Capri Theater

22 Huntington Avenue,
Boston, MA 02116

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Showing 1 - 25 of 49 comments

da_Bunnyman on April 10, 2018 at 9:02 pm

The book “Movie Roadshow” by Kim R. Holston mentions this theater running the film “Solomon And Sheba” for it’s Xmas attraction in 1959. It’s noted that the theater was newly refurbished that year (only 3 years before it was demolished) and that it had a 45 ft high marquee and 48 by 22 foot screen, both were “largest in the city”. Nice to have exact measurements for something but who knows if it was true.

da_Bunnyman on March 28, 2018 at 4:23 pm

An interesting ‘could have been’ for this theater. The book “Movie Roadshows; A History and Filmography of Reserved-Seat Limited Showings 1911-1973” mentions in the section on Around The World In 80 Days about future plans for the Todd-AO 70mm widescreen process. Mike Todd mentions he had an agreement to buy Boston’s Copley Theatre with plans for a chain similar to the Cinerama houses. Oddly it also mentions Todd opposed the sale of popcorn in theaters.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 12, 2013 at 11:09 am

Yeah, I attended a play there in 1953, and it was an old theater then, going back to the World War I era.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on May 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Opened as a cinema with the ‘Capri’ name, I assume you mean? As the comments and description show, this theatre had a long history before that.

rivest266 on May 11, 2013 at 12:01 pm

This opened an January 31st, 1958

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 10, 2012 at 11:53 am

Yes, it was a Shubert house when I first knew it circa-1948 or so. It was the least-used of their Boston theaters. Dark most of the time, it presented both plays and films but very infrequently. So when Sack took it over and renamed it “Capri”, it was a real re-launch.

MarkB on July 10, 2012 at 11:31 am

I looked in the Boston Globe archive, and found some info on the Toy. It was founded in 1911 on Lime st, between Mt Vernon and Chestnut, at the bottom of Beacon Hill in an old stable. There are photo of both the interior and exterior in two articles. It was an amateur theatrical group that put on plays that had not been professionally produced in Boston. In Jan, 1913, Mayor Curley censored the play “Across the Border” when he got complaints about cursing, although he allowed it to go on when he removed on line.

The new theatre was built in 1914, and got a big write-up as well. A 1937 article gets the move date wrong, but says the name changed to the Copley after the move, and was run by both Jewett and Clive. In 1937, it was refurbished as the Shubert Copley.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 9, 2012 at 10:44 am

Yes, the Copley/Capri was nowhere near Dartmouth Street. You walked in from Huntington Ave, to an inner foyer, and then turned right to enter the back of the auditorium. The left side of the auditorium and stage were on Stuart St. The original Toy Theater on Dartmouth Street was apparently jacked up and turned around and then reused for the Copley/Capri. I have never really understood what exactly was done to reuse the Toy Theatre. By the way, there was a real landmark building at the corner of Dartmouth Street and Huntington Avenue, the S.S. Pierce building. It was a handsome old heap and housed an upscale grocery and food shop. That building lasted at least as long as the Capri Theatre lasted.

MarkB on July 8, 2012 at 11:14 am

Ron – thanks for that clarification. The entrance was at the corner of Dartmouth and Stuart sts. The entrance led back the full depth of that row of buildings to the theater proper, which was set back quite a bit from Dartmouth st.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 6, 2012 at 10:53 am

The photo which MarkB posted shows the Toy Theatre on Dartmouth St., more or less across from the side of the Copley Plaza Hotel. This was before the house was reconstructed with its main entrance on Huntington Avenue, which was where, later, the entrance and marquee for the Capri were located. Sweetmel posts above that he wishes he could see a photo of the Capri before it “got seedy”. It never got seedy ! Right up until it was demolished, it was still in good condition. The entrance was directly across from the side of the Boston Public Library. dickneeds111 mentions the State Theatre on Washington St. (former T Trans Lux) I was inside it in July 1983 and it was not twinned, still a single-screen. Closed in 1985.

MarkB on July 5, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I just added a photo from the BPL archive. A one act G.B. Shaw play was being presented at the time.

dickneeds111 on May 26, 2012 at 11:14 am

The State theatre was a real theatre not a peep show. As a single it had plenty of seats and when they twinned it it still had plenty of PORNO seats.

sweetmel on May 19, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I wish there was a photo of this theatre. I would love to have seen it before it got seedy.

dickneeds111 on April 7, 2012 at 9:18 pm

When in 1960 Ben Hur moved over from the Saxon was it still shown in 70mm stereo or was it in 35mm? How many weeks did it last at the Capri?

Broan on August 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Here is a drawing of the curtain.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 15, 2011 at 11:31 am

As the “Copley Theatre”, this house was listed in a 1918 Boston street directory at 186 Dartmouth Street, west side of street, between Harwich St. and Huntington Ave. This was before the theater was reconstructed with its main entrance on Huntington Ave.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 26, 2010 at 4:04 pm

The cover of Boxoffice magazine, April 28, 1958, had a montage of Ben Sack with four of his theatres: the Saxon, the Capri, the Beacon Hill, and the Gary.

…and an article on Sack and his success with the acquisition of Boston theatres:
View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 21, 2009 at 11:46 am

In an article in the old Boston Post of May 14, 1950 “Many Hits Made Upon Hub Stages” by drama critic Elliot Norton, mention is made of the play “Harvey” which opened at the Copley Theatre on Tues. Oct. 7, 1944. Written off by everyone as a quick flop, the Boston audiences at the Copley liked it from the start and it went on to New York where it became one of the most popular plays of the 1940s. It was later made into a sucessful movie.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 25, 2008 at 10:15 am

JustPlainBill is correct. There were some little porn “theaters” down in the “Zone” which were affiliated with porno bookstores and located in storefronts. One was the “State II” near the State Theatre entrance on Washington St. At the time, I didn’t consider them to be “real” movie theaters; and didn’t really pay much attention to them. Some of these may have had only “viewing booths” for 8mm film loops, and not had any seats, screen or projectors.

alberwi on October 25, 2008 at 4:29 am

I believe that the “Capri Theatre” at 701 Washington St. was a very small, rather dingy place that shared space with a porno bookstore…I suspect it was more of a cruising site than a movie house. I think there was a very similar movie/bookstore joint in the late 1970’s next to the Publix, though I don’t recall its name. Possibly these places had names for incorporation purposes, but not for exhibition on any kind of sign or marquee…it is likely that they got their “viewing audiences” from the clientele of the porn stores, so names really didn’t matter.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 20, 2008 at 6:32 pm

Please do post links, though they may be more appropriate if posted on pages of theatres that were still operating in those years. You may want to consider submitting your maps and essay to CinemaTreasures as a news article.

pmont on August 20, 2008 at 6:20 pm

I have seen those other two (three, actually — as there’s reference to another North Station II on Portland), so I guess I knew the answer to my question. I can’t imagine it’s very easy to get an accurate record of those storefront porn theatres, but they’re interesting to those interested in theatre histories (return of the nickelodeon..? sorta…). I found ads in either the Phoenix, Globe, or Real Paper for the Art Cinema, the Pussycats, and the South Station, but not the ones referenced in the article (or, as far as I recall, the North Station — though I’ll have to check on that one).

In any case, I’ve consulted the Boston Business Directory Theatre & Cinema section for 62, 67, 72, and 77 for a googlemap experiment which is a sort of sidebar (for my own use) to an essay I’m writing (settled on theatres in Boston/Camb/Somerville & what they were playing Mem Day 1977 vs. Mem Day 2008 — if anyone’s interested, I’ll post links), and I don’t believe I saw any indication of those Combat Zone theatres, though some of the previously legit theatres make the list.

Thanks for the reply. Awesome site. It’s been really helpful in filling in Boston theatre history.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 20, 2008 at 12:50 pm

And the answer is yes, since we have a number of such listings already (especially in NYC).

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on August 20, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Here in Boston, we have listings for two theatres that (to my knowledge) showed only X-rated movies: North Station Cinema and South Station Cinema. We don’t have listings for the Twin-X or for the ‘Art Cinema’ that was across Tremont Street the Saxon/Majestic. If anyone knows more about either of these, please add them.

I suspect any movie theatre at 701 Washington was fairly short-lived, and probably was little more than a storefront.

kencmcintyre on August 20, 2008 at 12:37 pm

No, there are lots of adult theaters listed.