Music Hall Theatre

931 Larkin Street,
San Francisco, CA 94109

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Music Hall Theatre

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The Music Hall Theatre opened on April 19, 1962 with Peter Sellers in “Only Two Can Play”. For about twenty years, it rode the crest of the wave of foreign film popularity, often with long lines of patrons patiently waiting outside, in order to be eventually granted admission to whatever was the trendy British, French, or Italian film of the moment.

But all good things must come to an end, and by the mid-1980’s the Music Hall’s days as a film theater were over. Live shows were attempted, but ultimately failed, as the neighborhood around it also deteriorated as well. It is now a church.

Contributed by Tillmany

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

scottfavareille
scottfavareille on December 1, 2003 at 8:35 pm

This was run by Walter Reade Theaters in the late 1960’s-late 1970’s (along with the Clay, Larkin, Bridge, and Stage Door). When Walter Reade Theaters went bankrupt in 1978, the Mitchell Brothers acquired this theater and the Larkin. The Larkin went to showing porn films for a year, then the Mitchells operated it briefly as a revival house before it switched to showing gay porn. The Music Hall was used by the Mitchells as an attempt to operate a live music venue which failed.

The major reason why the Mitchells acquired these two theaters was to keep the Pussycat Theater chain from moving into the area. (Pussycat wanted one of these theaters to compete against the Mitchell’s flagship O'Farrell theater nearby.)

gorkipk
gorkipk on December 5, 2004 at 4:28 am

I saw a Bettrolucci film there (Spider Stretegem), the “Last Valley” with Caine and Sharrif, and Albert Finney in “Gum Shoe in the early 70’s.

The theatre had one strange looking cashier. She looked like she had a shrunken head. I always felt sorry for her.

There was a great fish and chips place a half a block away that I would “bootleg” food into the theatre from.

The selection of movies appealed to a rather limited audience and the parking was miserable iin the area.

The theatre wasn’t very impressive and the staff indifferent and there selection of movies limited the audience

trooperboots
trooperboots on January 14, 2005 at 2:24 am

I saw the first run of CHINATOWN in 1974 at this theater. It was still quite classy and very clean. It was intimate and I remember the popcorn was very good.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 23, 2008 at 3:00 am

“New Indoor Theatre for San Francisco” was the headline of a brief item about this theater in the September 18, 1961, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. It was to be built for the San Francisco Fine Arts Theatre Corporation, and was intended as a moveover house. The architect was San Francisco theater designer Gale Santocono.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 23, 2008 at 3:23 am

A later article in Boxoffice, December 25, 1961, revealed that the Fine Arts Theatre Corporation was operated by Herb Rosener. Rosener was for many years one of the leading exhibitors and distributors of foreign films in the U.S. He operated at least a dozen art houses in major west coast cities, as well as in Salt Lake City, Kansas City, and Cleveland.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on June 21, 2012 at 5:28 am

When I was stationed at Oakland Army Base in 1965-67, I’d often shoot over to SF for a couple of pints of British ale… to wash down my fish n' chips from Old Chelsea F&C… then catch what ever was playing at the Music Hall. Nice place, while it lasted.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 19, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Described in this 1962 trade article: Boxoffice

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