Cliftex Theatre

306 W. 5th Street,
Clifton, TX 76634

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Cliftex Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Currently, this theater is only open Thursday through Sunday, in the evenings, and shows a new feature each week.

Contributed by Melanie Milbradt

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 11, 2005 at 7:52 pm

Listed as the Cliftex Theatre in the Film Daily Yearbook;1952 edition with a seating capacity of 330.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on December 12, 2006 at 5:36 pm

There is another photo on this page:
http://tinyurl.com/ya95xv

texas25th
texas25th on November 26, 2007 at 4:42 am

Old Clifton theater keeps vintage Hollywood alive

Sunday, November 25, 2007

By Ken Sury

Tribune-Herald community editor

CLIFTON â€" Dennis Burris stretches out a strip of film from a movie reel.

“This came from the old Hico Theatre,” he says. “I donâ€\t know whatâ€\s on it. It might be some famous country western star from the 1930s.”

That film probably wonâ€\t be among the movies to be shown at the CLIFTEX, but itâ€\s indicative of a new business strategy for the 91-year-old theater, which is experiencing a renaissance by revisiting the past.

In October the theater, which lays claim to being the oldest continually operating movie theater in Texas, showed the John Wayne classic western Red River. The CLIFTEX has begun regularly screening classic movies on an alternating basis with current-run films. Classics shown since Red River include Casablanca, Paper Moon and A Fistful of Dollars.

Burris recalls the reaction of theater-goers after showing one of those old films at the CLIFTEX.

“They stood up and applauded the blank screen,” he says. “I had people tell me how it brought them back to their childhood.”

Juxtaposing new and old

Last week the CLIFTEX showed a new release, Billy Bob Thorntonâ€\s Mr. Woodcock. At 7 tonight a Ma and Pa Kettle movie from 1949 ends its four-day run.

CLIFTEX owner W. Leon Smith, who also owns The Clifton Record newspaper next door and is the cityâ€\s mayor, says the theater had shown the occasional classic film such as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. But now the theater hopes to find an audience that will make offering older movies a viable business enterprise, he says.

“Iâ€\m an old movie buff,” says Smith, 54. “When seen on the big movie screen the way theyâ€\re intended to be, thatâ€\s special.”

Many people have watched movies like Casablanca on TV, he says, but the movie screen provides nuances and tidbits to viewers that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Alfred Hitchcockâ€\s thriller Rear Window would be great on the CLIFTEX screen, Smith says.

But getting those old films to Clifton from the movie vaults in Burbank, Calif., doesnâ€\t come without a hefty price tag, he says. Besides the movie rights, freight for shipping those reels of film runs about three times the amount for a current feature. Burris figures that higher price in part includes extra for insurance.

He gushes about the Ma and Pa Kettle reels. Although the movie was originally filmed on nitrate, the CLIFTEX received an acetate version made from the master.

“Itâ€\s a brand-new print,” Burris says.

Since Smith bought the CLIFTEX from Scott and Luann Sandahl in 2000, the theater has undergone improvements such as new air conditioning and heating. Its exterior is made of limestone, which Burris says will easily outlast him. Last year, a large section of seats in the middle section were replaced. In a nod to modernity, those now have cupholders.

The theater seats 199. It would have more than 200 if not for pulling out some seats to provide a place for patrons in wheelchairs.

Burris, 62, has infused the historic theater with new ideas since being hired by Smith in July to manage it.

He hired a teenager to dress like Spider-Man and walk outside the theater to promote Spider-Man 3 when it was shown last summer. Hot dogs and nachos have been added to the reasonably priced theater menu in the almost-claustrophobic lobby.

Tickets cost just $2 and are free to those 2 and younger. With gas prices what they are, Smith says he wants families to feel they can afford a night out at the movies. The businessman in him, however, has him re-examining the ticket price.

The lure of history

The CLIFTEXâ€\s history was the big draw for Burris, a film aficionado and longtime theater manager who even appeared on screen in the 1997 TV movie Rough Riders with Tom Berenger.

“The first moment I saw it, I loved it,” he says of the theater.

Notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde were patrons of the CLIFTEX, Burris says.

“Now I donâ€\t know how many times they came, but Bonnie loved movies and they used to have a camp just outside Clifton,” he says.

Burris, whose first job was as a projectionist at a drive-in in Palestine when he was 14 or 15, can talk at length about the 35-millimeter reels, the expensive bulbs, the sound poles and the 1930s Art Deco sidelights of the CLIFTEX. The two Century projectors from the 1930s in the projection booth have been refurbished some, but they still work and are used at every showing.

Theater-goers will find Burris in that small projection room, which he notes is completely surrounded by metal. It was a way to help keep fires from spreading through the theater, a huge concern in those days when projector bulbs could easily burst into flame.

When Burris isnâ€\t at the theater, heâ€\s running the Western Motel in Mart. But running the CLIFTEX is his joy.

“I wouldnâ€\t drive from Mart (every day) if I didnâ€\t love it,” he says.

Smith hopes this new initiative will prove successful and that the CLIFTEX can continue for years to come. Clifton had three theaters in the early 1900s. The CLIFTEX is all that remains.

“Once you lose one,” he says, “you never get it back.”

757-5750

texas25th
texas25th on December 17, 2008 at 4:44 am

The Cliftex Theatre just reopened after closing in September for a complete restoration and renovation which lasted about 3 months.

Read more here:
View link

Also the official website above has many photos of various phases of the restoration process!

hopewell
hopewell on September 8, 2009 at 6:11 pm

I had the pleasure of visiting the Cliftex last Friday, to see “G.I.JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA”. The movie was okay, but the true pleasure was to see it in a single screen house, whilst munching on fresh-made popcorn, just like back in the day.

texas25th
texas25th on April 24, 2011 at 6:07 am

“Rango” was the last 35mm showing at the Cliftex as they have just installed a digital system just in time for Easter and the showing of “HOP”

Check them out on Face Book!

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 25, 2011 at 2:39 am

2008 picture looks a lot nicer.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on April 25, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Very nice looking theatre.

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