Showing 6 comments
The Whittier was just down the street from what was variously called a reform school, youth correctional facility, and “School for Boys.” Hugh Bruen, who owned the theatre, had special showings before regular hours so boys could be brought in to see movies. Quite a nice excursion, I imagine. The Whittier was the nicest of the three theaters (Wardman and Roxy were the others) and was known around SoCal for its hacienda motif and the stars on the ceiling.
No relation, but I knew X.X.’s son, also Jim.
In the 1950’s, the Wardman was part of the Bruen’s Whittier Theatres company. Hugh W. Bruen also operated the Whittier and the Roxy, where he kept his office. In about 1953, he built the Sundown Drive-In.
The Kaimuki’s owners (Consolidated, I think) tried making it an art house in the early 1960s. I saw my first Bergman film, The Virgin Spring, there. Times were already tough for free-standing, single-auditorum movie theaters by then. I left Hawaii a couple of years later and don’t know what the Kaimuki was like in the years before it closed.
This theatre housed the office of Hugh W. Bruen, who operated the Roxy, Wardman, and Whittier theaters and the Sundown Drive-In for many years. He was a prince of a guy, always giving passes to community groups and to kids like me with an interest in the movies.
Hugh W. Bruen, the wonderful owner of the Whittier theaters, had offices upstairs in the Roxy building. As a 12-year-old, I wrote him a letter about some movie that I had seen. He responded with a cordial letter and enclosed a couple of passes, an incredible treat for a young movie buff.
Some other kindnesses: when “Martin Luther” opened, he made sure that all the local Lutheran churches got a supply of passes. And he provided regular free admission (often with special private shows) to supervised groups from the California Youth Authority facility that was close by the Whittier Theater.
They don’t make the theaters — or the owners — like that any more.