Showing 22 comments
I don’t wish to use this particular website for politcal arguments but in another thread about another theatre in D.C. rlvjr calls the rioters admirers of MLK. He goes through similar threads in a few other D.C, theatre sites. The race riots that followed MLK’s death is a sorry chapter in our lives and our history. My understanding of those events in Washington is that they were most extensive on 14th St. in the black areas of NW D.C. Many viable stores were destroyed in that area. The downtown theatres continued on for at least another 20 years. When I visited Washington beginning in 1971 I saw no evidence of any damage downtown to any theatres other than
the psychological damage caused by the riots. His comments remind me of those who constantly blame Israel for terrorist attacks in our country and elsewhere. They may say they’re not anti-semitic but in reality undoubtedly are. rlvjr has every right to his opinion, I just don’t think they belong to this particular site.
Could rivjr please keep his views on history and racial politics to himself? The riots were unforgivable by all accounts but to blame King and anyone else for them is clearly racist. I may be a bleeding heart liberal, but that has nothing to do with the fond nostalgia people have for these old theatres.
Glenn M. is correct – “My Fair Lady” played at the Hippodrome in its premiere roadshow 70mm version (2 a day performances, reserved seat availablity, etc.). I know this because I was a part of the audience in an evening performance in the Hippodrome. A rerelease showing of “My Fair Lady” played at the Mayfair in 1971. However, by that time no one came downtown at night. When I went to the theatre there were only 3 people in the seats including myself! This for a 70mm re-showing.
For a while during the mid and late 60s the majority of the roadshow movies played in the downtown theatres. However, JF theatres owned all the downtown houses in Baltimore City by this time. The owners probably felt they made a better profit by showing action films & blaxploitation movies as the last reserved seat show was “Hello Dolly” at the New. After that, 70mm road show presentations during the early ‘70s played at suburban movie houses.
The Hampden was an ersatz twin to the Ideal theatre which was exactly next door I know the Ideal because I remember as a kid taking the No. 10 bus with my father to see “One Hundred and One Dalmations”(the original animated version). The movie trailers showed previews for John Ford’s classic"The Searchers" and a forgotten black & white B movie called “The Pusher”. That’s what made moviegoing fun and interesting in those days – the amazing diversity. One day the theatre’s showing a quality western film, the next a trashy lurid black & white low-budget B. The Ideal was a neighborhood theatre in the true sense as it changed shows 2 or three times a week.
Anyway the Hampden and Ideal were twin theatres before there really were twinned theatres. However, the Ideal closed some time before the Hampden.
I am saddened to hear that the Uptown theatre is becoming just another Loew’s theatre. The 70mm presentation of “Rear Window” was the last time I saw a show at the Uptown. I had a bad incident at the parking lot across the way that discouraged me from coming b (Some advice – if you’re not anywhere within walking distance of the Uptown, take the Metro. Unless you’re really experienced parking is hard to find. I gave up going to the Avalon before that theatre closed because I had a problem finding somewhere to park my car. I went there because of their top notch presentation but getting to the box office to find the show was sold out was discouraging.) After reading the postings here I’ve come to the conclusion that Loew’s is giving the Uptown very low maintenance. Evidently, they’re looking at the bottom line and cutting corners. The Uptown is just another theatre among the million others. I still remember the 70mm showings of “Grease” and “Alien.” The revival showing of “Lawrence of Arabia” was undoubtedly the best in the region with the Uptown’s extra-large screen and brilliant sound. To me this was a 70mm roadshow was about. I considered going to see the last “Star War” movie at the Uptown but after reading the posts here I went to a theatre in Baltimore instead. It might have been nice as that’s where I saw the original “Star Wars”. It was in 35mm but the Uptown was the only theatre in town to hear the Dolby Stero. Going there for the last time would have brought it to a full circle. As a matter of fact I saw the original 3 SW films in DC theatres – the second one showed at the Cinema and the final one was at the Jenifer. Funny – they’re both gone.
I am very sorry to hear the Cinema is closing. The Upper Northwest section of Wisconsin Ave. never hungered for movie theatres. Now, it looks like it’s starving. My memories of the Cinema include the premieres of “A Clockwork Orange”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”(in Panavision and Dolby Stereo), and the 70mm presentations of “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Untouchables”. When 70mm festivals were still popular during the ‘80s I saw the revival of the musical Camelot.
It seemed that the Cinema along with the Uptown had a good chance to survive.The Cinema was among the best theatres for movie-going and was highly regarded as a premiere house by movie distributors. However, the last time I was there I noticed there were a small number of empty seats. During most of the Cinema’s tenure it was the only major theatre before the D.C. line near Bethesda. Now that D.C.’s “suburban lines” stretch out past Rockville I guess The Cinema is no longer a destination for suburban dwellers.
The Pimlico closed in 1952. The competition from the Uptown and the new-fangled television was probably too much for the older theatre. During the 50’s through the ‘70s Read’s, the local retail chain drug store, was its replacement. Remember the old drug stores with their luncheonettes? Read’s had about everything, including well-stocked paperback books and comic books sections. Paperbacks and comic books were small change compared to today’s prices.
I believe you’re right. Before it closed it was the only film theatre in Baltimore that showed TODD-AO. It may have had the deep curved screen required then for TODD-AO features. When TODD-AO cut costs by switching to a more conventional flat screen the majority of the TODD-AO films were shown at the New. Incidentally, Oklahoma was the first TODD-AO film. It’s commonly mistaken that Around The WOrld In 80 Days was the first, because it took fuller advantage of TODD-AO’s assetts than Oklahoma. I’m betraying my age but I remember seeing “Around The WOrld” when I was 5 years. My brother bought the original souveneir book but guess who acquired it and lost it?
It is definitely confirmed. According to the listing of Maryland theatres on the Killduffs.com website the theatre was definitely torned down, replaced by a parking lot . Accordingly please list the theatre as closed and demolished. Also, a 1930’s photograph shown in the Kildduffs site shows the theatre marquee as the Europa while reopening under its more familiar nomenclature the Little. Is there anyone out there in Baltimore (or elsewhere) who knows the complete story of this small theatre? I only remember it from the 1950’s through the 1970’s.
The New was the “Sound of Music” theatre in downtown Baltimore. SOM remained for over a year in its original reserved seat format. The New may have continued for longer with SOM but it had to make room for “Hawaii” – also starring Julie Andrews.
I believe the theatre is demolished. I recently drove past the Little’s original site where a parking lot and new office building seem to have replaced the original buildings.
There were plans to add two additional smaller theatres and a restaurant to the Senator but they never came to fruition. Instead, the owner of the Senator, Kiefaber, bought the Rotunda Twin Theatres located in a shopping center at nearby Guilford in the northern part of Baltimore city. A few years ago The Sun reported he had financial problems and was deep in a few months debt. But the Senator theatre is still here. Even though I live in Columbia I still enjoy going to the theatre. It’s not stadium seats and 200 screens but it’s still far more enjoyable than the multiplex theatres.
I tried to buy a souveneir program when SOM played at the New theatre in Baltimore. The concessions woman said they had none to give – perhaps the books sold out from the high demand. From the descriptions of the Gary theatre sounds like in its heyday it was a first class theatre. Now, here’s another riddle – according to the .in70mm website TSOM orginally opened at another theatre with TODD-AO(The Saxon?). The GAry theatre run may have been a move-over.
According to the photograph(Don’t worry, Gerald – it’s coming!) the marquee mentions the name of the film and that it was the 1965 Oscar film of the year. There was nothing saying that it was presented in TODD-AO. By 1966 sometimes theatres didn’t always display the film process on marquees possibly because the novelty of widescreen was gone. The theatre was located between a pub and a resturant. From the outside it seemed small so whether it was 35 mm or Todd-A0 7omm film I have no idea. I’m from Baltimore and was a visitor.
As an addendum, I have personal memories of movie-watching in Boston.
In 1958 we visited Boston for a few days during a postal union convention my father attended. Rigid in his views he felt that going to a movie was something we could do back home in Baltimore. So, we rarely saw a movie outside of Baltimore’s screens. However, we attended a night performance of “Windjammer”, which was the first(and last film) presented in Cinemiracle which was developed as a smoother rival to the orginal Cinerama. Part of the reason we saw “Windjammer” is that the film never came to Baltmore. Unfortunately, I have little memories of its presentation. However, my brother possessed the orginal hardbound souveneir book. Unfortunately, that book is now lost. I wonder how much that book is now.
In conclusion, I did see “Sound of Music”. Having nothing to do on a Thanksgiving day I took the bus downtown to the New in downtown Baltimore in its original roadshow presentation. Anyone having see “SOM” in its TODD-AO presentation can only remember the sudden participatory feeling of flying through the Swiss mountains, almost landing on Julie Andrews opening the film with its theme song “Sound of Music.”
So much for my personal life.
I’d just look over my original comment. For clarification, I was probably 14 or 15 years old. The date on the photo is July 1966.
It’s also B&W but I hope that only enhances the interest of the snapshot. Incidently, I was born in 1951 – you do the arithmetic.
Sorry, Gerald. I can’t find the e-mail feature you mentioned. Could you tell me where to exactly find it?
Sorry, I suddenly noted the date of publication. It’s only up to the early ‘70s. I can tell you that a majority of the theatres mentioned – especially the downtown theatres – no longer exist except for their marquees and buildings. For example, The TOwer Theatre closed down sometime in the 80’s. The other downtown theatres closed by the late '80’s and early '90s. At least the Hippodrome has been saved and revitalized as Baltimore’s premiere legitimate theatre. The Mechanic Theatre was no longer up to date even though it was built 50 years after the Hippodrome. Ironically, the Hippodrome had the space and capablities for big shows – which probably says much for those older theatres!
I know there’s a copy available at the Baltimore Public Library as I’ve seen the book for myself. Baltimore’s public library is called the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The main branch is located on Franklin St. As soon as I find their website, I’ll give the e-mail address. Perhaps they can see you a copy – but, unfortunately, I think there’s only one copy.
May I ask why you’re interested in Robert Headley’s book? Since you’re in the UK I can’t grasp why the interest in Baltimore’s film theatres.
By the way, if you’re interested in an overview of Baltimore’s film theatres up to at least up to the 1970’s and 1980’s this is the book.
If anyone has the know-how for scanning I have an old black and white instamatic photograph of the Gary in Boston. I must have been about thirteen or fourteen years ago travelling with my parents somewhere. We must have been strolling within the area when I stopped and took a photograph of the Gary with its marquee for “The Sound Of Music.” If anyone’s interested in scanning it for this site I’ll be more than glad to send to you.
I’m surprised that Mr. VanBibber failed to mention that from 1961-1970 the Town was the Cinerama theatre in Baltimore. Until the mid-70’s the Town had a small sign atop its marquee claiming itself as the only Cinerama house in Maryland. This included the original three-strip and the one-projector systems. It showed almost almost every Cinerama movie with a few exceptions. Local bookings for Baltimore theatres could be quirky; some films that originated as 70mm roadshow engagements elsewhere were shown in Baltimore in 35mm with continuous showings. For some unexplained reason, “The Battle of The Bulge” played at the Hippodrome in 35mm after its reserved seat engagements; it was never shown in 70mm or 70mm Cinerama at the Town. “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm” was shown at the New after its Cinerama runs; Whether it was a 70mm presentation or in 35mm remains unkown. “Krakatoa”, the final film presented in Cinerama, opened at the New in Super 70.
My first encounter with three-strip Cinerama was at the Town. My father treated me on Labor Day and took me downtown to see “How The West Was Won”. Being cynical I believed Cinerama was another silly gimmick from Hollywood. HOwever, when the Cinerama screen flew me across the Rockies at the beginning and the incredible stereophonic sound made me believe the chorus was actually there I was a true believer. I came back later to see “Khartoum”, “Grand Prix” and “2001: A Space Oddysey”. The Cinerama purists believe that the one-projector system did not hold a candle to the true Cinerama, but being young at the time I thought there was no difference – but then, I was young.
The Town also shown 70mm films which included “El Cid” and the second version of “The Mutiny On The Bounty”. I saw also the 70mm blowup version of “Finian’s Rainbow” at the Town.
In response to JodarMovieFan. I thought the first Star Trek movie opened at the old MacArthur theatre. It also had a dolby system. Maybe it was a second run at the Jenifer. When there was little first run material the old GCC theatre would should second run films.
I know I saw the last Star War movie at the Jenifer which was shown there in 70mm and dolby. There may have been a 70mm run of Superman at the Uptown but as I recollect the Embassy theatre(which is now the Visions theatre and bar)was the first to show Superman in the 70mm format.
That second theatre at the Jenifer was really too small for anything! Would you believe when the Sensurround movie
Rollercoaster was not getting any business the manager moved it to the second theatre? He moved everything including the special speakers to that much smaller screen! Ocassionally the Jenifer would show some arthouse films if nothing else was available. During my duration there they had a double feature of early Lina Wertmuller films! Later they showed the old 1965(?) Czech film “The Shop on Main Street” – on the big screen! No one showed for that on a Saturday night except for two people!
No, there was a GCC theatre called the Jenifer & & II. It was located a couple of blocks from KB’s Cinema. It was originally named the GCC Jenifer Cinema I & II but KB objected so it was shortened to Jenifer I & II. The GCC theatre opened in 1975 with Funny Lady. But it hit its stride with long lines outside its theatre for the immortal “Jaws”. Unfortunately, after Jaws' run, it ran a gamut of bad movies and B movies that did not attract many crowds. (Part of this may be due to the fact that it ran many of Universal’s films which were, aside from “Jaws”, pretty awful. None of them are mentioned as great classics of the ‘70s). However, by 1976 the problems were rectified and the Jenifer showed better, more prestigious films. The list of films shown included The Bad News Bears, An Umarried Woman, Julia, Annie Hall, Hustle and Animal House.
Initially, although it had a big widescreen in its larger hall, it did not have stereophonic sound. By 1979 Dolby Stereo was installed in the first house, its first stereo feature being “Superman”. It was one of the very few houses that ran the Superman in Dolby Stereo.
The Jenifer’s second screen was much smaller and its original screen was the size of a postage stamp. It was later replaced by a more subtantial larger screen.
I’m familiar with the Jenifer because I worked as a doorman part time for a few years there. The security problem was immense as the entrance to both screens were across from one other. One could easily go from one theatre to the other without any real scrutiny. As it was located in the lower level of a building that included a Booeymonger and old Herman’s store this also posed problems of security.
I’m not sure but I believe the local Circle chain bought the Jenifer I & II. When the Circle chain was gobbled up by Loew’s Cineplex the Jenifer was closed down and gutted for new stores.