Rialto Theatre

239 Illinois Avenue,
St. Joseph, MO 64504

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Rialto Theatre

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The Rialto Theatre opened in 1926. The building is currently home to Holt’s Place Bar & Grill.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

Tp
Tp on December 12, 2011 at 8:34 am

The Rialto Theatre Grand Opening Add in The St Joseph Newspress was Thursday 21October1926 The Add says The Sun Amusement and Realty Takes great plesure In Announcing the opening of New, Beautiful Rialto Theatre (A Purely St Joseph Organizational) The Movie shown was Douglas Fairbanks In The Black Pirate. There were no adds in the paper for several days after the opening i had to go to Monday 25October1926 to find this info. I did find a picture of the Rialto Theatre. If people want to find it and look at it. Go to the Missouri Theater in Cinema Treasure scroll down to Revest266 to view link click on- then click on Browse all newspapers-click on the Letter S SCROLL DOWN TO St Joseph Gazette go to 1920 then to 1926 then to month October 22,1926 picture is on page7 with a article upper middle of the page.

Tp
Tp on December 12, 2011 at 8:43 am

If you look at the picture dated 23October1926 st Joseph Gazette you can see how the building has changed over the years.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm

An article about theater entrances, written by Helen Kent, appeared in Boxoffice of November 16, 1935, and it was illustrated by a pair of small before-and-after photos of the recently remodeled Rialto Theatre in St. Joseph.

ejellise
ejellise on March 31, 2014 at 10:08 pm

I am interested in the following article regarding my husband’s aunt who was the star of it and his mother who was an extra in it. The movie was “The Grocery Boy” starring Zelma Brazzell, co-starring Alice Brazzell, sometime between 1924-1928 in St. Joe. I have the following article, paper unknown, and I know the approximate dates it showed was November 27, 28, and 29, but I do not know the year. Any help regarding knowledge of this movie would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Edna J. (William G.) Ellis HOME TALENT MOVIE “The Grocery Boy” Shows at Savoy Theater The first showing of the home talent motion picture comedy, “The Grocery Boy,” was given at the Savoy Theater Sat afternoon. The picture was made in the vicinity of St Joseph & considering the fact that there had been no experience among the cast, it was commented upon as being a creditable picture. The picture was written & directed by William A. Leucht Jr., who was assisted by his father as cameraman. Mr. Leucht is proprietor of the Savoy Theater. The scenes in the play have been well chosen & clearness in the close-ups is a feature. The art titles have been worked out in a noval way & in no place is the slapstick element overdone. The principal characters in the cast are: The grocery boy, Ott Reno; the sweetheart, Zelma Brazzell; the village blacksmith, Dade Tilbury; the father, Joe Kuhfus; the city dude, Rollie Reno; & the village champ, Nellie Burke. About forty players assisted in the filming of the picture. Although a few of the scenes were shot on King Hill & in Hyde Park the majority were filmed at Agency, Lower Lake Contrary, Blair, Wathena & Huron, KS The picture is three reels in length. Several suburban theaters have contracted to show the comedy.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 1, 2014 at 12:27 pm

ejellise: The only reference I can find in the trade publications to a movie made by William Leucht is this item from the March 21, 1925, issue of Exhibitor’s Trade Review:

“Exhibitor Becomes Producer

“St. Joseph, Mo., March 11.— Having made a 3-reel home talent comedy last year, which played to S. R. O. business, William Leucht, manager of the Savoy Theatre, is now building a small plant for the developing, printing and finishing of motion pictures. ‘It’s a good business getter,’ he says.”

I don’t know what became of Mr. Leucht’s movie production business, but he was still operating the Savoy Theatre as late as 1929. The “home talent comedy” mentioned in the item might have been The Grocery Boy, which would mean the year of its production was 1924. If he made additional movies later, it might have been one of them, of course. A movie of that title is not listed in any of the online databases, nor in any of the trade publications of the 1920s that are available online, so it is likely among the more than 80% of silent movies that have been lost.

ejellise
ejellise on April 1, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Joe Vogel, THANK YOU so much for helping me out on this. You will NEVER KNOW how much I appreciate your time and research on this. “The Grocery Boy” WAS a three-reel “home talent comedy”. I do know at one time the movie still existed because my husband, Bill and his mother, Alice Brazzell Ellis was privileged to go to a movie theater and view it. My husband was born in 1943 and I think he was a teenager when they saw it. They don’t remember the year or the theater though. Thanks again, you are a “keeper”!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 1, 2014 at 10:21 pm

I’m glad to help. If a print of the movie was still around in the late 1950s, and in condition to be screened, someone must have been taking care of it. The nitrate film stock that was used in the 1920s was very unstable, and had to be carefully preserved. If somebody was looking after it for more than thirty years, chances are they continued to do so. The Grocery Boy might still exist in someone’s private collection.

ejellise
ejellise on April 2, 2014 at 12:30 pm

That’s exciting to know! I talked to my husband, Bill again after I told him what you had said and he said it was shown at the Rialto Theater and he was about 14 or 17, which would have made it 1957 or 1960. I am so in hopes we can find it if it is still available and still view-able. Where can one find the complete article in “the trade publications to a movie made by William Leucht is this item from the March 21, 1925, issue of Exhibitor’s Trade Review”. Or is that the entire article? I did some research and both William Leucht Jr. and Sr. are since deceased. And perhaps the Rialto had rights to the film after that. But they no longer exist, right?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 2, 2014 at 3:06 pm

ejellise: The brief item I quoted was all there was in the magazine. I found two other references to William Leucht, one from 1927 and one from 1929. The 1927 item said that he had recently bought the Cozy Theatre, and the 1929 item mentioned him briefly as operator of the Savoy.

Scans of some issues of Exhibitors' Trade Review and other trade publications are online, the largest collection being at The Internet Archive, which is a rather difficult site to search as their cataloging system is, well, a mess, but there are probably other references to Leucht in the trades. I’ll keep an eye out for them, as new items are occasionally added to the various digital archives. I’ll also see if I can discover who operated the Rialto in the late 1950s.

If The Grocery Boy was an entirely local project it would be unusual. Most “local talent” movies were actually made by itinerant production companies. One outfit in operation as early as 1920, Community Photoplay, sent crews from their Los Angeles studio to cities all over the country. Essentially these companies would make the same movies over and over in different places with different players.

They would make arrangements with a local theater owner, then advertise a casting call for the production in the local newspaper, select the most likely players at the call, scout locations for filming, then spend a few days shooting the movie from the pre-written scenario. After the film was developed it would be edited and then presented in the theater which had contracted for the movie. The whole process would be completed in about two months, and the crew would be on to the next town on their list.

Nobody knows how many “local talent” movies were made during the silent era, but there must have been hundreds, if not thousands. Still, even though the production company “owned” the movie, they usually didn’t keep a copy. The negatives would be discarded and the only print (or prints) would stay with the local theater operator, who could show it as often as he liked, in whatever theater he chose. This is one of the reasons so few of these movies survived. Local theater operators didn’t know enough about preserving the unstable nitrate film over a long time.

The “local talent” business declined rapidly when talking pictures came along, due mostly to the far greater cost and complexity of making sound movies. In any case, local actors who could learn lines quickly and deliver them convincingly would have been much harder to find than people who could mug and posture for the silent camera.

I don’t know of anyone who is researching local talent movies. I can’t even find the term mentioned on the National Film Preservation Foundation’s web site. Still, there are so many people researching silent movies that there must be a few who specialize in local talent productions. Again, I’ll keep an eye out for information about the subject.

As William Leucht originally would have had what might have been the only print of The Grocery Boy, the most likely place to search for information about what became of it would be among his descendants. There could still be a few living in St. Joseph, though Google searches on the name fetch mostly obituaries. Still, obituaries might reveal the married names of daughters, and in my experience women usually remember more family history than men do. The most recent Leucht connected with St. Joseph that I’ve seen is a Geralyn (Geri) Leucht, who is listed at Classmates.com as a 1971 graduate of Central High School.

Good luck tracking down the print of The Grocery Boy. If it still exists, and you can find it, it will be of great interest to fans of silent movies.

ejellise
ejellise on April 2, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Thanks again Joe. I have located what I believe to be the obituaries of William Leucht Jr and a couple others I believe who were in the film also. I will see if they tell of anything regarding their making of the movie.

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