Comments from dallasmovietheaters

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dallasmovietheaters commented about Peekers Theatre on Nov 14, 2013 at 10:50 am

If there was an antithesis of “cinema treasure” it was Peekers Theater. While the porno chic X-rated film revolution was big in Dallas in the late 1960s and into the mid-1970s, pop-up theaters not dissimilar from that in the show-store era invaded storefronts and took over boarded up theaters showing XXX films. Peekers was one such example. The Parisian Club operated from 1967 to 1973 as a strip club which featured films later in the club’s life. But in 1973, the Parisian is raided and that ends the club. But Peekers rose from the Parisian keeping adult entertainment alive on Cedar Springs.

Peekers advertised from April 1, 1974 to July 4, 1975 which is likely close to its operational lifespan. In October of 1974, Peekers had finally earned its stripes as an adult theater when it was raided and, at trial the following March, its office manager was thrown in jail for obscenity and fined $1,000. “Orgy Machine” and “Hooked on Women” were two of the five films confiscated. Peekers is a distant memory due in part to a crackdown on adult theaters in the mid-1970s in Dallas and because the building housing Peekers has been demolished.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Casa View Drive-In on Nov 13, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Looking at the advertisements, the White Rock Drive In began its advertisements and its listings begin on June 5, 1954 with “The Long, Long Trailer” and “Arena.” The listings are continuous until November 1956. Ads and listings stop. On April 4, 1958 advertisements begin for the Casa View Drive-In continuing year-round all the way until the end of the season in 1970. A guess would be that the White Rock only lasted three seasons. After a year off or of doing alternate programming, it resumed operations as the Casa View.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Empire Theater on Nov 13, 2013 at 6:41 pm

The Empire Theater opened March 22, 1909 at the corner of Main and Stone streets with seating for 968 patrons. C.B. Harris' Empire Theater Company owned the place and it was built for popular plays and Harris termed it a “moderate priced house”. It opened with the plya, “The Belle of Richmond.” The owners said that the theater would make it safe for one’s wife or daughter to attend at all times.

dallasmovietheaters commented about UA Cine I & II on Nov 13, 2013 at 8:27 am

Conceived in 1967 to be built on a tract of land previously used by the Dallas Cowboys and just across the highway from Southern Methodist University (SMU) was the UA Ciné 150. It was designed as a hard ticket roadshow theater and would be United Artists’ first Southwest theater to use UA in the building’s name. The floor to ceiling screen was 34’ by 85’ designed to play D-150 films such as “The Bible.” Planned for 1,000 seats, wider aisles would drop the final seat count to 840 rocking style chairs. Raquel Welch helped break ground for the theater on July 27, 1967. As noted in other comments, the design was virtually identical to UA 150 theaters by George Raad and Associates in Oak Brook, IL and Santa Clara, CA and markedly dissimilar from the curved-building UA 150 screens in Little Rock, AR or Colorado Springs, CO.

“Far From the Madding Crowd” was the announced opening film for Christmas of 1967. But weather delayed completion and Christmas and January/February and March opening dates came and went with April 30, 1968 being a private opening and May 2d being the official public opening. A ribbon made of 70mm film was cut to open the theater with Dallas' mayor in attendance. The UA Ciné 150 with the delayed “Madding Crowd” sold out its first night.

The roadshow of “Funny Girl” filled the theater again not long after with Columbia Pictures President Leo Jaffe and Director William Wyler in attendance. The film ran 17 weeks before moving to the Granada to continue the roadshow run. “Lion in the Winter” and “Hello, Dolly” completed the roadshow schedule in 1969 with quasi-roadshow return of “South Pacific” between. In 1970, the Ciné had the roadshow of “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and in 1971, “Fiddler on the Roof.” But the roadshow era was closing and no D-150 films graced the Ciné. So with competition from Interstate’s Medallion and Wilshire just to the north and south and General Cinema’s NorthPark I & II to the north, the Ciné’s initial business concept no longer made sense. So the theater was closed in September of 1972 for the purpose of twinning and reconfiguring the screens. The reopened Ciné 1 & 2 held 500 and 300 patrons and had “Sounder” and a roadshow of “Man of LaMancha.”

As downtown Dallas’ theatre row decayed the success of the Central Zone theatres led to further expansion in the territory General Cinemas' NorthPark III&IV, Plitt’s Caruth Plaza and more importantly the AMC Glen Lakes. The competition was brutal and Interstate Theatre Circuit sold the Medallion to United Artists in 1986. Not long after UA converted the Medallion into three auditoriums, the Ciné became part-arthouse and hosted the USA Film Festival. When United Artists opened its high tech UA Plaza in May of 1989, the Medallion became a second run bargain theatre and the UA Ciné became a full-time arthouse which it remained until closing Nov. 2, 2000.

The Ciné had great runs with movies including, “Sex, Lies and Videotape” and “Pulp Fiction.” It closed with “Dancer in the Dark” and “I’m the One That I Want.” SMU bought the building using it for storage before demolishing it in 2008 for additional parking for its east campus. Arthouse theater goers' void was not long as the Angelika Film Center opened in 2001 walking distance from the former Ciné.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Esquire Theatre on Nov 11, 2013 at 2:40 pm

The Melrose Theater opened May 15, 1931 with “Kiss Me Again.” The theater closed in March of 1947 for refurbishing that would be the Esquire Theater. The Esquire era opened August 1, 1947 with “Sea of Grass.” For Interstate Theater Circuit, a one-year period in which openings of the Wilshire (Oct. 1946), Inwood (May 1947), Esquire (August 1947), and Circle (Oct. 1947), along with the new Forest (1949) represented a major push into new-build, suburban theater exhibition.

The film that changed the trajectory of the Esquire was Disney’s, “The Living Desert” which got a first-run at the Esquire for a three-week booking that was extended to 18 weeks in 1954. It sold around 180,000 tickets and was drawing large audiences through its closing night. Disney’s “The Shaggy Dog” played 13 weeks. But The Esquire was not exclusively a kids' house by any stretch. The theatre’s ability to be a first-run high-end house established, the theater was equipped to run super widescreen 70mm stereo roadshows. And the mid-1950s through the mid-1970s were the theater’s halcyon years.

The Esquire showed Can-Can in Todd-AO on a reserved ticket basis for 15 weeks in 1960. It had Dallas exclusives of “West Side Story" (roadshow 20 week run); “The Longest Day” (roadshow 17 week run); “Lawrence of Arabia (roadshow 20 week run),” “Irma La Douce” (12 weeks); “Tom Jones, (roadshow 17 weeks),” “Mary Poppins (17 weeks),” “The Pink Panther” (10 weeks), “A Shot in the Dark” (9 weeks), “Lolita” (9 weeks) and “Midnight Cowboy (20 weeks).” “Young Frankenstein” was one of the final super-hits for the theater with lines stretching for blocks during Christmas 1974 during a record-breaking 22-week run for the Esquire.

But with twinning and multiplexes in vogue as the 1970s continued, the Esquire stayed a single screen and had trouble filling its 950 seats while property values increased around it. The Esquire would be in trouble. Lincoln Property acquired the theater as a real estate investment. Additionally, the city of Dallas – in a crackdown on sign ordinances – told the theater that its Esquire signage was too close to the street. Plitt Theaters – which acquired the ABC Interstate Theater Circuit – closed the Esquire with the 3-D film, “Comin' At Ya” September 17, 1981.

In April 1982, the theater got a short-lived new lease as both a live theater place and hosted the USA Film Festival showing film one last time. In June of 1983, Lincoln sold off the signage but the theater’s impending demolition got delayed as Lincoln tried to buy more property and ran into historical preservationists. Finally in February of 1985, locals tore out the seats and the theater was demolished. As an empty concrete slab for many years, street vendors hawked knock off merchandise and used clothing into the 1990s before becoming an overflow parking lot.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Rosewin Theater on Nov 10, 2013 at 10:09 am

The Rosewin opened In July of 1922 for C.R. McHenry, manager of the Oak Cliff Amusement Company with “The Little Minister.” The theater had a Wicks Organ, had a room to take crying babies but still see the movie, and would be expanded in seat count twice as it enjoyed large crowds. In 1929, it became the second suburban theater to offer sound adding Royal Amplitone sound-on-disk and its first feature was “The Barker” on May 12, 1929. In a promotional stunt, McHenry released live turkeys at Thanksgiving time with a catchers-keepers rule.

McHenry joined forces with The Robb & Rowley Circuit and in 1931, the Rosewin was in the Howard Hughes and Harold Franklin owned Hughes-Franklin portfolio. In January of 1932, that circuit disbanded it Southwest operation with the theaters going back to Robb & Rowley. The theater had screenings for the poor and when the Tyler St. United Methodist Church was padlocked for non-payment, the Rosewin opened their doors to the church until they could find a new home. In 1934, McHenry sold his interest in the 12-year old Rosewin along with his Midway and Texas theater to the Robb & Rowley Circuit in June of 1934.

The Rosewin was closed for five months in 1939, updated by R&R for $40,000 including a refresh of the exterior, new pitched floor, higher roof, and new decorations. The new count of the seats went from 991 to 825. The first feature was “Sprit of Culver.” The higher roofline likely extended the theater’s life because in 1953, the Rosewin became part of the widescreen movement getting a variable aspect screen to project 1.85:1 and 1.66:1. In 1955, CinemaScope equipment was added to the Rosewin. After 41 years, Rowley United dropped the Rosewin in early November 1963 closing with “That Touch of Mink” and “Young Guns of Texas.”

Under independent operation, the The Rosewin became the Rex Cinema in 1964. This was Dallas’ second Rex Theater with a silent era theater that did business from 1920-1927 in two different locations. The first was at 1510 Elm (owners: 1916-1920 Leon S. Gohlman and 1920-4 R.J. Littlefield). The second address was 1711 Live Oak (owners: 1924-5 Rex Amusement Co. and 1925-7 I. Wyll). The former Rosewin then Rex opened on March 6, 1964 with new sound, seats and decorations opening as an art house with the film, “The Cardinal.” The art concept was tried for two years but the theater mixed in some adult X-rated films and the audiences came. As a result, the art film policy changed to adult films and while extending the life of the theater, trouble soon followed.

The theater began to experience raids arresting the Rex’s projectionist and ticket taker on Feb. 19, 1968. In 1969, the Cathedral of Compassion had a petition and protested the Rex Theater. As the legal problems occurred, the theater added a screening room and became known as and advertised as: the New Studio Arts Cinema, the Studio, the Rex-Studio, then by the end was back simply to The Rex. In 1971, the manager of the Studio Arts theater was arrested for showing pornographic films. The Rex finally closed at the end of 1976 when enforcement of rules with new teeth altered the adult theater industry in Dallas. 12 theaters were essentially zoned out of the adult exhibition business. The Rex closed with the triple feature of “Resurrection of Eve,” “Deep Throat,” and “Devil in Miss Jones.” For an adult theater, that’s going out with style though ending a 54-year exhibition history for the theater which would later be demolished.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Harlem Theatre on Nov 8, 2013 at 8:16 am

The Palace Theatre opened as an African American theater on May 20, 1920 at 2407 Elm with the film, “The Girl from the Outside.” On March 22, 1934, the remodeled and updated theater was renamed the Harlem Theater where it operated for more than 20 years. The theater was bulldozed as part of the Central Expressway project.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Park Theatre on Nov 8, 2013 at 8:07 am

The original Park Theatre was located in the Park Theatre Building at 424 N. Central across the street from the Grand Central Theater. Deep Ellum had become home to African Americans and immigrants at the end of the 19th Century and into the 20th Century. Black-owned business activity occurred along Central Avenue beside the railroad tracks. The Park had traveling African American acts, local acts and movies, as well. But when the businesses, railroad tracks, and that portion of Central Avenue were reworked as the city modernized its highways through downtown, the African American businesses were uprooted. The new Park Theatre headed southward locating at 4831 Spring Avenue and became primarily a film exhibition location with live shows in the mix.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Knox Theater on Nov 7, 2013 at 12:45 pm

The March 16, 2013 post is probably all that one needs. But just filling in some details that may or may not be of interest: In the fifty-plus year history of the Ro-Nile/Knox Theater, it starts with film and ends with film. And it has live stage and concerts in between. A few highlights:

The Ro-Nile Theater Building was instituted by the Ro-Nile Amusement Company on Aug. 1, 1922 in Highland Park with a Minusa Screen with a jinxed J.D. Wheelan organ. Unfortunately, J.D. Wheelan, himself, was severely burned on April 21, 1923 when an explosion occurred while repairing the organ. One week later on April 28, 1923 before repairs were completed, a second fire destroyed the front end of the theater and the balcony. In 1930, the organ struck again taking a customer’s life when he reached in to get some coins but standing water in the organ pit helped to cause the patron’s electrocution. The Ro-Nile fulfilled a ten year lease and shut down.

Robert Z. Glass acquired the Ro-Nile and christened it the Knox Street Theater beginning in July 1932. Within a year, he bought the Parkway and renamed it the Lawn. He then sued Interstate Theaters for what amounted to a price fixing case. In 1936, Glass had labor issue and stink bombs were thrown into both his Knox Street and Lawn theaters. Glass sold the theater along with the Lawn shortly thereafter becoming part of the Interstate Circuit. During the Paramount consent decree, Interstate divested itself of many theaters in the early 1950s. They simply closed the Knox on January 7, 1950 with “The Doctor and the Girl.” Interstate tried to lease it to a live stage theater group but that apparently failed as on May 18, 1951 father/son team Leo and Richard Craiker took on the Knox Theater as an indy for a year calling it the “home of encores.” That works out to a twenty year lease ending the Knox' film exhibition for some time.

The Knox St. became a live stage and school for acting. The next operators were: The Dallas Institute of Performing Arts / Knox Street Theatre (1953-1956); Lumet School of Acting / Knox Street Theater (1957-1960); Pearl Chappell Playhouse (1961-1963); Speakeasy (1965-6); The In Crowd (1966-7) which was sued for its name and thusly changed; Phantasmagoria (1967-1969); Allison Wonderland (1970); and finally back into film exhibition with the adult X-rated house Knox St. Cinema (1971-1973). The Ro-Nile Theater Building was deconstructed/reconstructed for retail space that was still vibrant in the 2010s. And the Knox’s 50-year plus exhibition era along with the H.P. Village Theater and Varsity/Fine Arts/Park Cities Playhouse 50-plus years meant that all three Park Cities suburban theaters had performance lifespans in excess of fifty years.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Wilshire Theater on Nov 4, 2013 at 9:32 am

When the $1,000,000 Park Lane Shopping Center was proposed by Corrigan and Caruth in 1941, they couldn’t have foreseen WW2 which would delay the project until approved by the War Production Board in 1945. The proposed 1,200 seat $200,000 Lane Theater within the Park Lane Shopping Center would start construction as the Lane but be changed during construction from the Lane to the 832-now wider cushioned seat, $200,000 Wilshire Theater within the Wilshire Shopping Center. The decorative floral murals were by Eugene Gilboe (sometimes Gilbeau) who would do the murals in the Circle, Forest, Esquire, Inwood, and Baker Hotel within the next 12 months. The Wilshire was so named for its neighborhood of Wilshire Heights.

Interstate Theater Circuit opened to the public after an invitation screening on Oct. 4, 1946 with fireworks and the South’s first demonstration of television. The Wilshire stayed in the Interstate portfolio as a single-screen auditorium during its entire operation from Oct. 4, 1946 and the feature “Rendezvous with Annie” to April 23, 1978’s final showing of “Casey’s Shadow.”

The Wilshire had the live quiz game, “The Bank of Knowledge” to compete with the radio and soon the television quiz game craze in 1948. In the mid-1960s, when some suburban houses began to falter and turn to pornographic and art films, the Inwood, Village and Wilshire were booming. Following the success of the “Sound of Music” road show at the Inwood, and with the Village positioned as the Disney theater, the Wilshire hosted its first ever road show in 1966 with “The Blue Max.” The success of these theaters inspired General Cinemas to open its NorthPark cinema in Oct. 1967, the UA Ciné which opened early in 1968, and the Medallion in 1968 forming the Central Zone that would supplant downtown as the place to see first-run films in Dallas.

The Wilshire didn’t cower with the new competition within two miles of its doors. It continued with a Dr. Doolittle road show complete with a circus tent, appearance by Chee-Chee the chimp from the film, and a half hour television special aired on TV-11. Doolittle would play four months at the Wilshire followed by a road show reissue of “Ben Hur.” The Wilshire was on a roll with another road show of “Paint Your Wagon” with Ray Walston in attendance, “Song of Norway” did its road show there as road shows were winding down nationally, an appearance by Julie Andrews with “Darling Lili” drew fans, and the theater was getting major test showings of films prior to release. In 1968, the theater got threatening phone calls for showing “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

As the twinning era was in vogue in the mid-1970s, the Wilshire stood firm as a single-screener and had successful runs with films including, “A Clockwork Orange,” “Murder by Death,” “All the President’s Men,” “The Deep” “The Goodbye Girl” and its #1 box office champ, “The Exorcist.” But Pearch-Christian real estate and Interstate both knew that the land at Mockingbird and Skillman was much more valuable than trying to extend the life of a 32-year old theater even though it was profitable during its entire run. In April of 1978, the ABC Interstate theater didn’t extend its lease and the Wilshire closed after the April 23d showing of “Casey’s Shadow.” And on January 23, 1979, the theater was demolished along with the rest of the 54-year old shopping center that had housed the neighboring Wilshire Cleaners, Wilshire Pharmacy, Wilshire Radio & Television, Wilshire Hardware, et al and replaced by a gas station that as of the 2010s was still in operation.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Circle Theater on Nov 4, 2013 at 5:12 am

Dallas had two Circle Theaters. The first was downtown and can be found in the entry Joy Theater, its final name. But to people who may have seen the second of the Circle Theaters still standing in the 2000s, it appears that a building was constructed in the middle of nowhere with few buildings and no housing nearby. When built, it was part of a fun retail experiment around the Tom Field Traffic Circle – hence, the Circle. The 1,000-seat theater was architected by Pettigrew, Worley & Co. and was colorful with its neon interlocking circles on the outside and its crazy murals on the inside. The theater fit the area perfectly.

A carnival-like opening with Ernest Tubb in person outside, a thirty minute live radio program promoting the opening, fireworks and the film, “Welcome Stranger” were all included in the Circle’s launch on October 30, 1947. A newsreel of the capacity drawing event was shot.

In 1962, Interstate instituted a family-only film policy. But by 1968, the theater did a 180 and went all adult / art and downgraded to a weekends only operation. The theater announced a six-week weekend test group of films from January-February to determine interest in the Circle. Apparently, there wasn’t much because the theater closed on March 2, 1969.

In 1974, the Circle became a nightclub called The Old Theater with multiple levels with films playing on various levels, movie posters and movie photographs throughout. And unlike its predecessor, it provided free popcorn. That was followed by a live music venue called the Circle Theater. That was followed by an urban cowboy inspired disco called Cotton Eyed Joe’s complete with mechanical bull. That was followed by the Ritz Club / Ritz Rock and Roll Club. It was then the Dal-Star Bingo hall with the CRCLE on the outer sign replaced by BNGO.

Things get a bit dicey as the building is home to a variety of places. It was a Hispanic place of worship; it was the Baby O All-Stars / Baby O Disco Tec (2009) / Baby O Tejano Night Club; and potentially its last occupant was a Latino nightclub, Club Carnaval, which lit of the theater until late 2012 which – while a marked departure from the original interior – was just as festive and colorful as it had been in 1947. A wrestling match by Lucha Libre in 2013 was the last known event in the space. The fence around the property in 2013 suggested an uncertain future.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Joy Theatre on Nov 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Two downtown theaters utilized the nameplate, Joy Theater. The first can be found under the Strand Theater in Dallas where the Hippodrome was renamed the Joy followed by the Wade, Dallas, Downtown and finally Strand. This entry is for the Joy Theater that began as the Circle Theater.

The first live theater to be built since 1893 in Dallas since the Opera House, E.H. Husley opened the 1,100 seat Joy Theatre’s original nameplate, The Circle Theatre on Christmas Day 1923. Hotel magnate Conrad Hilton had always wanted to try show business and operated the Circle for one year breaking even. The Circle was home to the Circle Players and under new management, their slogan was, “If you can’t go to Broadway, we’ll bring Broadway to you.” Again, new management the following year under John L. Corvo spoke to the challenges of the business environment. Late that year, original owner E.H. Hulsey was back in charge and took a chance on motion pictures.

Hulsey started with a high profile road show of MGM’s “Ben Hur.” After selling out the first show, Hulsey would soon position his Circle as one of the potentially major movie houses in the South when he invested $25,000 on Warner Brother’s Vitaphone synchronizer bringing sound pictures to downtown Dallas. He got Warner’s “Don Juan” which did phenomenal business. “The Better Olé” was next and the Al Jolson short sparked with audiences. Hulsey allowed Saenger Amusements to book the films. But Hulsey sold his lease to new owner Raleigh Dent. Dent made what would turn out to be a business decision that would change the fate of the Circle Theater forever.

Determining Vitaphone releases to be too sporadic, Dent had the Vitaphone equipment removed in 1927. The Arcadia Theatre on Greenville Ave. in Dallas installed the equipment in time for a preview screening of Al Jolson’s seminal “The Jazz Singer” and the rest, as they say, is history with every Dallas theater on Theater Row converting to sound pictures except one: The Circle.

The Circle’s next shot at cinematic glory came when it booked a high profile road show of Paramount’s blockbuster to be, “Wings” to be accompanied with a 20-piece orchestra. But Paramount decided to revamp the road show with a Vitaphone disc instead of the live accompaniment and the Circle lost the booking at the last minute to the Melba which placed the Vitaphone equipment just in time to secure the booking.

Businessman and Neiman-Marcus co-founder Herbert Marcus backed the Circle financially in 1928 under the direction of James R. Saville who took over for Aldis Bartlett and changed the flagging theater’s name to the Showhouse. But there would be no more profitable years for the Showhouse which struggled mightily during the Depression era. James J. Hayden hit some high points with his stock company but closed down the theater in January 1932. It re-opened in 1934 under film veteran J.S. Groves who installed a cooling system in the auditorium and changed the name of the theater to the Uptown Theatre. Finally, in 1937, the theater got its biggest live theater boost when The Little Theater moved into the space and the theater got its fourth name, The Little Theater. That situation proved challenging as street noise infiltrated performances constantly in the non-soundproofed facility and the space was deemed to be dirty and technologically challenged. The Little Theater moved out in 1938 and the Circle was used sporadically including occasional shows and sermons.

On August 21, 1943, Joy Theatres Inc. of New Orleans opened its 63rd location at the former Circle Theatre and it was renamed the Joy Theatre. The first program was “Leopard Men of Africa” and “Tanks a Million.” It was a third/fourth run ultra-discount movie theatre. By June 1948, there was no more Joy, as the theatre equipment was removed and the theater went dark. It was used just a month into its vacancy by a crook who drilled a small hole from it to the neighboring drug store as the crook made off with narcotics and cash. From there, the space was used for more productive but non-cinema related things including storage, office space and church services. In 1951, a million dollar renovation turned the Circle/Joy into an office building ending any hopes of its auditorium housing a theater. On April 27, 1977, the Circle/Joy was demolished.

While the ultimate fate of the theatre wouldn’t have been different had a decision to stay with sound film in 1927 been made, there’s no question that the Circle would have been more fondly remembered as a Cinema Treasure in local theater history. And certainly it might have avoided having five names doing business as the Circle, Showcase, Uptown, Little Theater, and Joy.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Village Theatre on Nov 3, 2013 at 9:33 am

The Highland Park Spanish Village Shopping Center was an ambitious and many say the second ever shopping center created in the United States. The $1.5 million center started construction in 1930 with a theater in its original planning. In May of 1931, the Hughes-Franklin Theatre Circuit led by Harold B. Franklin and Howard Hughes which had built the Texas Theater drew up a 1,400 screen theater at a cost of $250,000 that was to be that theater. However, Franklin left the company and plans dissolved.

The Village shopping center opened in 1933 without a theater. Those same plans were picked up by Flippen-Prather Stores which leased the theater to the Interstate Theater Circuit which did cost-cutting reducing the 1,400 seat theater to a $150,000 house. The theater’s Spanish architectural style perfectly matched the shopping center’s design. Inside, the lobby had large murals depicting the history of Texas to present by James Buchanan “Buck” Winn Jr. Blue walls and ceilings, terrazo floor and heavy oak doors with leather panels gave the interior its look at its grand opening on November 15, 1935 with the film, “The Dark Angel.”

Interstate ran the theater as a second-run suburban and did a remodel of the theater reducing seat count to 1,164 wider seats and new wall treatments. It repositioned the theater as a first-run house in 1957. That policy continued into 1960 when it played a Disney film that was outgrossing the larger downtown houses. Interstate ran family-oriented fare to huge profits throughout the 1960s. A 1966 fire ruined the theater’s original spire and the building now in the hands of Henry S. Miller spent $85,000 to make the repairs.

Interstate successfully ran the theater for 40 years but decided not to renew its lease and dropped the theater. In 1976, the B&B Circuit took over under Fred Beirsdorf and Harold Brooks. They made two decisions that extended the Village’s life: 1) they twinned the theater creating a balcony screen and a main screen and 2) they added midnight shows in 1976 starting with “Gimme Shelter.” The latter moved proved beneficial because the theater booked “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” in 1977. Locals protested to the theater owners and Henry S. Miller about the types that were coming to the show to no avail. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” ran a nine year engagement into the summer of 1986, unprecedented to that point. B&B had declared bankruptcy in 1985 and there was some finger pointing over the closing of the Village in July 1986. Rumor had it that the days of theatrical were over as the theater would become retail space and that the relator were to blame; others pointed the other direction.

Things settled down in 1987, AMC created a four-plex in the Village signing a lease with Henry S. Miller with one stipulation: there would be no showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” All screens were up a short escalator flight up through the concession area with the largest screen now 250 seats and the other three had 110 and 120 seats for 600 total seats. AMC successfully operated it for more than 13 years.

Regent Entertainment took over when AMC left the Village in 2001. Operating one of the most unusual venues in Dallas film history, the Regent Village set a box office mark that was seen as quite remarkable when the film Zzyzx Road took in just $30 during a run in 2006 made worse by refunding of $10 to two people who had worked on the film. Regent played many Dallas exclusives that either played nowhere else in the United States or at just its Regent screen in Los Angeles. For independent film lovers, the Regent offered an eclectic mix along with general first-run fare. On its last day in 2009, you could choose to see a film called $9.99 or The Hangover.

When the Regent closed in 2009, the shopping center was under new ownership and there was concern that the theater might not continue. But the owners found a new operator and the theater was gutted and reopened Dec. 18, 2010 by Twomey Concepts. As of the 2010s, Twomey operated the theater as a high end restaurant/bar with screens and viewing lounges mixing predominately family fare with some independent films.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Capitol Theater on Nov 2, 2013 at 11:33 pm

The “new” Capitol Theater opened on December 16, 1922 as a low-end first-run house. It went from a Popular Amusement Company property, to an independent under R.J. Stinnette and Ephram Charninsky, to an RKO Southern to Interstate and finally to Trans-Texas closing on December 26, 1957 as a second run house.It was demolished beginning on February 19, 1959 with its antique bricks repurposed for other projects.

The original Capitol Theater in Dallas was briefly home to the Capitol players from September to December in 1921 but burned down on December 26, 1921. The Capitol was rebranded from its other two nameplates: the original, Dallas Opera House opened in 1903, and then home to the Majestic Theater after the original Majestic burned down in 1917. The Capitol players were without a home. A decision was made immediately to rebuild the theater and try to keep the Capitol players from dispersing. But the process was slower than the players wanted. When the Capitol Theater was built and opened a year later, its players had gone. So the new Capitol Theater opened at 1521 Elm as a movie house which it remained until its closure.

It was a Popular Amusement Company theater with 1,200 air-cushioned seats, a $20,000 Barton organ and six piece orchestra opening December 16, 1922 with the film, “Slim Shoulders”. The theater’s amenities and interior weren’t quite up to the competition, especially with the Majestic, Melba and Hippodrome. The Bertram C. Hill architected exterior of the building had an inviting style for theater row and it might be said that the attention was mostly there as the interior lacked what palaces provided in that era. Popular Amusement closed the theater within a year’s time. But the Capitol reopened as an independent the same year under R. J. Stinnette and Eprhram Charninsky (up until his death in 1928). The first film was “Six Days” on Sept. 20, 1923, the Capitol positioned itself as a lower price Elm/Theater Row house. Its true heyday was the mid-1920s.

By early 1929, fortunes sagged for the Capitol as sound technology and innovations were being adopted more quickly along theater row than the Capitol likely could afford. The Capitol downgraded to a double-bill second run house, the first on Elm Street since 1915. But later that year, the theater strategically got an exclusive deal to book RKO films as it moved into the sound era on July 29th. As the original theater wasn’t exactly soundproofed, the interior was bathed in celotex as any interior panache was buried under soundproofing and wall coverings.

In 1930, RKO Southern took over the Capitol and closed it for ten days to put in a newer sound system and more wall treatment. Almost immediately, RKO Southern was in dire economic straits and on June 2, 1931 the Capitol Theater closed in part due to the lack of a real air conditioning system and in part to stop paying labor. It closed again in December 1931 and reopened in January 1932 after Christmas. In 1933, RKO Southern shut down declaring bankruptcy.

Interstate took over the theater and under the venerable circuit, the Capitol finally hit its stride as improvements which included a modern air conditioning system making things more comfortable inside. The Capitol played mostly double feature westerns and held a handful of premieres of lesser “B” films and occasional exploitation fare. World premieres of Republic’s Roy Rogers film “Under Western Stars” and George Harriman’s exploitative “Tell Your Children” took place. Personal appearances by Rogers and Smiley Burnette, Monogram’s Tex Ritter, and “Song of the Range” stars Jimmy Wakely and Lasses White were among the stars who showed up.

The U.S. v. Paramount case that led to the famous consent decree in which Paramount agreed to separate itself from domestic theater exhibition selling out joint ventures such as Interstate and Publix. In a second wave of dispersals following the Varsity and Dal-Sec, seven theaters including the Capitol and the Rialto were sold in one transaction by Interstate to Louis Novy’s Trans-Texas Theater circuit on Feb. 24, 1954. Trans-Texas struggled along with all of theater row trying to battle population shifts that were beginning to doom most of the downtown houses.

On Oct. 2, 1957, Trans-Texas closed the Capitol to prepare to show Spanish language films after a remodeling. That rebranding began on Nov. 10, 1957 opening with El Bolero de Raquel starring Cantinflas. A dismal failure, the policy discontinued just five weeks later and the money spent in improvements and marketing were lost. The theater flailed for another week returning to second-run fare on Dec. 20, 1957 opening with “Hot Rod Girls” and “Girls in Prison.” A week later, the theater closed for good and its second to last double feature was “Phantom from 10,000 Leagues” and “The Day the World Ended.” The theater remained empty for just a little over a year and on February 19, 1959, the theater was torn down to make way for a parking lot. As noted, the bricks were considered distinctive if not historically interesting and salvaged for other projects.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Strand Theatre on Nov 1, 2013 at 11:56 pm

The Hippodrome was built for moving pictures opening in 1913 but found that live stage shows worked into its business plans. The theater became the Joy Theater in 1933, the Wade Theater in 1942, and then in 1946/7 became the Dallas Theater, the Downtown, and the Strand Theatre (and technically, the Strand Theater) before being bulldozed in 1960.

Lang & Witcher architected and Gilsonite Construction of St. Louis built the two-story, fireproof theater that opened March 1, 1913 and replaced a facility that had burned a year and a half earlier. The $120,000 structure was built for motion pictures with a seating capacity of 1,200 (850 downstairs and 350 in the balcony). The Pilcher pipe organ was said to be the largest ever installed in a movie theater in the U.S. and the “finest west of the Mississippi.“ It would be used in tandem with a seven piece orchestra. R.A. Bennett painted the 17 allegorical figures of the Roman school and a Roman chariot race was depicted on the giant curtain.

Tom P. Finnegan managed the theater and was on hand for the grand opening in 1913 and its demolition in 1960. The Hippodrome’s motto was “always a good show” as it brought the first, longer 50 cent movies to Dallas. The first of those was “Les Miserables"and it had the Dallas' premiere of “The Squaw Man” and Mary Pickford’s “The Bishop’s Carriage.”

As the 1920s and early 1930s brought major competition to the Elm Street Theater Row, the Hippodrome began to be known for live shows including Billy House’s Follies of 1920 perhaps a step ahead of burlesque and a rung or two down from the vaudeville houses. Its midnight shows had performers described as hootchy-cootchy dancing which drew audiences and legal scrutiny in that era. But it also brought in the most money so the theater found itself more in line with Fox Theater in appealing to that audience.

In 1933, new operator M.N. Baker changed the Hippodrome to the Joy Theater where it began a checkered run. Manager M. Midyet was arrested just months into the Joy’s run when police raided a live performance arresting the manager and two performers. Later that year, the city shut down the Joy for presenting indecent shows with the judge calling the dancers in to recreate the event. More publicity occurred when one of the comedians at the club inadvertently struck and killed a girl in a vehicle accident. The next owner of the theater was then found dead in 1937 just after the last show that night.

New owner Frank Nick rebranded the Joy as the Wade Theater in 1942. Not long after, the Joy’s name would be in use at the Circle Theater. The Wade continued the Joy’s burlesque-film concept. It showed “The Condemned,” a movie about syphilis along with the controversial “Birth of Four Babies” which sold out numerous shows. The Wade was probably better known for live stage attractions with dancing girls and striptease artists such as Ermain Parker, the “Texas Tassel Twisting Hurricane” and Murial Page with her fan dance. The theater always had a feature but the attraction was personalities and theme shows like the “Swing Shift Revue” or “Silk Stockings Show” and some African American shows at the end of its run.

Wayne Babb bought the theater in 1946 to end the burly shows and rebranded the space as the Dallas Theatre, a family showplace. When the live shows weren’t working, the theater had a very brief period as the Downtown Theater in which there was likely no name on the marquee but double features of second and third run films.

On January 7, the theater became known as the Strand Theatre continuing its discount double features. It closed and was obtained by the operators of the Joy Theater in Dallas. Run by Joy Houck of the H&B Theater Circuit, Houck invested $100,000 on the Strand Theater putting in all new seats and projection operating the discount house a rung above the Joy. It opened with “The Unfinished Dance” November 15, 1947. Ads cease in February of 1953. A tailor moved into the space in 1953.

In 1956, the Strand re-opened as a burlesque house which lasted about one year and ceased operations. In March of 1957, the theater became a sports-themed theater along with re-establishing itself as a third-run movie house. For its opening, the legendary Gorgeous George grappled with Enrique Spindola. Sports films of boxing matches and items associated with early pay television were shown at the theater. And at the very end, the Strand tried Spanish language films but with the Capitol converting about the same time and Panamericano doing brisk business, it just wasn’t in the cards for the Strand. That’s how the theater closed and it was bulldozed as part of a grand “City of Tomorrow” urban redevelopment in downtown Dallas in January of 1960.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Forest Theatre on Nov 1, 2013 at 9:49 am

The Forest Theater was a Pettigrew-Morley & Company architected $350,000 property for the Interstate Theater Circuit designed to upgrade the former Forest Theater just blocks away. That theater would be renamed the Colonial Theater which Interstate would close shortly thereafter. Fiberglass screen by Nu-screen, ramp to the mezzanine instead of stairs, cry room, Acousticon hearing devices available for the hard of hearing, attached lit parking, and plush-back fitted seats were among the amenities. Between 4,500 and 5,000 people showed up to the opening events of the theater on July 30, 1949 which had square dancing and the film, “It Happens Every Spring.”

While the early days were kind to the theater business-wise, the theater staggered as the population shift was brisk. Interstate closed the theater briefly after the February 25, 1956 showings to covert the theater from a white theater to an African American theater beginning with a grand re-opening March 1, 1956 with “Helen of Troy.” It was billed as the largest African American theater in the South and ads carried the tagline, “now colored” for informational purposes. Early on, “The Ten Commandments” played for a month to large crowds and gave Interstate hope. But the business soon slacked off.

The Forest mixed in live rock and roll shows with the movies in search of audiences in 1957/8. But it wasn’t working so the theater began operating as a weekend-only establishment beginning in December of 1958 with new manager Victor Matthews. Somehow the Forest made it another 7 years — 16 years total — closing on September 27, 1965. Matthews said that support wasn’t there and the theater had operated for a loss for a lengthy period. So Interstate looked for subleasing deals.

The Forest was divided into a 900-seat house sometimes called the Forest Ballroom and later called the Forest Avenue Cinema. The other part was called the Central Forest Club and later the Forest Central Night Club. The first sublease arrangement appears to be with Reuben Willis who opened the Central Forest Club on October 13, 1967 operating primarily as a soul and blues nightclub. Willis booked acts including Redd Foxx and B.B. King into the night club. For Willis, the space was used as community center by day and night club by evening. That arrangement lasted about almost four years. Concerts West booked a few shows into the Forest Ballroom for a short period in summer of 1968. Wilson Pickett & Arthur Conley played the Club and The Byrds played the Forest Ballroom. One live show from 1970 at the Forest, the South Dallas All-Stars' Live at the South Dallas Pop Festival, was released years later as a live CD.

As for the property, Interstate held the Forest for 30 years. When Albert H. Reynolds bought the city block in 1979 housing the theater, the Forest transferred from the original owners, Interstate Theaters (then known as Plitt Southern Theatres) to Reynolds. The Forest Avenue Cinema used the 900-seat house to show blaxploitation films for less than a year to incredibly small audiences and a 485-seat portion operated as the Forest Central Night Club. (This could account for the 478 number that is referenced in some comments.) In the 1980s, the Forest was a night club called, City Lights under Tommy Quon. Delbert Knight was the next operator. Club Anthony was an R&B club that functioned for two years.

In 1991, now as a jazz club, the nightspot moved back to its original name of the New Forest Theatre booking Ramsey Lewis and Les McCann. Further bookings included Tuck and Patti but the New Forest closed in September of the same year. It had long stretches of vacancy. When singer Erykah Badu of Dallas bought the theater in 2003, it needed refurbishing. It became known as the Black Forest Theater in 2004, a reference to its operation as an African American house in 1956-1965. Film-wise, the Black Forest returned to its roots with the Black Cinematheque and Juneteenth Film Festival. But live music and community center activities were the main attractions for the space. The Black Forest Theater was used from 2004 until 2008. As of the 2010s, the Forest still stands with its original marquee.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Colonial Theatre on Oct 31, 2013 at 1:24 pm

The Colonial is one of the rare theaters whose patronage so exceeds its expectations that its success leads to its demise not once but twice. In its planning stages, this theater was known as the Colonial-Forest. The reasons were two-fold. First, the well-known Colonial Theater in downtown had run from 1907 into the 1920s at 334-6 Elm. The second was that the Colonial-Forest Theater was at the corner of Colonial St. and Forest Ave.

The previous Colonial on Elm St. in downtown Dallas was the 32d house for the Lone Star Theater Company based in Dallas. Their primary aim was to operate vaudeville shows for the Charles Hodkins vaudeville circuit. The Colonial opened on Feb. 18th, 1907 in the Hite Building including illustrated songs and moving pictures at its outset. Leaning on family entertainment (shows for “women and children”), the Colonial was branded toward the upper echelon of vaudeville as opposed to male-centric burlesque leanings. Marcus Loew would purchase a number of the Lone Star theaters in 1919. By 1922, the Colonial was part of the Foy circuit and was then spotlighting full-length theatrical films.

Meanwhile, in 1930, the Forest Avenue Theater had announced a plan to expand to 1,000 seats along with modern heating and cooling, wide screen projection and sound. However, the original Forest built for Harry J. Gould more than 15 years earlier just needed too much retrofitting to be brought into the modern sound era. So just a month later, another plan was opted for in which a brand new $70,000 playhouse would be constructed. The Colonial-Forest Theater opened at 1702 Forest Avenue at the corner Forest and Colonial Avenue with Eph Charninsky as its operator in 1931. Based on all available reports, the theater was known as the Colonial for a short period and appears to be branded as an African American house in its first days. When it becomes part of the Interstate Circuit, the theater is rebranded as a second-run neighborhood house and renamed the Forest Theater.

As the Forest Theater, Interstate found its audience and its steady business led Interstate to build an even bigger, better theater just two blocks away. Known as the New Forest Theater at 1920 Forest Avenue in 1949, the New Forest marquee was still present as of the 2010s at the renamed 1920 Martin Luther King Blvd. 4,500-5,000 people showed up to the opening events of that theater though the original Forest now back to its original Colonial nameplate had lost its audience.

On July 29th, 1949, the Colonial had its first double-feature but the magic was gone. Its operation was short as a second-run, second-status theater and was dropped by Interstate. Though the now-dated Colonial died just two months into its run, its ability to draw audiences for nearly two decades helped it attract a new owner almost instantly.

In December, Dave Tobin and Norman Kantor redeveloped the space into “The Theater Lounge” with tiers of tables replacing the theater seats. The African American music nightclub would sell out its first show but transferred owners shortly thereafter and switched to a burlesque house with strippers. Barney Weinstein’s establishment made stars of Candy Barr and Pixie Lynn while featuring traveling artists from all over the globe. The burlesque concept and his “School for Strippers” was so successful and so infamous that after seven years of operation its owner moved moved the Theater Lounge to 1326 Jackson at Akard in March of 1959 and incorporated a year later. As a result, the Colonial’s success of drawing crowds twice led to its own demise.

From an entertainment standpoint, the Theater Lounge was the end of the Colonial’s almost 30-year run. But the Theater Lounge would continue onward and remained one of Dallas’ most infamous nightclub spots.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Urban Theater on Oct 29, 2013 at 9:07 am

In 1925, Urbandale was annexed in the city of Dallas connected by the Terrell Interurban streetcar line. On January 24, 1941, it got its own movie theater with the opening of the Urban Theater by Roy Starling at its location of 7035 Military Avenue between Elva and Peretta Aves. The theater opened with the film, “Captain Caution.” Starling’s Grove and Urban had personal appearances by the likes of Ken Maynard, the western actor that drew crowds to the suburban second-run theaters.

In May of 1942, Cameron bought Starling’s Grove Theater. That theater would burn down and be rebuilt by Cameron. Cameron next bought the Urban from Starling. This theater would also burn down and be rebuilt by Cameron. The Urban’s destruction came on April 27, 1944 where water rationing hampered firefighters efforts to douse the blaze. Because the fire occurred during the war, building rations delayed the theater’s rebuilding and by the time it had opened, Cameron had sold his Dallas theaters.

The new $60,000 Urban Theater opened a block away across the street from its predecessor at 7106 Military Drive at the corner of what is now Military Parkway and Urban Ave. It opened with “Music for Millions” on July 13, 1945 now in the J.G. Long theater circuit with the Airway, Grove and Urban. The theater served both as a house of worship and functioning movie theater into the 1950s before closing. It was converted into the Urbandale Youth Center that was initially called, the “Fun Club.” The center would eventually be home to the Urban Washateria using the address of 7124 Military Parkway (though at 7120 in tax records) that suffered a major fire on February 28, 2012 that gutted the building.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Beverly Hills Theatre on Oct 29, 2013 at 8:41 am

In 1929, the Beverly Hills neighborhood was annexed from Dallas and 15 years later, it had its own movie theater: the Beverly Hills located in the Beverly Hills Shopping Center. And the B-H would be the subject of a prickly legal battle by Tri-State Theater’s Bart McClendon just four years after its August 31, 1944 grand opening. A rare wartime opening, the movies-for-morale requirement was met by an aviation plant manufacturing wartime materials in Grand Prairie roughly eight miles from the theater.

The B-H opened with “Broadway Rhythm” to an invitation only audience and then to the general public on September 2, 1944 with “Lassie, Come Home.” The 812-seat balcony-less theater was designed by Raymond F. Smith who had architected other theaters including Dallas’ Granada, Airway, and Delman. Having moved to Dallas in 1942, McLendon was hoping for big profitability from the B-H and Casa Linda that opened the following year. But falling into debt with the local banks and with his son needing a cash influx to get into the radio business, he sold off the B-H and its shopping center on June 10, 1947 to Robb & Rowley’s theater circuit for $300,000 and would also sell the Casa Linda to Interstate Theater Circuit.

Less than a year later, McClendon sued both Rowley and Interstate for $1.2 million claiming that he had essentially been frozen out of the first-run film exhibition marketplace by Rowley and United leading to $200,000 less business and $200,000 less marketplace value for his theaters. He felt that the business climate was such that he was forced to sell this theaters. He lost his suit as, among other elements, McLendon admitted to making $50,000 profit in the sale of the B-H, alone.

The B-H changed from a second-run suburban to an art cinema on January 6, 1952 closing briefly for a remodel. “Oliver Twist” opened the new art house. This policy lasts until 1960 when it closed as a movie house and new owners decided to try for live theater in the space. In January of 1961, the Beverly Hills is used for live stage plays. At some point the Beverly Hills became a place of worship, renamed and was still in operation as of the 2010s.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Airway Theater on Oct 29, 2013 at 7:57 am

The Airway Theater was a P.G. Cameron theater that opened August 11, 1940 with Ann Sheridan’s “It All Came True.” The 780-seat theater was designed in 1939 by Raymond F. Smith using the conceptual name of the Love Field Theater due to its proximity to the famed airport. But the name Airway was assigned to the theater whose main innovation was that of stadium-style seating for better views of the screen.

For Cameron, who had started the Palace Theater in 1903 in Dallas and went on to run the Crystal and the famed Melba Theater which was sold for one million dollars, the four theaters of the Airway, Grove, Urban and Peak would serve as his Dallas theater holdings entering the War. However, before the end of WW2, Cameron ended up moving west and sold his Dallas theaters to J.G. Long. These four theaters would be the Long circuit’s Dallas entire portfolio.

The Airway was completely destroyed by a January 19, 1955 blaze. The fireproof projection area allowed the booth’s film and projector to be salvaged but everything else was a total loss. The five-alarm fire consumed the building and a neighboring cafe and damaged the adjoining Airway Automatic Laundry and Love Field Pharmacy. The Airway’s carcass was demolished and the theater’s entire run was less than 15 years. The last ad for the theater was “Knock on Wood” in October 1954 which likely means the theater turned to African American fare. As of the 2010s, the Airway’s spot was still not rebuilt upon.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Village Theatre on Oct 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm

One of the original murals is hung at the TXCN headquarters downtown and all survived.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Dallas Theatre on Oct 28, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Three unrelated Elm Street theater row houses have been called the Dallas Theater and the total combined time of their operation is less than five years. The first was at 1301 Elm operating in 1913 exclusively as a photoplay house. The second was at 1209 Elm when Wayne Babb bought what would become the Strand Theater and former Hippodrome/Joy/Wade in 1946 creating the short-lived Dallas Theatre. But this entry is about the Telenews Theater which was created just two weeks prior to Pearl Harbor, opening on November 21, 1941.

1515 Elm was a retail space housing a paint store followed by three grocery stores (Piggly Wiggly, briefly Lotus Foods, and Helpy-Selfy) and finally home to several businesses including Van Winkle’s Book Store and a tavern. In August of 1941, the Mirror at 1517 burned down. Just two weeks later, the 11th Telenews Theatre in the United States was announced next door to the charred Mirror which was still standing.

The Telenews was created using an existing retail space at 1515 Elm Street and turned into a Jack Corgan designed 640-seat theatre that played newsreels exclusively for its first five years of its operation. Corgan’s remodeling design would cost $80,000 and carried out by George P. O'Rourke Construction. Interstate — having just lost the Mirror next door to fire — decided to team up with the Telenews Theaters circuit in a joint operation. They opened it on November 21, 1941 to coincide with an annual Santa parade that would be rained out that year.

The timing was fortuitous and the theater generated great foot traffic selling out its first day and drawing crowds throughout World War 2. The twinkling globe was a beacon that marketed the theater well. Patrons could watch films for any of five newsreel companies edited on a speedy machine known as “Oscar.” They could also go upstairs and participate in live quiz shows or listen to radio news that was created on premises by WFAA and KGKO. Throughout the war, this format proved successful but after the War, the audiences interest waned so the programming was changed.

After five years of exclusive newsreels and documentaries, the Telenews had a policy change that allowed it to play “important” films. Said to be an art cinema house when announced in December of 1946, the Telenews didn’t really reach that goal looking very much like a traditional movie house. And not abandoning newsreels, the Telenews publicized that they would buy local footage from those capturing newsreel footage on their 8mm or 16mm cameras. But the days of the newsreel as a standalone interest were gone. The theater was closed for remodeling as a cycloramic screen was put in and the radio and reading rooms removed. On Christmas Day, 1949, Interstate took over soul possession of the theater and rebranded it as The Dallas Theater opening with “The Fallen Idol.”

The name change didn’t help the fading property. Less than two years into the rebranding of the theater, Interstate sold the lackluster property to Greater Texas Theater’s L.N. Crim, Jr. and Robert Hartgrave which had the American premiere of “Bonnie Prince Charlie” when it opened Nov. 1, 1951. Greater Texas tried art and then they tried racier fare to no avail and the Dallas Theater didn’t make it to a full year for Greater Texas ending the theater’s 11-year run. Dallas' theater row would see similar audience erosion throughout the decade. The Dallas Theatre closed May 12, 1952 and was sold to a real estate entity. That company placed an advertisement in July 1-2, 1952, offering everything including the seats and projectors for sale, thus ending the Telenews/Dallas Theatre.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Buckner Boulevard Drive-In on Oct 25, 2013 at 1:56 pm

The Buckner Boulevard Drive-In opened for business June 4, 1948 with “Tycoon” starring John Wayne. You could walk in or drive-in as there was plentiful outdoor seating for the walk-ups. The theater was the third in Dallas within what would be known as the U&E (Underwood and Ezell) and later the Ezell Theater Circuit. That entity already owned the venerable Northwest Highway and Chalk Hill properties in Dallas and other in the state. As the mural suggests, the Buckner not only had movies but had live animals including 15 monkeys to complement the traditional playground equipment including two elephant slides.

The theater was the first in Dallas with individual car speakers. On Easter Sunday 1954, Ezell equipped the Buckner with an 80x40 fiberglass screen — what it billed as the World’s Largest Fiberglass Screen" for CinemsScope and showed “Knights of the Round Table.” It was said to be the first drive-in with three channel multichannel stereo. That system was also created by and added to Ezell’s drive-ins in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Houston, and Fort Worth.

The McLendon Theater Circuit took over the Buckner Drive-In followed by the Weisenburg Theaters in the 1970s. All bookings and advertising for the Buckner Boulevard Drive-in cease at the end of May (29th) with the great triple feature of “The Pack,” “Mansion of the Doomed,” and “Giant Spider Invasion.” As this would time out to exactly 30 years of operation, that could suggest that a leasing arrangement may spell the end of the Buckner.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Lochwood Cinema on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm

The Lochwood Village Shopping Center opened Aug. 15, 1957. Its success led to expansion. That included the Lochwood Cinema which opened in 1966 as part of the General Cinema Corp. (GCC) Circuit. The Lochwood was situated at the confluence of N. Garland Rd., Jupiter Rd. and Lochwood Blvd. Lochwood Cinema was the chain’s third Dallas location along with Big Town, NorthPark and joined by the similar Park Plaza which would open the following month in Arlington.

The $378,000 theater had the distinctive GCC white brick walls, an art gallery entrance, smokers area, giant Cinema sign, and 507 parking spaces. GCC said it was the first White Rock area theater to be constructed in 20 years. The theater opened April 7, 1966 with That Darn Cat. Coincidentally, Interstate’s Belaire Theater in Hurst opened to the public a day after an invitational screening with the same film on the same date.

Much like the aforementioned Park Plaza, GCC twinned the Lochwood. The shopping center became the Treehouse Mall as a number of the shops were placed into an enclosed mall in 1974, a practice not uncommon in that era. General Cinema renamed the Lochwood as the Treehouse in June of 1974. A downturn and a new owner led the mall to change names to the Lochwood Mall in 1979 but the retail prospects continued to dim. General Cinema changed the name away from the Treehouse and back to its original Lochwood nameplate accordingly.

General Cinema would get roughly its 20 years of life from the property and would drop it from the circuit. I believe it soldiered on briefly as the Cine 2 before becoming vacant and considered by locals an eyesore by the beginning of the 1990s. Pigeons were the only customers of the deserted theater which was demolished along with the shopping complex in 1990/1. The White Rock Marketplace took the place of the mall which was still in existence as of the 2010s.

dallasmovietheaters commented about Mirror Theater on Oct 25, 2013 at 10:15 am

The Mirror and its four antecedents only existed at one address: 1517 Elm. Doing business first as the Garden Theater (1912), then the Jefferson Theater (1915), then then Pantages, then the Ritz (1928), and finally the Mirror (1931) which burned down in 1941 after ten years in operation. The nearby Capitol operated at 1521 Elm while the unrelated Telenews/Dallas operated only at 1515 Elm.

1515 Elm was initially a paint store when the theater at 1517 Elm opened as the Garden Theater in 1912 as well as its change to the Jefferson Theater in 1915. 1515 Elm would became three grocery stores (Piggly Wiggly, briefly Lotus Foods, and Helpy-Selfy) during which time the theater was the Pantages and Ritz. 1515 Elm was home to several businesses including Van Winkle’s Book Store and a tavern at the end of the theater’s life which would then be known as the Mirror Theater before the theater burned down in 1941. 1517 Elm would become a retail space adjoining the Telenews in 1941/2.

The Mirror’s neighboring store at 1519 Elm was a well-placed candy store considering that at 1521 Elm was home to the “new” Capitol Theater in its second home at 1521 Elm. But that became a mixed blessing on August 3, 1941 when the Mirror burned badly ending its run as a showplace and took the candy store — though not the Capitol Theater — with it.

The Garden Theater was opened in 1912 playing motion pictures and some live performances. On March 8, 1915, the theater under new ownership of C.H. Verzchoyle and William E. Wetherford decided to stress live theater and renamed it the Jefferson Theater. They stressed and advertised that the location would be home to repertory presentations and “not moving pictures."

While reports said the project was profitable, the theater quickly was under the direction of Ray Stinnett who also owned the Cycle Park locally. Stinnett reconsidered the programming and returned the theater to its moving picture roots. He then sold the Jefferson to the Southern Enterprises circuit in 1920 which continued motion pictures but closed the theater early in 1922.

Stinnett resurrected the theater re-opening it in November of 1922 initially as the Jefferson and trying to position it as first-run house and musical comedy showplace. Obviously liking the live musical comedy aspects’ prospects, Stinnett changed the name of the theater to the Pantages in 1926 after remodeling it and trying to do move into live vaudeville. The vaudeville concept was said to be a very expensive failure for Stinnett who transferred the theater to a new operator.

On October 15, 1928, the Pantages was renamed the Ritz and billed itself as the first second-run Vitaphone movie theater in the United States. For a discount price, you could see second-run talkies. Now run by Robb and Rowley Theater Circuit and managed by W.B. Underwood, R&R invested $40,000 to remodel, redecorate, and bring sound film to the location. W.B. King was instrumental in the redesign with drapes, canopies, new front lobby and a kiosk at the theater’s entrance. They opened appropriately enough with “Lights of New York,” the first all-talking feature.

On February 7, 1931, R&R sold the Ritz along with the Rosewin and Midway as well as other locations in a $2.5 million deal by infamous millionaire Howard Hughes and partner Harold B. Franklin’s Hughes-Franklin Theater Company. The move was part of a larger $15 million transaction to strengthen the circuit.

Robb and Rowley were still managing the property and had the influx of money to remodel and refurnish the Ritz after the Hughes' transaction. In one of his last decisions for Hughes-Franklin, Franklin visited the Ritz and determined that Dallas was one of the bright spots in the country and that the theater location should reflect that. W. Scott Dunne was the architect of the redesign and the theater only shut down three weeks to become a “house of mirrors” renamed the Mirror Theater. Two shifts of workers worked full 24-hour schedules to make the redesign a reality. A perforated screen allowed for sound speakers behind the screen instead of the two horns used in the Vitaphone presentations. And the mirrored marquee and mirrored interior panels along with the flashing neon lights delivered Franklin’s vision and Dunne’s designs.

Before the theater was reopened, Franklin left Hughes to operated Paramount and United Artists theaters. The Mirror Theater opened Christmas Day 1931 with “Five Star Final” as its first screen attraction. While known primarily as a second run house, the Mirror capitalized on westerns from the minor film companies to stage live appearances. Under new operator, Interstate Theater Circuit, Gene Autry, Buck Jones, Tex Ritter, Monogram’s John King were among the stars to appear on the Mirror’s stage.

On August 2, 1941, a four-alarm fire decimated the Mirror during closing hours with the balcony crashing to the main floor. It was fortunate the theater was empty because the fire officials said the non-fireproof insulation engulfed the theater quickly and sparking electrical cables were visible. Just three weeks later, plans to build a new and unrelated newsreel theater were finalized at 1515 Elm to replace the former retail space and would be known first as the Telenews and then the Dallas Theater.

On September of 1941, Rear Admiral Adolphus Andrews of the U.S. Navy who owned the 1517 Elm property housing the still standing but charred Mirror was able to make a business trip to inspect the wreckage of the Mirror Theater. He ultimately determined that the building should be razed. 1517 was rebuilt as a retail space and housed a gift store and a game company above. Thus, the Garden/Jefferson/Pantages/Ritz/Mirror theatrical era ended after 29 years.