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That’s hilarious to me that somebody else still living was at that same exact showing of the Poseidon Adventure! (unless, of course, the Arion had the reels in the wrong order during the entire week’s run, which would not have been out of character for the Arion’s crack staff). I have a vague memory of the Arion’s Festival du Apes, but I DEFINITELY remember the blue banner of the penguin on the iceberg advertising It’s Cool Inside, or something like that. Like many, my house had no AC and that banner was most attractive on some of those hot humid NYC days. Several times during the summer my friends and I would ride our bikes to the Arion and go see whatever they were showing. One thing I recall from that era is that blinding, jarring sensation you get when you leave a dark, air conditioned movie theater in the middle of the day, and emerge into bright sunshine (and, the Arion’s case, the hub-bub of Metropolitan Ave.)
I also remember people smoking at the Arion (and the Drake, where when I was a kid they allowed smoking on the left side of the theater (as if it made a difference)). To this day, I still think when I look up during a movie that I’m going to see that swirling prism of smoke you would see in the illumination from the projection. It is funny how, for moviegoers at least, you carry the images from those first theaters.
As for the movie matrons, it is strange that such a rewarding, fulfilling profession could just vanish.
I left a comment yesterday on the Arion Theater (or was it Theatre?) and was delighted to read the entries on The Drake. I grew up (in the 60s and 70s) a few blocks from the Drake and actually went to many more movies there than at the Arion. Because I have not been back more than a few times since I left for college, the Drake, like the Arion, lives on, unchanged, in my memory. I saw my first movie at the Drake (it would have been Sound of Music or Mary Poppins) and can recall seeing both Godfather movies, Cabaret, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Sounder, Kelly’s Heroes, Harry and Tonto, Dog Day Afternoon, High Plains Drifter, and many others. I can recall that when I was a small child the Drake’s second floor “lounge” (which I believe included a Lady’s “powder room”) was to me the height of elegance. I also recall that like many theaters in Queens the Drake served some time as a porn house, and I have a memory (perhaps faulty) of them showing Deep Throat and other 70s XXX “hits”, but they later reverted back to conventional movies. I also have a memory of the Led Zeppelin riot of ‘78, and am quite sure that my brother was there and told me about it that night. Also, in addition to the Howard Stern movie (which had a sweeping pan shot of Woodhaven Boulevard, hilarious to anyone who lived around there) there was a low-budget romantic comedy in the 90s, which I saw on video but the name of which I cannot recall, about an immigrant from Taiwan who works at a Chinese restaurant in Queens and dates a non-Asian American woman — at one point they go out for dinner and a movie and there is a nighttime exterior shot of the Drake with the marquee blazing, although by that time I’m quite sure it was no longer in operation as a theater.
Wow! A website devoted to the Arion Theater! I grew up in Middle Village (went to PS 49), left for college in 1979 and have only been back a few times since. Hence in my memory the Arion lives on in all its double feature glory. I saw dozens of movies there in the 70s including Taxi Driver, Rocky, Night of the Living Dead, Looking for Mr. Goodbar and many others. I don’t mean to offend anyone else’s memory but by the 70s the theater was an unqualified dump. The joke was always that there was no need for a concession stand since you could get all the gum, popcorn and candy you could possibly eat right off the seats and floor. I can recall leaving the theater with gunk stuck to both shoes and the seat of my pants. Another memory is the not always reliable projection and sound system. Once, I went to see The Poseidon Adventure, and they had the reels in the wrong order, going direct from the opening scenes to the climax near the end (where Gene Hackman opens a valve by hanging from the wheel). Stangely, the audience, perhaps not expecting better, did not object, and we all just watched the movie with the scenes in the wrong order.
P.S. I learned many years later that “Arion” was a musician in Ancient Greece who is often depicted riding on a dolphin. It was a popular image in Elizabethean times, and is referred to in a few of Shakespeare’s plays.