Comments from RonnieD

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RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Art Cinema on Aug 9, 2010 at 3:40 pm

You’re very welcome Mike; serving was entirely my pleasure and honor.

As Bob has mentioned above, people who are in the military are just regular guys with the same interests and disinterests as civilian folk.

Back in the late 60s, TVs were something of a rarity in army barracks so for soldiers, feature films were one of the main sources for entertainment. There were three theaters on Fort Hood each screening a feature film nightly as well matinees on weekends. The films used to play usually two or three days at one of the three theaters and then often move to one of the other theaters for a few days screening. So any night of the week there was often a choice of three different feature films you could attend without leaving the Base, if you desired.
To fill the bills took a fair selection of movies and the army screened a wide range of film genres. “The Green Berets” did indeed play on Base in 1968 and I remember first seeing it at Theater 2 on Fort Hood. But for every “macho” themed film like “The Green Berets” or “Where Eagles Dare” or “The Battle of Britain” the army also screened movies like ‘The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie”, Zeffirelli’s “Romeo & Juliette”, “Sweet Charity”, “Oliver!”, “The Subject Was Roses”, “Isadora”, “Ring Of Bright Water” just to name a few of the wonderful films I saw in Base theaters at Fort Hood.

I also remember seeing “The Fox” in the summer of 1968, but at a theater in nearby Temple.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Beltonian Theatre on Aug 5, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I was a soldier stationed at nearby Fort Hood in 1968 and 1969. Twice I visited the Beltonian Theater. On one occasion to see the film “The Graduate” and the second occasion was on an insufferably hot late summer Texas Saturday afternoon. The film was Walt Disney’s “Rascal.” I seem to remember there being no air-conditioning in the Beltonian and the rear doors to the auditorium were left open during the screening. The only other patrons beside myself that afternoon were a woman and a small child. The theater chairs had wooden backs and the seats were lumpy. A totally enjoyable and memorable experience in that wonderful old theater.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Ritz Theater on Aug 5, 2010 at 12:06 pm

No Mike I never went to a Drive-In Theater when I was stationed at Hood. Not having a car made that impossible for most of course, unless you happened along with a buddy who did have wheels. Were the Drive-Ins in Killeen? I seem to remember passing by a Drive-In out towards Copperas Cove. Many wonderful memories of seeing movies in the four Killeen theaters, in Temple, Belton, Austin, Copperas Cove, Dallas, and of course in Theaters 1,2, and 3 on base at Fort Hood.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Art Cinema on Aug 5, 2010 at 11:28 am

I was a soldier stationed at Ft. Hood in 1968 and 1969. I remember the Art Cinema was adjacent to a bookstore on Avenue D and diagonally across the street from the Blue Bonnet Café in downtown Killeen.
I remember seeing two films on different occasions in the Art Cinema, Luis Bunuel’s “Belle de Jour” and Russ Meyer’s film “Vixen!”

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Sadler Theater on Aug 4, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I was a soldier stationed at Ft. Hood in 1968 and 1969. I visited Ft.Hood/Killeen 30 years later in 1998. The building which housed what I believe was the Sadler Theater at 315 E. Avenue D in downtown Killeen appeared to be the same building. All identifying marks, which would have sparked memories of the Sadler were gone, no signage or distinctive features, but the style and condition of the building at the address, indicated that it was more than likely it was the same structure which had been there 30 years before back to the late 60s. Directly across the street, at 314 E. Avenue D was solid evidence of the remains of the Ritz and the Texas Theaters.

From the journals I kept of those years, I find that I saw at the Sadler: “Pretty Poison” on Sunday 11/24/1968; “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” and “Live For Life” on Tuesday 5/6/1969; “The Subject Was Roses” and “Return To Peyton Place” on Sunday 5/18/1969; “The Sand Pebbles” on Saturday 7/26/1969; “The Illustrated Man” and “The Hooked Generation” on Sunday 8/31/1969; “Whatever Happened To Aunt Alice” and “Mayerling” on Sunday 12/21/1969.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Ritz Theater on Aug 3, 2010 at 11:51 am

I was a soldier stationed at Ft. Hood in 1968 and 1969. I visited Ft.Hood/Killeen 30 years later in 1998 and the building which housed what I believe were the Ritz and the Texas Theaters at 314 E. Avenue D in downtown Killeen was still standing. All identifying signage was gone, but the façade of the two theaters, adjacent to one another, was instantly recognizable to me; the poster cases on the front of the building were still there and the same heavy, wooden, entrance doors were intact. To my amazement when I tried the door of what I believe was the Texas Theater, it swung open. Since the two theaters were next door to each other with nearly identical facades, it could have actually been the door of the Ritz. Inside, the lobby which hosted the refreshment stand was unrecognizable; all counters and vestiges had been removed. One of the distinctive architectural features of that theater was that when you passed from the lobby into the auditorium, you had to walk up a slightly inclined ramp, through a narrow door, and then down a ramp into the theater. It must have been designed that way to accommodate the raked seating area. That feature was still intact. Although it was clear that I was inside the auditorium, unfortunately beyond that point it was too dark to see much else or to venture any further.

I have photographs taken in 1998 of the Ritz and the Texas façade and when the photo submission application is operative I will try to scan and post a photo.

Directly across the street at number 315 E. Avenue D was, I believe, the Sadler Theater.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Texas Theater on Aug 3, 2010 at 11:27 am

I was a soldier stationed at Ft. Hood in 1968 and 1969. I visited Ft.Hood/Killeen 30 years later in 1998 and the building which housed what I believe were the Ritz and the Texas Theaters at 314 E. Avenue D in downtown Killeen was still standing. All identifying signage was gone, but the façade of the two theaters, adjacent to one another, was instantly recognizable to me; the poster cases on the front of the building were still there and the same heavy, wooden, entrance doors were intact. To my amazement when I tried the door of what I believe was the Texas Theater, it swung open. Since the two theaters were next door to each other with nearly identical facades, it could have actually been the door of the Ritz. Inside, the lobby which hosted the refreshment stand was unrecognizable; all counters and vestiges had been removed. One of the distinctive architectural features of that theater was that when you passed from the lobby into the auditorium, you had to walk up a slightly inclined ramp, through a narrow door, and then down a ramp into the theater. It must have been designed that way to accommodate the raked seating area. That feature was still intact. Although it was clear that I was inside the auditorium, unfortunately beyond that point it was too dark to see much else or to venture any further.

During the years that I was at Ft. Hood, the Texas was a very distinctive old movie theater which along with the other three downtown Killeen theaters provided a comfortable, affordable, few hours of escape and entertainment for throngs of soldiers coping with the familiar, not uncommon, sense of loss of separation from family and friends and the stress of an uncertain future. The Texas, which followed the format of its sister theaters in Killen at the time, nearly always provided a double bill. Reading back over the journal I kept during those times, I find that I saw at the Texas the movies “The Flim-Flam Man ” on the night of Monday 12/2/1968, “Petulia” on Saturday 12/14/1968, and “Bedazzled” and “A Flea In Her Ear” on Saturday 2/21/1969.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Charles Cinema on May 18, 2007 at 8:32 am

Contrary to many of the great posts here, I personally never really cared for this theater and would only go there when I had to see the film which opened there. It was the first stadium style modern design theater I had been in and apart from that there wasn’t much in the way of distinctiveness about it. Like most modern theaters, it was not a warm environment, clinical in design and serviceable but very little else that inspired me.
I cut an afternoon class on Friday April 8, 1966 to see the opening feature, Coppola’s “You’re a Big Boy Now”. Only the one large upstairs theater was operational at the time and there was much building going on. The area looked like a construction site and you had to navigate your way around piles of sand and equipment to find the theater.
Other films I remember seeing at the Charles: David Lean’s “Ryan’s Daughter”; a sneak preview of “Barefoot In the Park” with the featured attraction Preminger’s “Hurry Sundown”. Last film I saw on the Charles screen: “Days Of Heaven” Fall, 1978.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Astor Theatre on May 17, 2007 at 8:55 am

Boris,
I knew that one of the grand old palaces had and used a curtain but I couldn’t remember if it was the Astor or the Music Hall. That magnificent moment when the curtain parted was dramatic and theatrical and only added to the experience of seeing a great film in that great theater.
I haven’t seen it yet, but the sepia tone print of “Reflections In a Golden Eye” has been re-created on the Warner DVD which is part of a 5 disc Marlon Brando box set.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Astor Theatre on May 16, 2007 at 12:00 pm

The Astor was perhaps my favorite, along with its neighbor the Savoy, of all the grand old Boston Theaters in the mid to late 1960’s. The screen was gigantic (51 feet!! according to the great post by Bill Liberman above) and the auditorium was wide, deep and comfortable. The box office was on the Tremont Street sidewalk and as Bill describes, once inside one had to walk down a rather long corridor to get to the ticket taker, the theater lobby, and the auditorium. The blank sign on the building façade above the overhanging marquee and below the script Astor lettering was actually a billboard, at least in the mid to late 60’s. When the Astor featured a first-run film which was expected to settle in for a long run, it displayed the ad of the film on the billboard which could be seen as one came across Boston Common. The script “Astor” lettering on the façade was a striking warm pink color when illuminated at dusk and was a familiar beacon when walking through the Common toward Tremont Street. If I drove into the city at night I would often park in the garage under Boston Common. When I came up from the garage all I needed to do was look for the Astor’s warm welcoming sign and cut across to the common to know where I was going.
I was only up in the balcony, which I believe was generally closed, once. They opened it to accommodate the overflow audiences for “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf”. I believe the rest room’s (at least the men’s) were in the basement which was common in many of the old theaters.
Most memorable experience at the Astor was seeing the rare and now virtually extinct sepia tone print of John Huston’s masterpiece “Reflections In A Golden Eye” on the Astor’s giant screen, on the day it opened in Boston in the fall of 1967. Huston wanted a unique look when he filmed his adaptation of Carson McCullers’s psychological novel and shot the film in an experimental sepia tone in which the only color which bled through the golden shade was pale rose. Quite spellbinding. Warner Bros only made a few prints of it and released them to select theaters in several major cities for the opening to see how the public would receive it. The studio executives didn’t like the results, pulled the film, and tragically re-issued the film in general release in regular Technicolor.
Other memorable films first seen at the Astor: “Ship Of Fools”; “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold”; “The Molly Maguires”; “Hombre”; “Alfie”.
Special thanks to Ron Newman for sharing the priceless pictures of the Astor.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Fine Arts Theatre on May 16, 2007 at 10:44 am

I was only in this theater once in the late 1960’s. I remember it being tucked away on Norway Street not far from the Sack Cheri theater complex. The bill use to change weekly I believe and as stated by others, usually more often than not featured a double bill of foreign or “Art” films in the original language with subtitles. If you weren’t looking for it, it was not hard to miss. I remember going in a small door up the stairs and that the seating in the small auditorium was not very comfortable. The bill I went to see was “Never On Sunday” and “Tom Jones”.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Columbus Theatre on May 14, 2007 at 9:18 am

Was only in this architecturally splendid theater once in 1966. Remember most vividly the illuminated overhanging marquee and the opulent stairway up to the balcony which had been converted into a small theater which seemed quite steeply raked. The movie was a Swedish film “Night Games” (Nattlek) directed by Mai Zetterling which featured a few familiar actors who were often part of Bergman’s repertory of players. The film was considered very provocative for its time, at least here in America, was advertised as suchâ€"an “Art” film, and in addition to being foreign, made it a viable feature for the Columbus at the time which had turned from standard feature films to borderline porn movies. Memorable night at a magnificent theater. Nice to see it is still in operation. I must re-visit it.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Darlton Theatre on May 14, 2007 at 8:43 am

Gerald,
I would think there would be other pictures of the Darlton around perhaps taken by people in the neighborhood, but unitl they surface, if ever, thanks for sharing the Journal one. It’s a treasure.
I never knew before hand that the Darlton was closing. I live in southeastern Mass. but use to venture across the state line for movies. I often didn’t have access to a R.I. paper (there were no computers) to see film listings so I’d drive down Newport Ave, check out what was playing on the beautiful Darlton marquee, drive another mile down the road to the 4 Seasons to see what they were offering and then decide what I wanted to see.
The night I drove up to a vacant dirt lot where that beautiful theater use to be, I was devastated. It was like a bomb had fallen and obliterated it. There was a sign on the property announcing that the next attraction on the site would be a new bank “coming soon”. I was heartbroken and still miss the Darlton.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Beacon Hill Theatre on May 14, 2007 at 8:03 am

I only went to the “new” Beacon Hill Theater once. Did not care for it at all. It was down what seemed like an endless flight of wide stairs and gave me a very uncomfortable feeling that if any emergency occurred (other than a nuclear disaster) being underground felt precarious to me. I remember the spanking new theater feeling very clinical and cold nothing ornate or individualizing about it and I think the dominant color scheme was white. JoeyO could confirm or refute it. The film was Scorsese’s “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Darlton Theatre on May 11, 2007 at 11:26 am

One of my favorites. Right on the sidewalk of Newport Avenue with classic illuminated V-shaped marquee. The parking lot was to the left of the theater and wrapped around the back of the building. As I recall the box office was inside the foyer doors with the concession stand beyond. The very comfortable auditorium was raked and moderately fan-shaped and I believe there was some ornamentation on the sidewalls.
Despite being a neighborhood theater, it did occasionally offer first run features to R.I. at least in the late 60’s early 70’s. As mentioned above “A Man For All Seasons”; “Anne Of the Thousand Days”; in addition to “Is Paris Burning?”; “The Sugarland Express”
First film seen at the Darlton: “Walk, Don’t Run” Summer 1966. Last movie seen there: Slasher film “Ruby” in 1977.
Priceless picture Gerald. Thanks

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Beacon Hill Theatre on May 11, 2007 at 9:52 am

This site is amazing. I enjoy the wealth of information and everyone’s fond remembrances.
My own recollections of the “old” or original Beacon Hill, the single screen theater above ground at the corner of Beacon and Tremont Streets are from the late 1960’s. I use to sometimes cut classes to attend the daytime screenings. The first time I went there, I remember having a hard time finding the theater because the address was 1 Beacon St and the entrance was on Tremont Street. Go figure. I remember asking several people if they knew where the Beacon Hill Theater was.
I thought this theater was not as ornate or stylish as some of the other Sack houses (Savoy, Music Hall, or the Saxon). As I remember, the auditorium was rather shoe-boxy rather than fan shaped and seemed smaller than the other theaters with a smaller screen more suited to art films rather than glossy Hollywood movies. (The great and much appreciated photo provided by TC illustrates that). Strangely, I don’t recall the two balconies lining the side walls. Films I remember seeing at the Beacon Hill: Louis Malle’s “Viva Maria”; Richardson’s “The Loved One”; Truffaut’s “Fahrenheit 451”; Stanley Donen’s “Two For the Road”.

RonnieD
RonnieD commented about Gary Theatre on May 10, 2007 at 11:53 am

Thanks to all for the great comments and especially those who provided the priceless pictures. What memories. Just checked the Boston Globe on micro and “The Sound of Music” did indeed open its Boston run at the Gary on 3/17/65. “My Fair Lady” was into its run around the corner at the Saxon on Tremont Street. I saw “TSOM” sometime during its roadshow engagement at the Gary and remember sitting in the balcony, but couldn’t say which one. I do remember it was so high up and raked that it felt like being on the side of a mountain. I also saw roadshow engagements of “Hawaii” and “The Sand Pebbles” at the Gary and the last movie I saw there before it was sadly demolished was “Cabaret”