Banner Theater

458 S. Main Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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Showing 1 - 25 of 37 comments

docchapel on July 25, 2015 at 6:50 am

By the time I worked the Banner as a projectionist, it was a “nudie cutie” adult theater. Worse booth I ever worked. You could tell the theater wasn’t originally a motion picture theater, because the booth seemed to be added much later. It was off to one side on the south wall of the house, projecting at an angle, and the picture was keystone all over the place. But the movies didn’t have much of a plot, and nobody seemed to care that one side of the picture was way taller than the other. Ran a couple old Simplex XL heads here with Strong Lamps, off of tubed rectifiers. If you could work this house, you could work anywhere.

kencmcintyre on April 1, 2011 at 7:03 pm

The caption on the photo was continuing problems at the Belmont Bar, which can be seen in the photo. The bar and its troublesome patrons are long gone.

BillCounter on April 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm

That 1981 photo is a neat one. Nice research!

kencmcintyre on April 1, 2011 at 8:53 am

You can see the Banner, and the Regent farther down, in this 1981 photo from the LAPL:

BillCounter on March 14, 2011 at 11:47 am

A couple of shots from the 1959 Universal-International release “Too Soon To Love” mentioned above by vokoban and haineshisway in their 2007 posts. The film also shows the Galway.

We get Jennifer West and Richard Evans on Main Street. They’re driving by prior to taking a walk to look for an abortionist.

View link

Another view:

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femmeshui on August 15, 2010 at 5:48 am

The Banner appears in an episode of Cagney and Lacey, season 2 episode 13 “Affirmative Action”. the camera focuses on The Banner then pans up the block towards The Regent Theater.

kencmcintyre on April 4, 2009 at 12:56 pm

There is a 1983 photo on this site. The theater was in Los Angeles, not Long Beach, despte the caption.

David DeCoteau
David DeCoteau on March 10, 2008 at 11:01 pm

The address listed is for the REGENT theatre. Looks like it will become a live music venue in a month or two.

AndrewBarrett on March 10, 2008 at 9:23 pm

RE: vokoban and everybody, you might be interested to know the full story of the “1 and ½ ton music box organ” that was in the Banner Theatre.

It is actually a Wurlitzer model 29-C Mandolin PianOrchestra orchestrion, which, in the interim, spent time at Knott’s Berry Farm (among other places), but now has just been fully restored and is in a private collection in Florida. More pictures and information here (especially click on the last two photos at the bottom of the page: they take you to pages with lots of detail shots of the gorgeous interior!):

View link

kencmcintyre on October 28, 2007 at 5:19 pm

Here is a 1912 ad from the LA Times:

kencmcintyre on August 12, 2007 at 1:03 am

Here is an early 70s ad from the LA Times:

kencmcintyre on June 8, 2007 at 6:59 pm

I’m still wrong. South would be correct if I had any sense of direction. I was right the first time.

kencmcintyre on June 8, 2007 at 6:57 pm

If you look again at the photo from the LAPL I posted on 2/3/07, the Banner is to the left of the small white hotel sign, or immediately north of the sign. I said south originally but now I have the UCLA photo posted on 5/18/07.

vokoban on June 8, 2007 at 6:41 pm

I think what happened is that a lot of these theaters had store fronts on either side of the original entrance and over the years the theater entrance switched around to the different doors to accommodate the stores.

kencmcintyre on June 8, 2007 at 6:13 pm

The Banner had migrated back to 458 S. Main by September 1974. Featured were “Erotic Adult Films – Discount After Midnight”. I would hope they give me a discount if I’m on sleazy Main Street at that time of the night.

kencmcintyre on May 29, 2007 at 2:59 pm

You’re the man. Thanks.

vokoban on May 29, 2007 at 2:26 pm

I sent directions ken mc.

kencmcintyre on May 29, 2007 at 1:41 pm

Vokoban, I have my LAPL card. I’m at the Central Library right now. I would appreciate the information we discussed if you could e-mail it to me at Thanks.

kencmcintyre on May 26, 2007 at 8:12 am

It sounded pretty grim, didn’t it?

vokoban on May 25, 2007 at 7:30 pm

I’ve never come across that one yet….I didn’t realize that Main had sunk that low in 1939. I thought the decline started after WWII was over. I knew that the movie palaces were already on Broadway, but i thought Main still had a little pride at the time.

kencmcintyre on May 25, 2007 at 4:43 pm

I will pick up my LAPL card on Tuesday, so I will get back to you on the access issue. Here is a lengthy but interesting article from the Times dated 6/5/39. It doesn’t name any specific theater, but the Banner will do:

Main St. “Flop” Theaters Present Gloomy Parade

Untold Stories of Misery and Broken Hopes Evident in Patronage of All Night Movies

“Open all night”.

Behind those beckoning words which surmount the placard-cluttered foyers of Main Street nickel and dime houses are countless untold stories of misery and broken hopes. Hundreds of men – young, old and “on the bum” – nightly make their way to the tawdry all night theaters which for lack of any other address they sardonically call home.

A while ago the City Council was presented with a plan by the Police Commission to close these cheap movies. It was suggested that some $25,000 be appropriated to look after the itinerants who would be left “homeless” by such a move. Much councilmanic to-do about the matter ended when the city fathers – by two votes â€" killed the plan.

What caused the sudden furor? To find out, a Times reporter last night donned old clothes and a weary look and visited the half-dozen all night movies on Main Street. The junket was no picnic. In each smoke-choked, inadequately ventilated theater, the men â€" and a few women â€" who a few hours before deserted their aimless strolling outside. They slumbered fitfully while a projector unreeled three, four or more ancient films.

Their heads, supported by arms propped against the seat in front or flung back over the edge of the chair backs, nodded into consciousness only when the sound track blared unusually loud during a melodramatic sequence. A few patrons watched the pictures, mostly antiquated westerns and mysteries. You could tell the men who were awake because they smoked cigarettes incessantly in defiance of illuminated signs reading “Positively No Smoking. Fine $25.” But entertainment is not the purpose of these places. They are admittedly open for the convenience of vagabonds who are dog tired from tramping hard sidewalks.

The preferred position for “flops” seems to be along the sides of the narrow theaters, where a man could slouch against the wall in some semblance of comfort for his 40 winks. Once in position, shoes were removed and hats tipped over eyes. Now and then a drunk staggered down the aisle and collapsed into a seat. Soon he was snoring loudly. Sometimes five or six drunks snored in unison. Sometimes one became sick â€" and did not bother to leave his seat.

The atmosphere was stale and musty, an accumulation of ugly odors. The sleepers breathed heavily and their breaths were tainted with wine or cheap whisky. Trash littered the uncarpeted floors. Someone snapped peanut shells. Occasionally someone kicked an empty, discarded bottle and cursed audibly. A ripple of excitement stirred the patrons of one place when three husky rats engaged in a brief free for all in the side aisle. At the conclusion of one picture, a boy with a tray walked up the aisle mumbling “Ice cream and sandwiches, popcorn five cents”. No one paid him any attention. It was sleep they wanted for their nickel.

That’s the depressing picture of an all-night flop theater. Why do they keep open? Do they make any money? An assistant manager of a 5-cent house had this to say:
“Sure we make money, or we’d close. We’ve got regular customers. One man has been coming to this same theater every night for a year and a half. They panhandle enough for a pint of wine and save a nickel to sleep on. Fights? Naw. We don’t have any trouble with the customers.”

“If we were closed up they’d find some other place to sleep. Along the streets somewhere, I guess. None of them have homes. But there’s no law that can make us close up. You can fall asleep in a show if you want. That’s your business, isn’t it? We try to keep the place clean. We spray it every morning, you know, for bugs and things. When you’ve got 5000 bums sleeping in these Main Street theaters every week, you’ve got to be a little but careful.”

“Our place is known all over. We get fellows from all over the country and as soon as they hit town they come here for a flop. You know, you can’t flop in a show in the east for less than ten cents. We do all right. Guys like to flop in a theater because at the missions they make them come in at a certain hour and they’ve got to obey rules. Here they just come and go as they please.”

The assistant manager did not mention, however, that the best thing about sleeping in a nickel theater is being able to walk out.

haineshisway on May 25, 2007 at 6:34 am

I can’t remember if I posted about the Oriental under that theatre. I’ll go check. It’s a great shot, too, and that whole sequence lasts quite some time. Just watched a region 2 DVD of Frankenheimer’s first film, The Young Stranger. Lots shot at Marshall High (another troubled teen film, but a very good one), and the boy gets in trouble repeatedly at what we finally realize is the Bruin Theater in Westwood. Towards the end of the movie we get great shots of the 1958 exterior and lots of Westwood street shots, as well as the lobby of the Bruin. Amusingly, the auditorium interiors were obviously shot in a screening room somewhere and look nothing like a real movie theater.

vokoban on May 25, 2007 at 6:26 am

Spiderman,Yuck….I have to warn you, Too Soon To Love is pretty bad, but its good, campy, bad. They have to go down to Main street to get an emergency abortion as a result of some teenage ‘fumblings’. The other movie on this double feature dvd is called Unwed Mother and shows a good shot of the Granada/Oriental. The pregnant girl’s jerky boyfriend robs the ticket booth…exciting!

kencmcintyre on May 25, 2007 at 6:11 am

If I keep buying movies every time you give me a great tip, I will go broke. Go watch Spiderman 3. 8-)

vokoban on May 24, 2007 at 5:00 pm

I watched Too Soon To Love from the suggestion above. It does have a great moving shot from a car looking at the east side of Main from about 5th to right before the Regent. The shot of the Banner is very good and you can see every other business that was there.