Showing 1 - 25 of 164 comments
As 2014 closes there is scant trace of the Colony Theatre. The present remodeled building is called The Colony, but the interior is rebuilt as a senior center. Look at the 2nd floor of the facade and you can spot a few signs of the former theatre, which later survived many decades as a church.
After closing when Kennedy Street went from bad to much worse in the late 60’s and 1970’s, the neighborhood has bounced back strongly. No fear of crime here these days.
The Kennedy Theatre facade looked badly wrecked not so long ago, but they’ve restored the facade (see photo).
Behind the entrance, any trace of the theatre is gone, but a beautiful senior center resides there now.
Sometimes history is “re-written” and truth takes a holiday. The National did not convert from stage shows to cinema in 1948 because stage went out of style and movies were popular. The reason, as reported in the Evening Star, etc. was because of a court case which required the National to integrate (to admit blacks) because, unlike the movie houses, there was only ONE live theatre in town, thus “separate but equal” did not apply. Four years later, the new owners complied with integration, and Washington once again had live theatre.
In that era, legitimate theatre was struggling even harder than movies to compete with the new 8 inch TV’s; and there were only a few plays/shows per year. In 1954 I took Diane here to see “South Pacific” direct from Broadway, at a crippling price of $4.40 for the best tickets, including the 20% Federal tax. First run movies on F Street were then 44 cents matinee 74 cents evening.
Some people have said the FOX Detroit and the FOX St Louis are twins. Not quite. The Detroit FOX is 500 seats (11%) larger, and while much of the architecture is similar, there are many differences; as befits the work of outstanding architects.
Where the FOX Detroit truly excels is in their $8 million restoration; making all the fine artwork and atmosphere look “like new” — bright and fresh. The FOX St Louis had only $2 million to spend on renovation, and $6 million makes a difference. So Detroit wins this one.
Small matter! Visiting either theater is an outstanding experience.
[incidently, the Atlanta FOX is an altogether different (but stunning) architecture.]
At last I visited the St Louis FOX on 3/2/10. A fabulous place in every way, one of the most magnificent theaters in America.
Many have said the FOX St Louis and the FOX Detroit are twins. Not quite. The Detroit FOX is 500 seats (11%) larger, and the designs are similar (generally) but there are many differences — as befits the work of outstanding architects. But where the Detroit FOX excels is that an $8 million restoration, thanks to Little Caesar’s pizza, has restored ALL the beautiful details to “like new” sparkling condition. The St Louis FOX only had $2 million to spend, and $6 million definitely makes a difference. So Detroit wins for a change.
No matter. A visit to either is a wonderful experience.
The Carpenter Theatre (Loew’s) finally re-opened, following 4 or 5 years of renovation, on September 12, 2009. The renovation is as extensive and beautiful as any I’ve ever seen of a John Eberson theater. Every corner and crack has been renewed. He’d be proud.
On previous occasions we saw a Doris Day movie here in 1962 and Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly about 15 years ago. On both occasions the theatre was beautiful, stunning, but shabby. No trace of shabby any more. We wasted no time on a return visit, travelling 90 miles and seeing the Oak Ridge Boys on Sept 19th. The show was too-loud-to-a-fault, but blame the Boys for poor judgement, not the theater.
The Carpenter has a solid schedule of attractions through Spring of 2010; so cut the gab, SIGN OFF, and BUY A TICKET. Talk is fine, but the idea of restoration is to have beautiful Cinema Treasures to ATTEND, not just yack about.
ALMOST ALL of the above comments miss the true legacy of the MacArthur Theater. When this theater was opened by KB in 1946, it was an immediate box office flop. They were playing the same “first neighborhood run” movies as everybody else and this was a sleepy neighborhood of stay-at-home’s watching their 8" Motorola TV’s. KB resorted to double features but without great success. Then Fred Burka and Marvin Goldman got the bright idea to have Exclusive First Runs from the British, France, Sweden, etc. The admission prices were midway between “neighborhood” and “first run downtown”.
The success was staggering. Some pictures which played dozens of weeks were A QUEEN IS CROWNED (the color documentary), THE MOUSE THAT ROARED, MURDER SHE SAID, the golden age of British comedy with films of Peter Sellers, Terry-Thomas, others. The theater was filled the night we saw Ingmar Bergman’s WILD STRAWBERRIES (the Best Movie Ever Made — sez me). This success continued for years, and KB also extended this success to the APEX in upper Northwest. BUT… but…
The supply of outstanding British and foreign films dwindled. Of course we miss the MacArthur, it’s shimmering heyday, but we also miss having quality intelligent movies to see. Behold 2008: Nothing but trash comic book nonsense. 2009 will be even worse.
Yes, Mogambo was earlier.
The REALLY GOOD THING about the Warner is that in 2008 you can go there on most nights, find it open, and see a show. Whether you like Broadway, pop music, comedians or ballet; the Warner will have something for you.
As a frequent user of this site, I know many people dwell on the past and on lost memories (as I do) because so many fine theaters are now rubble. Not here! We attend 6 to 10 shows a year at the Warner. Why not sign off right now, buy a ticket, see a show!
How many of you posting here have bothered to actually ATTEND a movie at the AVALON lately? You ought to. This is Washington’s finest theatre (now better than the UPTOWN) and they’ve booked some good movies for the summer. SIGN OFF and GO!
Despite the above-market admission prices, the TRANS-LUX under Trans-Lux management was always a class act. They ALWAYS had a quality movie and would play it off for many weeks. Always a newsreel, in honor of their news heritage. Seating offered better legroom than any other theater anywhere. No popcorn or other destractions.
After the King Riot took its toll, Don King did the best he could considering the surrounding decline in civilization. The much loved VINEYARD Restaurant in the Trans-Lux Building also died, as did ALEX STUART’S Restaurant across the street. The strip of nice restaurants and night clubs immediately adjacent, including the Casino Royal where you might have seen Patti Page or Fats Domino prior to the Riot Era, the entire strip became a sex haven with prostitutes and pimps, the bars a good spot for a mugging. The New York Presbeterian Church (as in Fox’s “A Man Called Peter”) was completely surrounded by street hookers. Obviously, the Trans-Lux wasn’t drawing customers from the suburbs anymore. Having the cocaine mayor running the city was not a formula to facilitate peaceful moviegoing.
LOEW’S 3 downtown theatres used to have continuous performances all day: Feature, cartoon, news, previews. Opening at 10:45 am except Sunday 12:45, features were usually at 11:00, 1:10, 3:20, 5:30, 7:40, 9:45 and Sat 11:45. Good pictures did strong business all day every day. Sometimes they were swamped with customers, even in the 1950’s when people stayed home with their 8" Motorola b&w TV’s.
The Palace had a long corridor between the double box office and the theatre, lined with medeival torches and mirrors. Upstairs beyond that was a big lobby — ample room for standees. In 1953 when they had Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (the hottest act in America) in “AT WAR WITH THE ARMY” my brother and I bought tickets and went inside at 7:30 but didn’t get inside to the actual theater until after 9:30. Similarly, in 1966 for Clark Gable and Grace Kelly in MOGAMBO a two hour wait. But, guess what, it was fun. And seeing a major hit movie in a great atmospheric theatre like the PALACE was never ever less than wonderful.
The ARENA STAGE will be using the LINCOLN for at least 4 of this year’s plays or musicals. Just advertised today 6/18/08.
WIZARD OF OZ definitely played the UPTOWN a few years ago. We saw it on Saturday and the line was around the block, with many, many people turned away. Great show, great use of the Uptown.
A really nice Art Deco theater, we were tourists in ND on May 18, 2008. We planned on a movie at the FARGO, but instead they had a wonderful stage event GASPER’S DANCE GALA. Lots of great dance, great costumes, pretty girls.
We travelled to check this place out last month. Two thumbs up for a gem of a small town movie house. We saw JUNO —– 2007’s best picture despite the stupid Oscar choice — and the price was $2.00. Give it a try if you’re in the Allentown area.
“2001” returned to the Uptown MANY times. It sometimes rotated with 3 other MGM big hits: “Gone with the Wind” “Dr Zhivago” and “Ryan’s Daughter” — all in 70 MM.
We returned again for “10,000 BC” despite AMC lackluster operation and somewhat underpar projection. I think we’ll keep coming back, but it makes me burn the way AMC is trying hard undermine the Uptown legacy of excellence — so long treasured by Warner, Circle, and Loew’s management.
The SPRINGFIELD opened as a single screen theater with about 1,100 seats, a huge wide screen, and super-comfortable seats. It was outstanding. Later it was divided into twins, but was still a very good theater; preferable in my opinion to the Springfield Mall 10 which is also now closed.
The NEW Springfield Mall complex was of mixed value. Springfield #1 with 660 seats, wide screen and THX stereo was an excellent place to see a movie; as were the #7, 8, 9 and 10 theatres across the mall. Large, comfortable, and with good sound and projection. #2 was next door to #1 and was awful in that the THX from #1 streamed right thru their poorly soundproofed wall. Theatres #3, 4, 5 and 6 were rat traps stuck in the basement. Ugh!
Once a strong drawing card, but always inferior to the now-long-gone single screen theaters, the Springfield was rendered obsolete by the newer stadium seating multiplexes which cut into its business in all 4 directions. Add management indifference to keeping order regarding trouble-minded youth, and lackluster AMC management, we have not returned to the Springfield in years.
This beautiful neighborhood theater fell victim to the poison of high crime and urban decay. Although the Martin Luther King riots were the death knell for most Washington theaters, the VILLAGE fell victim long before that. Washingtonians would not believe that all of our city was essentially crime-free in the 1950’s, but it was. In the early 1960’s crime spread like weeds, and this northeast area was plagued by nightly robbery, muggings, murder. When liberal toleration of crime takes over, casual family moviegoing is no longer an option.
This theater is now double-listed. See also PIX.
This small art house run by Roth Theaters grabbed-off quite a few high quality, high box office exclusive runs, showed them at pretty steep prices too. This included Brigdet Bardot’s AND GOD CREATED WOMAN as well as LOVE IS MY PROFESSION, and LA VERITE. They also had H Z Clouzot’s MANON and the original MONDO CANE. Films usually ran at the Plaza for months, not weeks. There were about 400 seats, no architectual distinction at all. Gone now, it once fulfilled its purpose well.
The PIX was a 2 level theater with about 800 seats. In the 1940’s and 1950’s it was Washington’s X-movie theater (which in those days meant allegedly sexy movies with maybe 1 nudie shot, such as Hedy Lamarr in Ecstacy). Sometimes it showed quality re-issues such as 20th Century-Fox’s classic “Jesse James.” The admission prices were anything but discount, the same or more than the beautiful Loew’s theaters on F. Street. In that era, the PIX had a pervasive bad odor as is common in porno houses.
In the 1960’s, Don King took the theater over, cleaned it up somewhat, and renamed it the TOWN. Under his expert management the theater thrived. He grabbed-off top quality first runs such as PSYCHO, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, LA DOLCE VITA, many others.
Later, in the aftermath of the Martin Luther King riots, all of downtown Washington was enveloped in unchecked crime and the middle class customers stayed away. The TOWN, like other downtown theaters, endured a 5-year decline and eventually closed its doors. Businesses hoped for a turnaround in the dcrime/urban decay problem, but it did not happen for another 15 years. These days the PIX or TOWN area is more upscale and safer than anytime in the past 50 years. The theater exists today as the National Women’s Museum.
02/24/08 The Fine Arts, located in the high rent district, still exists. It was closed decades ago, but the building is still there, empty and useless.
There’s no harm in calling attention to Liberal Control Freaks, particularly when they’re in charge of government funded projects like the AFI. The AFI gets plenty of support from taxpayers. There IS HARM in denying basic information to customers. Liberals always rant about CHOICE; so long as THEY do the choosing.