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jhnason commented about Happy 50th, "Ben-Hur" on Nov 18, 2009 at 5:06 pm

“Ben-Hur” was also shown in Portland, Maine at the Strand Theatre on Congress Street, in 70mm anamorphic and full six channel sound. I saw it there on Saturday, November 18, 1960 after seeing it at the Saxon in Boston in February and April of 1960. I don’t remember the opening date for the Portland engagement, but I know it ran for six weeks. I remember that it ran at the Saxon for 53 weeks in 70mm before moving to the Capri (in 35mm and four chanel magnetic).

The Strand is a forgotten theater today, but was notable for accommodating the world premiere of “The Virgin Queen” in 1953,
because Bette Davis lived in Cape Elizabeth (across the harbor from Portland) at the time. The Strand was later upgraded to a full 70mm Todd-AO instalation with a curved screen and six channel sound.

As I say, it is forgotten now except for a few of us film connoisseurs. When I have the time in the next few months, I will try to access the microfilm records of the Portland Press Herald, so that I can supply references.

I also saw first run showings of “The Alamo” (70mm shortened version), “Mutiny on the Bounty” in Ultra-Panavision 70, and “King of Kings” in Super Technirama 70.

It was a great theater in those days. The building is still there, but the theater is long gone.

Jim Nason