Elmwood Theatre

786 Elmwood Avenue,
Providence, RI 02907

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Showing 1 - 25 of 36 comments

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on January 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Gerald,Thanks for those great pictures from the Glory years.1986 pictures are heartbreaking.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 24, 2010 at 2:58 am

“The Elmwood Theatre, Providence, has just completed the successful engagement of "Around the World in 80 Days” for an all-time Providence boxoffice record. In 29 weeks the Michael Todd film took in $152,000.“
(Item in Boxoffice magazine, May 12, 1958)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 21, 2010 at 4:36 am

From Boxoffice magazine, February 4, 1956:

“In the most extensive cooperation promotion ever seen in this area, 14 Providence and nearby houses used record-breaking newspaper advertising space in heralding the joint premiere of "The Day the World Ended” and “Phantom from 10,000 Leagues.” Virtually taking over the amusement pages of the local press for several days, the following houses united in the ad: Elmwood, Hope, Uptown, Liberty, Castle, all in this city; Community, Centredale; Strand, Pawtucket; Union, Attleboro; Hollywood, East Providence; Palace, Cranston; Community, Wakefield; Park, Auburn; Palace, Arctic and Stadium, Woonsocket. A brief checkup of local houses indicated that opening days were solid."

Coate
Coate on October 23, 2009 at 8:12 am

Paging Gerald A. DeLuca. Please contact me if you see this message. I have an Elmwood question for you.

Rudi
Rudi on May 22, 2009 at 5:43 am

The printing company in one of the storefronts (788 Elmwood Av.) was called Esquire Printing, right? It did all the printing and distribution of accessories for 1972’s “Last House on the Left”.

JMLJ
JMLJ on January 26, 2008 at 4:09 pm

My recollection is that it was a curved screen. Many memories in this theatre for me. My dad, Larry Johnson, managed it for several years in late 60’s early 70’s. He also opened a printing company in one of the storefronts to primarily print the infamous vomit bags for Mark of the Devil.

One funny anecdote of my childhood from the Elmwood is the time I decided to get up and dance for the audience while the movie was playing. My older sister chased me trying to get me to stop. The whole audience was roaring with laughter. My father looked out from his office to see why the audience was laughing at the “serious” movie that was playing (the office overlooked the theatre from the front of the building). Fortunately, I don’t remember the consequences!

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on December 31, 2007 at 2:31 pm

Yes, I am almost certain it did. I attended a number of 70mm showings here, including a couple mentioned in the first post.

terrywade
terrywade on December 31, 2007 at 12:24 pm

Does anyone know if the Elmwood had a true curved ToddAo screen when it was showing 70mm roadshow?

sevenhooks
sevenhooks on January 18, 2006 at 4:22 pm

Does anyone know what year the Elmwood finally closed down?
Unfortunately I was not yet alive during the Elmwood’s glory days, but I do recall with great fondness whenever my grandfather would take me to see kung fu movies there during my summer vacations in Providence in the early 80’s!
I know. I know. It was kind of sketchy. Especially for a 12 year-old boy.
But great memories regardless.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 23, 2005 at 11:49 pm

At the time the Elmwood opened in 1950, John Tierney, a Cranston resident, was the manager. The Cranston Herald reported a capacity crowd on opening day and said the theatre seated over 900. (The capacity might have beeen reduced when Todd-AO was installed in 1956 and the theatre became a roadshow showcase.) It noted that “the theatre is modern in design with beautiful carpeting and imported Italian marble.” The location of the Elmwood was noted in ads and reports as being “just above Columbus Square,” which is where Elmwood and Reservoir Avenues meet. The theatre was not far from Providence’s lake-filled Roger Williams Park, further up Elmwood Avenue near the Cranston boundary.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 23, 2005 at 11:49 am

The Elmwood Theatre opened on February 1, 1950 as a neighborhod or “community” theatre. The first show began at 2 P.M. that day and was a double bill of Elia Kazan’s Pinky with Jeanne Crain and a co-feature called Law of the Barbary Coast. Daily matinees were to begin at 2 P.M. Evenings were continuous from 6:30, Sundays from 1:00 P.M. Programs would change every Wednesday and Sunday.

The large opening day ad in The Providence Journal had four photos of the theatre, inside and out. Also touted were two businesses in the theatre block: Roger Williams Beauty Salon and Elmwood Soda. The architectural firm was William Nelson Jacobs Associates of Boston. The construction company was Malony & Rubien Company.

A few days before, by coincidence, was the opening in Providence of Veterans Memorial Auditorium, which would be used for some concerts and cultural events that had previously been given at the Metropolitan Theatre. On January 28 was the opening with the R.I. Philharmonic. On January 31 was the first Boston Symphony Orcestra concert at that new facility.

brianmichela
brianmichela on September 16, 2005 at 5:00 am

The last roadshow production that played the Elmwood in its golden era was the musical “Paint Your Wagon” in 1970. The film sank at the box office nationwide. So, it’s almost certain that the movie lost a lot of money for the Elmwood, as well. I recall going there to see “MASH,” one of its last first run engagements. Soon afterwards, the theater changed ownership and began showing films like “Illsa.”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 12, 2005 at 8:23 am

The Spanish-language programs had appeared earlier at the Art Cinema, and had been run on Saturdays by the same promoters. A Providence Journal article of February 5, 1973 reported that in an article headlined “Films Please R.I. Latin Americans.”

brianmichela
brianmichela on September 9, 2005 at 5:33 am

The first film that I ever saw at the Elmwood was “Pepe” starring Cantinflas.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on September 8, 2005 at 1:56 am

Starting in 1973, and for a time afterwards, the Elmwood had programs of double features of Spanish-language films every Saturday. The programs were begun by Virgilio Grullon and Rafael Nunez. One of the films shown was Don Quixote Cabalga with the famed Mexican comic star Cantinflas. Mr. Nunez asserted it was difficult to get prints of many other films with Cantinflas because of distributor restrictons. Another of the Mexican films programmed was White Roses for My Black Sister, a story of interracial marriage. The venture generally broke even but did not become a profit-making enterprise. An article entitled “Spanish-language films broke even 1st year” appeared in the Providence Journal on February 3, 1974.

brianmichela
brianmichela on August 30, 2005 at 12:36 pm

Re: Newspaper ad for Esquire Theaters. When the Esquire and General Cinema chains began to lump their movie ads into one indistinguishable mass, the theaters lost their identity. It was especially troubling when the Elmwood joined the group.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 28, 2005 at 3:59 am

Here is a newspaper ad and ticket order form for the Elmwood’s roadshow engagement of Around the World in 80 Days, which began October 10, 1956. Marvel at the “advanced” prices.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 27, 2005 at 3:55 pm

James E. Randall was the manager at the Elmwood when Todd-AO came in in 1956. He had previously worked at the Metropolitan and the Palace.

brianmichela
brianmichela on August 27, 2005 at 7:59 am

Thank you for the photo of the marquee. It brings back many fond memories. I will look at it often.

BoxOfficeBill
BoxOfficeBill on July 30, 2005 at 9:25 am

If this theater hosted the first-run of “Lawrence of Arabia,” then that’s where I saw it in Spring of ‘63. My friend from college lived in RI, and we hung out at each other’s homes on seasonal breaks.

The film was not high on our must-see list. Bosley Crowther had given it a rotten review (“barren of humanity….just a huge thundering camel-opera that ends to run down rather badly”), and the sold-out reserved seating cum outrageous prices at the Criterion in NYC ruled out casual viewing in my home town. On the other hand, in Providence we phoned the Elmwood, learned that tickets were available and that the price was right, and so off we went.

The film (and the Elmwood’s presentation) overwhelmed me, and it remains one of my favorites, too. A few months later we saw “Cleopatra” (a.k.a. “Lizpatra”) at the Music Hall in Boston under similar circumstances, but with the opposite critical reaction (though I thought the presentation was splendid there too).

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 30, 2005 at 7:06 am

…and, small world, I too saw Sleeping Beauty here. It was on May 7, 1959, a matinee. That evening I went to the senior prom. I saw Ben-Hur here in July of 1960. Utterly spectacular presentation, as always during the Elmwood’s decade or so of glory.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 29, 2005 at 3:31 am

I agree with everything you say here and am just as sad. I missed Lawrence of Arabia here but I did see Around the World in 80 Days, South Pacific.