18 Carlton Street,
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The Odeon Toronto opened 9th September 1949 with the North American Premiere of the Rank Organisation’s production of “Oliver Twist”, directed by David Lean and starring Robert Newton & Alec Guinness. British film stars Patricia Roc and Trevor Howard attended ‘in person’. It was described as the “Showplace of the Dominion”. It was an enormous theatre with two spacious lobbies on the main floor and another one on the balcony level. Up the magnificent staircase at the first landing was a restaurant overlooking the lower level. It was equipped with a Hillgreen-Lane 3Manual/19Ranks organ which was opened by Al Bollington.
It was part of the Odeon building which housed the offices of Odeon Theatres Canada. It’s name was changed to the Odeon Carlton in 1956, and it premiered some of the biggest films of the day. For years it showed reserved seat roadshow films such as “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Oliver”. It also was home of James Bond movies for several years and even had a few Cinerama movies starting with “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” in 1963.
Sadly, in later years it could no longer attract the big crowds and it’s last attraction before closing in 1973 was “White Lighting”. It was offered to the city of Toronto for one dollar as a performing arts centre, but they passed saying it didn’t have enough room for a backstage area. It was a real loss for movie lovers and for the city of Toronto.
It was demolished later that year and replaced with an apartment building. Ironically, next door Cineplex Odeon opened a nine-screen art house, also called the Carlton, so the name still lives on.
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