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Just some fun trivia. I was watching a DVD of a fun little telefilm from 1981 called “Senior Trip”. Seems to have been filmed sometime in May/June of ‘81 in Times Square. What a little time capsule this film is. There a few shots of the Strand when it was the Cinerama I & II. In one shot, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is shown on the 'lower’ marquee. In the next scene, actress Faye Grant is walking under the marquee and “Alligator” and “Search & Destroy” are playing.
I recently won a few New York Posts from May of ‘81 on Ebay and it’s fun seeing those very films in the listings.
Great memories! I went to high school with one of the young ladies in the photos.
This was an awesome, clean theatre. Auditorium B had steep stadium style seating but the rows were so close together that you could hang your legs over the chairs in front of you.
Thanks to all for adding to this theatres legacy!
A peak inside this theatre:
(sorry if posted prior to this one). Are these photos accurate?
Great shots of the Saint Francis! Some circa 1979:
There is now scaffolding erected on the front of THE STRAND. The ground level is also boarded off. Something being done with the building, perhaps????
I was finally able to see the little Cento Cedar for myself yesterday. The building is now colored burgandy/brick and the box office window is bricked-in. Seems to be a residence now.
I would have loved to see a film here! The alley, although branched off from the sketchy part of Polk Street, was clean and there were no sketchy people around. There were some nice cars parked all along the row. Perhaps it became slightly gentrified or night hadn’t fallen yet (and the night people hadn’t come out yet).
It’s easily walkable from Union Square and just a block or more from Van Ness.
Cute building, too.
I caught only one film here (sadly only one) as part of a horror film festival a few years ago. I instantly fell in love with the auditorium! Charming is the word. I loved the architecture. I’m looking forward to going back someday.
Not my favorite theater, but I saw some great films here. The huge glass lobby was a HUGE waste of space – it’s design (or lack of) made no sense. They could have constructed an entire auditorium in its place.
The restrooms were upstairs and all the theaters were on the ground level. The seats didn’t offer much leg room and were the type where heads got in the way. Not comfortable by any means.
That said, their screens were impressive! This was also my first experience with THX sound in 1992 and I was blown away. If you were lucky to catch the film in either of the two large auditoriums, you would be very impressed with the presentation.
I rather liked the smaller auditoriums, however. Overall, poorly designed but the films were presented well.
I live around the corner from this location. I walk by this theater every day and I would love for it to be a neighborhood theater. I’d never leave. When it was a church I used to sneak a peak in and see the chairs and stage.
It’s all boarded up and, thankfully, the doorway was shut off from people sleeping in it.
This is one of those theaters where I’d love to see retro-programming and fun midnight films like they do at the CASTRO and CLAY theaters. Some day, maybe.
Thanks for posting that photo! I often walk home from work and I have been trying to see where this theater was located. Before I moved here, I used to clip newspaper ads of movies and this theater’s name was always listed.
I’m saving this photo. Thanks!
In this listing, it said the theater was a single screen and twinned in the 80’s. It was a twin theater as far as I can remember as far as the ‘70’s are concerned.
The auditoriums were long, sloped tunnel-like with an aisle in the very center all the way to the screen. The seats were painted white and the seat cusions were red vinyl. A blue-ish hue illumnated the screen in between performances. The double doors to each theater had two small windows next to the door handles so you could actually look in and see the movies playing while the doors were closed.
What I’ll never forget was the smell of fresh popcorn. As I said before, the place was kept immaculate – restrooms, the lobby, ect.
EXCELLENT!!! I try to attend the Vogue as often as I can and I have had nothing but the best movie experiences there. I cannot stand the crowds and bustle of the downtown multiplexes (which are surprisingly VOID of a cinema-going atmosphere…right down to the horrid faux Top 40 music they play).
Thanks for the info.
I saw this in Reno at the Keystone Cinema (listed here as “Cinema”). It was a decent, no frills single screen theater. I was mesmerized from start to finish – to these (then) seven-year-old eyes, I saw the most wonderful fantasy. How I wished I were the Roy Neary character! I was able to see the film one more time after Thanksgiving and then proceeded to buy every fantasy/sci-fi magazine that featured the film on its cover (which educated me on the sci-fi films of the 50’s and 60’s as well!)
Such a terrific film that lost none of its appeal for me all these years!
Thank you for the statement!!! Yes, there is hope. Let’s just hope the Metro isn’t gutted and multiplexed (I just don’t think I can bear that).
The Theater Foundation has done terrific things and that takes dedication.
Sadly, movie-going itself is forcing us to change our viewing habits. The big corporations WANT this mass multiplexing – they want MONEY and more SCREENS (no matter how small, cramped or badly decorated they are).
We want the comfortable, civilized, well-managed single-screen neighborhood theaters. They, on the otherhand, could give a rat’s puh-tooty about what we want.
But it’s sites like this that educate, inform and bring people together.
Damn – another of the city’s biggest losses. Little by little this city is losing its best characteristics. I tried to go as often as possible – doing everything in my power to avoid the ruthless multiplexes.
I bid adieu to the next-to-last of our civilized, comfy theaters with class and character.
This WONDERFUL establishment has held out – until now. This is the final week of the Metro Theater’s existence.
I’m upset – it’s truly a clean, quality theater in a very safe and pretty area of town.
It’s the final first-run single screen theater in San Francisco now. All we have left is the CASTRO THEATER (which gets constant attendance by me since I love their choice of films). I don’t go to the noisy, smelly, chaotic, mean-spirited multiplexes now. I have resigned from first run films – not because they are all bad films, but I’ve always had trouble at the multiplexes. Be it noisy patrons during the film or just too much noise and chaos in the adjoining shopping centers. The Metro, The Coronet, The Alexandria, The Regency, The Regency 2 and The Alhambra offered comfortable, civilized viewing experiences. I will miss that most of all. Not to mention the beautiful interior designs.
Gone. So am I from first-run theaters in San Francisco.
THE PLACE to see the first-run blockbuster. How I bragged about this theater to everyone I knew when I first moved to San Francisco. Little by little, I made them all watch a movie here and they all ask about it. I had to break the news to them. My parents are still upset it’s closed and when they visit me, they no longer want to see a movie in the city. Even they know all we have left is…shoeboxes. That’s because the city has lost a jewel of first-run programming. The closing of this theater was the last straw for me. After my problems with the new multiplexes and with no place decent to see a first-run Hollywood film, I have officially stopped going.
This theater had such great sound and going here was what movie watching was all about. Everyone got along here! No cellphone problems! No tough-talking guetto youths staring you down as you walked by! It was this city’s last civilized, classy first-run theater. They’re gone. Over.
I must say the Castro has given me the most AWESOME movie-going experiences in this city. Especially this past year! I heard of the programming upset behind the scenes some time ago, but to be honest, I go now more than ever before. I went to almost every film at the GODZILLA FEST. I basically set up house at the Castro even though I live nearby. Such a wonderful, fun experience. I enjoyed the 3-D fest and tried to go every night. The horror fest last year was GREAT as was their Halloween programming!!!!!! Whenever they play Hitchcock – I’m there. Recently they played some fun films like Xanadu and Skatetown USA. Very fun.
More upper-crust foreign fare and such were probably favored before, but I never went to see them (except for the Fellini films…I’m now a fan of his work). The programming now is really fun. I’ll take a Joan Crawford double feature or Vincent Price fest ANY DAY over the usual arthouse programming.
I LOVE THE CASTRO THEATRE!
The Kabuki is close to where I live and I like that convenience. If a film plays the main auditorium with it’s amazing balcony, by all means GO! That place is amazing. I also love the smaller, more intimate theaters downstairs by the box office. I try to see movies there as often as I can because it’s like being in a private screening room. The other theaters in between…I never liked them. Heads get in the way, they’re small and when people walk up and down the aisle looking for a seat after the movie started, they block the screen.
They should knock those out and make the place just two huge auditoriums and the screening rooms downstairs and the place would be cool. This city doesn’t need a multiplex of 10 screens that play the same 4 films in rotation!
When this city lost the Alhambra, the Regency’s and the Royal I had no choice but to go here.
Each visit had been frought with problems: rude, loud patrons; loooooooong commercials before the feature; my gift certificates weren’t honored on several occasions because the boxoffice worker said they couldn’t be used for most engagements (they are not PASSES, they are SAME AS CASH), the once-nice cafe shut down and too many of the theaters are too small for some showings. The box-office itself clashes with the classy interior of this gorgeous building! There was a lame restaurant nearby that looked out-of-place. The line to the box office is terrible and getting in and out of the place is an obstacle course because of all the people milling around – it gets noisy and chaotic. They ruined a great building. Had they gone with the architecture and been creative, the place could have been classy and cool. Instead it’s like a noisy mall.
The best time to go is the very first show or the very last show. Avoid Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings unless you want to clash with all the tough youths that appear in droves.
There is no charm to the place.
Each auditorium has garbage bins as you enter that are built into the wall so you are met with the stench of garbage each time you enter and exit each and every theater. Smells like a locker room sometimes.
I have stopped going even though I have a few un-honored gift certificates in my possession. I got tired of trying to explain policy to the kids working there.
If it closed, it’d be a distant memory.
This is the theater I really miss because it reminded me so much of the Granada Theater in Reno, NV. I loved the main auditorium so much! I thought it was beautiful. I would make special Saturday trips just to be here no matter what was playing – the 38 Geary was always fast and constant so getting to and fro was no problem. The place smelled like freshly popped popcorn (the new multiplexes DON’T).
I saw ALIEN 3, DARK CITY, THE CORE, HANNIBAL, DANTE’S PEAK…all great Saturday afternoons spent here. I would never jump theaters – I would go right down to the box office and pay for another film. That’s how much I loved this place.
I enjoyed the St. Francis but I’m sad I missed the “heydey” of grindhouse cinema (horror movies, sci-fi flicks, kung-fu, blaxploitation). I preferred the smaller downstairs theater where I saw “Casino”, “Jurassic Park” and…“Leprechan 2”.
The last time I went, however, the picture wasn’t so rosey> I was watching the horror film “Bad Moon” and the rodents were being especially noisy and there was a colony of cockroaches all over the backs of the seats in front of me. I had to go the restroom and shake out my jacket and shirt. As I was leaving, two tourists from NYC were complaining to the manager about the roaches.
I didn’t mind (even though I didn’t see the rest of the movie) but them being from New York City…I’m shocked they were surprised by this.
Regardless, had this theater been maintained with strict standards and lots of extermination…I would have went a lot more. You could tell the place was once really, really nice. I do miss this place.
After I moved to SF in 1992, I bragged to everyone in my hometown about the Alhambra. It was a real movie palace. I loved seeing the great Disney pictures there. I even managed a showing of “Scream” at this wonderful place.
How it HURT to see it go! You just didn’t have the problems with movie-going back then! No cellphones, pushy patrons, rude youth…I had the best experiences here and it made seeing a movie special! This was a HUGE loss to us movie-goers, but multiplex patrons could care less which is sad.
I miss this theater!
After all these years, this is still a fun place to visit! I worried during the mid 80’s the place would close. Still a fun destination on hot summer nights.
The best “Drive-In fare” would play here in the ‘60’s and '70’s. Everything from the “Planet of the Apes” films, horror films, “Swinging Cheerleaders”-type T&A films to the latest blockbusters would play here side by side.
The first film I ever saw, “Jaws”, I saw here in 1975. I visit every summer when I’m in town.
Great place and the projection is good. Nothing but great memories of the El Rancho!
What fine memories! In the ‘70’s this was the premier Disney showplace! All the Disney films played here first until the 1980’s. Still a strong destination for moviegoers until the mid '80’s when the film started playing second-run double features. The last film I saw here was “Jurassic Park” in late 1993 (Christmas). The place had excellent popcorn, too and was always the cleanest and tidiest theater I have EVER been in.
They used to show the coolest Midnight films in the late 70’s, early '80’s: “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, “Kids are Alright”, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, “The Warriors”, “Phantasm”, “Wizards” and others.
The place was well-run (the manager in the '70’s was known to be pretty strict and enforce the uniforms which were rather official looking). Like I said – the place was SPOTLESS.
My best friends ran the theater in the 1987 – 1988 period and it was awesome to visit the projection booth, see old movie posters, hang out afterhours and preview upcoming films. Nothing but great memories here.
Sorry to see it become anything less than what it was, but that’s what happens: multiplexes attract masses and the nicer, older theaters suffer the effect.
Film highlights: “Bambi”, “Snow White”, “Blow Out”, “Arthur”, “Less Than Zero”, “John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness”, “History of the World Part 1”, “Roxanne”, “Witches of Eastwick”, “Visiting Hours” and too many to mention!