La Mar Theatre

228 Manhattan Beach Boulevard,
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Unfavorite No one has favorited this theater yet

Showing 20 comments

DavidZornig on May 5, 2015 at 9:01 am

Original print added courtesy of artist Don Spencer.

kirbsite on August 6, 2014 at 3:56 pm

During the 1950s La Mar’s Saturday matinees were a worship center for kids like me (refugees from Opal Robinson Elementary). Images of the original Batman (1943 b & w, anti-Japaneese propaganda serial starring Lewis Wilson & Douglas Croft as “Robin”), all the Charlie Chan flix plus best of genre Westerns such as the collaborations of John Ford & John Wayne/ James Stewart- Anthony Mann/ Bud Boetticher + Randolph Scott, etc. All us kids knew how to treat a faithful dog or horse but we didn’t mess with girls because they all had cooties. Yuk!

The La Mar wasn’t everybody’s theater but it was most certainly mine during those formative years and maybe that’s why I remember that vivid evening toward the end of July, 1957 when the theater was overwhelmed by police officers & other adults. It was a fund raiser- memorial service for two officers from a neighboring city who had been gunned down by someone who ran a red light. This was destined to go unsolved for 45 years until Gerald F. Mason was finally apprehended, confessed & indicted for the double murder.

Good childhood memories mixed with disturbing ones are what swirl around the teen shoe store Sketchers which was built on the site where the deer and the antelope used to play just up from the Manhattan Beach pier. And I did bridge the gap on the cooties thing. Even wound up marrying one them 23 years ago. I guess that’s what they call progress today.

tnavel on March 17, 2012 at 3:12 pm

i have many memories of going to the la mar theatre. i saw the incredible shrinking man there. i lived on 10th street and harkness back then .i would walk all the way to the la mar then go on down to the pier where we had a friend who lived on the strand. we would store our surfboards there. great memories of the 50s and 60s

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 16, 2010 at 12:11 am

As Mrwillmrr noted, the opening year currently given in the intro is wrong. Boxoffice of August 28, 1948, said that the La Mar Theatre had just celebrated the tenth anniversary of its opening. Also note the 1937 Southwest Builder & Contractor article mentioned in my earlier comment which said that Clifford Balch would be the architect of the new theater to be built at Manhattan Beach.

MrWillM on March 9, 2010 at 10:28 am

I went to the La Mar often during the years I lived in Manhattan Beach during the 60s. For a couple of those years, I lived at 903 Highland and would walk the short distance. A typical small theater from the 30-40s construction period. Well-maintained during the years I attended.

It’s ironic that the only areas where the old theaters remain (in whatever form) are those that are economically-depressed. In Manhattan Beach and the South Bay, land is too valuable.

BTW, A pictorial history published by the Manhattan Beach Historical Society shows the construction and opening of the La Mar in 1938, rather than the 1943 listed above.

ChrisCook on September 21, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Two years since any submissions regarding the La Mar, huh? Ah, well. My brother and I spent many a Saturday afternoon here in the late 50s and early 60s. Back in those days kids ran wild; out of the house after breakfast and gone until dinner. My parents would give us a buck (35 cents for admission, 15 cents for popcorn times two kids) and we’d see two movies with cartoons in between and participate in a drawing where they’d call out the numbers on the ticket stubs and if they called yours you’d win a big “Charms” sucker. You’d even get to go up on stage (remember when theaters had stages?) to verify your number and receive your prize. I recall that Disney movies were 50 cents instead of 35, and when The Beatles' “A Hard Days Night” was shown it was 60 cents; we knew at that point that the good old days were behind us. Never as elaborate as the Fox Redondo or the Strand (what, no balcony?) my best memories are still of the La Mar. I moved away so I didn’t witness the decline and destruction and I’m glad. It was the perfect small town movie house, back when Manhattan was indeed a small town.

philbertgray on November 6, 2007 at 9:20 am

Exterior of the La Mar Theatre

View link

kencmcintyre on October 1, 2007 at 7:27 am

One of Sun International’s cheesy films was playing at the La Mar in January 1973, per this LA Times ad. I remember seeing such Sun classics as “Search for Noah’s Ark” and “Search for Historic Jesus”. They always used the same portentous narrator.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 11, 2007 at 3:53 pm

Southwest Builder & Contractor of November 5, 1937, named Clifford Balch as the architect of the La Mar.

Though I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, my dad was born in Manhattan Beach in 1909, and we often visited his friends who still lived there in later years. I never saw a movie at the La Mar, but I passed by it many times in the 1950s-60s. I remember that it seemed pretty plushy for a neighborhood theatre.

kencmcintyre on July 2, 2007 at 12:44 pm

There is a nice photo of the La Mar at the Manhattan Village mall. It is one of an exhibition of several old Manhattan Beach photos. I would say that the style of the theater is Art Deco.

kencmcintyre on June 8, 2007 at 6:04 pm

Features on 9/15/74 were “SPYS” (bad MASH ripoff) and “Steelyard Blues”. Phone number was 372-8500.

kencmcintyre on January 15, 2007 at 5:00 pm

Mrs. McIntyre was knocked around by some kids at the La Mar in 1952. She’s not a relative, as far as I know:

RandyRuddy on August 24, 2006 at 6:37 pm

The Manhattan Beach Historical Society has plenty of pix of the La Mar. I’ve got several that I will try to input into this computer thing. I ran the place for a few years before its “conversion” to 3 screens. I also lived onthe roof in a tent for 11-months but that’s another (good) story. Randy Ruddy

Enkidu on August 15, 2006 at 11:37 am

I grew up in Manhattan Beach and loved that theater. It is the one we always went to. I saw everything from Bambi to King Kong there.

One day a friend of mine came by and said he knew a way in. I cannot remember if I was in junior high or still in grade school but it was in the late 70’s or ealy 80’s. Someone had broken one of the ticket windows. We climbed the wooden wall that surrounded that block and went in to investigate. We went to the projector room and found the reels with the old LA Times adds featuring the little dog trying to carry the huge Sunday paper. We went into the back room downstairs directly behind the ticket booth and it was still full of candy. Yes, I ate it. We went through all the rooms upstairs and found bags and bags of old stale already popped popcorn and had popcorn fights. The theaters themselves had the seats removed so we took the fluorescent lights and through them at the screens and watched them explode in a brilliant blue light.

Many a boring afternoon where spent there with my friends. But the best part was how long it took them to tear it down. We went back all the time. At one point after the roof had been removed we went in and a lot of the walls where torn down. The long hallway that went to the little theater in the back was still standing. We took it upon ourselves to tear that thing down.

Talk about a great farewell to an old friend. I know, it was juvenile but so was I. And like I said, that theater was there my entire life to that point and that is where I saw all my movies. It really was an old friend.

I am glad I found this page. I too wish there where pictures.

RandyRuddy on March 28, 2006 at 5:58 pm

I was the Manager of the La Mar Theatre, from Feb. of 1973 when John Klee purchased it and we refurbished it. We kept the mermaid illustrations on the walls. We “four-walled” the films “Billy Jack” and “On Any Sunday”. I met my wife there while she worked as a snack bar staffer. When Mr. Klee sold it to take over the Marina 3 Cinemas in Redondo Beach, Ca. I went with him in 1977. An incompetant named Kirkorian (not that one) took over, did a miserable tri-plexing and ran it into the ground. My name is Randy Ruddy.

bmurr360 on March 17, 2006 at 4:01 am

I saw James Bond’s Goldfinger there. I grew up in Manhattan Beach from the 50’s moving away in 1987. My Dad would take us all there on rainy days to get out of the house. Too bad there is no photo here.

danz on March 21, 2005 at 10:55 pm

I grew up in Manhattan Beach in the late 50’s and early 60’s. It was on Manhattan Beach Boulevard on a very steep hill (near Highland Avenue). I must have seen so many great movies there – from Bambi to The Bridge on the River Kwai. I miss the old theater.

trooperboots on December 25, 2004 at 2:35 am

I saw “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” with my mom in 1968 there. The following year I went into the Air Force, but about a year and a half later went home on leave. To my surprise, “Chitty” was playing there again as second run! I went back to watch it with my mom and about half way through the movie, a huge noise came from the ceiling. The theater was evacutated and it was found to be the air conditioning on the roof causing the noise. We went back into the theater after about 10 minutes, and found they did not stop the film, so we missed a chunk of the film. I also remember the next film to be shown was “If It’s Tuesday It Must Be Belgium”, which I was disappointed not get to see because I returned to duty.

rbubenas on October 29, 2004 at 12:59 pm

I grew up in Manhattan Beach, and the La Mar was “the show” to us kids. I spent many Saturdays in that venue. I am interested in any information about the wall murals, which depicted waterskiing sprites being pulled by dolphins. Any info about the artist(s), and any other theater murals that were done by the same.