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Ad from the Tampa Tribune dated December 18, 1970.
Eyerock4ever: thanks for commenting! It very rare to see comments from former managers of Tampa area theatres. Oh yes, I remember the deviled crabs at the Seabreeze which for many years were probably the best in Tampa. I’ve always thought both the Auto Park and Tower Drive-Ins could still be open today since the land they were located on remain deserted and undeveloped, whereas the properties of all other former Tampa drive-ins have been redeveloped for other uses. No doubt it would be a risky venture, but someone with enough cash and true desire could rebuild both drive-ins on the same property where they once stood!
Correction to my post above: Additional research shows that during the run of “It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World” the Palace did not have single lens Cinerama installed as yet. The installation of 70mm projectors was made directly following this engagement.
Hey Mike, When the Hillsboro in Tampa was twinned in 1978 they installed Dolby Stereo in one twin. “SUPERMAN” was the opening attraction and the sound was fantastic…crisp sharp highs and deep low bass. The best I had ever heard in a theatre at the time (except for Cinerama 7 track stereo.) Though many will disagree I still believe the original Dolby Stereo sounded just as good as today’s high-tech state-of-the-art systems.
Several have said “2001” was a life changing experience for them but for me it’s been a lifelong love affair. I first saw “2001” at a Thursday matinee showing the day following the opening at the Palace in Tampa. From the start I was mesmerized by both the film and the music and I knew the audience and I were in for something truly extraordinary. I saw it again the following Saturday evening at a sold-out showing and many times since as well as purchasing the soundtrack album. Seeing the film in 70mm on a curved Cinerama screen is the only way to provide the viewer with the ultimate “2001” experience.
Just finished some additional research. I’m trying to determine exactly when the 3-projector Cinerama booth was stripped and replaced with 70mm Cinerama single lens projectors. I began a week-by-week search following the engagement of “How The West Was Won” and it appears the equipment was more than likely switched out the week beginning August 15, 1964.
Here’s the timeline:
“How The West Was Won” was the last 3-strip film to play. The run ends on November 21, 1963.
“Under The Yum Yum Tree” opens on November 22, 1963 (first 35mm attraction to play on the Cinerama screen) and runs through December 8, 1963.
Theatre closes on December 9, 1963 and remains closed through April 14, 1964 for a total of nearly 19 weeks without any published explanation given for the closure that I could find.
Theatre reopens on April 15, 1964 with “Cleopatra”
which runs through May 26, 1964.
Following the 19 week closure when the Palace reopened with “Cleopatra” I remember looking back towards the Cinerama booth and noticing no changes had been made to the portholes. “Cleopatra” was projected from the balcony booth.
“It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World” opens on May 27, 1964 and runs through August 14, 1964. The film was also projected from the balcony booth.
Theatre closes once again on August 15, 1964 for a total of 6 days. I believe this is the week the equipment was switched out in preparation for the next attraction.
“Circus World” opens on August 21, 1964 in 70mm Cinerama. “Photographed in Super-Technirama 70” is included in the newspaper ads in addition to “presented in Cinerama.”
So “Circus World” was the first 70mm film to play at the Palace. “The Sound of Music” which would open about 8 months later would be the second 70mm attraction. After playing for several weeks it would be exchanged for a 35mm print.
Correction and update:
In my initial post of the Palace I incorrectly stated the closing year as 1976. Between 1976 and 1978 the Palace closed and reopened at least 3 times. I verified the final day of operation was September 29, 1978 with the double feature “It’s Alive” and “Five Fingers of Death” as the final program. On September 30, 1978 the Palace closed for good. The building was demolished in December 1979.
I have a friend who was a former “relief” operator who worked the booths for all of Tampa’s theatres and drive-ins. The local projectionists union would contact him whenever a projectionist had vacation or sick time off. Although he never worked any of the 3- strip Cinerama films at the Palace, he was contacted one afternoon to run a matinee showing of “2001” in 70mm. According to him the management at the Palace preferred the booth be manned by two projectionists for all 70mm showings at the time. He and another projectionist ran “2001” that afternoon. Unfortunately he couldn’t recall if the 70mm projectors were capable of conversion to 35mm or not.
According to him the projectors in the balcony booth were definitely 35mm as he worked that booth many times. All attractions he ran were optical sound but he didn’t remember if those projectors had magnetic stereo heads. Under the photos tab above (on the second page) the opening day ad for “The Robe” mentions CinemaScope Stereophonic Sound so the film was in fact presented in stereo. I would guess more than likely the heads were either removed after the engagement had ended or possibly they were still attached but no longer functioning. Having seen “IAMMMMW” at least 3 times at the Palace I also do not recall the film having stereo sound—I think this proves no doubt it was 35mm optical. Also your friend having seen IAMMMMW in 70mm and noticing several scenes were missing from the print projected at the Palace is proof in itself that the Palace was running a 35mm print. I would sincerely doubt any cuts would have been made if the Palace was running a 70mm roadshow print.
Just yesterday I was browsing through the theatre ads in the St. Petersburg Times (available online) and I came across an article published around the opening date of “This Is Cinerama” at the Palace. The article highlights the rennovations made and states that the Palace was in fact a Super Cinerama Theatre—the only one in the state of Florida. I had read somewhere that “Super Cinerama” were theatres with enormous wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor screens—larger than standard Cinerama theatres—and projection booths constructed on the main level center section. It’s nice to know the Palace was one of these.
Thanks again, I enjoyed your second post. What a coincidence—I also saw “The Fox” at the Palace! Yes it’s a shame the 3-strip process only lasted a few years. I saw all the 3-strip films as well as the 70mm attractions. As I recall “Grand Prix” was the first single-lens Cinerama film to play at the Palace. The film was advertised with the tagline “the new Cinerama” although I wasn’t sure what that meant. I was unaware at the time that single-lens had replaced 3-strip. Before the film began I looked back towards the booth and saw the three glass projection panels had been replaced by two larger ones. I couldn’t figure out what was going on and was anxious for the film to begin and see what this “new Cinerama” was all about. When the film began and the curtain cleared the screen I noticed the masking had been repositioned inward on each side shortening the image by several feet. That “in-the-picture” feeling was practically lost. TIC in 70mm was so disappointing. The image was slightly grainy and the vibrant & brilliant color of the 3-strip process was gone. I remember an elderly lady (obviously familiar with the 3-strip films) was sitting behind me at the showing. During intermission she turned to her companion and gesturing with her hand she said, “the picture use to come clear around from that end of the screen to this end of the screen over here-—I don’t believe those guys up there know what their doing!” It took awhile for me to become accustomed to the single-lens process and by the time “2001” opened I had accepted it. Regardless of the shortcomings it was still the largest screen of any theatre in town.
I was always fascinated with the Cinerama strip screen. Many times when the movie ended and the curtain closed I’d go behind the curtain on the left side and slowly edge my way up to the strips near the masking. Since I was walking on a slight incline behind the curtain where the floor meets the screen I had to be careful not to loose my balance and fall out under the curtain onto the floor. When I reached the side masking I touched the strips putting my hand between and through them being careful not to damage them. In addition to being anchored at the floor and ceiling I don’t recall if they were also anchored at the mid-section. On the right side of the screen behind the curtain and just beyond the exit door there were three or four steps leading up to an open doorway and onto the original large backstage area. Several feet behind the Cinerama screen stood the huge CinemaScope screen still sitting in place. It looked massive. Also hanging high up in the fly loft was another smaller screen which I think was probably the screen installed when the theatre was renovated and renamed the Palace in 1947.
Thanks for mentioning something I hadn’t been able to figure out for years. When the engagement of “HTWWW” ended the Palace opened “Under the Yum Yum Tree” which ran for maybe 2 or 3 weeks. Afterwards the theatre closed for a period of time reopening with “Cleopatra” as I recall. I’ve always wondered what the reason was for the closure. As you mentioned it was for the installation of the 70mm single-lens system. So I would venture to guess the very first 70mm attraction the Palace played was “The Sound of Music” in 1965.
I remember the programs for sale during the Cinerama attractions. The ushers carried them around while directing patrons to their reserved seats. Interestingly the Palace management never had guys as ushers during the reserved seat attractions. They always had young ladies.
I recall Regal booking art films on at least one if not more screens towards the beginning. But whether or not it was their intention to split art film product with another theatre I can’t say although you can be certain it wasn’t the Tampa Theatre. When Channelside first opened in 2000 an article was published in the Tribune on the opening of the new Channelside Cinemas. Regal’s management said they would be in contact with the Tampa Theatre’s director/film booker to work together in booking art and foreign films. Regal stated it wasn’t their intention or desire to compete nor steal away neither the Tampa’s art films or its audience.
Several days later a letter from the Tampa Theatre’s director appeared in the Tribune’s “letter to the editor” column stating that Regal had never contacted him nor did he expect them to. He stated that Regal’s only concern is monetary and that the new theatre’s close proximity to Tampa Theatre could very well be a serious threat to the Tampa’s existence. He cited a similiar situation had occured in another city when that city’s only historic theatre was forced to close due to competition from a new multiplex that had opened nearby. Warning that the threat was very real, the tone of his letter displayed a bit of animosity towards Regal. And today we know who the survivor is.
Goodness! Frank Theatres barely lasted 10 months? There was some hope the reopening would eventually expand with several enhancements beginning with an upgrade to digital projection and later stadium seating which would hopefully have been the catalyst for a rebirth of the mall. Wonder if they even made the first priority upgrade to digital? Assuming the rumors are true concerning demolition—University Mall will soon be 39 years old come this November—an amazing feat as far as malls go these days. I’m sorry to see the theatres are history now. I have some good memories of the former University Square Cinemas I II III & IV.
Thomas, Since opening in 1949 this theatre has always been called the Dale Mabry Drive-In. Tampa has never had a theatre called Apollo although there is a city called Apollo Beach several miles from Tampa. Maybe you’re thinking of a theatre in that area? Although the Dale Mabry probably did run all the Planet of the Apes films on one evening so it may have been this drive-in you saw them at.
GSVuille, Thanks for your post. Nice to hear from someone who went to the Palace. You’re right about the opening engagement of “Sound of Music” being in 70mm. The first time I saw the film I was seated in the orchestra. I remember looking back to see the film being projected from the Cinerama booth, and I also recall the soundtrack being in stereo. I mistakenly thought they were running a 35mm print due to the screen being masked for 35mm scope—on both sides as well as several feet at the top—although this may have been due to an agreement with Cinerama to not utilize the full screen for a non-Cinerama film. I also assumed the 70mm projectors were capable of conversion to run 35mm films with stereo soundtracks.
The last 3 times I saw SOM the film was no longer being projected from the Cinerama booth but from the upstairs 35mm booth. The screen masking remained in the same position but the soundtrack was no longer in stereo. I also noticed a very slight decrease in both sound and image quality—probably unnoticeble to many in the audience but I was aware of it. Not sure why the change was made but could have been two reasons: the 70mm print may have been needed for another engagement, or since the film was bringing in record-breaking crowds and destined for a long run management may have decided to go with a less expensive print and exchanged the 70mm for a 35mm print.
In 1973 the 70mm re-release of SOM was shown at the Palace. For this engagement the top screen masking was removed resulting in an image several feet higher from the original 1965-66 engagement. I was disappointed that “Mad Mad World” was not shown in 70mm at the Palace. I also remember being seated in the balcony and seeing the film projected from the 35mm booth with the noticable keystone effects.
Although the long engagement of “Mary Poppins” was still doing great box office at the Palace the film had to be moved over to the Florida Theatre since the Palace had “The Sound of Music” set to open on April 7, 1965. The move made headlines in the ads stating to the effect of, “Mary is packing her bags and heading over to the Florida Theatre where the engagement of Mary Poppins will continue.” If I find the ad I’ll post it under the photos tab soon.
Will, The theatre originally opened as the Florida and was later changed to the Franklin Theatre. Years later the name was changed back to the Florida. The address is listed as 710 Franklin Street in all theatre ads as well as the city directory. The 712 Franklin Street address was more than likely O'Falks Department Store—the building next door to the theatre.
Note: there were two very small shops within the theatre building itself immediately to the left and right of the theatre entrance (you can see a small portion of each store in photo above.) As I recall in the 1960s one was a jewelry store but not certain about the other one. The address of the store on the right could have been 712 but the theatre was definitely 710 Franklin Street.
A few more RITZ memories. Here are several triple features that played on the weekends. Most attractions are horror/sci-fi.
June 10 1961: “All In A Night’s Work” “Commache Station” “Village Of The Damned”
October 7 1961: “Atomic Submarine” “Konga” “The Last Sunset”
July 21 1962: “Journey To The Seventh Planet” “Treasure Of Pancho Villa” “Six Black Horses”
August 12 1962: “The Blob” “Blood Of The Vampire” “Tarantula!”
November 4 1962: “Beast With A Million Eyes” “Bride And The Beast” “Beast Of Hollow Mountain”
November 25 1962: “Monster Of Piedras Blancas” “Monster On The Campus” “Monster That Challenged The World”
December 9 1962: “Hypnotic Eye” “Mr. Sardonicus” “Burn Witch Burn”
January 6 1963: “The Fly” “The Deadly Mantis” “The Spider”
March 24 1963: “Vampire And The Ballerina” “Tormented” “Blood Of Dracula”
May 19 1963: “The Brain Eaters” “The Screaming Skull”“Brain From Planet Arous”
June 14 1963: “Attack Of The Giant Leeches” “Attack Of The 50-Foot Woman” “Attack Of The Puppet People”
July 6 1963: “Black Sunday” “The Raven” “Day Of The Triffids”
August 4 1963: “Black Pit Of Dr. M” “Beast Of Yucca Flats” “Horror Chamber Of Dr. Faustus”
September 1 1963: “House Of The Damned” “Terror In The Haunted House” “Varan The Unbelievable”
September 6 1963: “Blue Hawaii” “Wild In The Country” “Follow That Dream”
September 28 1963: “Battle Beyond The Sun” “Brain From Planet Arous” “First Spaceship On Venus”
October 5 1963: “Fancy Pants” “Dime With A Halo” “Bye Bye Birdie”
December 14 1963: “Hand Of Death” “Alligator People” “The Manster”
December 22 1963: “Night Of The Blood Beast” “Dr. Blood’s Coffin” “A Bucket Of Blood”
February 29 1964: “Straight-Jacket” “Day Mars Invaded Earth” “Cattle King”
March 14 1964: “Reptilicus” “Viking Women and The Sea Serpent” “Snake Woman”
March 29 1964: “The Terror” “Curucu, Beast Of The Amazon” “The Mummy”
May 19 1964: “Maniac” “Homicidal” “Dementia 13”
August 9 1964: “The Slime People” “Castle Of Blood” “The Crawling Hand”
October 11 1964: “Horror Of Party Beach” “Mind Benders” “Curse Of The Living Corpse”
October 26 1964: “Bride Of The Monster” “Brides Of Dracula” “Bride And The Beast”
December 13 1964: “Battle Beyond The Sun” “Atom Age Vampire” “Masque Of The Red Death”
January 2 1965: “Twice Told Tales” “Witchcraft” “The Horror Of It All”
February 6 1965: “Evil Of Frankenstein” “How To Make A Monster” “Blood Of Dracula”
November 20 1965: “Help!” “Go Go Mania” “Having A Wild Weekend”
November 27 1965: “Curse Of The Faceless Man” “Curse Of The Werewolf” “Curse Of The Living Corpse”
December 11 1965: “Village Of The Giants” “Seven Ways From Sundown” “Love And Kisses”
This was the final program I saw at the Ritz. On January 1 1966 theatre transitioned over to running triple-X adult fare.
What happened to “The Sound of Music” photo? There was a photo a couple years ago posted on this page of the Tower when it ran “The Sound of Music.” It was a great great shot showing the marquee and the entrance all decorated with huge posters of the film. Anyone know why the photo was deleted from this page?
I just posted a couple handbills for their midnight movie programs from 1974 when theatre was known as the Shirley-Duke Twins. In addition to “Night of the Living Dead” I also recall seeing “Magical Mystery Tour” here. If memory serves me right I remember the screens were installed slightly higher up than most theatres.
I had almost forgotten about the Shirley Duke Twins. I was living in Alexandria in 1974 and I remember seeing “Night of The Living Dead” here. I still have a Shirley Duke handbill that I picked up in the lobby that day. I’ll post it here shortly.
Some Ritz memories from Saturday, October 3, 1964.
“A Hard Day’s Night” finally comes to the Ritz on a triple feature program along with “He Rides Tall” and “Summer Holiday.” The Beatle film is scheduled to run as the third feature. During the running of “He Rides Tall” theatre begins filling with hundreds of teens and pre-teens and a few adults. As I turned to look around the theatre I notice that just about every seat was filled. There were several people standing against the side walls as well as the rear of the auditorium. This was the first time I had seen the Ritz at full capacity…sold-out to the walls.
Not very many are interested in watching the first feature. The audience is noisy. Many kids are talking and laughing among themselves. Suddenly the feature goes off the screen, the house lights are turned up, and the manager walks onstage yelling, “quiet…quiet!” The noise finally subsides and he makes the following announcement, “several people have come to me saying they can’t hear the movie because of all the noise you people are making. I’m warning you…if you don’t quiet down and this noise continues I will shut the theatre down and give everyone a refund.” He walks off the stage, the house lights are turned off, and the film continues.
Aside from some mild whispering the audience is fairly quiet through the remainder of the film as well as the second feature, “Summer Holiday.” Near the end of the film the house lights are turned up again, the manager and assistant walk onstage and stand near the right side of the screen watching the audience. The film ends followed by several trailers. The United Artists logo for “A Hard Day’s Night” then appears onscreen. The opening scene showing the running Beatles incites screams from several girls which are suddenly cut short by the manager’s raised arms with hands outstretched as a warning. They ran the entire film with the house lights turned up and the manager onstage.
I believe management made a poor decision in running the Beatle film as the last feature. Had they run it first many kids would probably have left afterwards and those who were interested in the other two features would have been able to watch them in peace and quiet.
I updated the street view to show building at 2809 Martin Luther King Street North.
Address in header is incorrect. Please change to 129 Orange Ave. Verified correct location with theatre ad in Daytona Beach Morning Journal.
See front page for article on fire that destroyed theatre on April 2, 1956: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=OWslULmvb_UC&dat=19560403&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
Street view updated.
I think this may be the drive-in that appears near the climax of 1972’s “Night of the Lepus.” A brief shot of the marquee and the bottom portion of the screen are shown (a cartoon is playing) along with shots of cars parked on the lot as well as exiting the theatre under instructions from the sheriff. According to the Internet Movie Database the film was shot in Ajo, and unless the town had another drive-in this must be the one they used.
Just updated the street view although it took me awhile to locate the drive-in. Based on the address in the header Google maps the location at least a couple miles from the drive-in. I was finally able to locate the site based on the info furnished by jwmovies – thanks!
falcon3147, Great hearing from a former employee. I had applied for a job at both the drive-in and the new indoor in 1969 but they never called me. The drive-in and the rocking chair theatre were Tampa’s best showplaces at the time. I wish they were both still here. Yes, the indoor theatre had its grand opening with “The Undefeated.” A beautiful theatre that lasted about 9 years before it was ruined by twinning.
hispeed54, Appreciate the nice comment…thanks!
Just did some research on this theatre. It opened as the Playhouse Theatre in August of 1935. The last day of operation as a standard theatre was on September 6, 1966. It remained closed until October 12, 1966 when it reopened as the Playhouse Adult Theatre. It finally closed for good on May 22, 1973.
I didn’t see any ads for a Reno Theatre around the time the Playhouse opened. Since Andy has found evidence of a Reno Theatre either at or near this location a search of the 1933 ads will hopefully clear this up.
I’ll post a few ads from the Playhouse shortly.