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

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Mike Gebert

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

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 10:18 am

Someone had a thread on Facebook on "the first movie you ever saw in a theater." Some kiddie thing, but here's a more interesting and possibly harder question-- what's the first movie you saw in a theater that still exists?

Mine is probably Patton, at the Uptown in Wichita, no longer a movie theater but still in existence as an event space:

http://crownuptown.com

I also saw a reissue of House of Wax around the same time at the Orpheum, likewise a performing arts space now.

http://wichitaorpheum.com

But all the other places I saw Disney cartoons or even things like Jaws and Star Wars are gone now.

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

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 10:38 am

Good question, Mike, and the only answer I can come up with is that I don't know. The Central in Cedarhurst closed in the 1980s, according to a web search I just conducted. The Fox in Hewlett doesn't even show up on web searches. I'm pretty sure I was seeing movie in theaters by 1962; my parents took us to Broadway matinees for birthdays, where I saw Camelot in its original run; also, the Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas show, including the Balanchine NUTCRACKER. I just can't remember any titles.

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

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 10:46 am

Great question. The first movie I remember seeing was Murder by Death. I don't remember much about the movie but the theater is still around:

http://www.frostburgpalace.org/

The Palace was on Main Street in my hometown and has been around since the early 1900's. It is not a regular movie theater any longer. The city took it over for a while and then sold it to a community group that shows classic films and is now also booking musical performers.

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

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 11:31 am

You made me go looking. I have a vague remembrance that the movie was Bambi, a reissue perhaps? it might have been another Disney film. The theater I remember (I also saw It Happened at the World's Fair there) and the interwebs informs me it is still there.
http://www.kigginstheatre.net/about/
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 11:36 am

All of the North Dallas theaters that I saw films in as a child or teenager are gone -- except one. It is now a Bollywood Theater, and has been greatly remodeled. It was just a plain old General Cinema theater back in the 1970s and 1980s called the Richardson 6.

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

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 11:44 am

Unfortunately not one single theater, inside or drive-in, still exists from my childhood where I grew up to watch movies!! The first film that I actually remember seeing in a theater - although I'm not sure it was actually the first I went to see, either by myself or with someone else, including parents - was a re-issue of "Winchester '73" (1950) with Jimmy Stewart, this back in 1955 at the old Uptown Theater at 42nd and College Avenue in Indianapolis. I'm pretty sure I'd seen other westerns before this in the same theater, but I can't swear to it anymore. I know I saw "The King and I" (1956) at a drive-in theater with my sister and parents when it came out. I remember it particularly because we had some food in the car and my sister threw up all over the back seat during the show - nice memory, huh? Of the theaters still in existence where I might have seen my first film, it was possibly "The Great Gatsby" (1974) at a theater in Castleton Square. I was already in my mid twenties. Seems like yesterday - headed for 45 years ago.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 12:18 pm

The earliest films i remember seeing on screen were all from 1964 and were seen at drive-ins, which i think are all gone. But i do remember standing outside the Center Theater in Centerville, Fremont, CA for four hours to see Help (1965). The theater is still extant, having gone through periods of being a Bollywood theater and an Afghan theater, now their facebook page says they are trying to fund a restoration but there are no recent posts and it looks like nobody knows what's going on, and their web domain is not active. It used to have lovely murals, but they were hideously "restored" in the 70s, and i dont' know what they look like now.

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

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 12:42 pm

Earliest I can remember without looking things up:

Butterfield 8 at the Ardmore in Ardmore, PA (no longer a theater but still there: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/2596)
Journey to the Center of the Earth at the Anthony Wayne in Wayne, PA (http://anthonywayne.reelcinemaspa.com/l ... e_id=38185)

Saw South Pacific and Ben-Hur at one of the two above, not sure if they were original runs. Went to a lot of Saturday matinees at the Anthony Wayne, they were mostly reissues like At War with the Army. I remember a Batman serial that never made sense because we kept missing episodes.

I think The Wheeler Dealers at Radio City Music Hall was my first out-of-town screening.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 1:04 pm

None of the theaters I attended in my youth are in operation. One that I remembered seeing The Longest Day in 1963 has been turned into a restaurant with only the facade and marquee still existing. I grew up in Tulsa and was a child of the suburbs. There were some beautiful movie palaces downtown, but the only memory I have of one of those is going to see a Disney movie called Miracle of the White Stallions. It was about the lipizzaner stallions of Austria. I remember looking up and the ceiling was covered with what looked like twinkling stars. It was also 1963.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 1:09 pm

I remember Peter Pan, and a reissue of Gone With The Wind, both at theaters in Downtown Fort Smith, Arkansas. Both buildings still stand, one being repurposed for live venues, but both closed as movie houses in the 1970's.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 2:02 pm

Aside from the usual Disney stuff as a mere enfant, the first films I saw would have been in either or both the Glendale and the Eglinton theatres in Toronto. Both are gone now.

The Eglinton was a huge and gorgeous, classic theatre. As a teenager, I saw all the Chaplin reissues there. Also Mary Poppins, and it was the scene of a family meltdown on New Year's Eve following a screening of Topaz.

The Glendale was where I saw Elvis movies, Beach Blanket Bingo, A Hard Day's Night, Grand Prix, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and several others. It was converted to the only Cinerama theatre in Toronto, so that gives you an idea of its size. It was then torn down in the 1970s for ... a car lot. Then the car lot was imaginatively torn down for ... a car dealership. Which remains today. The Glendale's demise was greatly lamented (I remember it was the lead theatre in a newspaper reminiscence for the old movie palaces that was published as late as the early 2000's), especially as it was the only theatre within walking distance of my home.

Mike, did you deliberately start this thread in a devious plan to make us all cry?

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

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 2:59 pm

I think the first picture I remember seeing was "The Cruel Sea" at the "Atheneum" in Collins Street, Melbourne when the theatre was still showing pictures. It is still there, but now does the occasional live shows. I am also very pleased to say that most of the cinemas in which I saw pictures as a youngster, are still extant. "The Capitol - Theatre Magnificent" and designed by Walter Burley Griffin, is still there - well the upstairs is, having had the downstairs removed for an arcade in the 1960's. "The State" - an atmospheric, was twinned in 1962 to become the "Forum" and the "Rapallo" - and is being done up as we speak. "The Regent" closed as a picture house in 1970 and re-opened in 1996 showing musicals - with the odd, occasional picture. Down by the sea-side, the cavernous "Palais Pictures" - also given over to mainly live shows is currently being restored. My two local cinemas though - "The Kinema" and "The Park" in Albert Park (a close-in suburb) went years ago. "The Park" was pulled down about 1961 to become a petrol station, while "The Kinema" lasted until later in the early '70's and made way for some modern shops.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 3:18 pm

Hmm. I had to give this some thought - nearly all of the early movie-going memories (mid-late '60s) were at theatres now gone.

The oldest one still standing - but now a photography studio - was SOUND OF MUSIC on its original release. Same theatre for BUTCH CASSIDY. The only local theatres in operation today weren't built until at least the '90s - all multiplexes.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 4:07 pm

Mike, did you deliberately start this thread in a devious plan to make us all cry?


No, but I realized how much my memories were wound up with the old theaters— my earliest screening of Disney (Bambi?), which was possibly my first movie ever, was at what was thought to be Wichita's most beautiful theater, the Miller, torn down not long after for a bank building's parking lot. The Orpheum is only a block or so north, so it was fortunate indeed.

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/10767

It is surprising to me, though, that two old theaters lasted longer than all the concrete shoebox multiplexes of my teens-- every single one of them is gone, replaced by much larger and nicer faux-deco multiplex palaces. (Honestly, the best part of going to visit family in Wichita is getting to go to a movie there—almost any theater there is nicer than what we have in Chicago.)
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 5:21 pm

When I was a child, the major exhibition chains were in the midst of consolidating the various small cinemas in Sydney's central business district into one major complex, the George Street Centre. Before multiplexes populated the suburbs, this was where you had to go to see anything major. I remember being taken to see a revival of Fantasia (funny how often Disney comes up in these recollections), as well as E.T: The Extra Terrestrial. I'm quite sure I recall intervals; they must have lingered longer in Australia than they did in other countries.

My brother, who has super-human powers of recall, distinctly remembers being taken to see Time Bandits (1981) at the same venue; he cannot have been more than three years old at the time, but can still recount the plot in detail. The George Street Centre still exists, although it's been altered to the extent that it may as well be a different building.

The same is true of my first neighbourhood multiplex, the Sylvania Village (three whole theatres under the same roof!) It only existed for around fifteen years and was hardly ornamental, but it brings back many fond memories, as it's where I became a junior cinephile. It's now a 24 hour gym.

Strangely enough, the one cinema I frequented which is still there and in roughly the same format is also the oldest, the 1928 Cronulla Theatre. I don't recall what movies I saw there, but I do remember being young enough to gaze at a sign outside and have to sound each letter out to work out what it said - 'Please Use Other Door'.

You're right, Jim - this thread is not good for our emotional wellbeing. :cry:
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 6:22 pm

I was lucky: when I was four, my father took my mother and me with him on a business trip to Atlanta, and my mother whisked me off to the legendary Fox Theater--

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_Theatre_(Atlanta)

--to see a revival of Gone With the Wind. I loved the first half, but during the second half (which I hated), I insisted on several bathroom breaks just so I could gawk like a doofus at the grandeur of the Egyptian architecture of the lobby and even the men's room. And back in the auditorium, that night sky ceiling of twinkling stars--!!

I've been there umpteen times during the half-century since (most recently for a screening of Some Like It Hot last summer), and it's still magical.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 8:45 pm

Like Jim Reid, I grew up in Tulsa. There were a number of great old theaters when we were kids -- the Orpheum, the Rialto, the Delman, the Will Rogers -- but they're all gone. Only one survives: the Circle. And it went through a familiar trajectory, from first-run cinema, to second-run, to porn grind house . . . but then, happily, it was rescued and turned into an art house, and today it's thriving.

The earliest movie I can remember seeing there was a Disney flick called Monkeys Go Home! in 1967. I probably saw flicks there in earlier days, but that's the first one I can definitely pinpoint at the Circle.

P.S. When the Orpheum was torn down in 1969, an article about it in the local paper mentioned that it had been built as a vaudeville theater some sixty years earlier. They printed a reproduction of the opening night bill, and among the acts who opened the place was The Three Keatons.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostWed Apr 05, 2017 10:51 pm

Count me also as Bambi (must have been the R'66) being my first movie memory, but alack, it was at a drive in that is now a housing tract. Probably the only one that still survives (although also re-purposed) is the Capitol Theater:

https://capitoltheatre.org/

Vivid memories to this day of seeing Battle of Britain there.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostThu Apr 06, 2017 12:40 am

Wm. Charles Morrow wrote:Like Jim Reid, I grew up in Tulsa. There were a number of great old theaters when we were kids -- the Orpheum, the Rialto, the Delman, the Will Rogers -- but they're all gone. Only one survives: the Circle. And it went through a familiar trajectory, from first-run cinema, to second-run, to porn grind house . . . but then, happily, it was rescued and turned into an art house, and today it's thriving.

The earliest movie I can remember seeing there was a Disney flick called Monkeys Go Home! in 1967. I probably saw flicks there in earlier days, but that's the first one I can definitely pinpoint at the Circle.

P.S. When the Orpheum was torn down in 1969, an article about it in the local paper mentioned that it had been built as a vaudeville theater some sixty years earlier. They printed a reproduction of the opening night bill, and among the acts who opened the place was The Three Keatons.


Have you been back to the Circle? The only thing original about it is the facade. I had heard that The Circle was running films again so when I was in town I drove by it. It was around sundown and I noticed that the light from the sun was streaming through a slit between the bottom of the marquee and the top of the doors. When I drove around back, the auditorium had been torn down, only leaving the front of the building. I guess they rebuilt something in that spot, but it's not the old Circle Theater we remember. BTW, I the earliest film I remember seeing that the Circle was Darby's Rangers. But it's most well remembered by me of the sight of my first date. I took the girl to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I'm kind of glad it did get torn down!
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostThu Apr 06, 2017 3:57 am

Jim Reid wrote:
Wm. Charles Morrow wrote:Like Jim Reid, I grew up in Tulsa. There were a number of great old theaters when we were kids -- the Orpheum, the Rialto, the Delman, the Will Rogers -- but they're all gone. Only one survives: the Circle. And it went through a familiar trajectory, from first-run cinema, to second-run, to porn grind house . . . but then, happily, it was rescued and turned into an art house, and today it's thriving.

The earliest movie I can remember seeing there was a Disney flick called Monkeys Go Home! in 1967. I probably saw flicks there in earlier days, but that's the first one I can definitely pinpoint at the Circle.

P.S. When the Orpheum was torn down in 1969, an article about it in the local paper mentioned that it had been built as a vaudeville theater some sixty years earlier. They printed a reproduction of the opening night bill, and among the acts who opened the place was The Three Keatons.


Have you been back to the Circle? The only thing original about it is the facade. I had heard that The Circle was running films again so when I was in town I drove by it. It was around sundown and I noticed that the light from the sun was streaming through a slit between the bottom of the marquee and the top of the doors. When I drove around back, the auditorium had been torn down, only leaving the front of the building. I guess they rebuilt something in that spot, but it's not the old Circle Theater we remember. BTW, I the earliest film I remember seeing that the Circle was Darby's Rangers. But it's most well remembered by me of the sight of my first date. I took the girl to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I'm kind of glad it did get torn down!


Actually, no, I haven't been back to the Circle in person; in fact, I haven't set foot in Tulsa in almost 20 years. I heard they "saved" the Circle, but didn't realize the building was gutted. So that means not one of the cinemas of our childhood is still there, really. I've heard that the building formerly used as the Brook Theatre on Peoria is still standing, but it's a restaurant now. (Was that where you saw The Longest Day?) I know that the Will Rogers was turned into a church before it was eventually torn down. That struck me as weird, the thought that people were attending church in the same space where Don Knotts comedies and, later, A Clockwork Orange, had once been shown. I remember the place had WPA murals on the walls, depicting cowboys on horseback, swinging lariats. When the place was a church I wonder if the murals were painted over. If not, well, again, that would have been a little strange.

Getting back to the Circle, when the place was a second run cinema in the '70s I saw several good flicks there for $1.00 a ticket, including The Last Picture Show, which seems all too appropriate now.
Last edited by Wm. Charles Morrow on Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Jim Reid

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

PostThu Apr 06, 2017 7:35 am

Wm. Charles Morrow wrote:
Jim Reid wrote:Actually, no, I haven't been back to the Circle in person; in fact, I haven't set foot in Tulsa in almost 20 years. I heard they "saved" the Circle, but didn't realize the building was gutted. So that means not one of the cinemas of our childhood is still there, really. I've heard that the building formally used as the Brook Theatre on Peoria is still standing, but it's a restaurant now. (Was that where you saw The Longest Day?) I know that the Will Rogers was turned into a church before it was eventually torn down. That struck me as weird, the thought that people were attending church in the same space where Don Knotts comedies and, later, A Clockwork Orange, had once been shown. I remember the place had WPA murals on the walls, depicting cowboys on horseback, swinging lariats. When the place was a church I wonder if the murals were painted over. If not, well, again, that would have been a little strange.

Getting back to the Circle, when the place was a second run cinema in the '70s I saw several good flicks there for $1.00 a ticket, including The Last Picture Show, which seems all too appropriate now.


Yes. The Brook is where I saw The Longest Day, and Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music. The Brook suffered much the same fate as The Circle. The restaurant covers what was the lobby and Lewis Meyer's Bookstore. The auditorium is gone. If you drive around to the back you'll find a drive-through bank there. I loved the murals at the Will Rogers. The last time I remember going there they had hung curtains down both sides of the auditorium to cover them up. Talking about the Will Rogers sparked my memory of seeing The Alamo there. So that would now be my first memory of seeing a film in an indoor theater. We were drive-in people. I have tons of memories of The Riverside, The 11th Street, The Skyline, The Apache and the closest to us and our most frequent, The Bellaire. Loved The Delman. Last time I remember going there was to see the re-launch of Animal Crackers in '74. I got pulled out by an usher because I had snuck in a cassette recorder. Got a lecture from some old cigar chomping, fedora wearing manager.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostThu Apr 06, 2017 8:52 am

I vividly remember seeing the Disney JUNGLE BOOK in the Burg Theater in Witten, Germany. I must have been around eight and it was the early seventies. Starting about two years later I went to countless Sunday matinees of Japanese monster movies and such like in the same cinema. It is still there and it still operates as a cinema today.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostThu Apr 06, 2017 9:04 am

All of the solo movie houses from my youth are gone. Even the drive-ins.

Heck, even the multiplex where I saw CORVETTE SUMMER (1978) is gone.

I guess the Deptford AMC 8 wins for, among other things, MONTY PYTHON'S THE MEANING OF LIFE in 1983.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostThu Apr 06, 2017 9:52 am

The first movie that I recall seeing in a theater was The Aristocats in 1970. Although I'm not 100% certain, I believe it was at the Majestic Theater in Chillicothe, Ohio (there weren't many theaters in that part of Ohio back then, but this is the most likely one). The theater, which opened as an opera house in 1853, claims to be the oldest continually operating one in the country. Although mainly a performing arts venue now, they do still occasionally show films. May have to head down there some day to catch a show.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostThu Apr 06, 2017 10:04 am

Goodness, I think all the theaters from when I was a kid are gone now. The earliest movie I saw at Easton in Columbus was Inspector Gadget which my cousin took my younger cousins and I to because he thought we would like it and it was awful.

The first movie I remember seeing at the Ohio Theater was It Happened One Night, which I made my husband take me to.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostThu Apr 06, 2017 11:14 am

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, at the Dallas in Dallastown, PA (small town ninety-ish miles west of Philadelphia).

It closed in the late 1980's, I believe, but remains standing.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostThu Apr 06, 2017 11:19 am

The first movie I may ever have gone to-- title long since forgotten-- was here at the 54 Drive-In:

http://photos.cinematreasures.org/produ ... 1315361774

Unfortunately, two-year-old me pulled one of the chrome knobs off the radio and stuck it in the cigarette lighter, making the whole dashboard start sparking, so apparently we drove home in a panic.

It would soon be amazing to me that a drive-in took up this land, as it's a Hilton now and across the street is Wichita's biggest mall. But it was still farmland on the edge of town for a few more years when I was born. Great neon sign, I wish there was a color picture somewhere. Here's one of it with a big cow:

http://drive-ins.com/imagesdt250/ks/kstfift002.jpg

No idea what the story is there, but large plaster cattle were not an uncommon sight in my childhood.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostThu Apr 06, 2017 11:46 am

I worked at the Southwood Theater in Austin, Texas as an assistant manager from 1981-1982. I saw a ton of films there because I worked in the booth as well as managing crowds and the concession stand. It was originally a gigantic auditorium that had been twinned by AMD in the 1970s. It is still standing, but now it is a Blazer Tag location.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostThu Apr 06, 2017 6:16 pm

First movie I saw was "The Sword and the Stone" at the Lans Theatre.
http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/5036/photos/188911
They showed all the Disney movies. Building still exists but it's a pizza parlor now. Nothing fancy, the walls were painted with an aquatic theme and the wall scones were shaped like sea shells-like the Shell Oil sign. One level, no balcony. Another first at that theatre (for me) was the first time I went to a movie by myself-alone. "The Ten Commandments" was sent out one more time, before it was sold to TV, in 1972. I asked all the fellas on the block but nobody wanted to see it. They all HAD to go to church every Sunday (I didn't) so maybe that had something to do with it. Nonetheless, I went and I loved it. Still love it. Still have no problem going to movies solo.
For the sleazy kiddie matinees of the 60's, the ones promoted to death on TV and usually from somewhere east of the free world, we went to Downtown Hammond Indiana. A real Downtown with two movie theatres. The Paramount (1930) and the Parthenon (1921-streamlined in 1948), both with balconies. The Downtown of Jean Shepherd and "A Christmas Story." A thousand kids unsupervised. The popcorn flew, not to mention a partially chewed Raisinette (one once glanced off my glasses) and no ushers in sight. Those theatres both went in the 1980s. I have a box of Art Deco plaster ornament from the wreckage of the Paramount in my basement. Downtown Hammond doesn't exist anymore either. Blocks and blocks and blocks of stores, restaurants, theatres, banks, offices, etc. What's left looks like an abandoned movie set.
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Re: First movie you saw... in a theater still extant

PostFri Apr 07, 2017 9:38 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.

The theater:

The Valentine, the one (of the formerly two) "real" movie houses still extant then in Defiance, Ohio. It's now a non-denominational church, but that's okay; because in my old hometown, if it didn't have that use, it would probably have been gutted long ago.

-Craig
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