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Was the gift shop mentioned here called “Hiles”?
Many years ago, I went in a gift shop by that name that was at the top of Main St., around the Hotel Leeland.
I seem to remember the place as being rather ornate for a commercial space, with marble floors and a striking crystal lighting fixture, but it’s probably been more than 45 years since I was there, and I might be plugging in the details from some other store in some other city.
But if this gift shop was Hiles, did some remnants of the Strand lobby decor remain?
The South originally showed mainstream releases, possibly in second-run (though I’m not sure that there was that much of a distinction in Danville, which tended to get movies quite some time after they opened in the major cities).
By the ‘60s, however, they had become an “Adults Only” theater showing softcore films, and by the '70s were showing hardcore.
The ad above from 1973 shows a softcore film “Trader Hornee” second-billed to an R-rated action film. This was a brief period of showing softer material, but hardcore films crept back in and continued for years.
The North had a similar fling with “Adults Only” fare as “The North Art” for a few years, but by 1973 was “The North ‘Action’ House” showing horror and blaxploitation and martial-arts films.
The North and the South were Danville’s equivalent to 42nd St. “grindhouses” at one point.
The Park was next to the Ballou Park Shopping Center, though not actually attached to it. I think most patrons just entered through the shopping center entrance and turned between two blocks of building into the theater’s adjacent lot, rather than use the theater’s actual entrance.
As a result, a lot of Danvillians tended to call it the “Ballou Park” rather than the “Park”.
It was definitely a twin by the ‘80s, but I don’t think it became a quad until the mid-'90s. The last film I recall seeing there was “Silence of the Lambs,” and I’m pretty sure that it was still only a twin at that point.
By this point, they actually had a video rental club set up in the lobby of the theater, indicative of the hard times theaters were facing in town after the onslaught of VCRs and cable.
I can’t remember the exact year it opened, but the Riverside opened in the mid-sixties as a single theater, and was “twinned” years later when the Riverside 2 was built onto the side.
It was located in the Riverside Shopping Center, and marked the shift of the hardtop theaters from along Main St. row (except for the drive-ins, the theaters in town were actually all along one continuous stretch that went from the North to the Schoolfield) to the shopping centers.
The Riverside had a wider auditorium and larger lobby than the other theaters, and the other selling points were “rocking chair” seating and “UltraVision”, which I suppose meant that the screen was wider and curved slightly.
The screen had curtains that closed before each showing, then opened to the appropriate width; if they opened wider than usual, you knew you were in for a treat. I remember seeing “Deliverance” there in first-run, and the wide-screen format was exceptional in this setting. The “Dueling Banjos” scene also kicked into surround sound, as did the whitewater scenes.
Another memorable Riverside experience was the re-release of Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. Not only did the movie look great, but the opening and end shots of the film feature curtains opening and closing, to which the opening and closing of the actual theater curtains added an extra dimension.
The Riverside 2 was added to accommodate more films running in Danville; by this point, Danville only had three hardtops— the Riverside, the Park, and the Plaza— and all three became twins.
The Riverside 2 was a smaller, “no frills” theater, though I believe it also had “rocking chair” seating, which was pretty commonplace by then. It tended to get the less-“visual” features that would play the Riverside.
(Oh, yeah, I actually saw “2010” there, but not “Protocol”.)
The Owl Drive-In was definitely not the Crescent Drive-In. In fact, it wasn’t even in Danville!
Checking the zip code “24586”— not a Danville zip code— shows the Owl Drive-In was actually in Ringgold, VA. Ringgold is a smaller town in Pittsylvania Co. about 20 minutes' drive from Danville.
I grew up in Danville and was living there and avidly going to movies during this period, and I don’t recall this theater at all.
I suspect this ad grouping was separate ads representative of theaters in that area from some point in 1973, but doesn’t actually reproduce a movie listing page from one of the Danville papers.
Otherwise, the Owl only advertised in Danville briefly enough that I’ve completely forgotten it existed 40 years later.