Paramount Theatre

2025 Broadway,
Oakland, CA 94612

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Showing 1 - 25 of 68 comments

pbignardi
pbignardi on July 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm

For many years the Paramount ran a classic movie series, and going to see a classic movie in this theater was like a step back in time to a wonderful and long lost era. Classics I saw here included Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, North by Northwest, Jason and Argonauts, and Giant. The mighty Wurlitzer played and it was an amazing experience. Much of downtown Oakland is heavy with Art Deco designed buildings, but this is the best. It is good that the downtown may finally be getting an infusion of money and interest to restore it to its past glory.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on April 26, 2013 at 8:53 am

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Paramount’s rejuvenation: mercurynews

JeffryBluRay
JeffryBluRay on April 5, 2013 at 12:31 am

I attended one of the showings of Abel Gance’s NAPOLEON in April of 2012 and was just blown away at how gorgeous the theater was and the quality of the projection work. Just a gorgeous theater and I am so glad I had the chance to see it in all its glory.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on August 3, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Also featured on that section’s cover: Boxoffice

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on August 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm

1975 trade article describing the restoration: Boxoffice

Mikeyisirish
Mikeyisirish on June 27, 2012 at 10:58 am

A few 2011 photos can be seen here, here and here.

owlhen
owlhen on October 29, 2011 at 11:14 am

The tour of the paramount is well worth the $3. It’s nice to go there for a show (movies or live performance), but the in-depth information and time you get to spend with the theater on the tour is a real treat. The groups are small and you get to take your time appreciating all the details without having to navigate a crowd or hustle to your seat. The lounge areas adjacent to some of the rest-rooms are just as much of a treat as the auditorium. Going to the Paramount for any reason is like stepping into a time machine – highly recommended, and if you’re in the area you have no excuse NOT to see it.

trainmaster
trainmaster on April 19, 2011 at 11:17 am

I take it you are referring to the Paramount Theater tours.

For ONLY $3.00, on the first and third Saturdays, you get an cmplete tour of the Paramount. It lasts about two hours and you are shown
the entire theater. What a bargain!!!!!!

For $17.00 (according to the 2011 edition of the AAA New York tour guide book), you get a one-hour tour of the Radio City Music Hall.
That place is easily twice the size of the Paramount, and 1-hour hardly covers the place.

You won’t regret taking a tour of the Paramount. More than likely, you will want to take it again and again.

trainmaster

calcynic
calcynic on April 18, 2011 at 4:30 pm

This is simply a treasure and must be sampled. If you live in the BayArea and haven’t been there…..whaddya waitin fer????

trainmaster
trainmaster on April 15, 2011 at 2:38 am

Very interesting information – so you are saying the architects could override the acoustical engineers' designs? I would think the former would know more about that subject, but would explain the poor sound and redesigning. I am interested in acoustics, and it seems like a lost art because everyone depends on high powered amplification these days.

Theaters had to have powerful sounding walls because the power then was less than 25 watts – “The Voice Of The Theater” speaker system was so efficient, a hand-held scnner could drive those horn speakers, and the theater walls amplified the sound for the auditorium, which would echo to allow the sound waves to reach the patrons in the rear. Today, the method is different.

Trainmaster

fkrock
fkrock on April 15, 2011 at 12:09 am

The acoustical consulting firm for both Davies Symphony Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in New York was Bolt, Beranek, and Newman. At that time accoustical science for concert halls was very immature. Exactly why some halls had good acoustics and others were lousy was not known. Concert hall acoustics was a matter of luck. No art of acoustic design existed to be lost. Fortunately baroque decoration in 19th Century theaters often led to good acoustics but no one knew why. BB&N had made a number of studies of different concert halls to determine why some had good acoustics and others did not. BB&N probably knew more about concert hall acccoustics at that time than any other firm in the world. BB&N applied what they had learned to the design of Davies and Avery Fisher hall. Unfortunately the architects vetoed some BB&N design features with both concert halls and also made them larger than original plans. Both halls required remodeling to improve original acoustics.

In the case of San Francisco Fox and Oakland Paramount you could stand on the stage and clap your hands. The sound of the individual hand claps would echo back from the rear of the auditorium. You could stand near the side wall of the auditorium and clap once. Standing waves would cause that hand clap sound to riccochet back and forth between the two side walls. As I remember you could count six echos from one hand clap in the Paramount before the sound faded out. All these echos caused a muddy sound quality in the auditorium. They caused major problems in microphone placement to minimize them when recording or broadcasting from these auditoriums.

These sorts of problems were very common in theaters built in the 20th Century. The worst I ever heard were in the Berkeley Community Theater completed in 1950. When an orchetra was playing in the pit, microphones had to be put in the pit with loudspeakers on stage to prevent dancers from dancing to the beat of the echo reflected off the back wall of the theater.

trainmaster
trainmaster on April 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I have in my collection, every article published about the Fox Oakland commencing with the original Oakland Tribune article published on October 26, 1926 about the grand opening. (This is the 2nd Fox Oakland Theater for Oakland).

The ONLY reason the Fox Oakland is still standing today is that on January 25, 1978, Mrs. Erma DeLUCCHI made a high bid of $340K competing with a firm which wanted to demolish the theater for a more lucrative operation. Mrs. Delucchi met her husband at the Fox, and planned to renovate the theater to operating condition and re-open it. Her husband passed away a short time later and she lost interest in the project, and simply collected the rents from the tenants in the building.

The City Of Oakland used the power of Eminent domain to purchase the theater from the Delucchi family for a much higher price and it finally reopened a couple of years ago.

You are correct about the Oakland Symphony purchasing the Paramount and the City of Oakland taking over the operations later. Oakland learned from San Francisco’s loss.

Trainmaster

trainmaster
trainmaster on April 14, 2011 at 3:53 pm

IF the Davies Symphony Hall had far superior acoustics then either the S.F. Fox or the Oakland Paramount, why did the City of San Francisco, i.e. taxpayers, spend a fortune making corrections????

Certainly, you are not going to post that the acoustics in Davies Sympony Hall compares with Boston Symphony Hall.

The art of acoustic designing is lost today because of the vast power of amplification available, which did not exist when either the Oakland Paramound or S.F. Fox existed. Those palaces had to depend on no more than 25 watts or less of power and used sounding boards to amplify the signal so it could be heard throughout the theater.

When designing the finest concert halls, way before amplifer power was available, architects and acoustical engineers had to find ways of being sure the sound of the orchestra was carried well throughout the auditorium.

Since Davies opened long after the art of acoustic designs was lost,
they had a significant problem with sound. So did Avery Fisher Hall in NYC. Like Davies, it was corrected, to a far more extent then
Davies. Both places are acceptable now, but not outstanding.
Boston Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall are vastly superior acoustic-wise, and there is a reason for that.

Trainmaster

RobertEndres
RobertEndres on April 12, 2011 at 4:31 pm

In my comment above about the screen size at RCMH I realized that Trainmaster might be talking about the background LED screen used in the Christmas Show, and not the house picture sheet. That “screen” is indeed bigger than 70' although it is really a video wall and not a screen in the usual movie sense. It can of course do a “movie” presentation, but is now the primary scenic piece for the Christmas Show replacing the prior set pieces and drops. The house picture sheet for movie premieres still flys in on the original 1932 frame with Magnascope masking.

RobertEndres
RobertEndres on April 12, 2011 at 2:59 pm

A quick note on the comment about the RCMH screen size above: The screen, or “picture sheet” as it’s referred to at the Hall is 70' wide by 35' high with moveable top and side masking to accomodate the various aspect ratios. Thus a classic 1.37 film could be 35 x 48', while a “Scope” feature would be roughly 70' w. x 30' high. The opening film effect in the Christmas Show may be a little wider. When we ordered the screen for that effect the first year it was done we specified a 75' screen width. That came about because we had run two Disney 70mm features in a row — “Return To Oz” which was 1.85 aspect ratio and “Black Cauldron” which was 2.35. We had suggested running “Oz” with a lens that blew the picture up to the full 35' height of the screen. When it came time to run “Cauldron” the Disney representative wanted to continue with the same lenses, even though it meant cropping 5' off the ends of the picture. Since the Christmas sheet is only used for that effect, we could use the slightly larger size.

Perhaps the widest picture we had was for the triptych sequence of “Napoleon”. Originally it was done on our 70' screen, but the next time we played it we used three 30' fast-fold screens butted together with a white masking strip to conceal the join at the frames. The screen sat slightly upstage of our regular picture sheet.

The proscenium at the Hall is 100' wide, and the top of the arch is 60' high. the radius of the curve starts 10' off the deck. The only way a 130' screen could be accomodated would be to place it in front of the proscenium, as it would be for a Cinerama installation, with the screen curved into the auditorium (which would look pretty neat by the way!)

fkrock
fkrock on April 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm

The Fox Oakland survived for many years not because of civic planning but because it was built into an office building that was economically viable. For many years you could drive past it at night and see the ghost light lit on stage because the interior lobby doors had been left open and the outer doors were glass.

Over the years several attempts were made to use the Fox Oakland after it had closed as a movie theater. None were successful. A fire caused extensive damage to the interior.

The Oakland Paramount survived because the Oakland Symphony wanted a larger concert hall and the Paramount was available cheap. After the Oakland Symphony went bankrupt, the nicely restored Paramount went to the city of Oakland.

I have done sound pickup for broadcast and recording in the San Francisco Fox, Oakland Paramount, and San Francisco Davies SymphonyHall. Both the Fox and Paramount had accoustical problems. Davies even in its first incarnation was vastly superior.

WilliamMcQuade
WilliamMcQuade on April 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm

It’s all about the Benjamins. If the Colisseum was in NYC instead of Rome it would have been bulldozed years ago.I tried to save the Triboro & it was done in by dirty politics. The same thing with the RKO Keith’s. Same villian Democrat Donald Manes. Lamb did very few atmospherics . NYC had 2 & now it has none. I will always remember how, overriding a NYC Landmarks Commission vote to landmark the Triboro’s exterior he said it was nothing unique or noteworthy. I guess the same reasoning went into the Keiths. The theater was all one style but only the lobby was deemed worthy. Sounds like Alice In Wonderland.Although NYC has lost a ton & SF the Fox which was a ton in one building, Chicago holds the prize as having the most lavish theaters ever built & the most of them pounded into dust in the name of progress.

Ziggy
Ziggy on April 10, 2011 at 10:44 am

Though NYC has seemed almost manic in its ability to rid itself of any historic or beautiful structure, it does have more than one movie palace left; there’s RCMH, as already noted, and also the old Loew’s 175th St., the old Loew’s Paradise, and the upcoming restoration of the Loew’s Kings. Admittedly, not many when on considers the dozens of movie palaces that were once scattered around the five boroughs, but it is more than one. Interesting to note, the only movie palace left in the NYC area (meaning easily accessible by public transit from the city) that still shows an occasional movie is the Loew’s Jersey, and that’s not even in NYC! Come to think of it, what would New York have left if Loew’s hadn’t built the 5 Wonder Theatres? Seems odd that a place known as the theatrical center of the country has such a poor record of keeping theatres around.

trainmaster
trainmaster on April 10, 2011 at 2:14 am

NY saved one palace – the Radio City Music Hall, but that theater came so close to demolition in 1979. It is safe and had a complete restoration, just like the Paramount did.

Oakland learned their lesson of the value of these movie palaces from the expense and loss of the San Francisco Fox. That city would have saved millions if they must purchased the building for $1 million; the theater had excellet acoustics, could accomodate conventions and symphony concerts. The Fox’s acoustics were certainly superior to Louis M. Davis Symphony Hall, of which the city spend millions to build, and more millions to correct the poor
acoustics. Then, they spent millions on the George Moscone Convention Center. The Fox could have performed all those functions.

Oakland learned a good lesson at San Francisco’s expense.

trainmaster

WilliamMcQuade
WilliamMcQuade on April 9, 2011 at 10:37 am

Amazing that Oakland has 2 restored palaces while NY knocked all of theirs down.Lets hear it for progress.

Way to go NY – By the way, I live in NY.

trainmaster
trainmaster on February 3, 2011 at 1:02 am

I think you misunderstood my statement…..

I was not suggesting removing the current organ in the Paramount..

I just threw out the idea of the possibility of purchasing the original Paramount organ for the FOX OAKLAND theater, which does not have an organ. At $200,000, the price is very reasonable.

trainmaster

fkrock
fkrock on February 2, 2011 at 12:17 pm

The organ in the Paramount today is a 4-27 Wurlitzer that is larger than the original organ. The original organ was a Wurlitzer 4-20 Publix #1 organ, the last one built. The new organ has been very carefully voiced for the Paramount. It is maintained and occasionally played. Removing the existing organ to replace with the original would make no sense. The organ in the theater today is much superior to the original.

trainmaster
trainmaster on February 2, 2011 at 12:29 am

there aren’t many theatres quite like the Paramount!

Oh, there were….The Capitol in New York, the New York Paramount, The San Francisco Fox and probably the most opulent of all, the New York Roxy. (All demolished)

For Art Deco theaters (ones in Moderne design like the Oakland Paramount), I don’t think anything surpasses Radio City Music Hall. They have the Mightest Wurlitzer in the world! The Oakland Paramount is certainly fantastic, don’t get me wrong and one of the finest art deco palaces, but it does not quite compare to the 6200-seat RCHM. The Paramount in Oakland has a 65-foot widescreen, a huge size in itself, but RCMH has a 130-foot widescreen, the largest ever!
I have been to all of the above theaters. RCMH has daily tours now – I saw a number of movies there and a few at the NY Roxy.

trainmaster

trainmaster
trainmaster on February 2, 2011 at 12:23 am

The ex-Paramount organ may soon be on the market as the restaurant that housed it is closing. Sarasota Herald-Tribune story ….

Maybe it can be obtained for the Fox Oakland.

trainmaster
trainmaster on February 1, 2011 at 7:29 pm

The only problem with photos on Lost Memory is that they don’t stay there very long. Kirk, if the photo is there, fine, but if not, just refer to my post about the marquee. By the way, all photos of the original marquee are in black and white. Yes, the original marquee had neon lights!

To reiterate, the old marquee was designed by the original architect, Timothy L. Pflueger, and I doubt he would have approved the present one (he is long deceased). The original was designed to match the theater’s moderne design.

trainmaster