Somerville Theatre

55 Davis Square,
Somerville, MA 02144

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da_Bunnyman
da_Bunnyman on May 27, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I attended the same showing of Wizard of Oz on May 11 mentioned by Ron Newman.Really a wonderful night of fun with people in costume, some in formal wear. Inside the theater they had vendors going up and down the aisles selling popcorn, candy and drinks between acts. Place was packed too, 600+ attendance. Looks better each time I go there as the restorations still go on. To show how diverse their booking policy is, besides Oz in the big house there were current blockbusters in the other houses and a special showing of the original Godzilla (Gojira, subtitled) also going on.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 12, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Last night’s celebration was wonderful — and had 6 acts of vaudeville, plus a live orchestra, plus 2 cartoons (one with Mickey Mouse) before the main feature.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 20, 2014 at 6:23 pm

The Boston Sunday Herald of April 20, 2014 has a long feature article by Jed Gottlieb “Classic Cinema” about the 100th birthday of the Somerville Theatre in May. There is a nice color photo of a vintage car passing the theater entrance while Manager Ian Judge changes letters on the marquee from a stepladder. There is a classic film festival going on there now. On the theater’s birthday, May 11, there will be a show consisting of “The Wizard of Oz”, plus classic short subjects, plus live music and 3 acts of vaudeville. (Where in this day and age does one book vaude acts?)

RogerA
RogerA on July 22, 2013 at 12:10 am

I was given a tour and demonstration of the main theater and was quite impressed. A pair of Todd-AO projectors restored back to factory specs. A chiller pump kept the gates cool to the touch. My host didn’t run any 70mm as the 70mm sound hadn’t been hooked up yet but the Todd-AO speed switch worked. The 35mm picture and optical sound from those projectors was the best I have seen in a long time. There was no question that the picture was bright enough and of course sharp. Sound was excellent. Of course they can run every aspect ratio known to cinema making this a prime venue to view a film presentation. Boston is fortunate to have this theater, I hope people appreciate it.

IanJudge
IanJudge on December 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm

We have added digital projection to our screens; however we have retained 35mm film projection alongside the digital projectors in houses 3 and 4, and of course in the main theater as well, which can now present 35mm, 70mm, and now digital content. While we would have preferred to remain with film alone, it is clear that the film studios are not supporting that format. However we do intend to book film when available and certainly for classics series, etc.

DavidSimpson
DavidSimpson on August 18, 2012 at 8:08 pm

This is a lovely, exceptionally well-run cinema. In addition to the lovely main auditorium it now (in July 2012) has five screens: Screen 2 – 129 seats, Screen 3 – 194 seats, Screen 4 – 120 seats, Screen 5 – 186 seats and a new screen, called the “Micro”, with 31 seats. In a nice, quirky touch, the ‘Museum of Bad Art’ is housed beneath the original circle!

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 15, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Last night, the Somerville Theatre and much of surrounding Davis Square were closed to accommodate a Hollywood film crew. They shot a scene for the forthcoming Mark Wahlberg movie TED, in which Mark attends a May 19, 1999 midnight premiere of STAR WARS EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENACE at the Somerville Theatre.

The marquee and poster boards were changed to reflect this imaginary event. The red SOMERVILLE THEATRE sign over the marquee had its RVILL letters turned off during the shoot. Whether this was done on purpose, I don’t know.

In real life, a Star Wars premiere could never have happened here in 1999, as the Somerville was strictly a second-run house back then.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm

In the 1918 edition of the Boston Register and Business Directory, Issue 83, under “Theatrical Supply” there is an out-of-town firm listed: O.L. Story Scenic Company Inc., 21 Tufts St. in Somerville. It seems probable that the Somerville Theatre may have been a client of this company.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 10, 2010 at 7:23 pm

According to John Roderick, who provided the Facebook photo sets, the rail line through Davis occasionally saw passenger trains when the Fitchburg main line was closed due to flooding or construction.

Some small commercial buildings that used to be attached to the railroad side of the theatre were demolished for the Red Line. One of them contained a Mexican restaurant called La Pinata.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 10, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Thanks for your responses. I now know that the 1976 photo is facing east toward Boston. This rail line was used only for freight trains to and from the west; however, I rode over it on an excursion train many years ago. The train was behind schedule and it was getting dark; we raced down the line and Davis Square was just a blur!

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 10, 2010 at 6:30 am

If you can log in to Facebook, you will find more photos of old Davis Square (including the theatre and the railroad tracks) here and here.

IanJudge
IanJudge on December 9, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Yes, Ron that has to be us. The tracks passed within a few yards of the side of the building, and you would indeed have seen the old signal tower in the middle of the square if you were facing that direction.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on December 9, 2010 at 7:42 pm

The track ran across Holland Street right where the Red Line entrance is now, through what’s now the plaza in the middle of Davis Square, and across College Ave. right where that Red Line entrance is now (then down what’s now the busway and Community Path going east).

Here are a 1956 photo and a 1976 photo for comparison — note that the attached jewelry shop (now demolished) is in both photos.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on December 9, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Did the Somerville Th. in 1976 have signage at the right end of the building which overlooked the Boston & Maine RR line thru Davis Square? There is a nice photo, taken in 1976, in the new 3rd edition of the book “Lost Railroads of New England” by Ronald Dale Karr (Branch Line Press, Pepperall MA) which seems to show the edge of a theater marquee. The photo caption merely says “Davis Square, Somerville, 1976” and illustrates the B&M freight line which was obliterated by the extension of the MBTA Red Line. I can’t tell if the photographer was facing east or west (probably east). The track crosses the street, protected by gates and flashers; the “SOM—” sign is up on the extreme right- there is space for 6 lines of lettering. Across the street is a 2-story brick RR signal tower and beyond it is another grade crossing. Where was the Somerville Theatre is relation to this track back then?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 19, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Wow – congratulations, Ian!

IanJudge
IanJudge on November 19, 2010 at 7:06 am

Tonight, the Somerville Theatre main theater sold out the midnight opening of the new ‘Harry Potter’ film, the first time a commercial release (as opposed to special events like film festivals, etc.) has done this since the 1960’s as far as we can tell. To see the theater so full of excited, enthusiastic people was truly amazing.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on October 13, 2010 at 3:08 am

Ian’s Story was very good about the duties of an Usher,never heard of a manager sending in a usher to count heads in the other theatre in Town.Things were different in the 60’s.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 30, 2010 at 9:50 pm

David Guss’s article “Lost Theatres of Somerville”, from the First Quarter 2006 issue of Marquee, the journal of the Theatre Historical Society of America, is now online at View link .

Besides an extensive history, the article also contains many old photos of and advertisements for the various theatres in Somerville.

(This is a 17-page scanned-image PDF, so unfortunately you cannot search or copy the text.)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 12, 2010 at 8:21 pm

The MGM reports were apparently written up hastily and there are many careless errors in them. But, on the other hand, I would not go so far as to state that they have no value at all.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 12, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Those errors make me wonder about the factual accuracy of other MGM theatre reports.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 12, 2010 at 6:49 pm

The Somerville Theatre in Davis Square was included in the MGM Theatre Photograph and Report project. There is an exterior photo dated “1941” (probably May.) A big banner is hanging from the marquee which says “Abbott & Costello – Buck Privates”. That movie is also posted on the marquee along with “Who Killed Aunt Maggie” – Wendy Barrie. The Report says that the Somerville has been playing MGM product for over 15 years; that it was built in 1900 (incorrect); that it is in Good condition, and has 700 seats on the main floor, and no balcony (incorrect). Competing theaters are listed as the Harvard in N. Cambridge and the Porter in Cambridge. The type of patronage is “Community” (whatever that means); and the 1940 population of Somerville was 102,100.

MPol
MPol on April 22, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Thanks for the heads up on the Jeff Bridges series, and more future classic and specialty film programming, Ian M. Judge.

:)

IanJudge
IanJudge on April 15, 2010 at 12:23 am

Repertory cinema makes a return to the historic Somerville Theatre in
Somerville, Mass. this April and May with a retrospective series “Spanning Bridges” that celebrates the work of Academy Award winning actor Jeff Bridges. All features are on 35mm film and will be presented on the theater’s big screen in its recently restored main theater, making use of as many archival prints as possible with the return of a changeover system in the booth.

Afternoon admission is just $5 and evening is just $8; all co-bills are double features.

The schedule is as follows:

MON â€" TUE – WED
APR. 27-28-29
THE LAST PICTURE SHOW ® 2 hours
3:30p 7:30p
Playing as a double feature with:
FAT CITY (PG) 1 hour, 40 mins.
5:45p 9:45p
Please Note: No shows before 7pm on Wed. April 28.

MON-TUE
MAY 3 â€" 4
THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT ® 1 hour, 55 mins
3:45p 7:30p
Playing as a double feature with
RANCHO DELUXE ® 1 hour, 33 mins
6:00p 9:45p

WED-THU
MAY 5 â€" 6
STARMAN ® 1 hour, 55 mins
3:30p 7:30p
Playing as a double feature with
STAY HUNGRY ® 1 hour, 42 mins
5:45p 9:45p

MON â€" TUE – WED
MAY 10 â€" 11 -12
THE BIG LEBOWSKI ® 1 hour, 57 mins
2:45p 7:30p
Playing as a double feature with
THE FISHER KING ® 2 hours, 17 mins.
5:00p 9:45p

THURSDAY
MAY 13 ONLY
SEABISCUIT (PG13) 2 hours, 21 mins.
5:00p 7:30p

MON â€" TUE â€" WED â€" THU
MAY 17 â€" 18 â€" 19 â€" 20
CRAZY HEART ® 1 hour, 52 mins.
3:00p 5:15p 7:30p 9:45p

The theater is planning on following up on this series with more classic and specialty film programming.