Movie Theaters

A place close to my heart. The glowing light, absolute darkness. Popcorn, Candy, Soda. There’s nothing like it. Trailers, Watching With Strangers, No Talking. The first time? You remember? Where? Near, Far, Drive-In. What was it? The place and the movie. Will you forget? Film, Digital. Childhood, First Date. Trailers, Opening Night. Is there somewhere? Over the rainbow?


Nice image from “Targets”!

I can’t recall the first time I was in a movie theater. Very young, anyway.

I can recall a theater, when I was pretty young, that showed “Blood and Black Lace” during its first American release. I was WAY too young for this early giallo shocker. Maybe that made me the horror film buff I am today. Same theater showed groovy stuff like the Beatles movie “Help!” and the Beach Party movies.

Years later there was a theater that showed unusual stuff like “Four Flies on Gray Velvet” (my second giallo experience, before I knew there was such a genre) and the pre-Watergate Nixon satire “Richard,” which seems to have vanished off the face of the Earth.

Way back, I can remember when “big” movies played in a limited number of theaters in major cities. My parents would take me to Los Angeles for these kind of “events.” (Notably, the first run of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which has been my favorite film ever since.

Some time later there was a Cinerama Dome theater in Orange County (south of L.A.) I don’t know if such things exist anymore.

Here it is:

During high school there was one of those theaters that showed old and cult films of various kinds. First place I ever smelled marijuana. (I still haven’t used it myself.) I saw stuff like “Night of the Living Dead” and the old exploitation film “Sex Madness” there.

This place, about when I was there. I recall seeing “Cisco Pike,” maybe the other films in this triple feature.

During college, in L.A., there was the World Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, which showed horror/monster/science fiction double or triple features, where I saw stuff like “They Came From Within.”

Here it is in 1971, which is just a bit before I was there. Note that the triple feature includes “The Corpse Grinders” and “The Embalmer.” I can’t read the title between those two.


Sublime photos. They really tell a story.

The historic theater here, which has sat empty for a while, is being renovated. It’s new marquee sign is being put up soon, but this is what it used to look like. I’m guessing the new one will look similar, but with a digital sign below the Indiana part.

There’s another theater across the street next to it that has no sign on it at all, so almost no one knows it’s a theater. The only reason I know is because when I worked at the news station, I filmed a local beauty pageant taking place there.


As far as I know, there is still a Cinerama dome in Hollywood. I saw Kill Bill: Volume 2 there when it came out. I wish I could have seen 2001: A Space Odyssey there.



I used to like going to the cinema, but these days it’s too expensive, I don’t like being around people, and no matter how much I dehydrate myself I always have to go to the bathroom at some point and miss a bit. With ads and stuff pushing most things to at least three hours, I’d rather wait and watch in the comfort of my own home.

I have dim memories of piling in the car to go to the drive-in way back in the day, and I’ve always had a vague sense of seeing either Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi at one, but who knows if that’s a real memory or not.

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At least it remains a theater. A better fate than many landmarks.


The problem is that half the buildings downtown, including some churches, look like that.


You’re not sure?

Theaters? Love ‘em, absolutely love ‘em. Definitely my happy place.

I grew up in Irvine, CA with the Edwards Cinema chain, and my first that I remember was their 5 screen theater in the Woodbridge neighborhood. The earliest movie I can recall seeing there was A Christmas Story.

I think AMC owns that theater now, and Regal swallowed up Edwards years ago.

I spent hours upon hours in those theaters as a kid before working at one as a teenager. I was an usher, but was eventually trained to thread and start the projectors; still one of the coolest jobs I’ve ever had.


Regal swallowed the Holiday Theaters in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They were a local hallmark. And the original two were torn down and the Cineplex Regal built in the same parking lot.




The first movie theater I went to is easy to recall because the little town I grew up in only had one theater. It was a small, one screen, shoebox shaped building. I don’t recall the actual name of it because you never had to specify that. If you said you were going to the movies (or “the show”), people knew where/what you meant.

The thing I loved about it as a kid was they had one of those soda dispenser machines in which you put your quarter, select your choice of soda and then it drops a paper cup down into the dispenser area, then drops ice cubes into the cup, then spews carbonated water and your selected artificial colors and flavors into the cup. That was just an amazing show in itself! The actual movie was a bonus after that.

I’ve said before that Mary Poppins was the first movie I recall seeing in a theater and that was where I saw it. Also recall seeing Munster, Go Home!, The Shakiest Gun in the West, The Reluctant Astronaut, and The Jungle Book there. But sometime after I saw The Jungle Book, there was a fire in the theater and we had no movies in town for maybe 4 or 5 years.

After it did finally reopen, it was the scene of one of my little town’s most star-studded events. George C. Scott had produced, directed and starred in a new movie called The Savage Is Loose. He was very upset that the MPAA gave it an R rating instead of a PG. He wanted to show that the MPAA was wrong and that ordinary people would not find the content of the movie that shocking or offensive. So Hollywood actor George C. Scott came to our little town to show his movie! It even got written up in some magazine (maybe People?). I didn’t get to go see him/the movie though.


The former marquee sign at the local theater goes into the county history center.

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