Metropolitan Theatre

934 F Street NW,
Washington, DC 20004

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Dial M for Murder

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Built for Harry Crandall, whose mini-chain also included the Lincoln Theatre, Knickerbocker Theatre, and the Tivoli Theatre, the Metropolitan Theatre was built in 1917. It was designed by architect Reginald W. Geare, who also designed the Lincoln Theatre and Knickerbocker Theatre for Crandall (the Knickerbocker Theatre was renamed the Ambassador Theatre in 1923 and rebuilt by Thomas W. Lamb after the roof of the theater collapsed in a heavy snowstorm in 1922, killing 98 and injuring 136).

The 1,400-seat Metropolitan Theatre, located on F Street, had a three story Georgian Revival facade, with four sets of Doric pilasters below an ornately sculpted pediment. Between four sets of decorative friezes just below the pediment, the theatre’s name was incised into the stone in bold lettering.

Around the late-1920’s, a large marquee replaced the more simple original, somewhat obscuring the arched window over the main entrance. Also, a 60-foot tall vertical sign was also added at this time, with its top support punched right into the sculpture on the pediment. Up until the early-1940’s, the Metropolitan Theatre included live stage entertainment, including a house orchestra, in addition to movies. The theatre was also the site of the Washington premiere of “The Jazz Singer” in 1927, the first theatre in the capital to show a “talking picture”. A year later, the Metropolitan Theatre was acquired by the Warner Brothers chain, which it remained into the 1950’s.

The theatre received two massive remodels in 1954 and 1961 in an attempt to entice more movie-goers with its attendance falling. Unfortunately, the Metropolitan Theatre closed a few years later, and was razed in 1968.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on October 4, 2007 at 7:39 am

“I remember seeing Hitchcock’s DIAL M FOR MURDER here in 3-D. It was the only 3-D ever made by Hitchcock, but after the first 3 days the 3-D version was pulled and replaced by a regular print.”

Sorry rlvjr, you’re mistaken. We’ve been trying to locate documentation of any 3-D playdates for this film. When I read your post, I arranged to look at microfilm from Washington.

DIAL M opened flat at the Metropolitan, just as it did in every other major city across the country. In fact, the newspaper ads emphasized that you can “See it without glasses.”

Bob Furmanek
Vice President
3-D Film Preservation Fund
http://www.3dfilmpf.org/

jflundy
jflundy on February 12, 2009 at 12:59 pm

http://www.shorpy.com/node/5539?size=_original Link will take you to large format photo from January 1921, attraction Poli Negri in “Passion”.

sconnell1
sconnell1 on June 10, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Between June 15-June 24 of 1961, the Metropolitan played THE RAT RACE while the Ambassador played BECAUSE THEY’RE YOUNG.

The Metropolitan was closed between September 6 and October 4 of 1961. The Ambassador played COME SEPTEMBER.

Between June 12-July 2 of 1963, the Metropolitan played THE WONDERUL WORLD OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM while the Ambassador played WEST SIDE STORY.

Between May 20-July 7 of 1964, the Metropolitan played the first run of WHAT A WAY TO GO while the Ambassador played a series of second-run features.

Between November 18-December 22 of 1964, the Metropolitan played the first run of GOODBYE CHARLIE while the Ambassador played a series of second-run features.

Between April 14-May 11, the Metropolitan played the first run of CHEYENNE AUTUMN while the Ambassador continued with its first run of JOHN GOLDFARB, PLEASE COME HOME.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 20, 2009 at 4:54 pm

This site has some vintage exterior photos:
http://tinyurl.com/lctym5

dickneeds111
dickneeds111 on March 30, 2012 at 9:42 am

Having been to the Metropolitun in 1960-61 I would like to know if it was 70mm Equipped. According to the listing above they played 1st run on Cheyenne Autumn and a re-release of Brothers Grimm(I imagine this was a general release anamorphic print). I don’t know of anyone anywhere running Dial M For Murder in 3-D. I don’t believe it was ever released in that format until the 1990’s. It played here in Boston at the Coolidge Corner in the 90’s in 3-D and was advertised as being the 1st time being shown in 3-D.

sconnell1
sconnell1 on March 30, 2012 at 11:30 am

In 1963 when the Ambassador ran “Brothers Grimm” the Uptown theater was the only D.C. theater equipped to show 3-Strip (3 camera, 3 projector) Cinerama. It was running “How the West Was Won” which continued there until January of 1964 when it closed for approximately six weeks. During that time the 3-strip Cinerama equipment was removed and replaced with the 70mm projection system that had been there before. I don’t know if the Metropolitan had any 70mm projection sysem for “Cheyenne Autumn”, but I doubt it.

sconnell1
sconnell1 on March 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm

I made a mistake. I should have said the Metropolitan played “Brothers Grimm”, and not the Ambassador.

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on October 19, 2012 at 8:18 pm

The Metropolitan was one of two theaters in Washington to play Alfred Hitchcock’s DIAL M FOR MURDER in 2-D, without glasses. I’ve posted an ad for opening day, May 27, 1954.

More information can be found in this article: http://www.3dfilmarchive.com/dial-m-blu-ray-review

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on March 22, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Just added a circa 1920 photo. Might be the same one that was posted by Lost Memory in 2007, but that link is now dead.

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