Cinema Theatre

1235 Washington Avenue,
Miami Beach, FL 33139

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Former Cinema Theatre Miami Beach

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This nifty theatre which was built in 1934 begin life as a nightclub and later convered to motion pictures in 1938. It was run by the Florida State Theatre chain. The rear lobby (which was surrounded by a large mural) had comfortable chairs and sofas to sit in while waiting for the show to begin. Much of the auditorium was decorated in reds.

In the 1950s the theatre played double features, even second run or B first run (e.g. “Andy Hardy Comes Home”, “Bride of the Gorilla”.) For a while it became a $1 theatre mostly running double feature MGM 1950’s film. Eventually the theatre changed hands several times. I believe Brandt ran it for a while. It became a revival house for a while but was not successful and that area of South Beach had declined badly and the theatre shuttered in 1977.

Incredibly, the owners decided to demolish the lobby (even though preserverationists tried to stop this) and convert it into three plain wrap stores. The stores were never rented. In 1983 the preservervationists stepped in and the stores were ripped out and efforts were made to restore the lobby to original grandeur. In 1983 it again became a nightclub but has changed hands many times.

As a child this became one of my favorite Miami Beach movie theatres, along with the fabulous Carib and Beach Theatres on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach.

Contributed by Bob

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

miamiguy on June 30, 2007 at 10:07 pm

The Cinema was a club called “Level” for a few years. In this photo taken from the balcony you can see the left side stairs and part of the stage…

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Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on July 1, 2007 at 1:00 am

Was it Level54 when it was owned by Prince? I remember it being a gay club called 1235 for a while and then raided for drugs with a later name.

miamiguy on July 3, 2007 at 5:36 pm

Yes, it was “1235” for a while —you can catch it briefly in one 1985 episode of Miami Vice. When Prince owned it, it was called “Glam Slam.” It’s been a nightclub since approximately 1980.

Up through its days as “Level” the interior was still a beautiful art deco theme, but the current club operator really chopped it up. It looks nothing like its original art deco styling.

A shame, really.

miamiguy on July 3, 2007 at 5:39 pm

(It’s been a nightclub since approximately 1980.)

Correction: Make that “a nightclub since 1983.”

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on August 2, 2007 at 7:07 am

According to MARQUEE, vol.30, its nightclub names included, Club Z, Club 1235, Deco’s, Club passion, Paragon and Glam Slam.e

The deco lobby was destroyed in 1979, then rebuilt somewhat in 1983 .

miamiguy on December 27, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Here’s a photo that shows the Cinema Theatre in Miami Beach in approximately 1970 when it still had its original lobby entrance.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 27, 2008 at 5:43 pm

Nice find miamiguy!

I remember when it ran Yiddish Vaudeville that it always ran one feature film along with it, often also in Yiddish. What a great service this was to the many Jewish senior citizens who lived in the area, many of whom were holocaust survivors and spoke little or no English.

Bway on February 20, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Can you still tell it was a theater on the inside?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Nice interior shots of this theatre during its early heyday as a classy nightclub can be seen in the final scenes of the Lucille Ball- Henry Fonda 1942 film “The Big Street”. Although it looks like a fake art-deco set, it is actually the Cinema Casino.

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