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I hope this does not violate any community guidelines, but this theater is the worst. I primarily go to “special event” presentations (Met Opera, Turner Classic Movies, The Ballet), usually shown in House #4 which has a terrific size screen with the right aspect for Scope presentations. Which only has merit if you get the show up there!
My first outing with these classic presentations was several years back with the 50th (?) Anniversary showing of “Lawrence of Arabia” and it was nothing short of spectacular, just like seeing it in 70mm at the Eric back in 1963.
Since then the quality of presentation has deteriorated to the point I simply am not shelling out $12.50 or $22 to have in the back of mind anticipating how they are going to screw it up this time!
It was bad when CarMike ran this place, and with AMC it has deteriorated ever further: house lights not going down until you run out and tell the candy girl; previews for the evening show coming up the middle of the opera; endings for the Ballet cut entirely, no sound for the crucial first five minutes of “Sunset Boulevard”, rock music playing over the opening of “Carmen”, just to vent a few of these incidents. And if house lights not going down are to be expected, in the case of “The Sound of Music”, they came back UP during the crucial cemetery scene with the Von Trapps hiding behind the tombstones, a dark scene already so you could barely see anything at the end.
“White Christmas” was the last of these misadventures for me, with the introductory comments and main title cut entirely, and when it did get on the screen, the picture was dark and flickered throughout. Had I not had my heart sent on seeing this holiday classic, I would have left.
When “Ben-Hur” had it’s 60th Anniversary showing a few weeks back, I went to the other side of Harrisburg to the Regal Stadium 14; first off, it’s a much more congenial atmosphere from the time you arrive; the screen is a smaller, but with the right aspect ratio for “Scope”, and bright, sharp projection. It’s a bit further to go, but certainly worth the trip.
To be fair, the “regular” movies that I have seen at the AMC never had these problems; it’s these special programs that do not get any management monitoring the show and hoping the automation programming was done right, which in too many cases for me it was not.
Makes me long for the days of the State and Eric and Trans-Lux when movies had curtains!
Does anyone know if The State was where “BEN HUR” played its initial roadshow engagement?
Great memories of the Strand April 14 with the 60th Anniversary presentation of “Ben-Hur”. Still a memorable,tasteful film with the never to be forgotten chariot race. Bittersweet is seeing at a multi-plex, and although Fathomevents showed it complete with overture, entracte, it was pale when compared to seeing it for the first time at the Strand on that huge screen.
MSC77— Thank you for reminding us on The Boyd’s 70mm presentation of this remarkable film. The Boyd is where I saw it; trotting to Philadelphia from Harrisburg to see something at the Boyd in 70MM was not unheard of for this guy; it was an unforgettable experience.
A bit belated comment, but yes I remember when “THE KING” was equipped to show “Windjammer” in Cinemiracle. Reserved seat show like all the big screen attractions, and was just glorious that this attraction had come come to Lancaster (certainly more available than the Boyd in Philadelphia or the Town in Baltimore)
Remember it was Saturday night and so exciting to be there.
Don’t know that they ever had any other 3 strip attractions there.
Shortly thereafter Harrisburg opened the Trans-Lux with 70mm Cinerama and the big shows went there.
Smaller in size and no longer in the 2.35:1 ratio for wide screen “Cinemascope” formatted movies without cropping top and bottom or the sides.
Well this long since demolished movie house is hitting very close to home, as I lived in the town of Dillsburg, and this was very much a part of movie going as Haars Drive-In was in the summer months.
The entrance would have been where the Citizens Bank Auto-Banking lanes emerge onto Baltimore Street. As I recall, it had a very simple V-shaped marquee—no changing letters, but a yellow neon “D” facing the street.
I don’t remember anything about the interior, except that the projection room was just off the walkway to the seating with the door usually open, and I was completely overtaken with the machinery and this bright bluish light coming from these machines—which may explain my fascination with movie projection and why I wound up as a projectionist many years later.
My mother told me I was given to running down the aisles to the screen and checking everything out closeup, before running back to my seat— which probably ticked a lot of people off, but this was as close I could get to showbiz at that age!
I was very young and don’t remember much of what I saw there, except for the Ma and Pa Kettle features, and a whole myriad of B&W detective mysteries that probably would be considered “film noir”; I think I fell asleep on most of these.
The Dillsburg Theatre shuttered very early, and stood like a lonely dinosaur which I passed every day on my way home from school until it was finally demolished. Very sad, but was the precursor of all the demolition of neighborhood theatres that would come.
THE SIGN FOR HAARS WHEN PASSING ON RT 15 SAYS THEY ARE OPENING FOR THE SEASON THIS WEEKEND (MAY 13-14) WITH A DISNEY DOUBLE-BILL.
NOTHING SAYS SUMMER IS COMING ON BETTER THAN WHEN HAARS OPENS; IT HAS BEEN THE PERENNIAL FIXTURE FOR DILLSBURG FOR AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER; I CAN’T BEGIN TO REMEMBER ALL THE MOVIES I SAW THERE, BUT CERTAINLY THE FIRST WAS “THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH”
WHEN I WAS A KID, THE DRIVE-IN RAN 7 NIGHTS A WEEK IN THE SUMMER, ALWAYS A DOUBLE FEATURE, EXCEPT FOR HOLIDAYS WITH THE “DUSK TO DAWN” SHOWS. ON SUMMER EVENINGS,VANCE HAAR WOULD TRAVEL AROUND DILLSBURG IN A WONDERFUL WOODY STATION WAGON EQUIPPED WITH A PA SYSTEM, AND, LIKE OUR VERY OWN CARNY PITCHMAN, WOULD BALLYHOO US INTO COMING TO THE DRIVE-IN FOR THE EVENING.
WHEN YOU GOT THERE FOR WHATEVER THE FEATURE (MOST TIMES IT DIDN’T MATTER— IT WAS A MOVIE!) THERE WERE SWINGS AND SLIDES FOR US KIDS UNTIL IT GOT CLOSE TO DUSK AND THE “3 MINUTE COUNTDOWN CLOCK” BEFORE THE SHOW SENT US SCURRYING TO OUR CARS AND SEEMED TO TAKE FOREVER UNTIL THE SHOW BEGAN.
WHEN THE FIRST FEATURE ENDED, THERE WERE PREVIEWS OF COMING ATTRACTIONS, AND THEN THE 10 MINUTE INTERMISSION REEL, WITH ADS FOR ALL THE LOCAL BUSINESSES, AS WELL AS THE DANCING POPCORN BOXES. (AT THIS POINT IT WAS IMPERATIVE TO WHINE AND CONVINCE THE PARENTS TO STAY FOR THE NEXT FEATURE—NO MATTER WHAT IT WAS)
IN THE TEEN YEARS, BEFORE HAVING A CAR, THERE WAS ALWAYS THE ELEVATED BLEACHERS AT THE BACK OF THE DRIVE-IN, AND MANY A LESSON IN COMING OF AGE WAS LEARNED THERE!
HAARS DRIVE-IN IS IMPORTANT TO THE DILLSBURG COMMUNITY, NOT JUST BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN HERE FOR 63 YEARS, BUT BECAUSE IT IS THE LAST OF AN ICONIC AMERICAN LANDMARK—THE DRIVE-IN THEATRE, A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN GET OUT THE LAWNCHAIRS AND WATCH A MOVIE UNDER THE STARS.
BEST WISHES TO HAARS ON ANOTHER GREAT SEASON, AND HOPE YOU’LL BE AROUND FOR ANOTHER 60 YEARS.
The Strand- Capitol Performing Arts Centre represents the very best of downtown revitalization and preserving historic theatre architecture.
I can’t begin to remember all the movies I saw at these two wonderful theatres; what I do remember most from those Stanley-Warner days was an elaborate changing letter marquee with chasing lights that spanned both theatres and was like a touch of “Broadway” in York.
What was been saved from the wrecking ball and revitalized into this Arts Centre is a textbook example of how it is done; the efforts of the many parties involved is worthy of a book or documentary film on preserving what America needs to value.
The Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Centre is now home to so many varied and artistically wonderful events, both live personal appearances and classic films; my most recent experience is the York Symphony’s one-night presentation of Opera- Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutti”; based on that evening, I’m sure there will be many more to come.
These theatres, both architecturally distinctive, represent the best of what we have built, and through immeasurable effort and support, remain a vital and vibrant part of the artistic community.
BRAVO to all involved over the years, and I certainly hope to be a supporting member in keeping The Strand- Capitol Performing Arts Centre a vital part of the cultural offerings of the area.
My many thanks!
Good news for us fans of the West Shore— the phone is back on and they are showing “The Martian” through the week. They aren’t down for the count just yet.
I’m going to have to correct my earlier posting this week— I don’t know what the status of the West Shore is at this point; the phone is now disconnected, and that is never a good sign. Hopefully someone will buy this venue and make a go at it
West Shore is still operating; they have gone from 2 features with separate admission to one show at 7 in the evenings. They also have special fundraising matinees on select weekends. The feature times are no longer posted on the Penn-Live movie site.
The news posted on July 9 that the West Shore is distressing to be sure; I certainly hope someone sees what a gem this neighborhood theatre is and will carry on. This is the one theatre in this area I could count on to sit back and experience a professional presentation without having to sit through 10 trailers at painful sound levels before the picture began, or having house lights come up 8 minutes before the end of the movie. If the West Shore closes, it will be sorely missed by this movie goer.
Coate—Many thanks for the commentary on The Sound of Music and your link to the 50th Anniversary Retrospective. What a resource that is for us 70mm roadshow geeks.
97 weeks at the Strand might be the record—If memory serves, SOM ran 67 weeks as a reserved seat show here in Harrisburg, left, and came back for another 27 or so as a general release.
For Sound of Music fans, Fathomevents is going to run the Turner Classics resortation in select theatres April 19 and 22 for those of us who can’t get enough of this movie. (fathomevents.com) I’ve seen SOM easily 35 times, from a reserved seat or the projection room or on the TV; I plan to be there for this showing if for no other reason than to see the most iconic opening of a movie musical on the big screen the way it was meant to be seen!
Many thanks again for the comments and links!
Alps comment on the Boyd posted 3/15/15 is certainly a valid one: “Maybe the movie theater era is over.” I would concur that is true, at least in the showmanship department. The days of the Boyd and her kind ended with the multiplexes, which are no different than any of the big box retailers which replaced Wannamakers, Gimbels, and the other flagship prestige retailers.
Case in point was Saturday going to my local multiplex here in the Harrisburg area to see the Met Opera; there are too many instances of this “big box” theatre operation screwing up these presentations to go into here, but this particular presentation was fine up until the last 5 minutes, when the previews for the next show was overlaid with the triumphant finale of Rossini’s opera; a very Warholesque ending but not really what we bargained for! The reason from the manager, the popcorn girl didn’t shut off the one projector!
To Alps comment, it’s not the audiences that get to me; its the shoddy amateur “don’t give a damn” presentations that keep at home for the most part.
Alas, when the Boyd is reduced to rubble, it only underscores the loss of what one once a glorious movie experience.
So now that the Ipic plan to multiplex the Boyd has gone the way of the dodo bird, is restoration of the Boyd still a viable option, or has the demolition of the interior thus far rendered that impossible? Any information from followers is appreciated
Reading the comments already posted brings back so many memories— the Penway, Roxy, and the other neighborhood theatre operations were a family operation. This includes the VALLE in Mechanicsburg, where I saw most of the movies I attended when I was a kid—later apprenticed there and got my projectionists license and went on to run porn at the STAR and martial arts pics at the Colonial as a union projectionist!
Some years later, the Valle was operated under the name Christian Arts Theatre and I had the dubious job of managing it— we tried to initiate a classic repertory cinema program, which worked for a while but kinda petered out in the long haul.
Still the Valle— and that family run movie chain brings back great memories.
The West Shore Theatre is decidely a Cinema Treasure— simply because of what it is— the last of the neighborhood 2nd run theatres that used to be part of every outlying town or neighborhood away from the Harrisburg First Run theatres.
I visited the West Shore last evening for the first time since their conversion to digital format, and it is THE venue to see a movie.
The admission— $4 on weeknights, $5 on weekends wouldn’t get you a kid’s size soda at the local megaplex.
Price aside, this is a family operation, and they make you feel welcome from the time you arrive.
Then there’s the theatre— this wonderful 1940’s modern movie theatre architecture from those wonderful experior doors invites you inside to enjoy the show.
The seats (not the orginal by any means) are comfortable and wide, with plenty of leg room.
The screen is big with the full (or darn close to) 2.35 Cinemascope wide screen format. The new digital projection is bright and flawless.
The sound is state-of-the-art 7.1 Dolby surround-in a theatre with superb acoustics.
The West Shore Theatre has everything the local multiplex is missing— a history, a welcoming enviornment and a first rate movie presentation.
My first memory of the West Shore was an early re-release of Disney’s Fantasia when I was 4 or 5, and I’ve been in love with this theatre from that point on.
Congratulations and godspeed for another 74 years.
If I may join the earlier conversation on showmanship and Paul Hipple—I had the pleasure of working with him in probably the least glamorous venues in Harrisburg- The Star Art— but I always loved to hear his memories of the golden days of movie theatres. In particular to the Eric Theatre—before it was twinned— Mr. Hipple told me that when “Sound of Music” closed after 67 weeks (I believe) they were still running the same print they used on opening night—that says a lot about the precision of those Norelco projectors in the booth—but more to the point about the meticulous care the IATSE projectionsts took in assuring a flawless show. Mr. Hipple told me those projector gates and film paths were cleaned after EVERY performance, and the mag heads were de-magnitized after EVERY performance.
There is no showmanship like that anymore—my last outing at one of the local Digplex Multiplex venues—I had to tell the candygirl the show hadn’t even started 10 minutes after the fact!
I remember movies with curtains, and when showmanship was why you went to the movies.
Thank you for considering my reflections.
This is why people go to Europe—they don’t bulldoze their architectural masterpieces to rubble.
The iconic LIFE cover of Gloria Swanson in the ruins of the legendary ROXY says it all.
The story I heard about the Colonial from a veteran vaudvillian who had a dance team with his wife (and later was Mae West’s road manager), they loved playing the Colonial; it was a short skip and a jump from the train station with their trunks and props down the alley to the Colonial’s backstage door.
Still the grand palace to end all movie palaces—– remember every movie I ever saw there- from “The Spirit of St. Louis” to the special screening of Abel Gance’s “Napoleon” with live orchestra— the nation’s showplace beyond compare
Having viewed “Ben-Hur” again on DVD over the holiday, I felt the need to post my one and only experience with the wonderful Strand, in which I saw this epic for the first time.
Our family was in Milwaukee for my dad’s insurance company convention; my mom wanted no part of a movie and prefered to shop, and so I headed off to a movie. My first stop was at the theatre that would run “Can-Can”. As luck would have it, they were still installing the Todd-AO screen at that point, so it came down to “Ben-Hur” at the Strand.
I’ve never seen “Ben-Hur” again without recalling the vivid memories of seeing it for the first time on that huge screen at the Strand.
It’s not only the huge scale of that epic movie that comes to mind—it was the gorgeous Strand Theatre that was part of it. I remember a unbelivably wide curtain that had this outward bow at the center before it parted for that Camera 65 image.
I also remember this matinee being a reserved seat engagement, and a notice at the auditorium doors stating, “No one seated during the first 5 minutes”. Well, I’m 9 years old now and don’t know what to make of this; I know this is a religious picture, so does this mean we kneel or stand or WHAT??? (For all countrykids lost in the big city, it means: come late and stand until the opening credits!)
What can I say— the entire experience was unforgettable,
not just the centerpiece scene of the chariot race—but the entire picture was the new standard of “epic” filmmaking, and one of the reasons I majored in Cinema Studies years later.
As an additional ancedote, I should add, my best friend, whose father was also an insurance agent and in Milwaukee with his family for the same convention as my dad, were at the same showing of “Ben-Hur”, as we would discover years after the fact!
They don’t make epics like “Ben-Hur” anymore or build movie palaces like the Strand either!
When I read this weekend that the interior demolition of the historic Boyd for a multiplex renovation was well underway since March, it was like being kicked in the gut.
In the days when our family made the trip to the Boyd to see Cinerama or “Around the World In 80 Days”, we were escorted to our RESERVED seats in that magnificent theatre like VIPs. I particulary remember the huge curved curtain and chandlier of that art deco movie palace. I remember as much of the Boyd as I do any of the movies I saw there.
With the passing of Cinerama and reserved seat road shows, the grand Boyd was still THE place to see the big shows, like “Close Enounters” in 70m.m.
With the money boys having come out on top in the Boyd’s story, it seems in exchange for the demolition of an art deco architectural masterpiece, we get a cookie-cutter multiplex no different than any other, with all the ambience of being herded into a Wal-Mart. On the plus side, there will be cup holders in the new seats.
Long gone— Cinerama—70m.m. and grand movie palaces with curtains in which to see them
Having followed the Boyd preservation story over the years, I must thank the Friends of the Boyd in their valiant effort to preserve this landmark theatre. This desecration is all our loss.
Discovered this gem of a small town theatre while at the Covered Bridge Festival in October. Hope to get back and see a film or play in this historic movie house.