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The “Los Angeles” as I used to call it during my teen years in the late 50’s and early 60’s was a modern cinema in a middle class neighborhood in Havana. It was a first run theatre though playing most of the films, American mostly, that played on first run theaters in the city. It was open until recently since I check Havana websites for movie schedules in the city and it has been listed up to then. There are some very nice exterior pictures of this cinema on flicker.com.
Does anyone know what happened to a bronze plaque commemorating the first CinemaScope picture The Robe premiered at the Chinese Sept. of 53? It used to be imbedded on the cement right next to Jean Simmons foot prints and it is obvious someone removed it or worse yet stole it. Raf.
The present building of the Payret Theatre opened in 1951 as a first run movie theatre. It had the distinction of showing the first CinemaScope film made “The Robe” in 1953. It boasted the largest wide screen in Havana, around 60ft. I remember as a child seeing The Robe and was very impressed with the full stereophonic sound. Eventhough the exterior architecture is neo classic, the interior is very modern, with wonderful basrelief figures of the 7 muses on each side of the proscenium. It has approximately 2000 seats, being the largest cinema in Havana. Considering the little maintenance given, it is in fair shape although it needs new carpets and seats. After almost 40 years absence I returned to Havana and attended a show there. The curtains are different and do not enhance the off white auditorium walls bu it still looks as I remember so long ago. Obviously the economic stagnation after the revolution saved this grand dame of movie theaters. They dont make them like this anymore.
The America although run down is till a beautiful auditorium. Inside it is a smaller version of Radio City Music Hall, with its vaulted ceilings and side boxes. It is now used as a live performance theater. I used to attend my school’s graduations each year at the America theater in the mid 50’s and also attended many movie shows, most notable Forbidden Planet, Sayonara, etc. the Live performances with great stars of that era were a few years before my time. In the late fifties they only showed films. I visited there after 37 years absence and they showed me around the auditorium. It was kind of dark so I could not see details but from looking at the foyer and public areas it is obvious it needs quite a lot of attention.
The Acapulco was the last luxury movie theater opened in Havana in middle 1958. It was operated by the Carrera chain of theaters that included the Payret, Los Angeles, Monaco and a few others. It was a first run theater with a beautiful moderne interior. It should be noted that no more cinemas have been built in Havana since 1959, and that more than half of the 200 existing ones are shuttered or destroyed.