Capri Theatre

4115 University Avenue,
Des Moines, IA 50311

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Capri Theatre

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The Capri Theatre was a neighborhood theatre located on the west side of Des Moines, Iowa. Its site was the 4100 block of University Avenue and it opened in 1935.

Contributed by Lon Peterson

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 1, 2009 at 12:10 am

The December 21, 1964, issue of Boxoffice said that the Capri was in the old Uptown business district, across the street from an Uptown Shopping Center which was then under construction. It also said that the theater had long been “a bright spot” in the neighborhood, though it didn’t mention the house having had a previous name.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 6, 2009 at 11:56 pm

OMG! The slapped one of those 1970s modern-rustic fronts on it! What an appalling thing to do!

RobertLFridley on July 11, 2009 at 12:57 pm

The Uptown Theatre at 41st and University opened in 1935 and was operated by Tri-States Theater Corp. In 1964 I was able to obtain the lease from Glen Wallace, the then owner of the Uptown Shopping Center. After a complete remodeling job, I reopened it as the Capri on November 10, 1960 with the roadshow presentation of BEN-HUR in 65 millimeter and six tracks of sterephonic sound. We then played most of the big roadshows including a two-year, two week engagement in 1965 an 1966 of THE SOUND OF MUSIC. In the late seventies I sold it to Dubinsky Theatres who was my partner in the River Hills/Riviera Theatres. I would welcome a visit from anyone interested in Iowa Theatres. From 1929 on spent a great deal of my youth in them.

Coate on July 11, 2009 at 2:35 pm

THE SOUND OF MUSIC’s record 113-week engagement at the Capri was from April 7, 1965 – June 6, 1967.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 7, 2010 at 7:51 pm

“SOUND OF MUSIC” for 113 weeks.I couldn’t take it,the two weeks we played it was enough in a single screen house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 14, 2011 at 2:18 am

The scan is a bit blurry, but the photo at the bottom of this page of Boxoffice, August 5, 1950, shows the Uptown when it was still sporting its 1930s moderne facade, complete with three porthole windows above the wedge-shaped marquee.

rsmithjr on September 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm

During the 60’s, I worked at the Capri for Bob Fridley (see above) and also other Des Moines theaters including the Varsity and for Bev Mahon at the Holiday. The Capri was just about the finest “60’s roadshow house” I have ever seen, superb presentation. It was enlarged from the old Uptown in 1960 specifically to play Ben-hur, with the screen dimensions perfectly set for “Camera 65/Ultra Panavision 70”. Many other roadshows such as El Cid, Mutiny on the Bounty, Lawrence of Arabia also played there. I saw many 70mm films at other theaters around the country as well as the Capri, and the Capri was the hands-down winner for presentation. Sadly, we have lost most of these houses.

tbjazzcat on October 27, 2011 at 8:40 am

I saw “The Sound of Music” at the Capri in 1965, when my family drove down from Ames. I was five years old. It was my first movie and I thought it was the biggest place I’d ever seen. Pure theatrical magic. I remember an upstairs loge area (for smoking?). We moved to Des Moines in 1969, and I later saw movies there during high school. It wasn’t as big as I remembered, but it still had style and class — a certain “chic.” It was a small gem of a theater, and to me looked like a place right out of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

KCB3Player on September 22, 2014 at 11:45 am

It was a terrible shame when it was turned into a video store that is now close. I would love to see returned to an art theater similar to the Varsity but to redo it to look like it did as the Uptown.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 22, 2014 at 2:19 pm

The building has been remodeled again, now with a bland front, and it houses an animal hospital and a State Farm insurance agency. I would expect that the floor has been leveled, so there probably won’t be a theater here again. At least that appalling diagonal wood front from the 1970s is gone.

Among dozens of vintage photos on this web page are two shots of the Midcentury Modern Capri Theatre front of 1960, which the diagonal wood covered up later. I like Midcentury design, and the Capri was nicely done, but my personal preference would have been to see the original 1935 Streamline Modern facade preserved and restored. Hardly anybody valued Streamline Modern in 1960, though.

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