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Clearly no movement to do anything with this property in the past 3 three years or more. A very old hand-painted sign on the facade reads “Hall for hire” and lists a phone number.
Okay, let’s reflect a moment here: looking at an old Strand schedule from Nov. of ‘78… one Sunday Nov. 25 showed a QUADRUPLE feature of Deliverance, Sorcerer, Marathon Man, and Bite the Bullet. What!?!?! AND, Lana Turner & Jane Fonda made appearances at 2 separate events at the theater!?!! Beyond incredible.
Hmmm. That photo from ‘72 is of course the theater ( I remember the sign w/ Chinese characters so well), so my recollection of someone shouting down to 'Johnny" from an upper window to open the theater must be wrong. Or the person could have been shouting down from a window in the apt. building 2 doors to the right. At any rate, the mid-week matinee unspooling of Black Sunday was sparsely attended to be sure, but probably cost a buck & change and it was one of my favorite movies at the time so I had a great time. 'A Moment in Time’ sounds really cool. I spent a lot of time roaming the streets of Chinatown as a kid and remember some Chinese theaters, one on Grant Ave. (Sun SIng?) and Great Star on Jackson. Also the Grandview & the Palace. Never saw a movie inside these theaters but wish I had.
Saw several movies at the CineMart when I was living in Wilmington as a kid. The only one I can recall off-hand is Apocalypse Now, playing some time after it had opened exclusively in New York & LA. Coppola’s film had played the Zeigfeld in New York. This print had no titles or credits at beginning or end. A printed program was handed out to patrons detailing all credits. The print I saw at CineMart had added end credits. No program was given to patrons. Hard to believe that as of June 2011 the theater (what’s left of it) still stands.
Okay. Warning: personal indulgent comment about to begin. Blame the Branmar Cinema’s months-long booking of The Poseidon Adventure in 1973 for my wanting to become an actor. My brothers took me to see it early on in its run. I was so viscerally traumatized by it but excited by the film’s thrills & suspense (I was 10) I went back to see it on 9 successive Saturday matinees. Admission fee each Saturday matinee: $1. About the 8th time, the manager/usher did not tear my ticket and cautioned me not to lose my ticket. If no more than half a dozen people showed up, they wouldn’t be unspooling the film and I’d get my money back. Enough patrons attended and I got my weekly fix of the S.S. Poseidon capsizing and following once again “the combined talents of 15 Academy Award winners” in “Who will survive…?”
I remember standing on line to get in to the Branmar in those years and enjoying the sweet odors emanating from a neighboring bakery. Paul McCartney’s “My Love” often played from another business' outdoor speaker that spring/summer of 1973. No atmosphere at this suburban strip mall theater; just memories of fun moviegoing. Believe I saw Blazing Saddles here and the immensely disappointing Jaws 2 on opening night with a huge crowd in attendance. Felt so awful that Roy Scheider had gotten himself caught up in that one. But when I was 10 I wanted to be Gene Hackman in The Poseidon Adventure! Inspiring everyone and leading them all to safety! I did become an actor. Still making a living at it, knock wood.
Almost 4 years after I posted my original comment, the facade still stands, the front entrance boarded up, window poster niches boarded up as well. The chain pharmacy is now closed; it’s space, which had occupied the auditorium of the Harrison stands empty for now. I may be wrong about having seen White Wilderness there. It may have been another Disney, or G-rated film about wild animals in the arctic.
Lived a couple blocks away in the early-mid ‘80s. Think I recall seeing DAYS OF HEAVEN there just before the St Marks’ demise around 1984 or ‘85. TAXI DRIVER was a midnight perennial on the weekends, as was A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, for the NYU crowd. I remember an old-fashioned somewhat roccoco water fountain in the back of the auditorium. We who lived in the 'hood were very sorry to see this theater go to be ignominiously replaced by a GAP (which justly died about 10 or 12 years ago).
I made the drive several times down from Wilmington as a high-school student in the late-‘70s, early '80s to catch revival fare. I believe I saw A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and CASABLANCA there, as well as several midnight showings of Rocky Horror. Yeah, I remember seeing preview after preview for THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME, typical college student fare for a revival house. Was there an oculus in the facade of the theater or the interior? Maybe I’m just remembering a round art-deco mirror in the interior. I believe the State was the sole revival house in Delaware at the time ('70s-'80s).
Nice to hear people in Delaware are still attending the movies, however limited their options are. When i was growing up in Wilmington in the ‘70s we had several places to catch 1st-run films, theaters that started out as single huge houses seating at least 1500 to 2000 patrons, but were then multiplexed as the decade wore on. Anyone out there recall Concord Mall Cinema, Branmar Cinema, the Eric Concordville on Rte.1, Tri-State Mall twin cinemas, the West Goshen twin cinemas, the old Warner downtown, Cinemart, the theaters in Price’s Corners, the Edgemoor? Further afield were the State in Newark, the old Warner in West Chester, and a few drive-ins like the 202 in West Chester, Price’s Corners, and Newark. Most of my movie-going was confined to the Concord Mall cinema, Branmar Plaza cinema, and Tri-State Mall twins. I watched THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE on 10 successive Saturday afternoons at the Branmar Cinema when I was 10 years old. I would sit through back-to-back showings of films like THE GREAT GATSBY, THE DEEP, KING KONG ('76 version), and BLACK SUNDAY at the Concord Mall cinema. Hey, I was kid with not much to do in the suburbs of Wilmington, DE.
It started as a twin maybe in the late ‘60s, early '70s and was known for showing the blockbusters of the time. I remember lines of people snaking through the center of the mall and out the front entrance waiting for 1st -run showings of movies like THE STING and STAR WARS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. Tri-State Mall cinemas was turned into a triplex in the mid-'80s. The last film I recall seeing there in their woefully small 3rd theater (the larger Twin 1 had been partitioned to create the 3rd theater) was WALL STREET. By then northern Delawareans had begun to move on to other newer malls in the area for their filmgoing experience or had become addicted to their VCRs and the Tri-State Mall was no longer a desirable place to catch to a movie. The theaters showed their age (20 years?), wear and tear was obvious. Not sure when it was turned into a quintuplex(?), though it can’t have brought in too many patrons. Don’t know when it shuttered for good but by the time it did, Tri-State Mall was a pretty desolate place.
The only art house in Delaware now, I think. Wilmingtonians, support this theater! It’s a comfy, well-kept theater showing interesting films in a great old office building in downtown Wilmington.
Ah, beautiful. Thank you.
As of 9/22/‘08,the Photobucket links to Warren G. Harris’ photos are all down. Any chance of seeing them again?
As of August 2007, the former 202 Drive-in is now a nursery.
Again, Jeff Frantzen’s recollection of the Northside jibes completely with my experience of seeing several films there in the mid-70s. Cramped, narrow theaters, with a very thrown-together feel. God forbid there had ever been a fire. So small, they were always sold out when I went. I remember one day, maybe summer of 1977, catching an early afternoon double-bill of MEAN STREETS and TAXI DRIVER at the Strand on Market Street in San Francisco and then taking the F bus back to Berkeley (where I lived) to catch a double feature of THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER Part II. I was 14 then and could do stuff like that. Cherished, lasting moviegoing memories.
The description of the street-level entrance on Telegraph and the narrow stairway leading upstairs by Jeff Frentzen is what I recall about this screening room sized space. Like watching a film in somebody’s shabby living room. Saw “Chinatown” there in the mid-late 70s.
I remember seeing Frankenheimer’s BLACK SUNDAY here in the summer of 1977. The owners were Chinese then and may have lived above the theater itself as I arrived for the first showing one day to hear an elderly Chinese woman shouting up to “Johnny” (her son?) to come down and open the theater’s doors for the patron (me) waiting to see the film.
I, too, spent many an afternoon watching great old revivals at the Strand from about 1977 to 1979. Was it running as a revival house in 1976? This was my film education as a young teen (I was 13 in ‘76), hitting all the revival and 2nd run houses in San Fancisco and the East Bay, such as the Northside and the UC in Berkeley, and another tiny place on Telegraph near Durant St. whose name escapes me. I remember paying a buck at the Strand to see double bills such as the 1st two Godfather films, Mean Streets & Taxi Driver, 8 ½ & Roma, Straw Dogs & Cross of Iron perhaps, and my favorite double feature, Black Sunday & Marathon Man. Chinatown, The Graduate, Five Easy Pieces, many more I saw at all these places. I recall the interior of the Strand as being pitch black, couldn’t see anything but what was on screen, with red velvet curtains at the lobby entrances to the auditoriums to keep out the harsh afternoon sunlight. I believe I still have some of those great old Strand revival programs in a box somewhere, too, pack rat that I am. But then, I loved the movies. And going to a theater with programming like the Strand was moviegoing nirvana. I also hit the other nearby Market St. grindhouses—the St. Francis, the Warfield. Thanks Mike Thomas, wherever you are.
I lived in West Chester from ages 4 through 8, from 1967 to 1971. I remember going to the Harrison only once, maybe in ‘67 or '68, before it closed for good, probably around 1969 or 1970. By the late 60s, the Harrison’s reputation around town was not good. It wasn’t well maintained, was kind of rundown on the outside, and there were rumours of rats running around the auditorium. I recall my mother taking me to a nature film of some kind, possibly a reissue of Disney’s WHITE WILDERNESS, in '67 or '68. Nothing distinguished about the interior—sloping wooden floor, very old seats, some of which were broken. By the time I saw a film there (again, 1967/'68), the writing was on the wall for the Harrison. Too bad, because it and the Warner Theater on High St. were the only 2 movie houses in downtown West Chester. A jewelry store went in to the Harrison’s old space for awhile, and as of this writing, summer of 2007, the facade of the old Harrison still stands, but the interior has been taken over by a chain pharmacy next door. I’ll post a picture of the facade when CT gets its photo link up and running.
I have very fond memories of the 202 Drive-in. I lived in West Chester, PA from ages 4-8 in the late 60s/early 70s and my mother brought my older brother and I there several times as kids. Yes, there was the kiddie playground up by the screen that we’d scamper around on until the first film began. A small, battered self-powered merry-go-round used to make me very dizzy. The projection booth building was low-slung, painted light blue as I recall and inside was sold all the typical drive-in food and refreshments, food whose smell was one-of-a-kind, kind of like boardwalk grub, but delicious to an undiscerning 6-year old. The first film I recall seeing at the 202 was Disney’s THE LOVE BUG in ‘68 or '69. A VW bug painted to look like Herbie was parked out front by the entrance as a promotional gimmick. The film was a huge hit the summer it came out, with cars lined up along Route 202 to enter the drive-in before dusk, often the case with popular films there. I remember going one night with my mom, grandmother, aunt, and brother to see a family film as the first feature (I’ve forgotten what) but the second feature was not for kids. I distinctly recall seeing George C. Scott addressing the troops in front of the American flag in PATTON and then the film’s subsequent opening titles over a scorched North African battlefield as I began to lose my battle with sleepiness. My mom took my brother and I to the 202 in 1968 to see TRUE GRIT and this 5-year old and his 8 year old brother were so enthralled with John Wayne and his heroic showdown with Robert Duvall at the film’s climax that we begged my mom to bring us back to see it again. She did, a few weeks later. The last film I remember seeing at the 202 was a revival of THE STING, possibly in 1975 or 1977. I think by then the speakers you’d attach inside your car window had been replaced by a system which you could simply tune in to a station and hear the movie over your car radio. It wasn’t long after that that the sun went down for good at the 202, but my cherished childhood memories of the times spent there have not. When I go back to the West Chester area to visit my folks, I still think of the 202 when driving by the spot it had been.