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The El Rey supposedly is an exact duplication of the El Rey in Manteca. The verticals are similar, with the word theater on top, and the box office entrance is identical. I’m very curious if the interior murals were the same. I had the pleasure of being in the Manteca El Rey, these theatres were built by the same family.
The United Artists was a beautiful theatre. I attended it in 1974 for a spanish film festival. This festival, in connection with the Plaza Theatre in Oakland, and the Oakley Theatre in Oakley California, was quite successful. The vertical was spectacular with U.A. flashing in red and blue neon. The interior was gothic, but what i remember most was the ceiling with a beautiful light fixture, shaped like a red diamond recessed. The Fox just down the street was closed. It continued to show spanish movies for awhile, however I don’t remember when it closed. Gone but not forgotten!
The Majestic, run by the Rialto chain, in the late 70’s was called the State. The marquee had State in neon, but no vertical, the letters were removed and the marquee is what it looks like today. It is a nice theatre, with a small balcony. A lot of the fixtures (from what i heard) were removed and installed in the Rialto 4 in Berkeley at the time. I went to a movie there and it was well kept. No idea what it looks like now.
The Raven, now a live performance house, was always a movie theatre previously. When a movie house, it showed the latest films and was a enjoyable movie experience. A single floor theatre, with deco fixtures. The interior, is exactly the same as the Clover, in Cloverdale, but much more well kept. The Raven, is not to be confused with the Raven Film Center, which is a small but great 4 plex in the same city.
The Clover, was originally a single screen theatre, that was converted into a 4 screens. The Clover, for a long time, was showing Hispanic Movies. It was a single floor, with no loge or balcony. It was closed for a long time, but used by various tenants before its remodeling and grand reopening. The previous tenants showed no movies there. We went through cloverdale one night in the late evening and saw that the interior was lit. through the cracks in the door, we saw a red Nazi flag on the stage. I was in it once when i was a teenager, and it was a bare auditorium with no murals. The 4 plex is nice, we just saw Shrek there, they took the original auditorium, and made stadium seating with a nice screen and the seating is great. The other 3 screens were made by the building of an additional building to the original structure. It is doing quite well. The Clover, is an exact duplicate to the Raven Theater in Healdsburg. The Raven’s auditorium, which hasn’t been altered, looks exactly the same as the Clover before remodeling. The theater is doing happy and well, and when we were there, it was packed. Good to see for a small town (not small anymore) do well.
The westlane, was originally called the Hammer Drive In, as it was off of Hammer Lane. It was renamed the Westlane in the mid 70’s when it became porn, and remained so until its closure. The drive in was closed in the early 80’s because of porn going on to vhs tape and no longer being distributed in 35mm format. It sat there closed until someone set the projection booth, which housed the snack bar and a residence, on fire. It never reopened.
The covell theatre, was in the covell hotel building, around the corner from the Strand. It was a run down place. The main floor sat around 700 and the upstairs balcony sat around 250. In the 70’s it showed porn and closed down in the early 80’s. Last time I was in there was around 1982, but the interior was just destroyed with graffiti, the screen was torn, and half the seats were destroyed. The auditorium had no murals or anything of significant value, as the walls were whitewashed. At that time, in the 70’s the area was skid row and a lot of hobos and drunks slept in there.
The Strand was directly across from Woolworths, where we would go after a movie for a sundae. Last movie I saw there was Bonnie and Clyde. It was a beautiful theatre, with the lobby having murals of cowboys, indians, and horses. The interior murals were of western times. The back of the theatre on the outside painted on the top of the wall, said “Strand Theatre – Airconditioned and Fireproof”. The management there was very customer service oriented. Ushers escorted you to your seats. At the Bonnie and Clyde show, there were so many people waiting that they were all told to wait in the mezzanine upstairs. Those were the days
This drive in was a lot of fun. They used to show the old black and white 50’s cutie nudie flicks there. One of movies I didn’t forget was “The Diary of Knockers McCalla”. The Snack Bar had great pizza they made it from scratch. Place was always packed. It showed hardcore pornography during it’s last years, and people would park off of Gish Road, at a field a few blocks away, to see the screen. The San Jose Sheriffs Department was busy arresting the prostitution that lingered there. Finally from pressure from the locals, and from the police, the drive in went legit before closing.
correction to the last posting, i meant “attendance at the sparks was weak” before it closed. sorry.
The theatre mentioned above, is not the original Sparks Theatre. The original Sparks, was located right across the street from the Nugget Casino. It closed in the late 60’s and was converted into a casino called “The King of Clubs”. It was a single floor theatre, with murals of coal miners on the walls. It was a nice theatre, but even with all the patronage at the casinos, the attendance at the Sparks was closed. I haven’t been in the area lately, but I’m assuming that the theatre was torn down. The theatre listed above, never existed in Sparks when I was there.
The Majestic was a nice theatre. For those you who were ever in the Northpoint Theatre in San Francisco, the Majestic was almost an exact duplicate in layout (although built much earlier). No art work of any significance in the auditorium, the curtain did work, but the screen was gigantic!. It only showed one movie, never saw it have a double bill. We used to stay at the Hotel State down the street when we used to gamble in the area. The theatre did not have a vertical blade, but a very plain green marquee with the word “Majestic” in red neon above. For a single floor theatre, it was quite immense.
As a kid, we used to live right behind the Allendale Theatre on Angelo Avenue. It wasn’t a theatre then but was an apartment house. My long departed Aunt Sophie, would always talk about the Allendale, especially the weekly Wednesday giveaways. One night she won a live chicken there. No cage in it or nothing, just gave her the live chicken right on the stage! She said, you can keep this son of a * because I don’t want the damn thing. She let it go and it went flapping all around the theater. Then she won a new mattress one night and they told her she would have to get a truck to pick it up, she told them to ** and the manager delivered it himself! We were always told what a rat trap it was, and that it should have been condemned a long time ago.
I remember being in the Center Theater in the early 70’s. Saw the movie “Buster and Billie” and “Bamboo House of Women”. The admission was 50 cents. It was run down back then. But packed with kids. No murals on the walls or any old lighting fixtures of any kind, except the mural on the ceiling close to the screen. The screen had no curtains, just a bare screen with black masking (that didn’t adjust) and it looked like there was some sort of ice machine on the right side of the stage. It had stadium style seating, a lot of the seats towards the top middle by the projection booth were broken and missing cushions. But it did advertise in the Daily Review, of having the biggest movie screen in the area. Seats were
50 cents. I am glad to see that it is still in use. Even though it was run down, it was a nice theatre.
The Palace theatre was one of the unique theatres in San Francisco, that had a rich history, especially during the late 60’s early 70’s. During it’s chinese movie run, two gigantic billboard signs, were installed on the outside walls of the theatre, showing the current feature and what was coming on the following week. The Palace was then converted to the Pagoda Palace, with the vertical blade and marquee lettering changed perfectly. The red, blue, and green neon, actually complimented the chinese theme! The interior wasn’t changed much, except red drapes were installed over the murals on each side of the screen, dragon heads were placed over each aisle entrance to the auditorium. Chinese lettering was etched on the columns on each side of the screen (often wondered what it meant) which was removed when Al Michaan took it over. When he took it over, he replaced the wonderful cushiony black leather seating in the loge, with hard as rocks rocking chairs.Unfortunately, half the marquee was destroyed in 1982 when a truck lost control and went over the sidewalk, smashing the marquee. It was repaired, but never looked the same. I will never forget during a midnight movie there, (in 1971), Bette Midler and Barry Manilow, then performing at the Bimbos 365 club, came in. He went to the piano that was on the main floor and started playing a tune, and she went onstage and yelled “anyone have a joint?” about 100 joints came flying down from the balcony and she was picking all of them up. Freda Payne (Band of Gold) got on stage and sang Bring the Boys Home which brought the house down. A gang related shooting in the theatre, frightened the chinese residents and chinese movies became a thing of the past. It was reporatory for awhile and finally shut down. Passing by it just yesterday, I was very saddened. The City of San Francisco should be ashamed of themselves for not saving this theatre.
The vogue theatre in Pittsburg is an exact duplication of the Lorenzo theatre in San Lorenzo. The only difference are the marquee and murals on the walls. The lobby, and auditorium design are exactly the same. The Vogue, was a beautiful theatre. However, it isn’t exactly in the best spot of Pittsburg, it is in a high crime neighborhood in the 70’s, I don’t know if there has been much improvement. I passed by a few years ago, and the marquee was gone and the front was completely whitewashed. It looked like the Victory Outreach was in at the time, but the building was well maintained. The Vogue, behind the theatre, had a parking lot, with a neon sign affixed on the wall “Vogue Parking Only”. The few times we were there, the theatre was well attended.
The Rio Theatre, in Rodeo, was a very comfortable and cozy movie house. The picture from the website above is the Rio, but a newer looking exterior. The island box office, doors to enter the theatre (which were beautiful circular cut glass) and the glass display poster boards were removed. The interior of the theatre had a main floor and a stadium balcony. Maria Muldaur (Midnight at the Oasis fame) dedicated a song on one of her albums called “rio” as she used to attend this theatre as a child. The interior is not the same anymore, white washed out, the beautiful mermaid murals were all painted over. Years ago we saw the movie “deathrace 2000” there, and there were only 3 other people besides us in the audience. Sad.
But, the rio was a nice theatre.
My dear departed friend Jack Reynolds, managed the Haight Theatre in the early 60’s. The interior of the theatre was very similar to the Uptown. As a ex flower child of peace, love and not war, I remember when the Haight became the Straight. The vertical marquee was painted with flowers and “delic” 60s colors at the time. The main floor seats were removed, and we would go in there for the best rock concerts ever. We went in there once to see a movie and were given a blanket to lie on the floor with. The pot smell was everywhere, free love in the balcony, who could ask for more? Later it was a church and sadly shuttered for good. My favorite memory there was going in stoned, and saw Phil Spector hanging with Margo St. James of the famous Coyote. A buddy of mine and I spoke with them. We just discussed the Straight a few minutes ago, and a buddy said “kids now days don’t know what they’re missing”. The Haight, along with Winterland, are now San Francisco pasts, but lives long in our memories.
the Apollo did not close in 1978 as stated by a previous writer. It reopened briefly in 1982, showing hindi films, then became the banai faith church. after the church, it reopened again for only a month, showing movies from Samoa. The interior was almost exactly the same as the York Theatre on 24th street, (now called the Brava center). The theatre never did well in attendance, as the neighborhood was considered “rough” in the evenings. Funny though, in its last days, they installed a movie screen that was directly in front of the original screen. it was a horribly made looking thing, to accomodate 70mm films from India. The screen stretched out from wall to wall, covering the grill work on the sides of the stage. I remember attending the Apollo when they showed all six planet of the apes movies. Hardly anyone showed up. It was sad
The Granada theatre was a nice theatre. It had a double bill, all seat 50 cent policy for quite sometime during the seventies. It continued to show movies in the early eighties. It closed briefly, then reopened showing Filopino movies. During the Filopino movie run, the manager was shot and killed in the theatre lobby right in front of the concession stand. When the theatre finally closed, it was converted to a Consumers Distributing Store (remember that?) the marquee and vertical was removed. The curtain on the stage was removed in the late 60’s when where was a water leak and the curtain was damaged and could not be repaired.
I think that Timothy Pfluger would turn in his grave finding out that the main floor of this wonderful theatre is being turned into stadium style seating, with only 450 seats?
I remember the El Rey, and we went and saw the movie “Deep Throat” there with a group of friends. At that time it was run by the Mike Weston chain, which ran porno at Oaklands T&D, the Fairfax in Oakland, and the State in Coalinga. It was a nice theatre, single floor with no balcony. After its brief porno run, it went legitimate, showing double bills. I went there several times thereafter and saw movies like “The Conversation” and “The Domino Principle”. I remember the kids on the strip cruising Main Street. The El Rey was a nice theatre, sad to see it go.
The murals in this theater, (murals of two women warriors riding on winged horses on clouds) are a almost exact duplicate of the murals at the Bal Theater in San Leandro! I am pleased to see that this theater is under renovation – I hope that the curtain was preserved. It is a beautiful theatre.
Here is some trivia for you. The Grand Lake at one time, before the balcony was converted, was the showcase for Disney Films. Remember all those early Disney Movies, like Candelshoe, and Escape To Witch Mountain? Well they played there. A disgruntled projectionist, was fired for smoking weed in the the booth. He was also the projectionist at the T&D, and spliced in a porno trailer in the preview trailer. The Grand Lake audience was treated to about 20 seconds of “Memories within miss aggie”. when the new projectionist turned it off and switched to the main feature, the whole floor yelled BOOOOOO and PUT IT BACK ON! I was there when it happened and let me tell you, it was hysterical!!!! Ah, the memories of the grand lake!
The Fox Oakland’s last double bill was “Lady Sings The Blues” and “The God Father”, it played there in 1973. From 1968 to 1973, the Fox showed movies for 50 cents, then changed to soft core porn showing movies like “All The Loving Couples” and “I am curious yellow”. What was interesting the San Leandro Oakland Drive In showed the same movies as the Fox at the time. However, the Fox had live concerts during that time. The Oakland Tribune, attending the first concert starring Donny Hathaway and Ann Peebles, called the Fox a future “west coast Apollo Theatre”. The tribune, said “the fox rocked and rolled like it never did before, despite several outages of the sound system”. The Fox Oakland did quite well on those concerts, until a series of fires were deliberately set. It was rumored in the Oakland community where I grew up in, that the Black Panthers were responsible for it. But strictly rumor. There is a movie called “Nightmare In Blood” available on DVD, that was filmed in its entirety at the Fox Oakland during the seventies before the seats were removed. There are excellent interior shots as well as a wonderful nighttime shot of the Avenue Theatre in San Francisco, lit up in it’s glory. I am pleased that the Fox is being restored.