Rhodes Theatre

62 S. Rhodes Center NW,
Atlanta, GA 30309

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Showing 1 - 25 of 34 comments

galateasca
galateasca on July 10, 2013 at 5:42 am

The only film I remember seeing there was “Brazil”, not long before it closed. We used to drive past it all the time on our way downtown via Peachtree. I hate that Atlanta has no respect for its history.

reg41
reg41 on February 15, 2013 at 4:31 pm

The Rhodes was not as elaborate as the Fox, Roxy, Grand, or Rialto, but there was something about this theatre that made it special. “Zorba the Greek” had a long run there, and I saw it three times. Also saw “Joy in the Morning” and “Those Calloways” there; both average films but the Rhodes made them special. The auditorium was at 90 degrees right to the entryway and rather small lobby and concession area. An unusual feature was what appeared to be windows down both sides of the auditorium. I do not remember a single projection error or other glitch in ten or so visits. The theatre has been stripped to the bare walls, but it still stands, at least in the latest Google views.

treadway
treadway on July 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Does anyone know what happened to the Rhodes Theater signs that use to hang on the building? Also does anyone have a head-on photo of the outside of the theater?

Daryl
Daryl on July 17, 2012 at 12:36 am

Yes, Cliff Carson is correct. There were many first run premiers; I particularly remember both The Lion in Winter (1968) and Cactus Flower (1969) each having their “Reserve Seat-Exclusive Roadshow Engagement” Atlanta premiers at the Rhodes Theater.

SurferJoe
SurferJoe on July 16, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Great stuff, and thanks for the great memories, Daryl and others…I have terrific memories of this place in its waning days in the eighties. Really fun reading all the comments.

Cliff Carson
Cliff Carson on April 26, 2012 at 10:03 am

This was one of the more exciting and exclusive theaters in Atlanta. Big films would play here and often be held over for months and months. It was an “event” theater and the marquee was always lit up and exciting to drive by. Whatever film was booked you know it was important. The musical HALF A SIXPENCE played there for quite a while.

alienchow
alienchow on March 29, 2012 at 4:59 am

I saw a lot of movies there in the few years before they closed. Mostly revival double bills. One I’ll always remember was the night they played Blade Runner and A Clockwork Orange as a double feature. I was also there the last night they were open. They showed The Last Picture Show. Such a beautiful theater. I get a little sad every time I drive by. The building is still standing there, unoccupied, and starting to look a bit decrepit.

rechols
rechols on March 28, 2012 at 8:55 am

Daryl: You are correct – it was Fred Storey, not Story. Small errors are easily forgiven.

Daryl
Daryl on March 28, 2012 at 1:33 am

FYI: If I recall correctly and having worked at the Rhodes in the 60’s…The Rhodes Theatre was owned by “Storey” and NOT “Story”…the spelling of the owner’s name and his company name was always a topic of conversation.

rechols
rechols on February 17, 2012 at 10:40 am

Jack: The photo you submitted was obviously taken some time in the 40s, but remove the cars and change the marque and it could have been from the 60s. I remember that there was a liquor store in the complex in the 60s.

rechols
rechols on November 11, 2010 at 10:08 am

I worked concession at Storey Theaters in ‘64-65, first at the Emory, then at the Hilan. Occasionally,
I would pick up shifts at the Rhodes. I always considered the Rhodes “Uptown” – it wasn’t uncommon
for men to wear a jacket and tie to an evening performance. By the time I was there, Daryl, the wage
for concession workers had increased to $.60 an hour. I cannot remember wearing any type of uniform to work. Do any of the alumnae remember concession wearing a uniform or tie?
Yes, I too remember Speegee. And yes, she was the last of a classy breed.
I’ve enjoyed the posts – lots of nostalgia for us Atlanta Baby Boomers here.
Thanks everyone.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 7, 2010 at 9:56 pm

I can see why a grade school kid would be excited with “GOODBYE,COLUMBUS” an R rated movie,right Daryl.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on July 7, 2010 at 2:31 am

Great to read these stories,it takes me back the my theatre days,Daryl-Atlanta.

Daryl
Daryl on March 3, 2010 at 5:33 am

Something happened with my last post, I was going to also add “Goodbye Columbus” plus a gillion other films that passed through the Rhodes. Reading everyone’s comments about “Speegie”, I remember her just the same, both she and her younger sister and I all got along very well. She was a living legend and she knew it too and lived/played the part and was gracious swell as tireless to the end. They do not make them like her any more. Agree?

Daryl
Daryl on March 3, 2010 at 5:25 am

I worked at the Rhodes in the 60’s while in grade school back in the day when such things were allowed; I also had a paper route and lived very near by. Herman Dyke was the manager then who hired me and the other kid who worked there was named Butch. Speegie was always at her post at the front desk. I think the projectionist was named Jack but cannot be sure. Starting pay was $0.55 an hour. I took tickets, made/sold popcorn and worked the concessions. I remember we had a reserved seat engagement of “My Fair Lady”, “Lion in Winter” and also premiered “Cactus Flower” there with Mayor Ivan Allen III and other local dignitaries in attendance. Ah, memories. ColColumbus"

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 30, 2009 at 11:02 pm

NOW PLAYING at the RHODES

In it’s 14th week THAT’S ENTERAINMENT in 4 channel stereo sound.

Shows at 2:45 5:05 7:25 & 9:45 RATED G

Izzie
Izzie on October 30, 2009 at 10:13 pm

That is disgusting, Eric.

higgamushoggamus
higgamushoggamus on October 17, 2009 at 12:44 am

My first job was at the Rhodes in the summer after 8th grade in 1973. Movies that stand out in my memory were Walking Tall, Blume In Love and Let the Good Times Roll. Ate a lot of Baby Ruths. The manager Mr Kahn tried to get me to get a DA (ducks ass) haircut in the lobby to promote LTGT Roll. I used to pop popcorn in a dungeon behind and below the screen with a medieval contraption in the dark surrounded by rats. We would fill up 10 or more giant 5 foot tall bags with the popcorn and store them upstairs by the office for the week. Then we would bring a bag down to the concession stand and pour some of it into the popper there to make it look like it was fresh popcorn. No joke. Is that legal? Had lots of fun working there, great first job.

Fisher4
Fisher4 on September 21, 2009 at 6:29 am

Between 1982 and 1985 I worked a number of odd jobs to help pay for tuition while attending the Atlanta College of Arts as a full-time student. My time working the concession stands at the Rhodes Theater (1983-85) was one of the most unique and memorable jobs I’ve held in my youth. I believe it was Bart Stewart that hired me to work about 2-3 days a week in the evenings and some weekends. It was a great job for so many reasons. At some point in my two years working there management of the place changed hands from Bart to John Halliday. Both were good guys to work for and they made the place work against all the odds. (Bart, I remember the communist guy and cleaning up the main threater when the janitor didn’t make it in. I give up popcorn and soda for years as a result.)

I would arrive about 1 ½ hours before opening to setup the concession stand, popping corn, changing out carbonated drinks cylinders, and stocking up on ice or candy. Mean while Speegee, the cashier, would be up front counting out her money and updating the small marquee in the ticket window, and as Bart eluted to making sure all of the bills were neatly stacked and in order. We had to do all of the counting in our heads to make change, as there were no cash machines to run neither the concession stand nor the ticket counter, just a simple cash drawer.

It was always a bit unnerving to see the line start to form outside the doors, one always wondered if there was enough popcorn, candy, and drinks to feed the growing crowd. After about a month working at concessions it got easier gauging things. Speegee our cashier had only one speed while giving out tickets, if you were a regular to the Rhodes it was a speed you got use to and was a part of the movie going experience. Her slow pace was a god sends some days, especially during our film festivals or double features when the crowds seem to go on forever out the door and around the block. I’m sure some folks while standing in the ticket line would wonder if they would ever make it inside to see the film.

The Rhodes ran enough previews before showing the main attraction so no one ever really was late seeing a movie on our account. Once the movie started it was great to sit down and read up on my homework assignments. Of course this wouldn’t last long as we had to restock the concession for intermissions especially during our double features which could be a nightmare. Somehow we all made it through those evenings.

Speegee would always close out her till about an hour before I had to close the concession and cleanup the lobby area. Walking Speegee home, which was about four or five houses down Peachtree Circle across from the Rhodes, was a treat for all of us shared. I say ‘treat’ instead of ‘duty’ because she had such a positive outlook that was very genuine for her age which was refreshing in a fast moving city.

Some days the manager would ask me to come in early the next day or to stay late to change the big hanging marquee displayed out on Peachtree Street. I would go to the back of the theater through a side door and drag out this monstrous ladder which seemed to be as old as the Rhodes itself. It would usually take two of us to setup the large 30 foot A-frame ladder with an expandable center extension under the main marquee.

The manager would hand me a box of large plastic letters with a hand-written note spelling out our upcoming attractions for the week. This particular night I told the manager I wasn’t sure all of this would fit on the marquee as it was advertising two separate events. He sheepishly just told me to hurry up and get it done.

How I hated doing the marquee as the ladder was just short enough to force me to stand on the last two or three rungs at the top. All along you’re hanging onto the sign with one hand and trying to clip-in a letter with the other hoping that the clip-ons letters were not broken. If they were, there was a 50/50 chance that it would clip-in improperly and would be blown off in the middle of the week.

After you got one or two letters in place you had to go back down the swaying ladder to get a couple more letters and make the long shaky climb back to the top. Inadvertently I would drop a letter watching it drift down to the sidewalk below breaking it into a few pieces which meant you had to retrieve a new one from the storage room. Over time these letters were duck tape to hold them together or we had to substitute numbers for letters. Finally I would get one side completed then had to drag the dinosaur like ladder to the other side of the marquee sign to repeat the whole nightmare process a second time. Usually by the time the job was completed it was time to start closing out the concession stand and till. So I would hurriedly retrieve any broken letters and then drag the old dinosaur ladder back to the storage room if I wanted to get home at a decent time.

Showing up for work the very next evening I went through the usual routine of setting up the concession stand when the manager called me up to his office. Opened up on his desk, to the entertainment section of the local paper, he was a pointing to a picture of our marquee advertising our coming attractions for the week. I thought to myself ‘not another spelling error’! For which I fully expected the third degree from him to pay attention to my work and the usual command to get my butt outside and fix the error before opening.

But not this time as the manager was grinning from ear to ear and stated ‘Its gonna be a good opening night!’ We both ended up laughing our heads off and couldn’t believe Landmark booked both of these events back to back in one week. The marquee read across the top “Jewish Film Festival’ and beneath it was “Porky’s”. Needless to say we had a number of phone calls for and against our marquee. All I can say is that ‘humor’ prevailed that week and so did our attendance levels.

My world view was expanded as a result of all of the foreign and alternative films that came through the Rhodes. All this had given me a great appreciation for all types of cinema at a young age. It was good to read this board and remember part of my youth in Atlanta.

BartStewart
BartStewart on November 20, 2008 at 11:46 pm

I was stunned to discover this board for the “Rugged Rhodes!” That was my nickname for the place when I managed it. I’m Bart Stewart, and I was the next-to-last manager. John Halliday took over when I left.

So many memories come to mind, I will probably have to do more than one post here. It’s funny what I DON’T remember, like the exact time frame I worked there! But it was in the early to mid 1980s when Landmark ran it as an “art house” theater, showing foreign films and art films and old black and white classics. I started out as the assistant to a manager named Sherry. (Forget her last name!) She had some big blow up with Landmark and left, and they informed me that I was the manager.

It was a tough job that obviously didn’t pay much. I recall one of the crazy aspects of it involved barreling down to the bus station or train station every few days to ship and receive these big heavy film cans! Our calendar called for a change of movie sometimes every other day, and it was usually a double feature, and those movies were heavy! (Figuratively and literally!) Sometimes there would be a reel missing from a can, and then it was panic time.

The manager did almost everything. It was generally a coin toss as to whether the people who worked the concession stand were going to show up. Ditto for the lady who cleaned the theater and bathrooms. The projectionist could be counted on because he was union. Stan who posted above was one of our projectionists! How’s it going Stan? Of course Speegee, our ticket seller, was as reliable as the sunrise. She was the heart and soul of the place, having worked there almost since it opened, I believe. Kim Griswell wrote above that she was 97 years old. Speegee never married, and lived in a rooming house one block away from the Rhodes Theater. Almost 100, she walked to and from the theater every evening to sell tickets. She was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known, and an entirely unforgettable character. She used to take the dollars out of her cash drawer at the beginning of every shift and meticulously smooth out any folded corners.

We employed some characters, for sure. (Myself included!) I recall one guy who worked the concession stand was an avowed communist who stood there reading Mao’s Little Red Book. He was one grim dude, and he didn’t like being torn away from his reading to get you some popcorn!

The movies were the thing. They were so great. Off the top of my head I recall Mephisto, Koyaanisqatsi, the restored Seven Samurai, Demon Pond, The Magic Flute, Children of the Paradise, “Z”, Pink Flamingos, Ciao Manhattan, Eraserhead, Quadrophenia, Beau Pere, My Dinner with Andre, The Harder They Come, animation festivals, and of course Rocky Horror, and any Hollywood classic you can think of. Landmark must have owned a lot of prints of Doctor Strangelove, because we ran that a lot.

One regrettable incident involved the change-over between the movies Swept Away (which was a love story set on a tropical island) and the next day’s film, The Atomic Café (a documentary about nuclear weapons.) The projectionist got one of the reels mixed up, and the audience was subjected to a cut from lovers frolicking on a beach to aerial footage of the Bikini Atoll blast. Yes, that happened. I will never forget that moment.

My office was next to the projection booth and had a big window that overlooked the seats and opened out like a door. You never knew what you would see looking down from there. During a midnight movie once I opened that door for some reason and a veritable wall of marijuana smoke nearly knocked me down.

Once we were showing a very racy movie called Fruits of Passion. This was the sequel to The Story of O. So, I had Fruits of Passion up there in plastic letters on the marquis, and I get this visit from an old guy who claimed to be the owner of the complex. He says “the board” is uncomfortable with that title being up there, and could I put something else up in its place! I said I would. We had these colossal 24 inch red marquis letters that we never used, so I hauled them out, and spelled out just the one word – FRUITS!

What a trip was the Rugged Rhodes. We had the greatest movies of all time on a huge screen, but Atlanta wouldn’t support us. It was the conservative 1980s, and people only wanted to watch Rambo, or whatever was the most conventional, commercial fare they could find. Also the introduction of the VCR hurt us. Here’s hoping there is an Atlanta historian who will take note of the posts on this site and preserve the memory of that magic spot that used to be.

jcoxlammon
jcoxlammon on September 7, 2007 at 2:03 am

Hey! I was told my Daddy was the projectionist during June ‘49 ~ trying to find out if there’s any documentation as to this! Thanks. j cox lammon

treadway
treadway on July 20, 2007 at 5:02 pm

Here is the outside of the Rhodes today. You can see in the photo two white rectangular areas on either side of the entrance. These areas housed glass poster encasements with Rhodes Theater on the glass and neon tubing around the interior perimeter. One of the cases was broken during the teardown and I have the other one. The neon is still intact and works! It is a great piece of memoribilia. http://flickr.com/photos/maincourse/346047916/

StanMalone
StanMalone on July 20, 2007 at 3:48 pm

View link

Lobby of the Rhodes Theatre as it looks today. Auditorium and entrance pictures are also included in the photostream.

1234
1234 on July 3, 2007 at 11:31 pm

The Rhodes Theatre opened June 10, 1938 with the film “Test Pilot"
Starring Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, and Spencer Tracy.

treadway
treadway on June 26, 2007 at 4:28 pm

Hi Kim. Great memories. Do you have any head on photos of the Rhodes? I’d really like to have a photo of the ticketing area with the poster encasement that was built into the building.