Film Forum

1544 Piedmont Avenue NE,
Atlanta, GA 30324

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The great Atlanta actor and film aficionado, George Ellis took over the Ansley Mall Mini Cinema after the demise of the Weis Theatre Circuit and renamed it the Film Forum.

Mr. Ellis presented a rather eccentric mix of films, including some that would have otherwise had no commercial release. The Film Forum’s Friday and Saturday midnight features made box office flops such as “Harold and Maude”, “The Ruling Class”, and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” into cult classics.

Contributed by Jack Coursey

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

StanMalone
StanMalone on June 5, 2007 at 8:43 pm

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Dennis Whitefield has posted on his flickr page many fine pictures of theatres and ads from days gone by. This one is a fine publicity shot of George Ellis in the character of Bestoink Dooley. Thanks Dennis!

JFBrantley
JFBrantley on November 4, 2008 at 12:38 am

To the best of my knowledge, this theater lasted into the early 1990s. I do remember the Lily Tomlin, Bette Middler file Big Business playing there. This was a 1988 film. George Lafont enlarged the lobby to a coffee shop. It did seem like a very small theater when it was open.

StanMalone
StanMalone on May 26, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Opened 4/10/68.

Same day and feature (Elvira Madigan) as the Peachtree Battle.

Daryl
Daryl on March 3, 2010 at 6:04 am

I saw the movie “Parting Glances” there which, according to IMDB was released in February, 1986. When Big Star Supermarket next door expanded, they took out the old Music City record store and part of the theater. Then, Morrison’s Cafeteria was rebuilt/redesigned and that took out the other side of the theater.

JFBrantley
JFBrantley on March 8, 2010 at 12:11 am

As far as I can recall this theater stayed open til 1990. I remember the AJC having an article saying that a high point in Atlanta (the Ansley Cinema) movie going and a low point (the Rialto) both closed around the same time in 1990.

StanMalone
StanMalone on October 28, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Here is a link to a newspaper article about the episode I described in my first comment involving George Ellis getting locked out. I was under the impression that Lewis Osteen, the guy who did this, was the GM of the chain. The article indicates that Osteen had purchased the mini cinema chain from it founders. I never cared for Osteen but thought Gentry and Maddox, the founders of the company, were good people to work for. I was suprised that this event ever took place.

The article clears this up since it seems that Osteen was not a hired gun working for the owners, but was the actual owner. During the Osteen years I would sometimes go to the film depot but come back empty handed because there was a COD tag on the print and Osteen had not paid the up front money or the rent from a previous booking.

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Jester
Jester on August 28, 2011 at 9:45 pm

George Ellis (“Bestoink Dooley”) was also a stage figure in Atlanta and a TV figure. I think he appeared on TV as Bestoink. I saw him in a Jim Peck play called “Sterioptican,” which had in it one of my favorite lines ever: “Let’s make the humdrum optional.” My first memory of Ellis was when he opened what I believe was his first movie theater, a very small place in back of the downtown YMCA on Spring Street. From there he moved to Ansley Mall, et cetera. I went to his first movie theater on opening night. He offered us a refund (which we refused) because the theater had just that afternoon been treated with fire retardant and the smell of ammonia was almost overwhelming. But we toughed it out. The film was a black and white sub-titled movie about the Spanish Civil War. It was terrific. And he served coffee with whipped cream in the lobby.

WillDockery
WillDockery on April 11, 2014 at 10:21 am

I know that the Film Forum at Ansley Mall was open at least as late as 1980 into 1981, when I lived within walking distance and watched many films there during that time period, odd selections of foriegn films and cultish works, some offbeat comedies. One that sticks with me over 39 years later I viewed there was one film by Bunuel (I don’t remember the title this morning) back around 1980 or early 1981 in a small movie theater. Really enjoyed it, it made me think of a long Twilight Zone episode. I do think that not far into 1981 the theater suddenly was closed and never opened again. Being new to Atlanta, I knew none of the history of the Film Forum, but it was a cool little theater.

MargoSmithDixon
MargoSmithDixon on October 14, 2014 at 2:35 am

I was a friend of George Ellis and George Macrenaris, who also worked at the Film Forum (and may have been Ellis' silent partner). On May 1, 1982, I had a baby girl. The Film Forum had a “crying room” for babies and parents. My baby girl, Helen and I went to the movies every week, at least once a week, and sat quietly in the “crying room” probably through August or September of 1982. The two Georges grew to love my baby girl. In December of 1982, George Ellis was at a Christmas caroling party with my husband, my daughter, and I and his big bass voice charmed Helen Marie to sleep as he sang Christmas carols at the home of Mary Nelle and Dante Santacroce. The theater was still showing films, with Macrenaris running it, when my son was born in September of 1983. I think that is when it closed. I thought of buying it and showing children’s movies, but the informal survey I took of women with children indicated that they would not let their children go to the movies in what they called the “gay shopping center.”

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