Loew's Regent Theatre
410 Market Street,
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Loew’s Regent Theatre opened in 1920, and was the Harrisburg chapter of the national Loew’s chain of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer ‘flagship’ theaters. Considering the grandiose reputation of the MGM product the Regent Theatre was an attractive and well-kept but relatively modest establishment.
There was a large, three-sided rectangular marquee with the dual name of the theater spelled out in large letters above the front panel and simply ‘Loew’s’ above the two side panels. Space for attractions information was provided on all three (side and front) panels.
Perhaps the grandest aspect of the Regent Theatre was the large vertical sign that towered above the unprepossessing building that housed the theater and which again spelled out ‘Loews’ in gigantic letters. (The theater itself was part of a somewhat dingy row of old buildings that included a corner bar, a novelty shop, and an art/photography shop).
On approaching the theater itself there was a stand-alone ticket booth that was set in a square exterior space which was bordered with display windows for posters of current and coming attractions and which led to the entrance doors.
The interior was more in keeping with the MGM penchant for glamour with a small but elegant lobby that was flanked by two marble staircases (straight out of an MGM musical number) that ascended to the lounges and balcony.
Sometimes billboard-size displays for major MGM productions (such as “Quo Vadis” and “An American in Paris”) could be seen in the lobby. The exterior front of the theater was often embellished with elaborate displays as well.
Neither the actual auditorium nor the screen were especially grandiose and when Loew’s converted to CinemaScope around 1953 the screen seemed more scaled down and compressed than enlarged.
In its prime the Regent Theatre was the exclusive Harrisburg first-run theater for most of MGM’s incredibly prolific output of period epics, musicals, and melodramas, as well the studio’s series of often well-produced B-movie and noir programmers. (I especially remember 1950’s “Mystery Street” with an unforgettable shot of a skeletal hand, that of the murdered Jan Sterling, sticking out of a sand dune!)
But it also showed the occasional oddball independent picture. I saw both Lippert’s unforgettable “Rocketship X-M” as well as “Bwana Devil”, the infamous first 3-D feature, at the Regent Theatre.
A victim of the 1950’s trust busting that forever altered the production/distribution system of studio era Hollywood, Loew’s Regent was razed in 1961.
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