Comments from TomBarrister

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TomBarrister commented about Adler Theatre on Sep 8, 2011 at 3:05 pm

136 would be about right. The (then) Mississippi Hotel’s address was 106. The hotel stands right at 3rd and Brady (a one-way, and the main road north from downtown). Down the street to the east wass the Blackhawk Hotel; about a block west was the Davenport. Those were the three main hotels of their day. They’re all still open, although I believe as apartments.

The Orpheum was a huge theater; it and the Fort in Rock Island got all of the best movies in their day. The prefab multi-screen theaters came into existence in the late 60s, and they put almost all of the downtown theaters on both sides of the river out of business within a few years. Fortunately, this and the Fort (the biggest on the Illinois side of the Quad Cities) are both still open, albeit not as movie houses anymore.

TomBarrister commented about Roxy Theatre on Sep 8, 2011 at 2:51 pm

The Roxy stood on 15th street, which was one of the main throughways. I lived about three blocks away and had a paper route that took me close to the Roxy. The Roxy was about a block from the hill leading downtown (north). A short ways down the hill stood the Wellington Apartments; they’re still there, but probably under another name. The original Moline High School (later the original site of Black Hawk College) was nearby. Across the street and a bit north was a drug store with a soda fountain. A Schlegel’s drug store was a block or so south, where 15th and 16th streets forked (16th being the “main drag” of the two).

From the late 1950’s until it became an adult place, the Roxy got all of its movies after no other theaters wanted them. A movie would make two or three runs at different venues before ending up at the Roxy. I don’t remember them ever getting anything first. The theater was old and run down even in the early 1960’s. I delivered something there in 1970 and peeked inside. It wasn’t a pretty site, nor was it a place to take a deep breath in.

TomBarrister commented about Paradise Theatre on Sep 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I remember taking a date to the Paradise in 1969 or 1970. The Boston Strangler was playing (after showing at two other theaters on its first and second runs). I can still feel the nail marks in my arm, where my date gripped it whenever a violent scene was on the screen. The theater was run down even then, but downtown was still fairly safe to walk in. The YMCA wasn’t far from there, if I remember correctly, nor was the New York Store and Walgreens.

TomBarrister commented about Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse on Sep 8, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I have some memories of this place. This was THE main theater in the Quad Cities. It was strictly first-run. It also had a hotel, which was built a few years after the theater. The Showcase Cinemas in Milan relegated the Fort to lesser status. Had it not been for David Hitchcock, it probably wouldn’t exist today. He turned it into Circa 21 Dinner Playhouse in 1976. The hotel is now a senior citizen apartment building.

TomBarrister commented about Rialto Theatre on Sep 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm

“Rat Hole” was right. I remember going there in the 50’s, and it wasn’t too nice even then. If I remember, the Blackhawk Theater wasn’t far from there, about 6 blocks south and east. It wasn’t too nice, either. The neighborhood had started to get bad by the early 1960’s. 11th street was the main merchant area outside of downtown then. It was the “Strip”, so to speak. Now almost nothing is left.

TomBarrister commented about Showcase Cinemas Milan on Sep 8, 2011 at 2:10 pm

This complex put almost all of the downtown theaters out of business when it opened in 1968. The ones that survived went to second-run status. This was essentially abandoned in favor of a bigger complex across the river in Davenport. A Hy-vee supermarket and a few other establishments now occupy the property.

TomBarrister commented about ComedySportz on Sep 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I remember the Rocket/Capri theater well. It was originally first-run, except for the Fort. You can see the old WHBF (TV and radio) tower behind it. Half a block south (to the viewer’s left) and catty-corner was the Fort Theater, which got most of the first-run movies. In the early to mid 70’s, the Capri became a budget theater: $1 matinees and I believe $2 evenings. Of course it was second-run by then. In the early 1980s it went to 99 cents anytime.

The Showcase Cinemas in nearby Milan, which opened in 1968 with 6 screens, eventually put all of the downtown theaters out of business. It went out of business itself in 2001.