Mitchell Brothers Santa Ana Theatre

1565 W. 17th Street,
Santa Ana, CA 92706

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Mitchell Brothers, United Artists Theater Circuit Inc.

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: UA Santa Ana

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Mitchell Brothers Santa Ana Theatre

Opened July 14, 1965 with John Wayne in “In Harm’s Way”, presented in 70mm. On September 3, 1976 it went over to screening porn movies and was operated by the Mitchell Brothers as the Santa Ana Theatre, before closing on June 30, 1990.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

scottfavareille on March 7, 2003 at 9:01 am

This theater was in the Hoehner Plaza shopping center. On September 1, 1975, UA showed its last features there: “The Apple Dumpling Gang” & “Swiss Family Robinson”(Disney films)–On, September 3rd, the theater was now operated by Jim & Artie Mitchell(the Mitchell Brothers) and opened as a porn theater, their first film exhibited there was “Sodom & Gomorrah”, an expensive($700,000) porn film that was also a financial flop. This also started a war between Charles Keating (who owned a Lincoln Savings & Loan across the street & was a fervent anti-porn crusader), the Mitchells, and the City of Santa Ana that lasted for over a decade. Obscenity charges were filed every time the program changed, undercover cops were going into the theater(& taping the films for evidence), and the Mitchells kept getting hauled into court. (Two of the obscenity charges even went to the CA Supreme Court) The Mitchells eventually won the cases and the resulting attempts at shutting down the theater as a public nuisance cost the city of Santa Ana over $11 million. At one point, this theater (as a porn house)grossed over $1 million annually. In 1990, the owner of the shopping center would not renew the Mitchell Bros' lease, and so the theater was shut down. How ironic.

William on April 11, 2006 at 10:02 am

The UA Santa Ana Theatre opened on July 14th, 1965 with “In Harms Way” in 70MM, it seated just over 1000 seats.

CTCrouch on July 17, 2009 at 3:41 am

The City of Santa Ana’s efforts to close this theatre, via legal means, were such that, for 11 years, a former LAPD vice officer was paid $30 an hour to attended every movie shown at the theater; watching the films, audiotaping dialogue, and taking notes, so a judge could review the films for the 47 obscenity cases filed during that period.

In 1987, after Santa Ana finally gave up on trying to close the theatre, the city paid the Mitchell Brothers $120,000 to remove the theatre’s marquee.

CTCrouch on July 21, 2009 at 4:41 am

United Artists Communications maintained the master lease on the theatre throughout the Mitchell Brothers occupancy; subletting to the Mitchells for fifteen years and ultimately declining to renew with them, in 1990.

The theatre closed on June 30, 1990, with “The First Time,” “Hot Lips” and “The Devil in Miss Jones IV.”

Gartley on April 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm

UA Santa Ana was opened and managed by Bert and Nettie Naus. This was my first assistant manager job in 1967-68. We opened The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde to spectacular business. We had 815 seats, half of which were loge. The challenge at the time was to protect the loge seating from those buying regular tickets. We finally decided to form two separate lines and let the loge in first. I know – slow learning curve. Our projectionist was Dennis O'Dell. Kindly Nettie (maybe 5' tall with her heels on) and gruff Mr. Naus really taught me how a theatre should be run. They were in their 60’s at the time and had a notable history with Metropolitan in downtown Los Angeles and with United Artists in San Francisco before UA Santa Ana. Employees at the time — Jean, John S. (who was an usher at my wedding in 1969), Bill H., and Luther W. Every Fri and Sat after closing, Bert, Nettie, Dennis, his wife Kris, and I would go to Jerry’s BBQ on 17th St for drinks, and sometimes for breakfast. The theatre was so much more than its history with Mitchell Bros. When they took over, the city of Santa Ana had the distinction of putting elderly Nettie Naus in jail on obscenity charges for selling popcorn where the porno films were screened. Bert and Nettie are gone now but their memories will live long with the hundreds of employees who had the privilege and happiness of working and learning from them.

Fugitive2014 on March 13, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Los Angeles Times
July 18, 1965
Pg. 27

UA THEATER OPENED IN HONER PLAZA United Artists Theater Circuit has opened an 800-seat theater in Honer Plaza Shopping Center in Santa Ana. Theater is designed for unobstructed viewing from any area by means of its new “rocking chair” seating. Marshall Naify, president of the circuit, reports plans to build other theaters in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego County locations.

rivest266 on November 17, 2019 at 12:55 pm

July 14th, 1965 and September 3rd, 1976 grand opening ads posted

Flix70 on March 29, 2021 at 11:33 am

I can remember frequenting Honer Plaza throughout the late ‘70s & early '80s as a kid (my mom got her hair done there) & being fascinated with the nearby Mitchell Brothers theater & the salacious titles adorning the huge marquee. When I’d point it out in the parking lot, my mom would always say “you don’t want to go in there.” Was still open for about a year and half after I turned 18 but by that time I’d forgotten all about it. Probably for the best.

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