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When I was home (in Burnet) from college (in Abilene), my younger brother and I would drive to Austin to see movies at the Dobie. I remember Lovers and Other Strangers (1970), Sleuth (1972), The Paper Chase (1973). They were probably first run art house movies. But maybe not. Maybe they were repertory movies. They were definitely early 70’s.
I’m one of the theatre junkies rdean showed the projection room to. He told me that Roy Rogers used to stop at the Rainbow on his way to Uvalde to see Dale. He would watch people watching one of his movies.
The Strand was not an Interstate theater. It was Trans Texas. It was an art house in 1969 when I saw Darling and Belle du Jour during the summer.
It’s my understanding that dual strip 3-D used only two projectors. There were intermissions for changeovers. Hard to believe but perhaps the disruptions were minimized by larger reels. What were the reel durations? 20 and 60 minutes? Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Austin did authentic polarized dual projector presentations several years ago but of course platters now enable non-stop projection which is what we experienced.
I have many great memories of all the movies I saw at the Bowie Majestic between 1962 and 1968. I think tickets were 25 cents at first and went to 50 cents, probably when the seating was changed and the balcony disappeared. Originally there were three sections of seats but the aisles were changed to each side and there was only one large section of seats. I have little memory of the balcony. A classmate, Earl Collins, was the projectionist and a few times I joined him in the booth. I did the changeover a time or two and I saw him doing the splicing and rewinding and everything. He would have the arc carbons timed perfectly and then have to readjust the movements after another projectionist filled in and changed them. Earl showed me the way the two projectors were coupled for two-strip 3-D movies. During the time he worked there he received one magnetic striped print, The Blue Max and he ran it through the stereo system but it didn’t sound right or didn’t work properly. I enjoyed looking at the anamorphic lenses and noticed that the sets at the drive-in and downtown were different types. I believe one set had an adjustment for the amount of anamorphic correction. Also, the Majestic used a DC generator for the arc but the drive-in used rectifiers. Earl told me that he could tell from trailers which advertised movies were scope because the trailers were “letterboxed”. I think he never had actual scope trailers. If a movie was scope and the cartoon wasn’t, the cartoon was projected with the scope lens anyway. I remember that Earl also said that Techniscope movies tended to lose frame for some reason, as if printed with frame errors. The entrance to the projection booth was behind the poster on the left/south side of the building. The ticket booth had usual dual clocks with Time Now and Time Out. I didn’t know about surround sound or the surround channel in those days and I always wondered about the speakers on the walls of the auditorium. I don’t know if there were any on the rear wall. There were three movies a week for years. I used to have a Zotz plastic coin but I don’t remember any other tokens from other movies and never any 3-D presentations either anaglyph or polarized. I wasn’t familiar with Technicolor dye imbibition printing back then so I wouldn’t have looked for the distinction but I remember the reissue of Darby O'Gill and the Little People had great color, especially the Banshee. I wish I had all the monthly calendars with the Majestic and Trail schedules. I always wondered how they could plan a month or more in advance when a movie’s first run could vary.
Cinemark had announced that Movies 9 would remain and they were even repainting the houses. Then they announced a new Movies 10 at McCreless. Movies 9 has been demolished!
All I recall about HTWWW is that it was Cinerama in Dallas. I don’t remember any publicity for it and I didn’t see the movie. It might have been 70mm. The Village in Fort Worth publicized all their 70mm presentations but we always drove to Wichita Falls since it was closer to Bowie. Can you believe schools made “field trips” to The Ten Commandments? Remember the Saturday matinees for kids? Remember the William Castle movies with gimmicks? We missed the dual-projector polarized 3-D movies in the early 50’s but we saw The Mask with anaglyph 3-D sequences in downtown Wichita Falls.
Wichita Falls definitely had 70mm presentations in the 60’s. There was always publicity about them. We drove to Wichita Falls from Bowie for My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, and Dr. Zhivago in 70mm. But these might have been at The State not The Wichita. From 1953 to 1962 when we lived in Wichita Falls we saw many movies downtown and many more at Seymour Road Drive-In and Grant Street Drive-In (which had indoor seating) and Parker Square Theater. If anyone is interested I’ll list movie titles I remember.
The three large houses had stereo but not the three smaller houses. The small screens were terrible – Scope movies were cropped at the sides to fit a regular size screen. I saw Poltergeist, Yentl, (Bo Derek’s) Bolero, Octopussy and many other movies there. Poltergeist was advertised as having Surround sound.
“It’s Own Building?” The building was barely connected to the mall. The mall came down and the door to the mall was walled off and nothing else changed. Nothing moved. I’ve enjoyed many fine presentations on their nine screens. Usually bright and sharp images with good sound, although often mono.
For a short time this house was a repertory cinema that showed a different movie every two or three days, and occasional first-run movies such as “A Wedding” (1978). I have vivid memories of seeing “The Ritz” (1976) and “Die Konsequenz” (1977), the latter a Wolfgang Petersen/JÃ¼rgen Prochnow movie.
The theater was twinned before 1975, the year I moved from Abilene. The information about the seats facing the wrong direction is completely correct. The Exorcist was probably shown there before the twinning and the lines were long. I saw Camelot and Cabaret there. I never heard stereo sound. I think I saw Escape From Witch Mountain and definitely saw Island at the Top of the World there. The blue lighted screen had no curtain, a GCC standard.
The downtown cinemas in Wichita Falls were the Wichita, the State and the Strand. The first two were Interstates and the Strand was probably independent and showed art house movies such as Darling and Belle de Jour in 1969. The State or the Wichita showed all the 70mm presentations in the 1960’s – My Fair Lady, Dr. Zhivago, The Sound of Music, Gone with the Wind. There was always a lot of newspaper coverage regarding the film format. I’ve been told that Oklahoma! shown in stereo at Wichita or State was probably the 1956 CinemaScope version but I suspect that South Pacific a few years later was shown in 70mm. Does anyone remember otherwise? It seemed like the South Pacific billboard we passed on the way to downtown was in place for months and months. Sadly, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1969 or 1970 was 35mm with mono sound.
I can’t tell you when the Westwood opened, but I saw Paper Lion there in October 1968. I saw 2001, A Space Odyssey there and I was very impressed with the magnetic stereo sound system. I still think Hal’s voice was in the surround speakers. Paint Your Wagon was another great magnetic stereo presentation. I was always amazed that Funny Girl, Hello Dolly, Fiddler on the Roof and Ben-Hur weren’t stereo. I believe the theater was part of the Interstate chain as was The Paramount. When the Westwood was twinned the screen was acquired by a Cooper High School teacher to be installed in the school auditorium.