1069 Market Street,
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Previously operated by: Blumenfeld Theater Circuit, Pussycat Theatres, Robert L. Lippert Theatres Inc.
Architects: F. Frederic Amandes, Arthur Rousseau, Oliver M. Rousseau, Gale Santocono
Firms: Rousseau & Rousseau
Previous Names: Egyptian Theatre, Studio Theatre, Pussycat Theatre
The Guild Theatre opened as the Egyptian Theatre on March 14, 1925 with "The Last Man on Earth." Its policy was low price, late run releases primarily for the Market Street walk by trade.
On December 24, 1943 it reopened as the Studio Theatre, with somewhat rangier fare, of the “Reefer Madness” variety, catering to the larger number of transient and service personnel frequenting the war-time streets of San Francisco.
After the war, it regained its respectability, at least for a while, and reopened on June 6, 1947 as the Guild Theatre with the first run re-release showing of MGM’s “The Great Waltz” which ran for two months followed by the first major re-release of “Gone with the Wind”, which ran for three months.
By the end of 1947, it reverted back to late run low priced action films aimed at the drop-in crowd, eventually offering three features for fifty cents. It was remodeled by San Francisco architect/designer Gale Santocono around this time.
By the 1970’s it was imitating its sister theater next door, the Centre Theatre, and was offering adult films; appropriately, it was renamed the Pussycat Theatre on January 18, 1973, and so remained for the next thirteen years.
Like the Centre Theatre, it closed in December 1987, and has since been converted into retail space.
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1940s newsprint ad for the Studio Theatre in San Francisco.
In the 1980s, peeling paint on the side of the office block over this theatre’s entrance and above the shorter facade of the Market Street Cinema next door revealed, however faintly, shadows of a painted sign, “Egyptian Theatre.” That wall has been painted over at least twice since then. Recent removal of some later remodeling around the former entrances of the Guild and Centre has uncovered original Gothic/Baroque cast ornament original to the building. It has some damage, but based on the look of it, these details had been covered over since at least the 40s.
A number of years ago, my friend, the late theatre historian Steve Levin, told me that he either owned or had seen a photo of this theatre’s lobby taken when it was the Egyptian. He said it was obviously a decorating job done on the cheap, with lotus or papyrus patterns done on the walls with stenciling. Certainly it was not a comparatively deluxe Egyptian job like San Francisco’s Alexandria.
Here is an ad for The Guild Theatre and Centre Theatres on Market Street from 1945. At the time the Theatres were called The Studio and The Roundup and showed western films exclusively.
I took a close look yesterday at the storefronts which now occupy the spaces which were once the Guild and Centre theatres in the same building. Some of the terrazzo from the entrance to the Guild is still visible, partly obscured by a later wall. The whole entry terrazzo floor of the Centre’s entry is exposed, as well.
Max and Louis Graf opened the twin theaters of the Aztec and Egyptian in 1925 thinking that having two smaller first-run theatres might be better than going all in on a single palace. They soon added the similarly-themed Pompeii Theatre as the start of their theatre circuit. All were architected by Oliver M. Rousseau and Arthur Rousseau of the Rousseau & Rousseau architectural firm.
But within months, the Grafs struggled and they closed their theaters. The business model was in the wrong era and Max Graf would continue his successful movie production career and Louis Graf would go into movie theater management. The Egyptian and Pompeii theaters would continue operation under new operators and immediately became sub-run grind houses. The Aztec would be partially dismantled though would reopen as a grindhouse much later.
June 6th, 1947 grand opening ad in the photo section.
This became the Pussycat on January 18th, 1973. Ad in photo section.
A note too odd for me to resist.
Motion Picture Herald, Jan. 31, 1948: “Blumenfeld Theatre circuit, which acquired the Guild theatre three weeks ago from Robert L. Lippert, has returned the Market Street house to Lippert. Theatre seats 300 and has pursued a policy of reissues of classics.”
what’s so odd about it?