Continental Theater

5725 Mosteller Drive,
Oklahoma City, OK 73112

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Showing 19 comments

hcombs
hcombs on March 23, 2011 at 1:25 am

@ Gridleak, this is Harold Barton Combs and I’d like to get in touch with you regarding your memories of Barton Theaters and my family. My email address is

seymourcox
seymourcox on July 17, 2010 at 5:21 pm

This fine web site offers color shots of the former Continental Theatre.
http://www.roadsideoklahoma.com/node/803

Gridleak
Gridleak on March 20, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Speaking of belated comments, I can only hope that Harold above ever sees this. If you do, I want you to know that if your father was “Harold”… he was one of the nicest, kindest, gentleman I ever knew.

I grew up living next door to Robert Lewis Barton. I worked in almost every theater the Bartons owned with the exception of the Continental. I was actually at the employee’s premier showing of The Greatest Story Ever Told which was held the morning of the day of the Grand Opening that evening.

I am going to cut this here, for now, just to be sure things are working as I am a new contributor. If this works, heh haha, then I have a truckload of information to add regarding Barton Theaters.

NeonSky
NeonSky on December 5, 2009 at 5:18 pm

The Continental was hands down my favorite theater in OKC growing up. Here’s a memory — was anyone else there?? In 1980, my brother and I went to the Continental for the premiere of CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC, one of the worst movies ever made, but over the passage of time has taken on the patina of camp classic. For the local premiere, the film’s co-writer and producer, Allan Carr (producer of several disco movies of the era) flew in on a helicopter which landed in the parking lot. He got out wearing a big white cowboy hat and a white rodeo suit — his homage to us “Okies” I suppose — but for us it was rather embarrassing. There were only about 20 of us gathered in the parking lot on that hot summer evening for the big splashy “premiere” so the whole event took on a sad, anti-climactic air, especially since the Continental had gone to such great lengths to promote it, searchlights and all. I still miss the Continental. I also saw Gone with the Wind there in revival, Moonraker and The Pink Panthere there. Cheers all!

cfoxx
cfoxx on July 5, 2009 at 5:25 am

As a teenager I actually worked as a doorman at the OKC Continental in 1968. I recall when I started we were showing Doctor Dolittle, which we ran for what seemed an eternity because of the nature of the contract. Many nights there were as few as 3 people in the theatre.
Later films during my tenure were War & Peace, Ice Station Zebra and one of my favorite films of all time, Mel Brooks “The Producers”, which our manager at the time actually created the marque artwork for.
I remember that we only sold Coke and Tobler chocolates which you could not take into the theatre. That ruling relaxed when we began having some soft ticket shows and at one point we even added popcorn. Some of the chocolates were returned by patrons because they were so old that the dark chocolate had turned white.
It was a beautiful theatre and not a bad seat in the house.
My favorite seats were Row F Seats 17 & 18, just far enough away so that the screen, which was constructed from perforated strips that occasionally needed to be adjusted due to the airflow through the screen, ‘surrounded’ you. What a great experience!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 22, 2009 at 12:27 am

The architect’s surname is currently misspelled in the info section at the top of this page. The correct spelling, Calvin Garrett, can be found in the by-line of the article he wrote about the house for Boxoffice Magazine in 1966, which is linked in rodesideok’s comment of July 23, 2005, above.

To very belatedly answer Michael Coate’s question from the same day, the article comes from the March 21, 1966, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. An earlier article, in the September 13, 1965, issue of the same publication, when the Oklahoma City Continental was nearing completion, said that construction was already underway on the Tulsa and Denver Continentals as well.

kpdennis
kpdennis on April 26, 2009 at 2:42 am

The Continental was the premiere roadshow house in OKC…I recall seeing The Hallelujah Trail and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang there as a kid. Here’s a view from 1995:
View link

hcombs
hcombs on June 20, 2008 at 3:04 pm

All three Continental Theatres (Tulsa, OKC, Denver) were built by my grandfather R.L. Barton who owned Barton Theaters. It was his attempt to bring back audiences by providing a “classy” movie experience. My father served as the original manager for the first Continental in OKC and had to wear a Tuxedo eveny evening. The concession served juices not sodas and imported candy not popcorn to try and enhance the upper class experience. It was designed with state-of-the-art equipment and featured a cinerama screen composed of hundreds of vertical strips of reflective material set on a curve to precisely reflect the picture onto the audience. I watched it being built and went to the grand opening. The booth in the OKC Continental had a door that oppened into the auditorium about 12 feet above floor level so that the huge 70mm film cans could be moved to/from the booth.

jchapman1
jchapman1 on May 21, 2007 at 11:23 am

Roadsideok:
In 1969, at the OU School of Architecture Library I saw vintage exterior/interior photos of your (10/31/06) mystery theatre. It was the Norman Opera House located a few doors East of the Sooner Theatre. On the ground floor were shops, upper floors held a Victorian styled auditorium.
Mister Robert Furniture dates back to at least 1968.

Lauren Durbin
Lauren Durbin on November 6, 2006 at 9:36 am

Took a couple of pics. Looks like the future site of a very large swimming pool now.
View link

Lauren Durbin
Lauren Durbin on November 4, 2006 at 3:52 pm

Looks like i’m too late. I drove past the location tonight and it has been demolished! The deed must have been done fairly recently.

Lauren Durbin
Lauren Durbin on October 31, 2006 at 3:16 pm

Here are some more recent photos of this decaying theater. Last time I drove by, a door was open, so I may venture into it this weekend after I check to see if my tetanus shot is up to date.
http://www.roadsideoklahoma.com/cinemas/Oklahoma/

hdeakins
hdeakins on October 12, 2006 at 9:57 am

Well, I don’t need microfilm to remember attending one of the first showings of “The Greatest Story Ever Told” at this theater in 1965. It was quite the experience, especially since I got to cut school to see it. But no popcorn, and all refreshments had to be consumed in the lobby during intermission. Too bad it’s a pile of rubble today. I also saw one of the Star Wars episodes in the Continental in Denver, but that was about 18 years later.

Coate
Coate on September 14, 2006 at 11:16 am

Confirmed via microfilm of The Oklahoman newspaper. The Continental opened on Oct. 21, 1965.

xxx
xxx on May 6, 2006 at 9:18 am

Oklahoma City theatre history can easily be traced on ‘oklahoman archive’ (official site for Oklahoma Publishing Corp) web pages. Here Daily Oklahoman Newspaper issues dating back to 1901 can be pulled up, with theatre advertising in every issue. Be advised this is not a free search site.

For recent photos of Continental Cinema scroll the pages of this most creative web site-
http://www.agilitynut.com/theatres/ok.html

Coate
Coate on July 23, 2005 at 8:51 pm

Well, the conlcusion that I draw is that the Internet is largely unreliable! A first generation source is what is necessary for these sorts of things. In other words, check an Oklahoma City newspaper.

The clue re a 1965 opening is that “The Greatest Story Ever Told” is identified in one of the article photo captions. If the theater opened in ‘67 or '68 as a roadshow house, I’d think they would have debuted with a newer film.

Coate
Coate on July 23, 2005 at 4:05 pm

Re the cinerama.topcities link… Date in the spec box at top of page and info in article suggest this opened in 1965 rather than ‘67. Unfortunately, the original publishing date and name of publication of articles posted on the cinerama.topcities site are often not provided.

Lauren Durbin
Lauren Durbin on July 23, 2005 at 12:12 pm

An interesting magazine article on the Continental is here:
http://cinerama.topcities.com/ctcontinental.htm

xxx
xxx on June 17, 2005 at 4:18 pm

There are nice interior/exterior Continental pix on the Cinerama web pages. Tulsa had an exact duplicate of this cinema, now demolished. Please advise of when CT will again accept new photos as I have one of the Continental to submit.