Surf Theatre

4520 Irving Street,
San Francisco, CA 94122

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Surf Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This theatre opened in September of 1926 as the Parkview Theatre (there is a construction announcement in the San Francisco Examiner on December 12, 1925, but it’s first listing in the telephone directory is November 1926).

It was renamed the Sunset Theatre in September of 1937. It was remodeled and renamed again as the Surf Theatre on July 24, 1957. The theatre closed for good on July 7, 1985.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

JGGreco on June 23, 2004 at 8:51 pm

Great arthouse…very small, maybe 100 seats. Used to go there in the late sixties, seventies. If my memory serves me correctly this was the theater that Woody Allen watched “Casablanca” in the film “Play It Again Sam” shot on location in San Francisco, 1972.

jwood on November 19, 2004 at 9:23 pm

I remember attending a silent comedy festival at the Surf, probably in 1980. It was about a week-long event, and my girlfriend and I went to at least two of the performances. I remember crying while watching Chaplin in City Lights, and laughing out loud, nearly continuously, during many Buster Keaton shorts.

Those old silent comedies are just not the same when viewed at home on DVD. In a theatre such as the Surf, once a handful of people start laughing, it’s catching, and soon the whole audience is part of the show.

RobertR on February 16, 2005 at 2:19 pm

Has it just been sitting empty the last 20 years?

gsmurph on August 17, 2005 at 12:32 am

The Surf was turned into a church shortly after its closure; presumably it’s still operating in that capacity (though an update is clearly in need here).

gsmurph on October 11, 2005 at 8:58 am

Update on my earlier post—-I happened to be in the area, got a look, and yep, the Surf is indeed (still) a church.

butters on September 29, 2006 at 8:42 pm

Question for anyone familiar with the Surf. One of my biggest childhood tragedies was the day my father took me to see The Three Stooges in a live appearance promoting one of their movies in the early 60’s. He drove up, saw that the line snaked around for 2 blocks, and drove me home, crying all the way. Does anyone know if this appearance was at the Surf?

Foggy on April 30, 2007 at 10:53 am

Back in the mid-70’s I loved going to the Surf… loved to go on foggy nights, and one time saw a great silent film (“Intolerance” maybe?) with which the theatre had a pianist playing musical accompaniment on a grand old organ down in the front. Wow.

seandolan on October 30, 2008 at 11:36 am

I also loved to go to the Surf on foggy nights. I had many an eerie, but very enjoyable walk back to the Judah streetcar line late at night. The walk after viewing the Japanese ghost movie “Kwaidan” was particularly so. Great memories!

river187 on September 30, 2014 at 6:41 pm

i lived around the corner 43 ave and loved every time there… just deserts goodies and great coffee.not to mention great movies..super memories and happy that I got to do it!!

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