Showing 1 - 25 of 72 comments
I must have walked past that marquee because I marched that day with the protesters from the Village to Central Park.
Visited here in summer of 2011, but did not go inside. Posted a photo of the exterior. Maybe built in the 1930s or not too long after the war?
For what it’s worth, there was a movie theatre at or around 50 Cours Mirabeau as far back as 1983. I post my comment here as this theatre is the closest of Aix’s 3 existing theatres to 50 Cours Mirabeau.
I was in Aix that spring visiting a girlfriend who was doing a bus & truck tour of West Side Story through Europe. They settled in to Aix for about 3 nights around Palm Sunday and performed on a small stage at the Rex, which, as I recall, was normally a cinema but was also hosted live events. The performers complained of the cramped stage and cramped backstage performing their musical, but it wasn’t built for stage shows. It was a movie house. Or had been a small legit theatre originally and converted to a cinema at some point. I guess that the theatre maybe dated back to the teens or 1920s. Seated mybe 500-600. Quaint. Charming outer box office and open air lobby beneath the big marquee that read “REX.” A return visit in summer of 1992 saw that the theatre was closed and awaiting renovation into apartments; the complex was to be called the “Rex.” A recent look at Google maps shows no Rex apartment building but there appears to be a newish building modeled in the style of older ones along the Cours Mirabeau.
Don’t imagine this entry gets too much traffic, but curious to know if anyone recalls an old deco theatre (maybe from the ‘20s or '30s) either on 101 or S. Cedros just south of Lomas Santa Fe? It had a period vertical neon sign, I believe it was called the Solana. I went there twice as a kid in the summers of 1974 and '75, seeing Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and The Towering Inferno, respectively. Butch was a re-issue that summer and Inferno was a straggler in a prolonged second-run showing at this theatre, 2nd-runs being probably all it was showing by this point in its history. Big auditorium, maybe 900-1000 seats, but looking somewhat derelict inside. Hardly anyone in the house at either screening (matinees, I think) except my brother and I. Don’t know when it would have closed, but a return visit to Solana Beach in 1992 saw that it had been taken over by a used furniture store. The vertical sign was stil extant, but maybe the lettering was missing. Looking at Google maps now, it must have been demolished; there’s no trace of it either on 101 or South Cedros.
Yes, it’s a classic theater that deserves to be restored and showing repertory fare, like the Castro or the Stanford. Trouble will always be parking on Solano Avenue.
I remember seeing a double feature of AGAINST ALL ODDS and MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON here in… 1984. Preferred the Bridges film. A recent visit to the theater (July 2017) finds it still beautifully kept up.
That is a remarkable photograph, considering what surrounds the Orinda nowadays (2017). Must have been taken soon after its opening in 1941.
Typical of a brain-dead real estate developer not to try to preserve and incorporate a former theater as part of the condo project. Preserving & renovating would help their image, be good for the neighborhood, and result in much positive PR.
Jack Tillmany’s thorough listing of SF theaters at http://home.earthlink.net/~minhnghia/theater.html is undecided as to the address of the Bella Union, née the Shanghai. Either 825 or 821. Anyone with photos of the building when it was known as the Bella Union (1949-1985) should post to clear up the address conundrum.
Thanks for your response, Joe Vogel. I could be mistaken; the building housing the current Walgreen’s on West Portal could have been something other than a theater. I don’t know the history of the ‘hood. I was only passing through. To me, the building had all the elements to suggest it had previously been a theater. Your link posted 7/15/2017 is a decent overview for the Empire. I’m not a local but if I’m on West Portal again this trip, I’ll snap a photo and post it here.
Passed by the Empire yesterday (July 14, 2017) and it looked like it was doing pretty well for a theater so maligned in the comments here, though I’m sure the criticisms are not inaccurate. Just sad to hear of theaters not taking pride in their interiors in order to give audiences the experience they deserve by going to see a movie outside the comfort of their living room. It should be something special. (Darquil’s blog gives some convincing insight on this – see his/her link.)
On the same day, I caught an evening film screening at the Paramount in Oakland. Thank god that palace still exists pretty much intact. What a glorious place to see a movie, even if the acoustics are not ideal. I could take issue with the 35mm print of ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN that the Paramount screened – old, a little scratchy, colors not vibrant – but at least they were showing a great now-classic film.
One other point: I can’t seem to find any mention of the theater that was across and down West Portal from the Empire. It is currently a Walgreen’s but the deco facade details are still evident. Anyone know anything about this former theater? Or can direct me to its entry on CT? Can’t find it anywhere. PS, anyone who could do a thorough overview history of the Empire, please give a whack at it. As of this date, the Empire entry has no written overview, just comments.
The Pagoda. The Coronet. The Coliseum…
Since the SF Chronicle article (actually a “special to the Examiner”) that kenmcintyre posted the link to was published (April 5, 1999), of the single-screen theaters mentioned, only the Clay and the Vogue still operate as single-screen theaters:
“Some survive – the Clay, Coronet, Bridge, the Vogue, Presidio and Regency 2 – but most of San Francisco’s one-screen theaters have gone…” The Pagoda and the Coliseum – also mentioned – are gone. The Century 21, said to be in the Marina District, I can’t seem to find on CT.
This would be Wilder’s remake of THE FRONT PAGE.
Dallasmovietheaters & Ken Roe’s claim that the Rialto opened in 1918 may be incorrect. A look at and read of the photo of the letter by Howard Sheehan posted here would put the opening of the Rialto on or about May 1, 1916.
Now that’s how you write a letter of admiring gratitude. “I beg to remain, yours very truly…” 101 years ago.
Trying to account for the discrepancy in seating at the Capitol. Here, capacity is listed as 5,230. Wikipedia entry says 4,000. Did it start out as the higher number and then at some point over a fifth of the seats were removed for… Cinerama installation? Also, to be clear, the entrance to the Capitol (the corner marquee) was on the southwest corner of Broadway and 51st St., judging from the photos. Some of the ads I see in the NY tImes states the address as Broadway & 50th St. (see 6/22/1934 ad for “Operator 13.”
jedidiah & MDchanic term the Zeckendorf Towers miserable – no quibble there. But what to make of the soulless pile of an NYU dorm on 14th Street a block and a half away that replaced the Palladium, née the Academy of Music? Architectural genocide in Manhattan that continues unabated.
Intrigued by this theater. Cannot find a photo of it anywhere.
BTW, beware of Mark Rivest’s site. As well-intentioned as the site may be, it’s confusingly laid out, and definitely not user-friendly. Though he has some rare photos, typos abound and I noticed a number of places where he gets his history wrong – e.g. stating that Morosco, Helen Hayes, Bijou, Gaiety, & Astor all closed in 1972. Only the Astor closed in ‘72. They were all torn down in 1982 (actually demo began in fall of 1981) to make way for what became the Marriot Marquis Hotel (and theater).
I performed on the stage of the Barre Opera House in the summer of 1985. The Atlantic Theater Company production of THE HOTEL PLAY by Wally Shawn, directed by Sheila Welch. This play was part of Atlantic’s inaugural summer season of plays in Vermont. Other venues were located in Montpelier.
I believe I caught Lawrence here twice.
Lucky to have caught Jaws here in this series.
Burt Reynolds in a film with David Niven, and Niven gets 3rd billing. Produced by David Merrick (Mr. Broadway himself), directed by Don Siegel (Clint Eastwood’s mentor), music by Nelson Riddle (Oscar winner for his score for The Great Gatsby), cinematographer was Freddie Young (3-time Oscar winner for David Lean). How could this one have possibly gone wrong???
Aha! This was where I saw Chinatown maybe in ‘76 or '77, not at Telegraph Rep as I’d thought. I do recall seeing it in a second floor auditorium, very cramped, seemingly makeshift. Anyone have a similar recollection of this theater’s interior?
Saw a few movies at the Oaks in my time, but the only ones I remember was a double-feature of Don Taylor’s “Tom Sawyer” the musicalized version from 1973 I believe, and right after it, John Sturges’s “Joe Kidd” with Clint Eastwood. These would have been second or even third runs of these films. I saw this double-feature in July or August of 1973. Joe Kidd was released in July of 1972; Tom Sawyer’s release date was March 1973. I’ve always liked that the Oaks was perched prominently at the top of Solano Avenue in Albany (Berkeley), and looked forward to seeing what was on the marquee as you drove west out of the Northbrae Tunnel. That it’s closed now (and McCallum’s ice cream!) significantly diminishes the allure of the Solano Ave commercial district. Should Pegasus Books fold that will be the end of my visits to that neighborhood.