People's Cinema

781 Saratoga Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11212

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Turnbill on September 23, 2015 at 11:47 pm

Elevated train is the New Lots Avenue branch of the IRT. When I lived nearby in Brownsville (‘51 – '57), the People’s Cinema was the low end of the triumvirate of Loew’s Pitkin, Ambassador and People’s Cinema. Really rundown. Don’t remember any “leftie” movies. I do remember a 5-cents soda machine that had four flavors. If you pushed all four buttons at once, you’d get “tutti frutti.” The building was converted, ca. 1955, to Fairmont Foods, the neighborhood’s first superette. An actor playing the TV character Rocky Jones was present for the opening.

Willburg145 on October 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

What is the elevated train line?

jflundy on August 2, 2009 at 10:02 am

On September 23, 1937, “The Golem”, in Yiddish with English sub- titles and starring Harry Baur was playing its last day at the People’s Cinema. In the Bronx, it was playing out its last week at the Ascot at 183rd on the Concourse.

jflundy on July 28, 2009 at 5:40 pm

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This photo link to Brooklyn Pix shows the People’s Cinema some sixty years ago, courtesy of Warren.

jflundy on January 17, 2008 at 10:21 am

/theaters/11996/ links to the CT page of the Irving Place Theater which Sylvia Schildt identifies as the theater near Union Square where Soviet and other radical films were screened at times in the 1930’s and 40’s. Lost Memory links to an excellent NYPL photo of the theater taken 1n 1938 on that page.

Theaterat on December 12, 2007 at 6:16 pm

RE Peoples Cinema. My English professor grew vup in this neighborhood.His parents were socialists who supported “Uncle Joe” in the 1930s and became full fledged communists after WWII.He had some memories of his parents saying that they used to see Soviet made films there in the 30s and early 40s.By the time he was about 9 or 10 in the late 40s, the theater changed its policy and started to show more mainstream Hollywood and foreign films. He said this neighborhood had many Jewish intelluctials and Bohemian types and others who supported leftist activities. He says the theater went mainstream probably due to the fear of the then current “red scare' that came right after WWII.He also remembered pro Julius and Ethel Rosenberg demonstrations that were held here after they were convicted of giving the Soviets infomation on the nuclear bomb in the early 50s.

hdl37 on March 21, 2006 at 11:33 am

I live in NJ, about 45 miles from Brownsville. My Wife was a teacher

at PS268 Clarkson and E.53 st from 1987-2002

I still use a dentist on Ralph ave and Glenwood Rd

I never go to Brownsville, now Ocean Hill Brownsville.

But when I enter Brooklyn I feel I have returned home.

BUT it has changed for the very worse.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on March 21, 2006 at 11:20 am

Herbie, this bit you wrote about the matron is amazing, because we had a similar mean matron with a limp and a flashlight and whom we drove crazy. It was the Johnston Theatre in Johnston, RI, and I wrote about her two years ago in the first post on this page.

hdl37 on March 21, 2006 at 7:33 am

I spent many Sat afternoons at peoples cinema. 2-movies + a western+15 cartoons+achapter+newsreel+ stale candy bars + a mean matron that had a limp or a problem with her arm, she carried a flashlight and we drove her crazy.
I lived on Strauss St at Sutter ave



creativa on December 23, 2005 at 11:52 am

The radical cinema near Union Square was called The Irving Theater – it was on Irving Place – showed Russian flicks, but also European films like The Last Waltz with Louise Rainer – I used to pass it every weekend during the years I attended Yiddish High School ( mitlshul) held at Washington Irving High School.

Sylvia Schildt

muray on May 31, 2005 at 5:07 pm

The Peoples Cinema (formerly the “Blue Bird”) was diagonally across the street from The Ambassador, which is unusual for two movie houses to be that close to one another. As the Peoples Cinema it showed Russian made films produced by Artkino, to appeal to the leftest movie goers. I remember seeing an Palestinian movie dealing with fighting between Arabs and Jews, which was filmed in the 1930’s low budget and western films were shown later on until it’s demise. The seating capacity was very small, and hardly competed with the Ambassador.

fantasy on December 22, 2004 at 9:15 am

can someone provide photos of the bluebird or peoples cinema
years ago-PBS ran a program ‘saturday afternoons at the bijou'
that highlighted theatres like the peoples cinemas-
along with the type of movies they ran
TCM does a great deal of that today.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 21, 2004 at 10:46 am

This was listed as Bluebird Theatre with 560 seats in 1930.

The street address is given as 731 Saratoga Ave.

cheap on December 21, 2004 at 10:27 am

the peoples cinema must have have been built in the 20s
no it was not a radical movie house
it was a very basic lunchbucket movie house
on saturday afternoons-at about 1-kids were come in to the place with three salami sandwiches bottles of pepsi-and slices of messing cakes-and watch westerns, grade z detective stories, east side kids, and ‘chapters’-along with cartoons.
the whole thing cost a dime
in 1953, the peoples cinema closed for good
the next year it was converted into a key food
i understand it is a discount store today.
or maybe its part of rubble in the ground

albert peckmam

Harold Warshavsky
Harold Warshavsky on July 25, 2004 at 10:51 pm

I lived a few blocks away from Peoples Cinema in the early thru mid 50"s and I can remember seeing many Western double bills with Hopilong Cassidy and Gene Autry plus a bunch of cartoons and maybe a serial thrown in as well. Theatre was located across the street from Betsy Head Park which contained a large city pool.

jflundy on July 24, 2004 at 1:44 pm

The Cameo 42nd St. in Manhattan also showed Soviet films in 1930’s.

jflundy on July 24, 2004 at 1:40 pm

Published ads in Brooklyn Eagle call it The Peoples Cimema.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 24, 2004 at 4:47 am

I am curious about what the one in Manhattan near Union Square was called. Anyone know?