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For many years the Paramount ran a classic movie series, and going to see a classic movie in this theater was like a step back in time to a wonderful and long lost era. Classics I saw here included Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, North by Northwest, Jason and Argonauts, and Giant. The mighty Wurlitzer played and it was an amazing experience. Much of downtown Oakland is heavy with Art Deco designed buildings, but this is the best. It is good that the downtown may finally be getting an infusion of money and interest to restore it to its past glory.
I generally liked this theater, but it had the most unusual seats that were attached to some sort of sliding apparatus. It allowed you to move around in your seat a bit, but by the end of the movie your back was toast.
For the Star Wars reissue in 1996 – this was the one time I slept overnight in line for a movie. My girlfriend, later wife Terri, got in line in the early afternoon and I came over to take over after eating dinner at Mel’s Drive In (the tie in to George Lucas was great!). After midnight it quieted down nicely except for some nut case dressed as Chewbacca who was running around half of the night. By morning the line was past the 76 station and curling around the block. We were in the line for tickets for the first night show. The day show line went the other direction – and I think eventually the two lines met on Anza street to the south. It was all worth it. Now with advance ticketing this sort of craziness is history.
Hard to believe it has been over 10 years since the Burlingame was torn down. This was one of my hangouts when I was in high school and at CSM in the early-mid 80’s. We used to see a movie on a Friday or Saturday and then go cruise El Camino Real in San Mateo in the various cars I owned or my friends owned: ‘70 Nova, '67 Camaro, '57 Chevy pickup, '66 Mustang and so on. The weeks leading up to July 4 were always fun as fireworks were always going off in the lot, and most of us shot bottle rockets and larger rockets at the screen. Mostly harmless fun – no one got hurt and we didn’t cause any real trouble.
I saw one movie here – I was about 5-6 in 1970-71 – a Disney double feature focused on wilderness in America with my father and brother. I think one of the movies was “The Living Desert”. I think we were there because my mother and sister were hosting a baby shower or bridal shower and we had to get out of the house.
I am 99% sure this theatre opened in 1975. I recall shopping at Tanforan during Christmas 1974 and looking down from the mezzanine above at the partially completed theater and thinking it looked abandoned. Several years later when it was closed – it looked more beat up, but also looked abandoned, and then it was removed. I saw a lot of movies in this place before it closed.