Palms Theatre

3751 Motor Avenue,
Culver City, CA 90034

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ScottyA on June 3, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Wow. I literally have no memory of the inside or outside of this place. But I do know that in 1975, my sister’s 11th birthday party was there, and we saw a double feature of “Smile” and “Funny Lady”!

JohnCl on January 13, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Lots of memories of the Palms. We all went to the Palms on Saturdays.
Ralph and Margaret Hintz owned it and the family ran it. During WWII it was said that the theatre was open 24-7 to patrons working in the war plants.

Jim Allen and Merrit Stone always hired ushers from patron families. I started in 1961. Jim and Merrit were great guys. They “funded” my education at UCLA with no interest loans that I paid back each summer. Jim and Merrit were both members of the actors guild and we often had name actors come by to see a movie. After graduation from UCLA and after starting my professional career, I worked most of every week for the next 6 or 7 years. The owners and ushers were family! I met Miss Karen there in 1967. We have been married for 42 years. Three of the ushers at the Palms were ushers at our wedding. A lot of us are still in touch. Both Merritt and Jim have gone on to their rewards. Jim and Merritt took a run down theatre and turned it into a safe, family oriented, theatre with many first run-city wide released through the years.

ChasSmith on November 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm

If memory serves correctly, the Palms advertised real buttered popcorn, a rarity in those days.

In 1981-82 I lived around the block and had the pleasure of just walking around the corner to see second-run films at the Palms. A few that come to mind: “Fame”, “The Competition”, “On Golden Pond”. But my best Palms memory of all — an evening I still recall as one of the standout experiences ever with a movie AUDIENCE — was “Blazing Saddles”. A full house, the perfect audience, and a purely great night at the movies in a nice neighborhood theater.

nightfly on August 15, 2009 at 3:46 pm

A follow-up: that last time I went there was December 14, 1963, because it was the day of the Baldwin Hills Dam collapse and flood just a few miles away. The incident took place while I was at the Palms with my aunt, and we didn’t find out about the disaster until we got out of the theatre. It was quite a time — three weeks earlier, JFK had been murdered, and, three weeks thereafter, we left L.A., where I had lived all my young life, and moved to Europe, where my father had been transferred. Tumultuous times, indeed.

nightfly on August 15, 2009 at 3:23 pm

This was where I went to see movies as a young child — everything from “The Music Man” to Disney flicks. By those days, it had been “modernized” by draping curtains all over the interior. What I mainly remember was the screen curtain in broad vertical stripes of primary colors. There was a big fire at the theatre in ‘62-'63, and it was closed for awhile. When it reopened, it had a new, solid-gold curtain. The last film I saw here was “Lilies of the Field” in late '63, just before our family left L.A.

greg6363 on August 2, 2009 at 5:13 pm

I remember seeing Flashdance at this theatre when the film opened in early 1983. It actually opened day and date with Westwood Village which amazed me. When calling the theatre, the guy who did the recording always ended the message with “Shalom”. Quaint theatre. Fun times.

georgepeter on May 29, 2007 at 7:05 pm

I remember seeing A Clockwork Orange there. It was a very cool place to see a movie.

rlgoldst2 on May 4, 2007 at 6:56 pm

My first date was at The Palms in the late ‘50s. I was in 8th grade, she was in 7th. The Saturday matinee was “St. Francis of Assisi,” shown 2nd or 3rd run. We sat in the back. I had my arm around her throughout the film; when St. Francis experienced the stigmata, my date cringed closer to me and then I kissed her. Years later, I took my high school sweetheart to The Palms, and even though she laughed at the comedy we saw, she told me never to take her to The Palms again. Snooty young lady that she was, she only liked the 1st-run houses in Westwood & Hollywood. We broke up soon after. In the early '70s my wife & I saw The Godfather at The Palms. The place was packed; we enjoyed it. … The Palms had a strong community feel to it. The owners were convivial gentlemen who greeted the patrons coming and going; they innovated recorded phone messaging. It’s a shame to lose that in this age of home video.

EllaJade on November 13, 2006 at 6:42 am

I don’t recall if it was Belfast Water or not, but it could very well be. Did it look anything like the following – View link – Seems like the Neon was blue and the second hand had a small crescent on the end of it. The photo of the outside makes the theatre seem so much smaller than I recall, but I was much smaller myself. Prior to going to the Palms, my brothers and I used to go to the FOX Venice (when we lived in Venice). After moving to Culver City, we went either to the Culver or the Meralta depending on what was playing there. Sad to see that they are all gone now, but that’s how it goes.

Blofeld on November 12, 2006 at 6:25 am

Last Detail is the one I remember the most, seeing there. I forgot about the clock, “Belfast Water” wasn’t it? We loved this little hole in the wall; the programming seemed to be a bit more ambitious than some of the surrounding theaters, like the Culver and the Meralta (and we can see from the photo of the Meralta what a second to third run theater it was…)

EllaJade on November 8, 2006 at 7:55 am

My brothers and I used to see movies at the Palms in the late 50’s and 60’s. I think the last movie we ever saw there was the original version of “The Time Machine”. I can’t recall anything about the inside of the theatre except the neon clock over the exit just to the left of the screen. Seems like it was always raining every time the movie was over. The photo seems unfamiliar although everthing has changed since that time.

kencmcintyre on October 21, 2006 at 6:34 am

Here is more information on the Palms:

kencmcintyre on September 24, 2005 at 2:20 pm

Here is a photo of the Palms, along with theater manager Don Nakagiri, from 1985:

cheviothills on September 2, 2005 at 1:13 pm

Members: I realize the above address at WEBSHOTS dated Aug. 22,2005 did not work but this does!!

cheviothills on August 22, 2005 at 9:32 pm

One last try……

cheviothills on August 22, 2005 at 8:52 pm

I guess it does not work after all. Sorry…

cheviothills on August 22, 2005 at 8:33 pm

Hey Folks: I just added a rare photo of the Palms on Webshots for all to see. I just don’t understand about placing a link here so you all can see it?

cheviothills on August 22, 2005 at 6:01 pm

FILMBREAK: I joined Local 150 that summer of 1968. I grew up going to the Picwood, Palms, Culver and Meralta. I relieved Schleiger several times because he also worked the studio. Are you saying that Stone and Allen owned the Meralta at the same time they owned the Palms?

theprojectionist on August 15, 2005 at 8:46 am

This theatre dated from the mid-30’s. In 1951 it was taken over from the projectionist Ralph Hines aby Merrit Stone and James Allen. The first picture they played was “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Over the years they built it up into the highest-grossing independent on the westside – remodling it in 1960 with one of the first indoor/lobby box offices. They also had one of the first recorded phone messages (VE 7-7171). Ralph stayed on as projectionist until he retired in 1962 when Bob Lumpkin came in – leaving in 1969 when Mike Schleiger came in and stayed until 1974 when Merrit and Jim gave it up and leased it to Great Western, they, running it into the ground until Stone and Allen sold the theatre and surrounding property to the post office in 1980. They took over the Meralta Theatre in 1968 where I was their projectionist that summer and fall before moving on.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 4, 2004 at 4:29 pm

I came across a photograph, in the Los Angeles Public Library photo database, of a Palms Theater in Palms, California, c1928. It is possible that this theater dates from that era. The neighborhood is quite old. My grandfather was a plastering contractor in the 1920s, and many of his jobs were in the Palms-Cheviot Hills area. It was pretty fully built up there before 1930, and could easily have supported a movie house of its own in the prosperous years before the depression, even with other theaters nearby.

fredpamh on November 21, 2004 at 8:00 pm

I would really like to get in touch with Joe who wrote a comment about this theater and mentioned he sold the Herald Examiner in front of Franks bar. I remember the bar well and there must have been three bars on that short block on Washington Blvd, across the street from RKO studios (Culver, Desilu, etc.). If anybody else would like to reminisce, please contact me.

fredpamh on October 3, 2004 at 2:35 am

The Palms Theater was the first time I was introduced to Our Gang Comedies and it was so cool because they were my age. Now I have DVDs of them and a lot of the pictures were made in Culver City since they were made at Hal Roach Studios which was directly across the street where I was born on Washington Blvd. In response to Joe’s comments, I also sold Examiner, Times Newspapers in that era and would like to get in touch with him since we most likely had the same boss. The Palms was an alternative theater when the Meralta burned down and then the Culver City Hall became a temp theater til the Culver Theater, with its statuesque tower opened up in ‘47 (I was there for its grand opening). The Kirk Douglas Culver Theater has just had a new grand opening. Cool.

gazpacho on November 28, 2003 at 7:18 pm

When the Miralta Theatre burned down in the late ‘40’s or early '50’s, the Culver City Fire Dept. was used as a temporary movie theatre. Then they built the “Culver”. The “Miralta” was right across and down the street from “Frank’s Bar”, where I sold the Herald Examiner paper on the corner as a boy. Both the “Palms” and the “Miralta” did in no way compare to the colorful and inticing grandeur of the “Culver”.

William on October 8, 2001 at 6:00 pm

The Palms was razed around the late 80’s. To make way for a new Post Office. The Palms ran 2nd & 3rd films in it’s later years. The Palms has been around since the early 40’s. and it seated 599 people. The Palms was a very popular theatre with the local people. About ½ mile away was the Culver theatre and around the corner was the Meralta theatre.