Stanley Theatre

1902-10 Market Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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Showing 1 - 25 of 44 comments

DavidZornig on October 18, 2018 at 10:26 pm

1931 photo added courtesy of Sid Terror’s Haunted Film Vault Facebook page.

MSC77 on March 23, 2018 at 10:16 pm

JohnShiner: Your recent comments on roadshows and 70mm suggest you will enjoy the following article on Philadelphia’s roadshow and large-format history, if you aren’t already aware of it.

JohnShiner on March 21, 2018 at 11:11 pm

The Stanley Theater was renovated in 1959 in SALMON not GRAY color – draped walls, screen, rocking chair seats, carpeting – all in the same SALMON color. Reopening premiere was Pillow Talk. The Stanley was upgraded to 70mm projection at that time, and many movies were roadshown there in the 1960s including Thoroughly Modern Millie. Not all were in 70mm. Hawaii was in 35 mm mono. The Great Race was not reserved-seat and was presented in 35mm.

rivest266 on October 9, 2016 at 12:27 pm

September 23rd, 1923 grand opening ad in the photo section.

Bruce Calvert
Bruce Calvert on January 10, 2015 at 9:32 pm

Here’s a vintage theater program from January, 1927 from the Stanley Theatre. I have several more on my website. They apparently put on a big show in addition to the movies.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on May 4, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Click here for an exterior view of the Stanley Theatre in 1932.

HowardBHaas on March 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Last night, I enjoyed at the Prince Music Theater an archival print of “North by Northwest” with a Q & A on stage before the movie of star Eva Marie Saint. I asked Vince Young where it was shown in original issue, and he replied that it was a big hit at the Stanley in the summer of 1959.

HowardBHaas on February 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm

In reply to my question as to which Center City movie theater “Auntie Mame” was shown, Vince Young replied that “Mame” was the well received Christmas 1958 attraction at the Stanley….ran for weeks on end.

HowardBHaas on February 8, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Thanks to Vince Young for the last day information as below, from an ad:

“Viva Max!” was the final screen attraction. 5 shows that day, final at 6:10 PM TONIGHT AT 10PM Doors Open at 8 PM BUY TICKETS NOW! All Seats $5 incl tax

“THE SUPERFIGHT” The computerized fight sports fans will be talking about for years. Who’s the Greatest? Rocky MARCIANO vs Muhammed ALI Filmed Live and in Color This is not animation or photo tricks but live action in color, filmed in secret and edited to a computer printout programmed for over 200 variables. This great bout will never be seen on T.V. or in newsreels. There will be no second run….This has to be the greatest fight ever!"

Also played that evening: Ardmore, Astor, Benn, Cheltenham, Broadway, Logan, Nixon, State, Midway, Warner (WChester), Plaza (KoP), Waverly, Towne, and Moorestown Plaza.

kencmcintyre on May 8, 2009 at 11:18 pm

The Stanley can be seen in this 1952 photo:

HowardBHaas on May 3, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Tidbits from the early 1950s: “The Third Man” was a popular 1950 movie at the Stanley. 11 Nov 1950 Box Office” reported that Suzanne Dalbert, a star of WW2 movie “Breakthrough” appeared at the film’s premiere at Stanley on the 9th. 17 Nov 1951 Box Office reported that Stanley Theatre sold out a telecast fight. 12 April 1952 Box Office reported that Abbott & Costello appeared in the Stanley lobby to promote Easter seals to benefit crippled children. “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” was a popular 1953 movie at the Stanley.

HowardBHaas on May 3, 2009 at 5:28 pm

Tidbits from the late 1930s: 13 Aug 1938 Box Office had an ad that “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” set box office records in cities including Philadelphia’s Stanley Theatre.
29 July 1939 Box Office reported that the “The Man in the Iron Mask” was being shown at the Stanley, and 2 Dec 1939 Box Office reported that “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” was shown.

HowardBHaas on March 4, 2009 at 9:14 pm

If you google search exactly
Boxoffice October 30, 1948
and type 28 in the page box
there’s a photo of Stanley exterior showing “Red River” with a parade of Indians, cowboys, rodeo girls, steers

veyoung52 on July 28, 2008 at 9:44 pm

A few facts about the Stanley remodeling in 1959.
In December of 1958, Loew’s Theatres took a gamble by announcing a front-to-back remodeling of its Times Square theatres, the State, into something modernistic that would become a “destination” moviehouse. It worked, and was a huge success. It was also said that Loew’s also wanted a state-of-the-art premiere house for the upcoming MGM “Ben-Hur,” and the Capitol was deemed too large for a roadshow. The renewed State reopened in March with “Some Like It Hot” and continued referring to itself as the New Loew’s State until well after “Ben-Hur” had vacated the premises. Stanley-Warner theatres followed suit with the Stanley in Philadelphia. Its remodeled “New” Stanley reopened its doors on the evening of November 10, 1959 with celebrities such as Charlton Heston (who was about to appear two weeks later at the Boyd as Judah Ben-Hur). Opening attraction was the equally-as-modern Ross Hunter production of “Pillow Talk.” The Stanley, too, was a success, after its $500,000 facelift. The seating capacity was reduced to 2200, not 1300, and featured a lobby with “walls of formica and tile and padded doors of bronze and glass. The mezzanine has been transformed into an intimate lounge…six crystal chandeliers have been installed in the ceiling…For the comfort of the patrons the seating capacity has been reduced to 2200, allowing wider space between the rows of longer chairs on the main floor and ‘bodiform’ chairs in the balcony…Following a color scheme of gold and blue, the theatre has been completely recarpeted and redecorated with rich draperies. The stage will boast a traveler curtain, similar to the one that was used at the Boyd for Cinerama productions. It will be illuminated by flood lighting from the balcony. Also newly installed is a sound and projection system performing the showing of every form of medium…except Cinerama. Another innovation is the automatically controlled year round airconditioning unit…The only object remaining from the ‘old’ Stanley is George Harding’s mural, ‘Le Carneval,’ which will still be displayed in the lobby.”

All of the above, further commentary, and an artist’s sketch of the lobby is in the Philadelphia “Inquirer” issue of November 8, 1962.

The statement “every form of medium…except Cinerama,” is not quite true inasmuch as the ‘old’ Stanley was one of only a very few theatres that had installed the original horizontal projection system, VistaVision, which predated IMAX by more than a decade. And about that traveler curtain, and its lighting, which stretched across the entire width of the auditorium, not just the width of the proscenium, DennisZ in May, 2006 described the “pink” effect used for the “My Fair Lady” engagement. At the time, it was rumored that this curtain was the largest used in a motion picture theatre, except for Radio City Music Hall and the Great Northern in Cleveland.

It was, I supposed, a bit typical of the Philadelphia we-don’t-like-to-brag mentality of the time, that whereas Loews’s continued to boast of its “New” State for years, the “New” in Stanley lasted less than two weeks in local publications. It just reverted to the “old” Stanley if you didn’t know any better.

In the list of 70mm attractions, add “Fall of The Roman Empire,” which switched to a 35mm print when the film went off roadshow to continuous performances. And there we no 70mm prints of “Hawaii” distributed anywhere in the U.S.

HowardBHaas on January 4, 2008 at 4:59 am

Not sure as to twins, but I can tell you that Baltimore’s Stanley was the most magnificient movie palace ever built in that city, and has also been lost.

Philadelphia’s Stanley, also neoclassical, was one of Philly’s greatest showplace movie palaces.

Pghfavorite on January 4, 2008 at 4:53 am

After recently viewing photographs on the internet of Philadelphia’s Stanley Theater, I could not help but notice that it looks exactly like the Benedum Center (formerly the Stanley Theater) of Pittsburgh. When looking at the photos side by side, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the two buildings. I read that they were both designed by Hoffman & Henon. Were these two theaters built exactly alike? Also, did the Stanley Company build others that resemble these two? If they were indeed built as “twins”, it’s such a tragic loss for Philadelphia to have lost this theater.

HowardBHaas on August 22, 2007 at 2:44 pm

Photo by Dennis Zimmerman of Finian’s Rainbow on the marquee, shown in 70 mm:
View link
Thanks to Dennis for granting permission for the posting, and for his taking this and other theater photographs!

HowardBHaas on June 24, 2007 at 9:59 pm

This afternoon, I photographed the Murano residential tower that is being built on what I think is the site of the Erlanger. The Erlanger closed in the 1970’s and was demolished in that decade.

veyoung52 on June 24, 2007 at 9:32 pm

Yes, on the North side of Market Street was the Erlanger.

dennisczimmerman on June 24, 2007 at 9:29 pm

Kenmc: That picture says it all. What a total waste! I cannot remember how long it was until something was built on that property. I cannot remember the Mastbaum. However, there was another theatre across Market Street near the Stanley that sat there unused for years. I think to this day it is still a parking lot. However, it has been many many years since I have ventured into Center City. The last time my wife and I were in C.C. we were both so disappointed in the Lord and Taylor store in the old Wanamakers store. Even the Gallery was disappointing. I am wondering whether Macy’s has improved the “old Wanamakers?” However, anything other than the eight floor “John W’s” is a let down. Anyway, could that other theatre across the street have been the Erlanger????

kencmcintyre on January 9, 2007 at 2:32 pm

This patron went to a premiere and ended up with a broken leg:

dennisczimmerman on September 23, 2006 at 1:30 pm

The outside pictures of the Stanley do not reflect the glamour and palatialness (not sure there is such a word) of the inside. It was a huge theatre that, I thought, made you feel like you were in a palace. Of course, 1935 was before my time. I first attended a film at the Stanley in 1964. By that time the front of the theatre had been totally remodeled. It would have made a tremendous performing arts center!

kencmcintyre on September 16, 2006 at 11:00 pm

Here is a 1935 photo. An interesting theater, to say the least: