Comments from Patrick H Friel

Showing 22 comments

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Jan 2, 2008 at 8:59 pm

Eddie, thank you very much for taking the time to take the pictures and re-posting the link.

A sad site, indeed.

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Jan 1, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Since I live in Phoenix, AZ I have not had the sad opportunity of seeing the razing of the Orleans. Did any of you guys take any pictures of the process ? I can’t imagine that site without the “Big O”.

Also, if pictures are provided by anyone could you, also please, post them on the Orlens web site here ?: .com

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Sep 4, 2007 at 4:49 pm

Thanks…sniff sniff…Eddie.

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Sep 3, 2007 at 8:14 pm

Sorry about the hassles, TB1.

TB1,you should always have the option to refuse spam from ANY web site when signing up to be a member. Certainly, there is always the obligatory check box in agreeing to the sites terms but I don’t have any requirements for new members. It should be easy and quick.

I’ve had the site for a couple of years and haven’t had one piece of junk mail. The only time I get mail is when we get a new member.

And, by the by, as you wait for my new and improved Orleans web site, please, don’t hold your breath.

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Sep 2, 2007 at 4:43 pm

Could we add the web site I created for The Orleans Theatre?

The link is: View link

Although I put the site together a couple of years ago I don’t purport to claim ownership. I look at the site as a community effort to be enjoyed by the select group of folks who have a special spot in their hearts for The Orleans Theatre of old.

A few people have already signed up as members and I encourage others, particularly on this site, to visit, sign up and share their thoughts and memories with the rest of us.

See you at the Orleans !

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about Palace Theatre on Mar 6, 2007 at 8:23 pm

WOW, Walter ! Tell us more. What years did your employment span at the Palace?

Come visit my site paying homage to the early years of the Orleans Theatre. I have every movie from opening day, May 8, 1963 till April 1972 listed in the Documents section on the site.

C'mon over and visit and join up.


Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Jul 26, 2006 at 4:05 pm

By the way, the link to The Orleans Theatre web site is:

Please, visit and tell your friends about us.


Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Jul 25, 2006 at 5:05 pm

Well, theaterbuff, I don’t know why your hunches are telling you what they’re telling you. Why don’t you come on over and join the club? I sent you a personal invitation to be the first member of the site but you seem to have rebuffed my offer.


Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Jul 24, 2006 at 8:56 am

Come visit the site I’m dedicating to the Orleans Theatre at:

Come, join, share and enjoy !


Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Jul 23, 2006 at 2:34 pm

TheaterBuff1, I sent you an invitation.


Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about Cine Capri Theatre on Jan 30, 2006 at 2:27 pm

The picture posted by Lost Memory is, certainly, a picture of the Harkins' Cine-Capri but it’s the new Cine-Capri in Scottsdale not the Cine-Capri that is the subject of this page.

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Jan 27, 2006 at 2:29 pm

Artist’s rendering of Orleans Theatre before opening.

<img src=“” alt=“Image Hosted by” />

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Jan 26, 2006 at 6:53 pm

This letter was written to TheatreBuff1, whose real name was deleted out of privacy concerns for him. I felt a need to share this letter with other film / theatre buffs within this site. We all share a similar passion for theatres and the history surrounding them.

Dear ****,

A source informed me that the new tenant for that land will be Target, not Wal-Mart.

AMC lost their lease so they no longer have a dog in that fight.
In my mind, the Orleans has an a special place in my heart due to my own relationship with the building going back to 1967. Having said that, I never did think of the Orleans as having the same unique theatre lineage as the grand cathedrals of old.
It is my opinion that the Orleans represented a new era of theatre architecture that eliminated the “useless” facades, interior murals, sweeping prosceniums and bold touches of any number of ancient architecture in exchange for a more utilitarian, functional appeal. The Orleans was one large box with seats and a large screen. It was movie exhibition reduced to its essence.

Here in Phoenix, a similar theatre as the Orleans in every way was torn down over a lot of community objections. Ironically, the last movie to play the was Titanic. I saw only one movie, Storm Troopers, at this theatre, The Cine Capri, and, ****, you would have seen the many similarities to the Orleans. This theatre was, like “The Big O”, was built in the early sixties, had one screen, about as many seats as the original Orleans, had a gold curtain like the Orleans, even the exterior had the same flavor. The outside walls had the same kind of mosaic tile as the Orleans.

My God, there were editorials in the paper, letters to the editor trashing the theatre owner’s decision to raze the theatre but all for naught. The theatre had to go, it stood in the middle of the most desirable and expensive commercial real estate within Arizona. The area is known as the Biltmore Area and you can probably Google it, along with the old Cine Capri theatre.

I think the Boyd Theatre is a worthy cause. Any sizable city lucky enough to have a theatre, such as the Boyd still standing, should feel compelled to maintain its grandeur. I have a few books on theatre history, , including Irvin Glazer’s Philadelphia Theaters. No picture in a book can do justice or give praise like actually being inside one of these monumental shrines to the motion picture. It’s like seeing pictures of the Grand Canyon over your lifetime and finally seeing it for real. There’s no comparison, it’s like never having seen those pictures of the Grand Canyon in your entire life. All I could say to people after having been to the Grand Canyon for the first time was that it was looking at the face of God. Some people seen viewing the canyon are actually seen crying over it’s beauty. Well, I ,and I’m sure you, , feel the same way about historical theatres. So, yes, there should and must be a preservation of a slice of our American culture that pays tribute to the great architects who created a dream environment into which people would enter to view a dream scape of a far off land, leaving their worries at the “palace gate” for those few hours.

****, I get goose bumps and tear up when I see film montages that bestow praise on the movie industry over many years in just a few minutes. These tributes act to reinforce how truly important movies are in our culture. Usually, Chuck Workman will have something put together for the academy awards, some sort of homage to the industry or actor or actress life in film. This is our culture. Movies are the mile markers of our lives. Where was I in my personal life when I saw Patton at the Orleans in 1970? Where was I when I saw PT 109 at the Tower in 1963? Who was I dating when I saw Alfie ? I never did get to see The Sting on that rainy March night as I sat in the car in the parking lot of the Eric Pennsauken Theatre with my long time girlfriend. That was the night she broke my heart and told me she found someone else. Boy, talk about getting “stung”! I remember vividly coming out into the afternoon sunshine, shaking after having just witnesing the carnage of Bonnie And Clyde at the Goldman Theatre on October 12, 1967. It was Columbus Day and I cut school to see the movie I had been waiting for since reading about these two law breakers at the Northeast Library in the summer of 1965.
Bonnie And Clyde was a first that I could recall that portrayed violence and bloodshed in as real a way as could be done at the time. One thought I had, as I rubbed my wet palms together leaving the theatre was how could anybody ever consider leading a life of crime after seeing that movie.

Yeah, ****, movies not only can be memorable on their own but they help us to relive the times, good or bad, of days gone by, to sort of give our lives dimension, fill in the blanks and add perspective. Movies, for better or worse, have influenced and shaped our character to a degree. We found our heros on the screen and the kind of girl we wished to marry, the kind of people to stay away from and on and on.

Movies have a place in our lives and I believe the places they appeared have a place in our lives, as well.


Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about Tower Theatre on Dec 26, 2005 at 7:35 pm

Thank you ever so much, George Quirk, for the enlightening tour of the venerable Tower Theatre. Your contribution is greatly appreciated!

In my youth , growing up in West Philly, my sisters and our friends would think nothing of heading out to 69th Street to one of the three theatres—the Bermuda Triangle of Fun—within walking distance of the Frankford Elevated terminal.

I always remember the Tower Theatre to be the best for event movies. I saw Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments and PT 109, memorable for the cinematography of the open sea vistas and horrific scene of the Japanese ship coming at the 109. It was my first time seeing Robert Blake in a movie. He played “Buckey”. When the 109 was rammed, he along with everyone else who survived were scrambling in the water and I can hear to this day Robert Blake screaming out, “I can’t die I want to live, I have to live, otherwise, how am I going to kill my wife, Bonnie!” At least that’s what I think I remember. I don’t know, I could be wrong.
theatres but it had the lowest ticket price of any theatre at the time in the early 60’s at 20 cents. The going ticket price, as I recall, was 25 cents for kids and 35 cents for adults. These were matinee prices, I never went at night. I do remember going to the Terminal with my mother, aunt and cousin to see a double bill of Palm Springs Weekend ( Troy Donahue ) and the unforgettable Lilies Of The Field ( Sidney Poitier ).

Interesting personal note about Lilies Of The Field. It is one of my all time favorite movies. I own it and watched it recently and it still holds up. I live in Phoenix, Arizona now and Lilies was shot in Tucson
Anywayyyy, my memory of the Terminal Theatre was that it was not as nice as the other two , about 120 miles south of Phoenix. A couple years ago, I was doing business in Tucson consulting for a cell phone company who needed a cell antenna in a specific area. I drove around and spotted a chapel with a bell tower. After making my acquaintance I walked the property with a couple of the nuns and mentioned that it reminded me of the location for the Sidney Poitier movie. “Oh, yes!” exclaimed Sister “Part of that movie was, indeed, shot right here. In fact, a couple of the sisters who are here were here when the movie was being shot.” The nuns she spoke of were too infirm to speak with but that is not why I was there to begin with. It just felt great to be on the same property that the movie was filmed. I felt a connection and it felt strange for a kid from West Philly who was so impressed with this movie as a kid in 1963 to be on that very ground almost 40 years later.

God, I love movies and the theatres of yesteryear. I consider myself fortunate to have experienced seeing movies in the old palaces. And, to think that places like the Tower and the downtown Philly theatres were considered the norm in movie venues when I was a kid. I lived through the heartbreaking “slice and dice” period of seeing the big theatres close or get twinned. My God, what was happening. My theatres were turning into bowling alleys, shoe stores and smaller twin theatres. Theatres being built from the ground up were nothing but boxes with seats. The decor was gone.The “useless” “functionless” facades disappeared. All the class showplaces were disappearing. At least we can join here and revel in the old days. I feel like I’m in a twelve step program of sorts. When musing over the old theatres, I consider a visit to Cinema Treasures as my therapy session.

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel on Dec 18, 2005 at 6:06 pm

Wasn’t this the theatre that was known as the “no spin” theatre?

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about Ellis Theatre Chain? on Dec 18, 2005 at 12:54 pm

I grew up in West Philly, around 56th and Jefferson Streets, in the Overbrook section. My neighborhood theatre was the Hamilton on Lansdowne Ave. near 63rd Street. Seating capacity was 600.

The Hamilton was an Ellis theatre until it closed in the early 60’s and converted into a church, which is still functioning today.

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about Nixon Theatre on Dec 17, 2005 at 8:50 pm

Interesting trivia in the Nixon Theatre’s history. When the movie Mikey And Nicky was filmed in Philadelphia in the early 70’s a scene was shot with the theatre’s marquee in the background. I’m not sure if it was dirctor Elaine May’s decision, although it wouldn’t surprise me, but the theatre’s name was changed to the Noxin. Apparently, the dislike for President Richard Nixon went pretty deep. I supose, the thinking went, the film makers didn’t want movie goers to suddenly stop being entertained at the sight of the Nixon name.

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about Theatre 7000 on Dec 17, 2005 at 8:18 pm

Popular film comedian, W.C. Fields was born in a house next door to the Benn Theatre.

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Dec 17, 2005 at 6:13 pm

The Orleans Theatre celebrated its grand opening with a dinner hosted by William Goldman at the Philmont Country Club at 6:00 P.M. and opening ceremonies at the theatre at *:00 P.M. on Wednesday, May 15, 1963.

There were 1,862 seats in the single auditorium. The screen dimensions were 30 ‘ X 63 ‘ and the length of throw from the lens was 181 feet. In the flat format, the picture size was 27X46 feet, in 70MM it was 27X60 feet and in 70MM scope, it was 26X62 feet.

The lamp hose was a Super Cinex High Intensity Arc Projection Lamp manufactured by Ashcroft Co, Inc of Long Island New York.

The projector heads were Norelco 35/70 manufactured by North American Phillips Co.

This particular model projector had the unique quality in that it could operate at 30 frames per second and was explicitly designed for the movie “Oklahoma” which was shot at 30 fps.

The two Norelco projectors were in full operation up until the time that AMC replaced them in 1993. The last 70MM film to play was Dick Tracy.

The first movie to open the Orleans was “The Day Of Wine And Roses”.

During the time it was a Goldman Theatre, the Orleans was considered the flagship of the small, but prestigious Goldman chain. No other theatre outside the downtown area came close to the quality of the sound, picture size, projection equipment and comfort of the Orleans. Keep in mind, most theatres outside the center city area were, by then, older “neighborhood” second run theatre has-beens.

Experiencing a movie like The Dirty Dozen was spectacular for its astounding visual and sound experience. The speakers were behind the perforated walls of the auditorium and during the battle scenes one would vibrate in their seat as the sound of artillery shells came ripping down the sides of the long auditorium walls, ending with their “landing” on the screen with a heart stopping blast. The Dirty Dozen was presented in 70Mm six track stereophonic sound. This meant that there were literally six magnetic strips of tape on the film. Each strip of tape was dedicated to its own function for , say, voice, sound effects, music, incidental sounds and so on. The sound of a magnetic track was, at the time, the truest way to capture the actual studio master mix of the original sound that the director intended.

One unforgettably outstanding film experience was watching 2001 A Space Odyssey for the first time. The film has not been viewed until it has been viewed on a 26X62 foot screen. Another beautifully presented visual treat was David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago. In 1967, Gone With The Wind was re-released in select markets. The Orleans hosted this wonderful historical extravaganza to the delight of all who came to see it. The prints were re-struck and the sound track was reproduced from the original master studio track. The aspect ratio of the movie was shown in its original 4:3 format. This meant that the image was a square in the middle of the screen and a lot of empty screen on both sides of the image However, the luxurious cinematography, shot in technicolor, and the breathtaking Max Steiner musical score left no patron with a feeling that they lacked anything in their experience as they left the theatre.

In a couple of years, economics took a front row seat in changing the once vast landscape of the large auditorium. In Kansas City, Missouri, a man named Stan Durwood purchased some retail space in a mall where he wished to make into a theatre. The year was 1963 and through happenstance, Mr. Durwood chose to purchase the space next door to his recently purchased store and saw possibilities. Why not make two theatres and separate them by a wall? Stan Sourwood was the first to create the ubiquitous “Twin” theatre that would catch fire across the country. Why not? thought theatre owners. It was a no-brainer. Take an existing theatre and cut it in half so that concession stand activity was increased and owners didn’t feel the pain of being stuck with a dog for the entire six or eight weeks. Stan Durwood was the classic showman. He lived in a modest home and drove a Nissan, a car way beneath what his actual status might normally call for. He died of cancer in the late 1999 and, oh I almost forgot, he was the CEO of AMC Theatres. His father Ed Durwood founded Durwood Theatres in 1920 and in years to come Stan took over the operation upon his father’s death and the chain was renamed American Multi Cinema.. It is now a worldwide chain with theatres in a number of countries.

So, following in the footsteps of other theatre owners, Goldman Theatres twinned the Orleans and it opened as The Orleans Twin Theatres on May 24, 1972. The opening attractions on May 24 were Cabaret and Woody Allan’s Play It Again Sam. Also, at this time, the William Goldman sold his beloved chain to another smaller operation named Budco Theatres. The “Budco” name was derived from the theatre chain’s owner, Earl Schlanger, who was fondly called Buddy as a child.

The two auditoriums had approximately 950 seats each upon being twinned. Employees and patron who were used to the massive screen width were stunned to watch a movie in what became known disparagingly as a bowling alley. The screen image just didn’t look or feel right when watching a movie. Gone were the days of the wide screen experience.

In 1977, Budco decided to add two more auditoriums to the existing building. From this point on, there was little thought to amenities. Just put up the walls and throw up a screen it’s a numbers game now, baby. In 1984, Budco purchased the Pathmark grocery store behind the Orleans and created four more auditoriums.

In the spring of 1987, AMC Theatres bought out Budco Theatres and once again, the Orleans went through somewhat of an incarnation. Money was sunk into new concession stands, seats were pulled to make leg room more comfortable, auditoriums were repainted and a new HVAC unit was installed on the roof.

Truthfully speaking, the Orleans was a grand old lady and it’s not her fault that indecision about her future has made her appear a little rough around the edges today. Will the company close her down or should we infuse a lot of cash to upgrade her. Why do an extreme make over when we may close the theatre down in a year or so, we could be putting that money into a theatre that we know is going to be around a lot longer. There were plans by AMC in the early 90’s to create a twelve screen complex utilizing the current location. The layout was to have a number of screens in the original building in which the screens would be along a wall facing the Bustleton Ave. side. Then, there would be a number of screens in another series of auditoriums with the screens along the walls facing Bleigh Street. The projection booth would run straight down the middle of what would be above the rear of all the auditoriums. One obstacle stood in the way: the residents in the surrounding neighborhood. The were strong in their opposition to, yet even more, parking and loud youths going to their cars and racing down the street in front of their homes.

The expansion plan collapsed. Perhaps, more life can be breathed into the old girl but in reality, I think, the movie theatre as we know it will be gone in a few short years, just like the wide screens, balconies and smoking section of theatres. The digital age is showing no mercy on the antiquated platform of 35MM film snaking through a projector. Certainly, some theatres are installing digital projection systems but at an estimated one hundred thousand dollars per auditorium, theatre owners are not in a hurry to upgrade.

My thoughts on this are a gradual disappearing of movie theatres replaced by the home theatre and only a couple of movie venues per city. With the sophisticated home theatre systems coming on the market today, one can reproduce the same sound and better image quality of your favorite multiplex, minus the crying babies, cell phones ringing, high ticket and concession prices, rude customers kicking your seat, paying a baby sitter, paying for parking , and you can enjoy all of it in your pajamas.

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Dec 15, 2005 at 3:35 pm

Thank you, Theaterbuff1, appreciate the tip!

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about Palace Theatre on Dec 15, 2005 at 3:33 pm

Rummah, you are probably correct in that the Palace in the movie, Mikey And Nicky is the same one that was mid block between 12th and 13th Streets on Market Street. Although the movie has a release year of 1976, I seem to recall that the movie was shot a couple or three years prior.

A friend of mine lived in a building at 12th St. and Pine Street from around 1971 to 1974. One day the building owner came through the front door of the building with Elaine May, who directed the movie. She was scouting apartments for use in the movie.

A great deal of the movie was shot in Philadelphia and the surrounding area.. There may have been problems with the shoot and with Elaine “Ishtar” May at the helm there might have been friction between her and the studio. I’m sure, studio execs that saw any footage of Mikey And Nicky were more than baffled by where their money was going. May is not into shooting movies with plots but, rather, she paints character portraits. Within the same time frame of ‘72 or ‘73 a college friend of mine told me that, the day before, he was walking in his neighborhood in the Philly suburb of Glenside. Walking by the cemetery he noticed a film crew and he stuck around. Turns out it was a scene being shot for M & N.

Back to the Palace, though. In the late ‘60’s I would cut school, along with friends and we would go to downtown Philly and hang out at the penny arcades, play pin ball, catch some pie and coffee at Horn& Hardart’s automat or go to movies. A couple of times we did go to the Palace for the soft core porno movies. Mostly, we giggled through the movies as we watched the men scattered around us. They were a serious bunch intent on getting their money’s worth. Matter of fact, as I recall, those eyes riveted on the screen remind me of today’s gamers sitting in front of the TV. Yeah, and as with the men at the Palace theatre the only thing moving are the gamer’s hands.

There used to be so many theatres in the downtown area. After all, all the first run houses were located there and that’s where movies not only opened but that is where one went to see them. Waiting for a movie to come to your neighborhood theatre is akin to waiting for the DVD to come out today.

Sadly, people gradually stopped going downtown to see movies, center city was getting the reputation as being “rough”. Theatre owners, about this time, found profits in the growing popularity of the “Kung Fu movies. This stopped the middle class from going near down town. When the Kung Fu craze faded then the porn movies took their place and when that peaked, there was nothing to offer the middle class who were never coming back downtown to see a movie. Gradually, the theatres were knocked down and replaced with the glass office towers. We moved towards suburban theatres, mall theatres and the multi-plex for our movie going experience. Just as with our shopping and banking experiences of yesteryear we no longer had to go downtown. Wanamaker’s department store, along with Lit Brothers and Gimbals moved to locations in Northeast Philadelphia. Mall were built and, again, it was a thing of the past to venture into the scary streets of downtown Philadelphia.

One of my most cherished memories from my childhood was topping of an agonizing shopping spree with my mother and sisters by having waffles at the Crystal Room restaurant inside Wanamaker’s department store. Occasionally, depending on the time of day we went, there would be a woman’s fashion show during lunch. People ate their lunch while women walked towards you on an elevated run way. Believe me when I say it was not Heidi Klum walking towards you but a model in a long dress that covered everything down to her shins. A hat was a requisite part of the outfit on display as well.

Well, that is enough from me for this posting. You may see me around, contributing to other movie posts. I have a lot of memories of the theatres from my youth and I cherish them all!

Patrick H Friel
Patrick H Friel commented about AMC Orleans 8 on Dec 13, 2005 at 6:48 pm

Dear Orleans Theatre archivists, I’d like to add comments along with a picture. How can i do this?

Thanks, Hughie