El Rey Theatre
1649 N. Main Street,
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Firms: Cantin and Cantin
Styles: Streamline Moderne
Previous Names: The Cinema
The El Rey theatre opened in July of 1937, and in 1941 it was refurbished by architectural firm Cantin & Cantin. Although I only attended the movie house a few times in the mid-1970’s, I believe (if memory serves me right) the theatre was located on Main Street at Civic Drive (or in close proximity). I also have memory of the old Greyhound bus terminal maybe being a block or so away from the theatre.
In the mid-1970’s it operated as an adult movie theatre. What I can say with more certainty is that in its closing years, the El Rey Theatre theatre became an art house playing such foreign films as “City of Women”, “Voyage en Douce”, and “La Cage Aux Folles II”. It was also around this time that the theatre began running Saturday midnight showings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”.
The El Rey Theatre closed its doors on Tuesday July 28, 1981. Their last feature was “Cocktail Molotov”.
For the week prior, the San Francisco Chronicle ran “Farewell Week for the El Rey” in its movie listing pages allowing Bay Area residents one last chance to visit their 44 year old movie house. It was demolished in December 1983.
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