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AGR, Thanks for filling in a void in my Cine Riviera memories. Actually, I remember DoÃ±a Mary behind the ticket booth, although my attendance dates to the early sixties. I wasn’t yet 8 and always paid child’s fare. Couldn’t get a better deal for a double feature. (Except maybe at the Grand). Both needed a good cleaning. The restrooms were identified by bas relief portraits of a gentleman’s top hat and, am guessing, a lady’s bonnet. Never went there.
Just a note, I did see “How the West Was Won” at the Cinerama. They had 3 projectors going on at the same time to cover the widescreen. The effect was not quite perfected and at times made me queazy.
The Metro, Paramount and Metropol often had 2 story high cardboard silhouettes of blockbuster major stars towering the theatres' marquees. The Metropolitan went all out in out with the star packed classic “D-Day”. Inside, the closed curtains, built up suspense. And no kid looked forward to the “intermission”.
Maybe another day you will dedicate a line or 2 to puerto rican audiences' innate reflex to any abrupt unexpected break during a film’s projection. The mere lack of focus was immediately met with a varied spectrum of spontaneous whistles and “foco, foco” public alerts.
The Lara still stands in Puerta de Tierra, Fernandez Juncos Ave., though severely in need of repair. Built in the 20’s and designed by architect Pedro de Castro y Besosa, it reopened in 1972 by Teatro del 60 as a true stage theater and renamed El Sylvia Rexach. After a decade of redeeming success and providing a much needed arena to nurture local creative talent, its utility, although thirstily longed, required continued renewal of human and monetary focus.
It returned to feature film and succumbed in October of 1986 in the aftermath of its last showing; Bocaccio’s El Decameron.
See: El Nuevo Dia, June 24, 2001.
‘97 photo at View link
Art Deco construction of Teatro Eureka, # 250 Ave. de la Constitucion, Puerta de Tierra, is said to have been funded by film entrepreneurs TeÃ³dulo Llamas and Rafael Ramos Cobian during the 40’s. It served both as a film and stage theater, and a forum for civic activities. It practically faced Iglesia San Agustin’s imposing “westwerk” facade design.
It’s fate followed that of most Santurce theaters, displaced by the influx of mall cinema mania and decay of the city’s original commercial centers.
Today it houses El Hogar del Buen Pastor’s facilities in their efforts to provide humanitarian, medical and housing services to their community.
Current photo available at View link
El Grand did have its charm. There was always the uninteligible marquis displaying missing, reversed or simply misspelled film titles, but even those may have remained unchanged as new schedules played. The absent or reversed marquis letters were in fact quite in fashion in many a double feature house. Still today.
But in the 60’s the Grand also had this distinct lanky, sharp, spotty black/white vitilgo ticket taker who was the incarnation of the broad film spectrum features reeled from this theater. They played shorts, Movietone and Lufthansa news as well as European movies with English subtitles. As in all moviehouses then, thick smoke betrayed the otherwise transparent film projector. Everybody smoked in their unwieldy seats, regardless of the signs and the glass shaded hall at the back of the room. The lanky ticket taker doubled as usher who was never called to assist seating arrangements for anybody. The flashlit walk every half hour gave ample time for a quick cigarette duck. Many seats wouldn’t yeald and it screamed for cleaning, but it was there. it was cheap and a kids mind is not the most demanding when some freaky japanese creature fills all eyes as it suddenly jumped out up close just when you knew was his duty. Until Psycho ((Paramount Theater?), the post-climatic woman screech had little effect. But shit, Psycho gave it all a whole new depth.
An outside mosaic tiled corner sign at the Grand identified “Teatros Llamas” as the original owners. That’s worth a comment.
The Lorraine is now (2010) a luxury Condo. It was originally named the Liberty, according to parents. Didn’t ask why or when renamed. Rahola Photo Shop, slso demolished, lied across it. There’s a tasty and cheap criollo BBQ chicken place in front of the inexistent theatre, just waiting to be reappraised.
(Continued) I also recall Cinerama’s premiere with 3 panoramic overlapping projectors imaging a curved wide screen. The movie was How the West was Won.
An afterthought. The Matienzo, catering to Tin-Tan, Mexican costumed superheros and their detective genre, had an incredible once in a lifetime performance. Bill Haley and the Comets. I swear it. I was there. I was 7. I won a pair of skates in an entry raffle. The wheels didn’t even roll. It was Haley’s turn.
(Continued) The vice-squad enjoyed surprise raids to inculcate shame. They took your name and let you go. Out to the street full of people you didn’t want to acknowledge. The show only closed for Good Friday when they invariably projected La Muerte y Pasion de Nuestro Senor Jesucristo to an absent audience. Honestly. I’m Curious Yellow, following Pasolini’s classics, 120 Days of Sodom, Caligula and VCR’s did away with that variety. The Rialto, next to Old San Juan’s La Barandilla today sells Whoppers.
(Continued) Facade recalls La Parque’s Music Hall with its authentic autographed star photo gallery…
All premiere theaters in Santurce lined-up Ponce de Leon from the Metropolitan (parada 20) to the Lorraine (la 15), previously the Liberty, which brought Holiday’s bland nudies to proper porn dimensions. The Lorraine even had a live show. Like Tursi’s Riviera Club. Suddenly all men stood up and lined the first 3 aisles. ( Somebody told me).
By mid ‘60’s, the lady who not only sold, but also tore your ticket in half while making change was Dona Meri. Kids admission was a quarter, double feature. Another quarter covered popcorn and a coke. That is, if Dona Meri was keen toyour attempt to sneak through the back screen door. Musty, dusty, no seats, and too close to focus the mirror image. And figuring out the character of the vast rips of screen was part of the fun. Upstairs bas relief profiles identified the proper restrooms in the balcony lobby.
Best architecture and design of all cinemas, Metro included.