Guild Theatre

1922 Murray Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15217

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edblank on April 24, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Am I correct that both Ralph and Millard Green died many years ago? (And I’m thinking Ralph died first.) They were a hoot — separately and especially together.

RickB on April 24, 2017 at 6:50 am

Looks like this one is now occupied by The Friendship Circle, an organization for people with special needs.

hms1936 on April 23, 2017 at 11:23 pm

A step further into the Beacon Theater history!…The Beacon, as I knew it growing up in Pittsburgh, was owned by my Uncle Dave and my Aunt Pauline Green, They bought the Beacon Theater when the name was changed from the Princess Theater (1937) When Uncle Dave passed away, then my cousins, Ralph and Millard and Aunt Pauline owned the theater. My mother was a “Green” Her Father was Uncle Dave’s brother.

Notthemayor on February 21, 2015 at 7:41 pm

The last night of operation for the Guild Theater was March 24, 1979. The final movie to grace the screen there was Animal House. Through the 1970s it was primarily a revival house, with frequent showing of the Marx Brothers, WC Fields, Charlie Chaplin. It was owned by brothers Ralph & Millard Green. Afterwards it was a deli for almost 35 years, first known as the Guild Deli before becoming Gullifty’s in 1982.

rivest266 on September 6, 2014 at 5:31 pm

December 31st, 1954 grand opening ad in photo section.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on September 9, 2013 at 10:18 am

And now Gullifty’s is scheduled to close.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 6, 2010 at 9:27 am

As noted in Ed Blank’s comment of June 3, 2008, the Guild had once been called the Princess Theatre. The name was changed to the Beacon Theatre in 1937, according to Boxoffice of April 3 that year. The item said the Princess had been closed for a week for renovations before reopening as the Beacon on Easter Sunday.

Boxoffice of January 1, 1955, made a reference to “…the Guild Theatre, formerly the Beacon, in Squirrel Hill.” The house had adopted an art policy, competing with Stanley Warner’s nearby Squirrel Hill Theatre.

kencmcintyre on October 21, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Ed, that’s the way they are posted on Google archives. I don’t know that you can re-format it.

edblank on October 21, 2008 at 3:59 pm

Dude, I’d love to be able to examine the pages you post, but they’re reduced way too much, and they’re generally much too dark. Anything you can do to paste them in a larger form that we can scan up and down and across?

71dude on October 20, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Closing mentioned in this article:
View link

edblank on June 3, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Thanks, Ken. I always appreciated that the restaurant’s owners retained a suggestion of the old marquee.

kencmcintyre on June 3, 2008 at 8:50 pm

An exterior photo can be found here;

edblank on June 3, 2008 at 8:35 pm

Millard (nor Miller) and his older brother Ralph Green ran the Guild. Both are deceased.

The theater opened as the Princess, though it’s not clear whether the Green brothers' father owned and operated it from the beginning or whether he took over in 1944, which is apparently when the Princess became the Beacon, named for a nearby street.

Though a late-run neighborhood theater in its pre-Guild days, the Beacon showed an opera version of “Of Mice and Men,” of which the Internet Movie DataBase has no record, in August 1951.

After an extensive renovation that reduced the capacity to 500, the newly rechristened Guild reopened as an art house at Christmas 1954 with the Laurence Harvey version of “Romeo and Juliet,” which lasted seven weeks.

Big hits of the 1950s included “The Green Scarf” (11 weeks), which was a British thriller that has vanished from the planet, “The Sheep Has Five Legs” (eight weeks), “The Ladykillers” (10 weeks), “Lust for Life” (seven weeks before MGM pulled the print), “Wee Geordie” (14), “A Touch of Larceny” (six), “Sons and Lovers” (eight).

The many great films that opened here for shorter runs include “Ugetsu,” “The Killing” and “The Seventh Seal.”

In 1960 the theater brought in the Melina Mercouri blockbuster “Never on Sunday,” which broke house records in its 21-week run. “Tunes of Glory” lasted nine weeks, a subrun of “La Dolce Vita” held on for seven and “Only Two Can Play” for eight.

Mercouri returned in “Phaedra” stayed for 26 or 28 weeks in 1962-63, though reportedly taking in less than “Never on Sunday.”

Cut to 1968. When the French lesbian drama “Therese and Isabelle” opened on a Wednesday in 1968, it was targeted for a raid by the Pittsburgh district attorney. (Note: I cannot account for the date July 19, 1969, that was typed into a legal document shown above and other dates in that document. My time frame is easily verified by microfilm.)

I happened to be working an evening shift that week at The Pittsburgh Press when the call came in from the DA’s office that a raid was to take place during a mid-evening (the 8 p.m.) Friday performance after a token viewing of the evening’s first (the 6 p.m.) performance by someone sent by the DA

Beyond being annoyed that a somewhat legitimate art film was about to be shut down and that the raid was being rigged in the manner it was, I was quadruply dismayed because the warning to the newspapers was designed to draw calalry-to-the-rescue media coverage and because my working hours that week would not permit me to catch the picture before it was closed down.

The raid took place precisely on cue, and the theater lost its picture. But when “Therese and Isabelle” later was cleared to re-open, lines stretched around the block, and the Guild shattered all house records. The notorious movie burned out after 12 weeks as word crept out that it was leisurely, artsy and much less explicit than expected.

Among the bigger hits that followed were “The Libertine” (eight weeks), “Putney Swope” (13), “What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?” (10), “The Lickerish Quartet” (12) and “I Never Sang for My Father” (eight).

By mid-1972, suffering from competition for bookings from several other newer Pittsburgh art houses and some reported differences with distributors, the Guild launched a new policy of playing double bills of recent commercial hits and, more often, double bills of classics.

Partly because of the Guild’s proximity to the colleges located in Pittsburgh’s Oakland section, the theater began booking combinations of classics and cult favorites, especially the films of Humphrey Bogart, W. C. Fields and the Marx Brothers, all of whom were enjoying a renewed vogue. Woody Allen’s recent comedies, but not his dramas, fit comfortably into the new agenda. Mel Brooks joined the repertoire, too.

Films dealing with drugs humorously or hysterically (“Yellow Submarine” and “Reefer Madness” being the ultimate examples) or into which an hallucinogenic nature could be read (“Fantasia,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Freaks”) were recycled regularly, too. “Fantasia” returned every few months for years.

The theater closed at the end of 1978 ignominiously with a second-run engagement of “(National Lampoon’s) Animal House,” which was showing in several other theaters the same week.

The theater had exhausted the audience for its cult classics, which had returned so many times they seemed to have worn out their welcome.

Though it would be easy to blame the demise of the Guild, like that of dozens of classic/rep houses across the country in the 1980s, on the advent of home video, which mushroomed in 1982, the theater in fact closed three to four years earlier.

The Guild was missed immediately and since then by those of us who frequented it.

A bonus on any visit was interacting with the Green brothers, who were the sort of mischievous, good-natured “characters” who too soon vanished from the exhibition landscape they once made so colorful.

Glndrsn on July 9, 2007 at 7:19 pm

Was owned by the Green Brothers. Ralph and Miller. Interesting duo, them brothers. Smallest projection booth in the world.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 3, 2007 at 5:36 am

Listed in the early 1940’s and 1950’s as the 600 seat Beacon Theatre.

raubre on September 12, 2006 at 2:29 pm

WOW! Thank you for the picture! I’ve been looking everywhere for one!!!