Mayfair Theatre

7300 Frankford Avenue,
Philadelphia, PA 19136

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Showing 1 - 25 of 123 comments

dallasmovietheaters on December 20, 2017 at 8:34 pm

Opened November 11, 1936 with “Road to Glory”

TheALAN on December 15, 2013 at 3:28 am

Here we go again! Cinema Treasures is a site about movie theatres, not “Friday the 13th” and/or slasher flicks and body parts. Stay on-topic!

TLSLOEWS on March 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Nice looking marquee.

jackferry on February 16, 2009 at 12:14 pm

The search is a bit tricky, but the pic of the Mayfair on page 31 is worth it. The link is View link

HowardBHaas on February 16, 2009 at 7:49 am

Google search exactly the words “Boxoffice May 29, 1937” and when the issue appears, type in the search box “Philadelphia” and eventually you will see an exterior photo of the Mayfair in all its original glory.

TheaterBuff1 on February 18, 2008 at 11:01 pm

I’d completely forgotten till now, but you’re absolutely right, there was a canoe scene in the first FRIDAY THE 13TH as well. And it, too, was preceded by an after-dark skinny dip scene. as I recall. Since I saw both films on cable and not at a theater, also FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART III, and it was so very long ago, it’s easy to forget a lot. So I guess it’s to the credit of the makers of the second one that all these many years later I still remember the great skinny dip scene with Norwegian beauty Kirsten Baker. And even with my not having seen it at an actual theater at that!

As for DEAD & BURIED, there were brutal scenes in it which clearly were intended to appeal to the most criminal-minded, and that was their ONLY intent. For the most part it was a snuff film through and through, with the filmmakers going all out to ensure the highest degree of medical accuracy — such as to show what it would actually look like if a person is unwillingly pinned to the floor and acid is passed through tubes shoved deep up into their nostrils. While certainly its filmmakers achieved their minor goal of horrifying some with that scene and others, their major goal of making happy the most perverse among us is what stands out most about that particular film. For rather than horrifying such people, you could see how certain audience members in the theater that night were totally feeding on it; it was their own special brand of pornography. They didn’t come to that theater to be shocked and entertainingly horrified, but rather, titilated. And totally fairly, I feel, the film’s two biggest stars — Farentino and Albertson — got harshly criticized for it. Did they know what they were signing up for when they made that film? Who knows? In Albertson’s case he passed away soon afterward, so in his case the fact that he made DEAD & BURIED could be greatly downplayed and the highpoints of his vareer played up in his obituary. Farentino wasn’t quite as lucky. Pity, too, because he had such a great career leading up to then and with a lot of shelf-life still left…only for it all to fizzle out with his being brought up on cocaine charges and arrested for stalking Tina Sinatra not long after that. And who today remembers he also did great films such as EL CID and THE PAD AND HOW TO USE IT?

Getting back to the Mayfair, I saw Alfred Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS there back in the mid ‘60s, and I’ll always remember the calm of my friends and I as we were walking back home up Frankford Avenue right afterwards —– “calm” that is, until the most innocent looking little tiny sparrow swooped in close across our path. With our minds still back at the theater watching that film, on cue, all of us jumped back away from that tiny little bird in shear terror — only to then just as quickly catch ourselves, at which point all of us laughed, the transition of coming back from fantasy to reality….and a great tribute to the power of Hitchcock and the Mayfair Theatre combined!

lostharvestmovie on February 18, 2008 at 7:34 am

I think the girl in the canoe scene was in each of the first two films (it was definitely the end of the first film); in Part II, the makers may have repeated that scene (turning it into a dream?)… anyway, I sort of liked Dead & Buried (though it was very disturbing); Albertson’s undertaker character fascinated me and the “shock” ending was pretty cool too… high budget flick Dead & Buried was indeed… very creepy and atmospheric film but maybe a little too brutal…. I saw Dead & Buried at the Orleans….

gerald clough

jackferry on February 18, 2008 at 4:42 am

No, it was definitely the original Friday the 13th. Adrienne King was the girl in the canoe. I never saw any of the subsequent Friday the 13th movies.

TheaterBuff1 on February 17, 2008 at 10:12 pm

Assuming you’re referring to FRIDAY THE 13TH, PART II, I believe the scene you’re describing is preceded by that great scene where Kirsten Baker decides to go for a bit of after-dark skinny dipping. It was very good — and tasteful — direction involved in the filming of that I have to say. But then I feel they totally ruined that great film work when suddenly stupid Jason is introduced to the scene.

Which got me to thinking…..

Going back to Mayfair and how it was in that early ‘80s era, just suppose they took that same movie, fully removed Jason and all the slasher scenes all throughout it, so that it just became a film about young people enjoying a really great stay out at Crystal Lake, and retitled the movie “Fun Times at Crystal Lake,” or whatever. How would the community standards at that time have reacted? My hunch is there would’ve been communuty outrage from here to Kingdom Come, no end to it, and the Philadelphia vice squad would’ve rushed in and shut the Mayfair Theatre down immediately.

But by its being a slasher film it was, oh, no problem; all such “promiscuity out in nature” scenes were fine just so long as you added Jason or whatever to the mix. Making it, “Nothing to get upset with, folks.” Or at least that’s how it all seems to me as I now look back. I wasn’t much around Northeast Philadelphia during those years, and it’s only dawning on me now that that was probably a major reason why.

In contrast to the slasher flicks of the ‘80s, as a child growing up in Northeast Philly, I, too, remember really loving the monster movies, quite a few which I saw at the Mayfair, Merben and so on. But they were a lot different than the '80s slasher films, for not only did they know where to draw the line when it came to showing gore, but they also didn’t try to twist around what was good and evil. Though it wasn’t exactly a slasher flick, on one of my stops back to Northeast Philadelphia during that era I saw DEAD AND BURIED (at the Tyson, I believe, or maybe it was the Crest), and the whole entire film, with its ultra-graphic scenes, was just pointlessly sick. Yet there were some really weird people in the audience that night just hanging on every scene. And I think that might’ve marked the turning point for the popularity of horror flicks in NE Philly, I’m not sure. I know that one film certainly ruined the career of its star, James Farentino, and was an embarrassing last film for Jack Albertson right before his death. But then things turned for the better. On another visit back I saw RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK at the Devon, and it was mobbed, huge long lines to see it — as if to say Northeast Philadelphia audiences were starved for great movies once more. And that was very reassuring. But then what happened to Northeast Philadelphia theaters after that I don’t know because I wasn’t around. On my next return, all the great theaters — the Mayfair most notably — were shut down…

jackferry on February 17, 2008 at 10:59 am

Well the big make-you-jump scare was fun. During Friday the 13th, I used to stand in the back of the theatre and watch for the audience reaction to Jason suddenly jumping out of the water and grabbing the girl in the boat. It was great watching people fly out of their seats.

lostharvestmovie on February 17, 2008 at 6:16 am

I have this theory about slasher “films” and it is related to your theory re: “nature”; adolescents are fascinated with the body…. and body parts. All a producer has to do is throw in some “nature” and then have the participants ripped apart….. it all relates to the adolescents' fasination with the “body”— and body parts…. in a perverse and different way but it seems to me after 40 years that the universe is perverse and different. I’ll always have the Mayfair “grindhouse” to remember. Thanks again for the info. I like monster movies and have never really enjoyed the slasher genre at all. Even when I was 12, watching Friday the 13th for a dollar at The Crest (Rising Sun Ave) I could sense that slasher flicks were made for and by the mentally disturbed.


TheaterBuff1 on February 16, 2008 at 9:17 pm

Though I didn’t, my younger brother went to see PHANTASM at the Mayfair, and if I recall correctly, that was the horror flick made by a 15 year old who somehow convinced his parents to give him the money they’d put away for his college for the making of that movie instead. I think the deal was, if the movie flopped he promised his parents he’d foot his own way through college, working at McDonald’s or wherever else if he had to.

As for me, I feel rather lucky I missed out on all the years when the Mayfair was showing that God-awful, never-ending stream of slasher flicks so popular in the early 1980s. Meantime, just to be real about it, was it the slashing scenes of those films that was the big lure? Or the in-between scenes of a….hmmmm, how should I say it?..nature? My hunch is it was the latter, but in those days no one dared ever admit to that.

lostharvestmovie on February 16, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Since Romero’s Diary of the Dead came out yesterday, it’s a good time to remember the First Run release of Day of the Dead at the Mayfair in 1985(?); I’m pretty sure I went to see that one twice at the Mayfair. I remember a decent, half filled type of opening night for Day of the Dead. Thanks for info on the murals, it’ll be nice to keep a pic and maybe I’ll subscribe for those other pics. I think I saw that awful film Maniac at the recently closed and demolished Budco/ AMC Orleans. Squirm was part of a double bill that also featured Tentacles— a lousy movie about a giant squid or octopus that had some “stars” like Shelley Winters. There was also this weird flick called Starship Invasion starring Robert Vaughn about an alien invasion that featured a suicide plague. I’ll remember more “grindhouse” type of stuff soon…. thanks again.

Gerald Clough

jackferry on February 16, 2008 at 3:46 pm

I should note that in the 80s, the Mayfair pretty much only ran two kinds of movies: slasher films and Disney.

jackferry on February 16, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Hi Gerald,

When I worked at the Mayfair we ran lots of horror flicks and slasher movies. Phantasm stands out as one of the better ones. There were a bunch of really bad ones as well. (Maniac comes to mind.) I had a pretty good collection of posters.

The only mural photos I know of are on the links earlier on this page.

View link

View link

lostharvestmovie on February 16, 2008 at 1:38 pm

One of my relatives (a great uncle I think) either painted the murals or was on the team of follks who painted the murals… my grandparents lived up the street on Shelmire St and I spent a lot of time there… I saw some great horror flicks at the Mayfair, including Squirm and Phantasm and The Shining…. I also remember seeing the Sword and the Stone and The Phantom Tollbooth there too…. I really loved that place. I think the last flick I saw there was a repeat viewing of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Let me know at : if you can get me some pics of those murals! Thanks again.

Gerald Clough

TheaterBuff1 on February 9, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Well Jack, I’d just be curious to know if the dirty old man who worked the Mayfair Theatre’s ticket booth during that time period got to serve as your best man. Yes or no? If so, no doubt you had to keep all the flower girls under lock and key! Meantime, assuming the wedding wasn’t held there at the movie theater itself — even though, as I’ve said, the church I was baptised in used to hold its Easter services there back in the late ‘50s — did you by any chance seek to hold your wedding there at the Mayfair? If not, taking after that e-Bay guy, you could always make up that you and your wife were married there. In fact, taking things further, I think we have the makings of a movie script here! Would it matter if it’s true or not? Naw! If it’s a great story people don’t care about that! So by all means go for it, Jack!

jackferry on February 9, 2008 at 8:23 am

UPDATE: I sent an email to the ebay seller to ask if he really worked at the Mayfair in 1981. He didn’t answer my email, but I saw that he removed the sentence “My wife and I met when we both worked at the Mayfair Theatre in 1981” from his ebay item description. Too bad. I was hoping that two of the people I worked with back then did wind up together. Or that I may have a future in licensing my life story for commercial purposes.

jackferry on February 9, 2008 at 8:12 am

So someone is selling a DVD of the movie “It Happened in Mayfair” on ebay. As I said in a previous post, it’s a hokey 1937 film shot by the Mayfair Business Association, but it’s cool because it includes film of the Mayfair. It’s in the public domain, and you can find it for free online if you google it. But the really interesting part is this portion from the seller’s description:

“If you ever lived near Frankford and Cottman Aves. in Philadelphia, you need to watch this film. It’s fun to see the various buildings and businesses from 1937 and try to figure out what type of thrift store they are now. My wife and I met when we both worked at the Mayfair Theatre in 1981, so it held extra meaning for us.”

Excuse me? I only know of one married couple that met when both were working at the Mayfair Theatre in 1981, and it’s me and my wife. I’ve got no idea who this guy, but it appears that he has taken my story posted above, and is using it to try to sell copies of a public domain video. Gotta say, I find this hilarious. Who would want to steal my lame life??

TheaterBuff1 on February 8, 2008 at 9:17 pm

These photos showing the Mayfair Theatre being converted into a bank expose the huge mistake of looking upon the northeast section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — where the Mayfair Theatre building is located — as a source of revenue generation. Some places are suitable for revenue generation, but all efforts to transform Northeast Philadelphia into that have resulted in nothing other than one huge, bland mess — which is exactly what I saw as I passed the Mayfair today. In it’s being re-made over into a bank it really looks awful, folks. And as such it’s certainly not doing Northeast Philadelphia any good. And when you see it as it is now the obvious thought that quickly crosses your mind is, no wonder Philadelphia’s population is waaaaaay down now!

In other words, my now speaking after the fact, unlike my previous posts here where I spoke before the fact, I’m basically saying: I told you sooooo….

kencmcintyre on January 26, 2008 at 10:38 am

I never made it to that neighborhood when I was a kid, although my father lived around there when he was younger. My grandmother lived on West Queen Lane, so usually we took East River Drive up to Midvale and then over to her apartment building.

jackferry on January 26, 2008 at 10:17 am

Thanks for posting that pic, Ken.

Seeing the marquee again reminds me of all the times I stood on the top of a metal ladder (above the “do not stand above this point” warning) to run cheap wire to try to bypass broken neon tubes. Changing lightbulbs throughout the theater was always a challenge. I took some really nasty electrical shocks.

Guess I was pretty stupid as a 16 year old. Too bad that hasn’t improved much with age.

kencmcintyre on January 25, 2008 at 7:45 am

Here is a larger version of one of the PAB thumbnails posted by Jack Ferryin 2006. The photo is from the Irvin Glazer collection:

HowardBHaas on September 4, 2007 at 9:46 am

shown last night on Fox TV Channel 29 news in its unfortunate state as a bank (during the story of the closure of the AMC Orleans 8):

View link