 3 but in Churchland. Three very small audioriums and opened in the early 70’s. The big deal here was despite the tiny screen, one of these theatres was equipped for 70mm projection with six track stereo sound. It was also the first theatre in Va that was equipped for Dolby Stereo. I am wondering if this is the same theatre.
Can anyone confirm if the original one screen Newmarket was equipped for 70mm? If memory serves it did play things like GONE WITH THE WIND and CAMELOT in this format as reserved seat attractions.
Once I could drive I often took the winding roads between Wakefield and Franklin to see a movie here.
Among the films I saw: DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE, JOE, THE GRADUATE, GODFATHER 2….and an especially exciting screening on a hot summer night of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. Most of the audience was from a local Pentecostal church and the screening after a while turned into something like a revival meeting.
I remember there was an illuminated clock to one side of the screen… something I never saw anywhere else. Movies I saw there: BACHELOR IN PARADISE, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, and LADY SINGS THE BLUES. By the early 70’s it was not a place you wanted to be after dark.
Saw ROSEMARY’S BABY and MIDNIGHT COWBOY back in the early 70’s here.
I think this was originally part of the Jerry Lewis cinema chain and opened in the early 70’s. It was a tiny place.
This opened about the same time that Walnut Mall did, I think sometime in 1966. Rode up from Wakefield, Va many times to see movies at this theatre. Some of the movies I saw here included GAMBIT, GUESS WHOSE COMING TO DINNER, CASINO ROYALE (1967 VERSION), PLANET OF THE APES, GONE WITH THE WIND, 2001, FITZWILLY, THE LOVE BUG, ANNE OF A THOUSAND DAYS, IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD, and WHAT’S UP DOC. It was twinned in a very sloppy way which screwed up the sightlines. Before that it was a plain but well equipped theatre with a huge screen and excellent projection.
I remember skipping school with some friends one day and going to the Century to see Russ Meyer’s VIXEN… a soft core porn film which would probably look pretty mild today. This was during the last years that the Century was open.
This theater was also renovated in the late sixties by Neighborhood theaters about the same time they renovated the National in downtown Richmond and re-named it the Towne. The renovated Blue Bird often got first run fare that played in Richmond at the same time in roadshow (i.e. 2001, SOUND OF MUSIC,etc.) It was a tiny theater. Among the many movies I saw there: THE MUSIC LOVERS, HELLO DOLLY, PAINT YOUR WAGON, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, PATTON, FIVE EASY PIECES, JOHN AND MARY, OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT, and TORA TORA TORA.
Saw many movies here during its run as the Towne, including FUNNY GIRL, which played with reserved seats. Other movies there included TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN, LADY SINGS THE BLUES, THE REIVERS, LITTLE BIG MAN, and THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON’T THEY. Recently saw Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings in concert there. It is a cool venue for music and lots of fun.
Great place for film buffs during its run as the Biograph. Initally it showed only art films and was one screen. They paid the bills by showing DEEP THROAT to huge crowds on weekends. Eventually a second screen was added which sometimes showed porn. There was a big collage of movie photos and posters in the hallway leading to the larger theater to which items were continually added… a visual history of what had been shown there. By 1987 when it closed, the advent of the vcr had taken away much of their audience.
I made my first visit to the Loews around 1960 or so for an animated version of THE SNOW QUEEN and later ADVENTURE OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN. It was an eye popping experience with a huge curved screen (advertised on one of the doors as “Our panoramic Wide Screen.”) Later saw all the James Bond films there, up to DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and often in double features of same. Also the Pink Panther films, BLOW UP, BANANAS and many others. By the time I saw my last film there, MAHGONNY, the floors were sticky and the place was starting to look shabby, as indeed downtown Richmond had begun to decline. It is notable that GONE WITH THE WIND had its initial showings in Richmond at this theatre in 1940. Years later a restored version was shown around 1989 with a parade and lots of ceremony. However there was a problem with audience members who tried to take FLASH pictures of the movie during the screening. The audience had to be reminded at intermission not to do this.
I grew up seven miles down the road in Wakefield. The theatre there closed before I was old enough to go. But my first movie (Disney’s CINDERELLA)was at the Lyon. Saw lots of movies there from the late 50’s until about 1967 when it finally closed. An old gray haired woman ran the theatre and once she died, they more or less had to close the theatre, especially since a new shopping center theatre near Petersburg also took away some business. A friend looked into running the theatre in the early 70’s and got a tour. Apparently the theatre was equipped for Cinemascope 4 channel magnetic sound… not something you’d expect for a small town theatre. Too bad there are no pictures of the old place.
Envy you guys seeing OLIVER! on the big screen. Was this a newly restored print? Was this four track magnetic sound or some Dolby mix? Curious as here in Richmond the best would could hope for would be a projected dvd.
Great piece. In Richmond, Virginia, WSS played at the Willow Lawn theatre as a 70mm roadshow. Sadly this theatre was gutted, multiplexed and closed. In its time it was a beauty. Sorry to report that the early word on the WEST SIDE STORY blu ray indicates a screwup with the Saul Bass designed overture sequence. See Home Theatre forum for details. It does include the intermission which cannot be be turned off (unlike the last dvd release). If you look at the liner notes to the soundtrack lp, there is a mention that the filmmakers did not want an intermission for this film.