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Adamsdad-Thanks for the info. I knew it opened sometime in late 63 or early 64 because I saw It’s A Mad, Mad….World there in the winter of 64. It’s ironic that I ending up working there part time as a projectionist from 1977 until the day it closed in 1998.
Cinema 2 was actually split in September 1982 during the run of An Officer and a Gentleman. I was working there at the time.
Another theatre I worked at as a projectionist. The booth was a torture chamber. It had an open cider block outside wall. Birds used to nest in the open holes. In the winter you froze and in the summer melted between the outside heat and the heat from the carbon arc lamphouses. Same booking policy in the 70’s that the Liberty had;horror, black expoltiation ,porno and cheap Hong Kong kung-fu movies.
I worked here on and off from 1975 through closing night in December 1983. In fact I was working there the night it closed. DC Cab was playing and the owner-a very nice man named Fred Fleisher-told me to pack up the print as he was closing down that night.
The films in those years were a mix of horror and black explotiation with occasional forays into porno. The owner truly tried to run a professional operation but the area and clientele was not condusive to that. It was always a single screen running 2000 foot reel to reel changeovers with a working curtain and masking.
This was never a Walter Reade Theatre. It was always GCC.
Walter Reade however did own the Strand in nearby Plainfield.
One look at Blue Star and that shadowbox screen and you would know for sure it was a General Cinema Theatre.
I grew up in Union and every movie that shaped my moviegoing experience was seen at this theatre. The Dirty Dozen, In Cold Blood, Bonnie and Clyde,To Sir With Love, Cool Hand Luke and every Disney picture ever made I saw there.It was actually a pretty depressing place until RKO did a major facelift in 1968. They added 70mm and made it a major showcase theatre. They reopened with I Love You Alice B Toklas in December 1968. The 70mm was rarely used except for engagements of Sweet Charity and Tora, Tora, Tora, possibly one or two others. It was truly a great place to see movies. Saw the Wild Bunch there in 1969 and was blown away forever. In 1977 in the middle of it’s run of Close Encounters they did a
lousy twin job and the magic was gone.
I worked as a projectionist on and off from 1977 till it’s closing in 1998. It was open as early as 1963 because I remember seeing It’s a Mad,Mad,Mad,Mad World there. Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider,The Godfather, Blazing Saddles and The Towering Inferno and many others graced it’s large GCC “shadowbox” screen.Ironically, given it’s prestige at the time, it was a straight 35mm house, no 70mm. In 1973 they added a 500 seat auditorium to complement the main auditoriums 1100 seat capacity. In 1977 they did the 70’s split thing and put a wall directly down the middle of the main auditorium resulting in two bowling alleys. In September of 1982 the 500 seater was also split.By 1998 competition and changing demographics finally took it’s toll and in August of that year closed permanently.
I saw Woodstock here in 1970. It was presented in 4 track stereo and I remember at the time that the stage announcements in the film-which came from the surround speakers-were so life like that I thought it was the manager of the theatre making announcements from the back of the auditorium.