Cable Car Cinema & Cafe

204 South Main Street,
Providence, RI 02903

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Cable Car Cinema

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Operating since 1976, known as a very comfortable place to see arthouse fare, the Cable Car Cinema has couches and other comfy chairs to sit in. Before shows begin, the theater usually has performers (such as singers) on stage to entertain the audience.

Contributed by Cathy Novick

Recent comments (view all 29 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on December 31, 2008 at 4:14 pm

The Cable Car Cinema, now under new management, has recently had its auditorium refurbished. I peeked in at the spiffy new black couches and new theatre seats. Rather nice. Now if they would spend some additional money on a screen that can accomodate CinemaScope’s 1:2.35 format for movies made in that ratio, and some adjustable masking, it would be a real advancement. Anamorphic wide screen films continue to be substantially cropped at the right and left edges in this cinema. For their opening post-remodeling presentation the theatre ran It’s a Wonderful Life. The format was DVD projection!!!!! I was informed they couldn’t get a 35mm print. Just as well, since the top and bottom of this 1:1.33 ratio film would have been cropped in the hopelessly untutored and destructive projection that reigns here. I hope the DVD wasn’t colorized.

50sadchairs
50sadchairs on June 14, 2010 at 11:36 pm

The previous reference to The Revival House is relevant as the owner/operators of this closed theater are now the new owner/operators of the Cable Car. It is currently undergoing major renovations during the summer of 2010 and it is rumored they might be adding a second film projector to show the old films again. (The film distributors no longer want film houses to splice the films and thus one projector is a major handicap to show old films.) It is slated to reopen August 16th or 17th.

50sadchairs
50sadchairs on June 14, 2010 at 11:39 pm

The previous reference to The Revival House is relevant as the owner/operators of this closed theater are now the new owner/operators of the Cable Car. It is currently undergoing major renovations during the summer of 2010 and it is rumored they might be adding a second film projector to show the old films again. (The film distributors no longer want film houses to splice the films and thus one projector is a major handicap to show old films.) It is slated to reopen August 16th or 17th.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 25, 2010 at 11:36 am

That no-splice caveat is for archival film prints and certain distributors, such as Rialto. This is a good move.
Let’s hope they get correct screen masking, aperture plates, lenses to show 35mmm films in the various aspect ratios correctly and un-cropped CinemamScope.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 25, 2010 at 11:37 am

Plans for the creation of this cinema in 1976, as reported in Boxoffice magazine, March 8, 1976:
View link

johndereszewski
johndereszewski on June 25, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Gerald, I have spent the better part of the day perusing the fascinating comments that you have submitted regarding the past and current movie houses of (mostly) Rhode Island. While I will probably never visit most of these places – though I did spend a weekend in Woonsocket many years ago and have visited Newport on several occasions – your vivid descriptions – and vintage pictures – of the old movie palaces and the communities they served was most enjoyable. It also revived memories of my own early cinematic experiences when growing up in Greenpoint Brooklyn.

This is one of the reasons why this is such a wonderful site.

Keep up the good work!

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 26, 2010 at 5:48 am

John,
Thank you. I have been trying for several years to post here everything of relevance I can find about RI area theatres…though I ad a bit about theatres elsewhere.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 30, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Sounds like my kind of place maybe not a “MOVIE PALACE” but cool in another way.Also it has a great name and location.

stranddan
stranddan on October 8, 2013 at 11:25 am

Moved from RI to CT ten years ago, so have not seen the Cable Car since then. I did patronize it often through the years, even though I believed those couches just might be unsanitary! Almost invariably, the film was interrupted by some sort of projection difficulty. But it was a fun place, even lunching outside.

kzirkel
kzirkel on April 23, 2014 at 10:45 am

Here’s a nice history of the Cable Car Cinema. Originally the building was a truck garage of a moving company. The name comes from “a classic cable car that was left behind”. The cafe was added around 1989.

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