First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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Brooksie

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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostFri Apr 07, 2017 11:34 am

wich2 wrote:Disney's early Sixties rerelease of PINOCCHIO. And WHOA! Did big-screen Technicolor blow the mind of this little kid used to small-screen b & w tv. I carry distinct memories to this day.


My father says the same thing about being taken to see a revival of The Wizard of Oz when he was four or five years old. He didn't see it again for years, but always remembered the impact of the Emerald City scenes.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostFri Apr 07, 2017 3:51 pm

First movie I saw at a still-existing theater?
I was probably bouncing on a parent’s knee.

I’ve discussed before that I’m from Joliet, IL and we were fortunate to have the Rialto Theater, ahem, Theatre.

The seating (flash required):
http://360comesalive.com/gallery02/RialtoSquareTheatre/

Other photos: http://www.rialtosquare.com/palace_for_the_people.asp

My parents moved to Joliet in 1937 and the theater was about 10 years old then. When my mother was pregnant with a sister of mine, she and her doctor both attended a screening of GWTW in early 1940. They shared where they were seated in case something happened early, it didn’t.

I know that I attended many shows there for kids. One summer if you purchased several little milkshake-like cartons and turned those empties in with a quarter you got to see a Saturday afternoon show. There was also a least one show that was only for kids in scouting. I remember seeing a James Stewart western at one of those two events. I clearly remember that a bunch of us boys were running up and down the aisles enough that an usher caught up with us in the restroom and told us to go back and sit down! Which we did.

Those were the days when it was safe for kids to be in downtown Joliet, on their own.

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that my parents took me to The Three Faces of Eve. Also The Red Shoes since my sisters were taking dance and they and my mother were interested in that. I remember seeing Moby Dick (1956) when it came out. There was also at least one Kiwanis show. I probably saw some Disney movies there, but no clear memory.

My parents contributed to the restoration of the theater sometime in the 1970s-80s. Their names are supposed to be on some little labels/plaques on two seats.

One of my high school reunions (1990?) was held in the lobby (yes, it’s that large). A couple hundred of us came back to town to sit at tables surrounded by beauty. I asked if I could go into the auditorium, but that wasn’t allowed. We hadn’t rented access to that!

Rick
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostFri Apr 07, 2017 4:06 pm

Just to take this thread a wee bit further:-

How many N'villains remember going to special Saturday children's afternoon performances at the local cinema?

How many N'villains can remember going to a Newsreel cinema?

(I used to walk to my local - "The Kinema", Albert Park and see a whole programme - interesting short subjects - Pete Smith Specialties (always a favourite), a "Look at Life" and such like plus one or two cartoons on the first half. At interval we would entreat ourselves to an SP ice-cream. This was a double stick coated with chocolate. Strawberry flavour on one side and pineapple the other. They were scrumptious. It was either that or a bag of sherbet that one got at via a licorice straw. After interval, the manager would walk down the aisle, climb up on the stage, awkwardly, plug in a microphone (which would whistle until he banged it a few times). Then he would announce coming attractions and tell us all to behave. The main feature would then come on and if it was a western most of us would be taking sides and acting out our own version in the theatre.)

(In Melbourne we had three or four newsreel cinemas. Most were underground and the entrance was just a door with steps leading down. I can just remember them showing newsreels - with a luminous clock on one side of the screen. In the sixties most had become what was known as an "hour show" - Australia's answer to continuous performances. The modern "shoe-box" cinemas in "complexes" remind me of them.)
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostFri Apr 07, 2017 5:17 pm

Donald Binks wrote:How many N'villains remember going to special Saturday children's afternoon performances at the local cinema?


I remember that very well, at the same theatre that's now a photography studio.

For at least a few years in the late '60s - early '70s, they would have a summer-long schedule of kid-friendly films on Saturday afternoon. My mother would deliver me and a few friends weekly, where we'd watch things like MA & PA KETTLE, the FRANCIS series, Abbott & Costello, and various '40s-'50s monster movies. I didn't realize it at the time, but these were all Universal films, which must have struck a deal for such programs with neighborhood theatres.

And just imagine...even though current films were all being made in color, I never heard one word of complaint that all the matinee films were b&w.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostFri Apr 07, 2017 5:32 pm

In Wichita in the late 70s and early 80s there would often be free summer matinees on Wednesday morning at a theater in the mall (which was called The Mall; it was on Harry street, so when other malls were built it was given the Beat-ish name of The Harry Mall). Anyway, they often brought back things like Ray Harryhausen's films, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, etc. So my movie buff friends and I would go.

But it's for kids 12 and under, they'd say when we got to the theater. Surprisingly, because the world had not grown completely paranoid yet, we would passionately argue our movie buff credentials to see Harryhausen films, and overrun by kiddies, they'd let us, evil 16 year olds, go sit unsupervised in a crowd of 8-year-olds to watch John Phillip Law and Tom Baker duel with gorgons.

Today I tried to get a breakfast taco at 1 pm, an act which would have endangered nobody and simply required cracking a couple of eggs at lunchtime. Nope, no breakfast tacos after 11 am.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostFri Apr 07, 2017 6:29 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:Today I tried to get a breakfast taco at 1 pm, an act which would have endangered nobody and simply required cracking a couple of eggs at lunchtime. Nope, no breakfast tacos after 11 am.


Good heavens! What gentlemen arises before 11.00am? Breakfast should be available to Sir at any time he desires it to be served to him! People in service should know their place.:D
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostFri Apr 07, 2017 7:29 pm

Ah yes. Donald O'Connor and Francis. My youth is coming back to me. And Ma and Pa Kettle. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis…

Rick
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostFri Apr 07, 2017 8:36 pm

A few movie theatre memories of Grand Forks, North Dakota (I should probably write this into a book someday)...

My earliest movie memories, like many who grew up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, are of showings at the Star-Lite Drive-In, the only place my parents could see a movie without finding a babysitter (we never got a TV until I was 10, the last family on the block!). The first movie I can recall seeing is most likely AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, which came out in late '56 so it must have played the summer of '57 or '58 at the drive-in, when I was 3 or 4 and my brother would have been 6 to 18 months old. I also remember scenes of FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, which would have been summer of '59, and seriously wondering (as a five-year-old) why there was a guy they kept calling "nickel," when I couldn't see anything in the film related to the five-cent coin or the metal it was made out of (it was a decade or two later when I finally learned his character was named "Nicholl"). That drive-in was torn down in the early 70s for some real estate development or other as the city grew outwards, and another drive-in built south of town (also called the Star-Lite), expanding to a twin a few years later with radio sound so you didn't need the little speakers, and finally being torn down in the 90s for a golf driving range, which was replaced several years later by numerous apartment complexes as the city continued to expand.

Movies in regular theatres were rare treats when my dad would take the older kids while my mom stayed home with the baby (whoever it was at the time). The first indoor movie I can recall was a kiddie matinee at the historic Empire Theatre probably around 1960 or '61 reviving THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, a shot of an arrow flying through the castle window and lodging in a wooden table (or was it a chair?). When I got home my mother asked how I enjoyed the colors, which confused me because it was in black and white (which then confused her). I finally saw it in color sometime in the 70s, either on TV or at a 16mm college film society showing. A while later in college I went to the same theatre when it again had a Saturday kiddie show of the Warner Bros. classic, just so I could see it in 35mm, and once again it was in black and white! It was a very sharp and good-looking print, but I walked out after the arrow scene, knowing by then how much the color added to the story.

The first non-kiddie-matinee movie I can recall seeing theatrically was also at the Empire. That was a re-issue of 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, and would have been whenever the early 60s reissue was. I especially remember that one because we arrived late, then stayed through the previews and short(s) and the beginning of the next showing until my dad said "this is where we came in" and we had to leave, much as I wanted to watch the rest of the film again. The next indoor movies I recall were fall of 1964 when we all went downtown to the Empire to see MARY POPPINS and then early in 1965, again at the same theatre, when a friend's parents took all the kids at his birthday party down to see FIRST MEN IN THE MOON at what must have been a matinee because it was packed with kids. All the girls in the crowd screamed when a Selenite first appeared, drawing big laughs from the boys (who were more prone to silent gasps at the sudden shock).

A year or two after that I was old enough to go downtown by myself for occasional movies either at the Empire or at one of the other two downtown theatres (both long since torn down) or at the new "luxury theatre of the 70s" with its huge 55-foot wide screen and widely-spaced rows of seats, which opened at what was then near the south edge of town in 1968. That one ran movies until 1993 and a few years later was remodeled into the local TV studio's new home. Two twins and a four-plex that opened in the 70s and 80s have also since closed and been turned into other things or torn down and replaced by other things, but the Empire, coincidentally the first purpose-built movie theatre in town (others had been converted from stage theatres or storefronts), luckily remains in a recognizable state and still drawing audiences. The building had opened in November 1919 as "The New Grand" and changed after a remodeling to "The Paramount" in 1930 before another remodeling and the name change to the Empire in 1955.

That structure survived as a commercial movie house from its 1919 opening through 1994 (I was a manager there during most of 1986 until it closed for six months and re-opened as a dollar theatre, turning back to a first-run house about five or six years after that). When the small regional theatre chain that owned it finally shut it down for good as their new 10-plex was about to open, they donated it to the local arts council, which started a fund drive to remodel it during 1997-98 into the Empire performing arts center that it is today, keeping the overall flavor but removing several rows of seats to install a full-size stage and orchestra pit, while converting the very small balcony into space for follow-spots, and actually expanding the lobby into the long-unoccupied building next door. Just last year they were able to get a modern digital projector and are hoping to go back to occasional movie screenings.

It's nice that such an historic structure is still around, although it would be even nicer if some of the other former movie houses remained (a few of the smaller movie houses from the teens and 20s actually do still stand, reverting back to storefronts they started out as, after only a few years of running movies). Interestingly our Metropolitan Opera House built in 1890, featured stage touring companies and some vaudeville in the 1890s through the 1910s, became mainly a movie theatre by the mid-1910s, but was tragically gutted with its flyloft and balcony removed to turn into a bowling alley and bar way back in 1940, with its interior later destroyed by the flood of 1997. The building itself survived, however, and has a new life today as a micro-brewery restaurant! The stage of that theatre saw the likes of D. W. Griffith when he was still an actor, as well as William S. Hart, William Farnum, May Robson, and numerous other famous stars passing through on their way from Minneapolis to Winnipeg and/or points west. As a movie venue it notably played Thomas Edison's talking pictures of 1913, and was the regional place to see the roadshow of THE BIRTH OF A NATION with its traveling orchestra for a full 6-day week in December 1915 (when most films ran 2 or 3 days).
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostFri Apr 07, 2017 8:49 pm

It's interesting the number of people who have discussed seeing pictures at "Drive_ins". I have never been to one in my life! I know, I have evidently been missing out on something! :D But the fact was, I never purchased a motor car until I was 40 - so the idea of going to one of these places just wasn't on my agenda. My parents certainly would not have entertained the idea of "seeing a show" in anything other than in a "proper theatre" - and those "Drive-In" places had a penchant for attracting "a very bad element" - "Bodgies and Widgies" (as we called the larrikins in those days.)
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostFri Apr 07, 2017 10:52 pm

As I said before, I was a child of the suburbs and we were mostly a drive-in family. The first movie I ever remember seeing was Ray Milland starring in Premature Burial in 1961 which would make me 5 years old. My mother loved horror films and when I was very young she always allowed me to stay up and watch Fantastic Theater on Saturday night.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fo2_jcSOX4

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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostSat Apr 08, 2017 6:33 am

"The film:

Disney's early Sixties rerelease of PINOCCHIO. And WHOA! Did big-screen Technicolor blow the mind of this little kid used to small-screen b & w tv. I carry distinct memories to this day."

I remember that exactly. Early 1962; PINNOCHIO; Coronado Theater in Rockford, Illinois. It was indelible. A few months later, we went back down to see Fred MacMurray in BON VOYAGE. Sometimes, whining children can have a lot of leverage.

Some of the few theaters I saw films in, during my Rockford years, are still standing but closed. The Midway is one, dilapidated with a hole in the roof and waiting for salvation in a crumbling neighborhood. It was built by the Aacher Brothers during WWI and served the soldiers of Camp Grant. The State, which was older, was torn down in 1975 to serve as the grounds for a retirement center. The last film played was BINGO LONG'S TRAVELING ALL STARS with Billy Dee Williams.

Remarkably, most of the theaters from my Kansas City and Milwaukee days are also standing. The Uptown, where I saw MARY POPPINS, is an performing arts center and the Englewood is closed but standing There had been attempts to reopen it lately. In Milwaukee, we visited the Downer and the Oriental a lot. They're as old as my grandparents and are still showing indies and imports. The Downer just passed its 101st year and the Oriental is an atmospheric from the late 1920s. There are both centerpieces for the Milwaukee Film Festival.


While the old ones still stand, its all the shopping mall cineplexes that have disappeared from around me.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostSat Apr 08, 2017 7:59 am

linquist wrote:"The film: Disney's early Sixties rerelease of PINOCCHIO. And WHOA! Did big-screen Technicolor blow the mind of this little kid used to small-screen b & w tv. I carry distinct memories to this day."

I remember that exactly. Early 1962; PINNOCHIO; Coronado Theater in Rockford, Illinois. It was indelible.


As Charlie Brown said to Lucy, "THAT'S IT!"

Indelible indeed - and I was not yet four years old!

Here's the building today:

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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostSat Apr 08, 2017 8:07 am

Donald Binks wrote:"Bodgies and Widgies" (as we called the larrikins in those days.)


To quote G.B. Shaw, we live in, "two countries separated by a common language!"
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostSat Apr 08, 2017 9:51 am

All the theaters I went to as a kid, and well into my adulthood, closed years ago. The first ones my wife and I took our kids to are also closed and I wouldn't be surprised if my grandkids first theaters are now closed. I have no recollection of ever seeing a movie with either of my parents. The first movie I remember seeing was The Werewolf (1956). I told my mom I was walking downtown to watch the Perth Amboy, NJ Fire Dept 75th Anniversary parade and went to the Royal Theater to see The Werewolf instead. I still remember hearing the parade sirens outside, while sitting thru the movie twice. I don't remember the first movie on the double bill. It was probably a war movie.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostMon Apr 10, 2017 8:01 am

Thankfully, the Oxford Theatre, built in the 1937, is still operating here in Halifax, NS as a single screen cinema, owned by Cineplex Canada, which normally doesn't bother with such facilities, but was required to keep it in operation due to the deal it made to buy up Empire Theatres' Atlantic Canadian screens. It tends to show indie films, and occasionally a revival of a classic (in DCP, last 35mm screening was in 2012).

It was the theatre where I was taken by my parents to see my first "grown-up" film, The Sting, during its post-Oscars victory lap. I still go there on a regular basis, as I now live within walking distance.

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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostMon Apr 10, 2017 11:10 am

The two most local theaters of my childhood became respectively a bank (!) and a gym (!!!); others were drive-ins now long-gone. Though I saw many movies, the first one I can specifically connect with a still-extant theater would be 1962's How the West Was Won at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood (followed at the same location the next year by It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, both of them world premiere engagements).
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostTue Apr 11, 2017 1:01 pm

I saw Star Wars in 1977 at the Rogers Cinema in Marshfield WI; last I checked it was still there and operating as a theater (though I haven't been to a movie there in probably 35 years). Yes, a quick Google search shows that it's still showing movies. Everything else I can think of before that is now defunct.

EDIT: Same theatre, but I recollected that I also saw Cabaret there in 1972 or maybe 1973 since we were out in the sticks, and Blazing Saddles in 1973. So that moves the date back a few years.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostTue Apr 11, 2017 2:15 pm

Christopher Jacobs wrote:A few movie theatre memories of Grand Forks, North Dakota (I should probably write this into a book someday)...

My earliest movie memories, like many who grew up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, are of showings at the Star-Lite Drive-In, the only place my parents could see a movie without finding a babysitter (we never got a TV until I was 10, the last family on the block!).


We had a drive-in theater reasonably close to us but I don't recall ever being taken to it as a child, probs due to the parental dislike of movies. It being a different age, they also had no truck with baby sitters. They just threatened us and left us alone.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 12, 2017 1:38 am

Whatever the movie was, it was as the Fox Fremont in San Luis Obispo, CA. The kids summer series was a (bad) movie every week for 10 weeks. Cost $5.00. The earliest I remember was "The Amazing Colossal Man." The earliest not in that series might have been "Mary Poppins."
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 12, 2017 8:13 am

I remember being dropped off at the Brook Theater in Tulsa to see Mary Poppins. There was a line and by the time I got to the ticket booth it was officially sold out. Being that I was a self reliant practical kid. Instead of calling mom to tell her to pick me up, I strolled across the street to the local TG&Y store and spent my movie money on toys. Mom didn't see my practicality and I got in a world of hurt for that. I finally did get to see Mary Poppins not long after that, but I went with mom & dad.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 12, 2017 9:52 am

Clem Dickey wrote:Whatever the movie was, it was as the Fox Fremont in San Luis Obispo, CA. The kids summer series was a (bad) movie every week for 10 weeks. Cost $5.00. The earliest I remember was "The Amazing Colossal Man." The earliest not in that series might have been "Mary Poppins."


The Fremont is still there, a pretty theater, too. Were you raised in SLO? http://100movies100theaters.blogspot.co ... vatar.html
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostSun Apr 16, 2017 11:16 am

I seem to recall visiting a cinema in Victoria Road North, Southsea to see THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES and THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE in the mid-late 1960s. It is now a Jami Mosque... Will check on what it was called.

And I recall cinema visits in London to the THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN as well as A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM and THUNDERBALL. Likely to be the Odeon Leicester Square, but couldn't swear to it.

Also on holiday memories of MUNSTER, GO HOME and some of the Morecambe and Wise outings. This would have been on the Isle of Wight or perhaps Jersey.

Most of the others have been pulled down and are now flats or open ground...
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostMon Apr 17, 2017 11:18 am

Do drive-ins count? "The Great Escape" at Shankweiler's Drive-In, amazingly still going.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostMon Apr 17, 2017 4:26 pm

I still have vivid memories of the first and only time my parents took me to the cinema when I was young. We went to the Cinema Italia in Clifton Hill, an old suburb of Melbourne. This cinema only showed Italian movies and we watched a program of silent comedy and slapstick Italian shorts from the 1920's.
The building which dates from about 1910-20 is still extant but has been converted into appartments and shops.

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/38310" target="_blank" target="_blank
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostTue Apr 18, 2017 1:07 am

Frederica wrote:
Clem Dickey wrote:Whatever the movie was, it was as the Fox Fremont in San Luis Obispo, CA. The kids summer series was a (bad) movie every week for 10 weeks. Cost $5.00. The earliest I remember was "The Amazing Colossal Man." The earliest not in that series might have been "Mary Poppins."


The Fremont is still there, a pretty theater, too. Were you raised in SLO? http://100movies100theaters.blogspot.co ... vatar.html" target="_blank" target="_blank


Yes, born and raised in SLO. The first movies I saw in a no-longer-extant theatre might have been "The War Game" and "Dr. Strangelove" as an anti-nuclear war double feature at the "other" downtown theatre, the Obispo. As you probably know, the Obispo succumbed to suspected arson in December 1975 with 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" on the marquee. What a way to go out.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostTue Apr 18, 2017 2:03 pm

Clem Dickey wrote:
Frederica wrote:The Fremont is still there, a pretty theater, too. Were you raised in SLO? http://100movies100theaters.blogspot.co ... vatar.html" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank


Yes, born and raised in SLO. The first movies I saw in a no-longer-extant theatre might have been "The War Game" and "Dr. Strangelove" as an anti-nuclear war double feature at the "other" downtown theatre, the Obispo. As you probably know, the Obispo succumbed to suspected arson in December 1975 with 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" on the marquee. What a way to go out.


I grew up to the north of you, Atascadero. I cannot remember ever going to either of the two SLO theaters--we generally went to the Fox Theater in Paso Robles, on those rare occasions we went to movies. I'm not sure if that's still there. I remember seeing The Great Race at the Morro Bay Theater: http://www.morrobaymovie.com/index.php/about-us" target="_blank.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostThu Apr 20, 2017 9:59 am

It wasn't the first movie I recall seeing, nor is the theater still standing, but the most memorable was How the West Was Won in Cinerama, for which my mother took us out of school for the day and drove all the way to Syracuse so that we could see it. I suppose that my mother (a schoolteacher) figured the history quotient would outweigh the school absence.

Here's a link that tells when and where exactly that was: http://cinematreasures.org/blog/2008/11/14/remembering-cinerama-part-xi-syracuse
Donna C.
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Bitter Tastes: Literary Naturalism and Early Cinema in American Women's Writing (U Georgia P, 2016)
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostThu Apr 20, 2017 2:42 pm

mbluth1 wrote:It wasn't the first movie I recall seeing, nor is the theater still standing, but the most memorable was How the West Was Won in Cinerama, for which my mother took us out of school for the day and drove all the way to Syracuse so that we could see it. I suppose that my mother (a schoolteacher) figured the history quotient would outweigh the school absence.

Here's a link that tells when and where exactly that was: http://cinematreasures.org/blog/2008/11/14/remembering-cinerama-part-xi-syracuse

Well, I guess I can say that I once parked in the lot that used to be the Biograph Theatre in Syracuse.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostThu Apr 20, 2017 3:41 pm

I was lucky that my neighborhood theater as a kid was the Arlington in Santa Barbara, quite a beautiful theater inside and out. It's still there and still a movie theater, I think. I know Hollywood use to have some of its opening nights there, sometimes. Anyway, I saw "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad" there - the first one I remember. And saw "Star Wars" for the first time there, too.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostSun May 14, 2017 8:29 am

The first movie in a theater was in '77, the Disney live-action "Candleshoe" with David Niven, Jodie Foster, Helen Hayes and the great Leo McKern at Landover Mall, gone now. :|
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