Steel Pier Theatre & Steel Pier Ocean Theatre

1000 Boardwalk,
Atlantic City, NJ 08401

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Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 26, 2017 at 2:42 pm

Me too but I was just a kid so at that time who knew. Yes the Frank’s totally destroyed the Strand In Ocean City. There is a web page of the old Hunts and Shriver theaters. It had beautiful pictures. To think now where our beautiful Steel Pier stood is a casino that’s been in bankruptcy more then once UGH

Cinedelphia
Cinedelphia on April 25, 2017 at 9:05 am

The Franks destroyed the beautiful Strand Theater in Ocean City. It’s a shame, I wish I could find more pictures of the old AC theaters, especially shots of the interiors. Wish I would have thought of doing that myself back in the day.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 25, 2017 at 7:47 am

Yeah the Frank’s ruined the Astor. The original owner Sam Shapiro whom I knew from bingo on the boardwalk was a first class act. he ran two summers in a row The Graduate. I remember when it burned down in the middle 70’s. Frank theaters had already closed it several tears before. Apparently it had amazing murals on the ceilings and beautiful statues. The Frank’s also ruin all the Wildwood and Ocean City theaters either twining them or making them 5 plexes.

Cinedelphia
Cinedelphia on April 24, 2017 at 8:04 pm

I worked one summer at what had been the Roxy when they turned it into an indoor kiddie ride park called “The Land of Oz”. The Franks basically turned the Embassy into a Blaxploitation/Kung Fu flick house. The Apollo really went to seed under Frank management. After a fire they never even repaired the screen which had been damaged (it literally had been burned down to 1.85 to 1). Back in the 60’s/early 70’s the Hamid theaters primarily showed films from Fox, Universal and Warners. The Apollo Circuit had MGM and Paramount and the Beach always seemed to show a lot of United Artists product.The Charles in its heyday was actually considered an “Art House” with foreign films and more high brow and prestige US films like the Godfather. The only theaters I was never in was The Capital (I was too young to get in to the summer Burlesque and skin flicks in the winter) and the Astor which was more of a neighborhood house with second runs, double features, grindhouse type films, etc. The Franks apparently even ruined the Astor turning it into the “Town Cinema” and covered the marquee with a cardboard sign which literally turned to mush from the rain.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 24, 2017 at 11:23 am

The old Frank chain was the pits. I worked one summer for a few months at the Embassy and they were really buttholes that didn’t care about customers or employees. When they purchased the Apollo circuit chain which was the Embassy, Apollo and Strand it was the end of another good AC chain just like when Hamid sold his theaters to G & G and the Steel Pier to the owners of Million Dollar Pier.1973 was the last summer for 3 of the 4 boardwalk theaters. The Roxy became Movieworld museum run by Hamid’s son, the Apollo became a burlesque house and the Virginia was closed because the government bought the 900 block and allowed everything except the Virginia to remain open. Hamid’s son told me that they wanted to keep the Virginia open but couldn’t. That was also the last year for the Steel Pier under Hamid who had already sold it but was asked to run it one more year. Fortunately the Strand was sold to private owners and remained open for at least 6 more years. The casino’s ruined our great AC.

Cinedelphia
Cinedelphia on April 24, 2017 at 10:32 am

The Franks built the Town Twin (later expanded to 4 and then 16) from the ground up at the Shore Mall next to the Atlantic Drive-In. For a Twin built from the ground up it was mediocre at best. One decently sized room and one smaller room with what my Father termed “A postage stamp screen”. After growing up with the big AC palaces it was a bit of a shock for me. However the real issue was the too frequent presentation issues: out of focus projection, poor framing, films breaking or burning up in the projector and while there was side masking, its use was inconsistent to say the least. Welcome to the world of Frank Theaters. Everything done on the cheap, indifferent quality control, etc, etc. In fairness, apparently the current state of the Frank chain has improved. I actually went to Jr and Sr High School with Bruce Frank who is now the CEO and he might have done some things to change that bad old Frank Theater culture.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 24, 2017 at 8:08 am

That was one theater I never went to. It was always the AC theaters and the Ventnor and Margate.

Cinedelphia
Cinedelphia on April 23, 2017 at 6:55 pm

Actually born and raised in AC and Ventnor. Had lot’s of extended family in Philly though and eventually migrated there myself. You’re memory is better than mine when it comes to dates. I’m pretty good with remembering which theater I saw the films. One thing I do recall, out of focus, film breaking and burning in the projectors, etc seemed to start happening at the Frank Theater’s brand new Town Twin.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 23, 2017 at 5:01 am

Doctor Doolittle was actually at the Hollywood as a roadshow engagement in the summer of 69. The Sand Pebbles was the summer before. Doctor Dolittle ended and Boom with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton opened August 8. You apparently grew up in Philly and spent summers in AC like I did.

Cinedelphia
Cinedelphia on April 22, 2017 at 8:59 pm

I specifically recall seeing Patton at the Shore with my father but I don’t recall it being a roadshow…it certainly wasn’t being presented in D150, 70mm, etc. I wish I could recall more about the roadshows in AC. The one’s I saw, The Sand Pebbles and The Blue Max were in the summer. Dr. Doolittle in 70mm at the Hollywood was not in the summer. One thing I do remember about those theaters in AC was never seeing anything out of focus or looking dim like the projector light was turned down or worn out. I would assume all those old theaters were still using carbon arc lamps and experienced union projectionists to run them. The last film I saw at the Shore was the Bruce Lee film “The Chinese Connection”. It already had a run at the Beach and while the print had more than a bit of wear/damage (like most Hong Kong “Chop Socky” flicks of that era) it still looked very good. I don’t have any problem with today’s digital projection (it’s seems a bit more idiot proof) but if you didn’t get to see a new 35mm film print (much less 70mm) projected properly through a well maintained carbon arc lamp projector onto a 50 ft screen you really missed out.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 22, 2017 at 11:42 am

Ah I remember those days well. Once the first showing started it was continuous until the last show unless it was a roadshow engagement and they generally had 2 shows daily. I don’t remember Patton playing at the Shore? was it during the winter months and was it a roadshow engaement? The only other roadshow engagement I know that played during the winter months was The Lion In Winter at the Charles in 69

Cinedelphia
Cinedelphia on April 22, 2017 at 9:21 am

Just a guess on my part but one reason why they stopped using the curtains at some of these theaters is because they were running “continuous showings” or “grind” where once the main feature ended (and back in those days there was little or no end title crawl, just “The End” and the film company logo) the trailers, cartoon (remember those?), etc would start up immediately and run that way all day and night like a continuous loop through the two projectors. Some believe that once the monopoly of the film companies owning the first run theaters was broken up that it was the beginning of the decline of great film presentation. Those film companies had strict rules for proper presentation. Curtains were to be used before and after the main feature, trailers, cartoons and short subjects and screen masking adjusted behind the closed curtain (an empty screen was never to be seen).

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 17, 2017 at 12:24 pm

The Center did stop using the curtain. If memory serves me correct. The Hollywood and Center were the only ones that stay open all year. The Shore did the winter after Oliver.

Cinedelphia
Cinedelphia on April 17, 2017 at 8:51 am

I think that the question regarding the Center and the Hollywood is not whether they had curtains and masking but if at some point they just stopped using them. I have always wondered if by the mid 70’s they just started the bad practice of showing everything at 2.0 to 1. Apparently this was not uncommon at that time. I do recall ‘scope films at the Roxy always looking to be every bit of 2.39 to 1. When I saw the French Connection in '71 (actually New Years Eve) at the Hollywood I do recall the film being 1.85 to 1 without any empty screen being exposed so there must have either been black masking or the curtain used to mask off the ends of the screen. Most of the films that I have any real memory of at the Center were 'scope and that theater was very wide and that curved screen went almost wall to wall (my guess is it was constructed in front of the original proscenium arch or the arch was busted out when the theater was converted to 'scope and 70mm in the 50’s).

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 16, 2017 at 12:23 pm

The Shore also had The Bible and Oliver. I think they ended up there because the other theaters except for the Roxy had roadshow films which brings us back to why the Roxy was never used for roadshow engagements. I know the Center did not have masking when it went to porn films but I saw What’s Up Doc there and can’t remember if they had masking or not. I was only in the Hollywood once and it was $1.00 theater in 78 and had no masking or curtains then. Actually the year Oliver was at the Shore and Funny Girl at the Center, 1969 the Hollywood had what was the big scandal X film of it’s day I Am Curious Yellow. They kept a cop at the box office all day. Today that film would probably be rated R. Considering the Hollywood was much bigger then the Shore Oliver should have played there. Love the big curved screen the Center had.

Cinedelphia
Cinedelphia on April 15, 2017 at 10:07 am

If they were showing non-scope in the Casino at 1.66 to 1 on what was probably a 50 foot wide 2.40 to 1 screen with the side masking retracted it would certainly appear square. I agree with you 100% regarding the Virginia vs the Roxy. But what was more of an issue to me is that the Virginia just wasn’t up to the standards of a “Roadshow” house. The screen needed to be bigger and have proper masking and a curtain and the truth is, the theater in general was more than a bit plain, drab and run down looking. My guess is the owners just didn’t want to invest the money into a very large, old theater like the Roxy…but it sure would have been something if they had. The use of the regular screen curtains as masking in the Hamid theaters probably explains why I never noticed masking in the Center, Hollywood, etc. The Center (which had a great huge curved screen) and the Hollywood did have 70mm and roadshows and were certainly worthy of doing them. It is also just beyond me why the dumpy Shore Theater was chosen for the roadshows of Cleopatra and Patton. Again, not a question of the size of the theater but no masking or curtain and a generally uninspiring theater interior. I would also guess no multi-channel sound either.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 14, 2017 at 12:21 pm

I think the aspect ratio at the Casino was always 1.66. Yes you never saw the screen raised in the music hall. If you remember the music hall also had no masking which considering all the curtains they had was strange. In the later years the Casino used the navy blue curtain instead of the masking. This seemed to be the case with Hamid’s theaters. The Virginia the main roadshow theater had no masking or curtains and neither did the Shore. The Hollywood, Center and Roxy did. Why the Roxy was not the roadshow house is beyond me. It was double the size of the Virginia and had a balcony.

Cinedelphia
Cinedelphia on April 13, 2017 at 3:34 pm

I was so young when I went to Steel Pier that some memories are very vivid and some things are very cloudy to say the least. I recall the screen in the Music Hall not being the width of the entire stage but still a pretty good size screen. You never got to see them hoist up that screen because all the curtains and drapes would close first. With regards to the Casino, back in the 60’s it always impressed me as being definitely purpose built to be a movie theater and with its squarish shape and wide proscenium arch well suited to the ‘scope and widescreen era. I don’t recall anything unusual about how 1.85 films were shown in the Casino. I saw “Help”, which was probably shot 1.66 to 1 but my recollection is that it was shown 1.85 to 1 in the Casino as it most likely was in most theaters in the US. I don’t recall the film appearing to be overly square or “window boxed” on the Casino screen. I do specifically remember going to a midnight screening of “Pink Flamingos” at the Strand theater which was almost across from the Pier and that was definitely a window boxed 1.66 to 1 16mm print shown in the center of the screen. Is it possible that Steel Pier snuck in some 16mm prints sometimes? It might explain the square look.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 13, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Yeah the original screen in the Casino was great. It fit the whole length of the stage. It was interesting that the 1.85 aspect ratio films on that screen were very square almost like a 16 mm print.

Cinedelphia
Cinedelphia on April 12, 2017 at 7:04 pm

Thanks for the clarification. As I recall, before its conversion to the “Music Hall” the Casino had a decent sized ‘scope screen. Even if they needed to go to a “flying screen” there was no reason except being cheap for installing something that looked like it belonged in an elementary school auditorium.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 8, 2017 at 9:30 am

The Midway was the Tony Grant Theater. When they demolished the music hall they changed the name of the Casino to the music hall. Yes, the one time I went in 77 the screen that fit the size of the stage was gone. They had a small screen that they hung in the wall so they could use the stage for the show. If I remember correctly they built the stage out a little too.

Cinedelphia
Cinedelphia on April 7, 2017 at 9:39 pm

So it sounds like the Midway Theater was what I knew as the Tony Grant Theater. I am a little confused regarding “The screen they put in the Casino when they changed it to the Music Hall was horrible. It literally was a screen about the size of a screen you would use at home for home movies.” The last time I was in the Casino Theater was in the early/mid 70’s to see some closed circuit boxing and the screen seemed to be normal for a theater of that size. Do you mean the screen in the Music Hall?

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 6, 2017 at 12:49 pm

The Midway was literally half way between the marine Ballroom and the Music Hall. I never remember it as the Ocean theater. It was a decent size theater with a nice stage and curtains that said Tony Grant Stars of Tomorrow. The whole demolition of the center of the pier was so stupid. They put international thrill rides there and the first summer it was open a hurricane came through and destroyed them and the back of the pier. The Music Hall had side balconies. The screen they put in the Casino when they changed it to the Music Hall was horrible. It literally was a screen about the size of a screen you would use at home for home movies. I went to the pier once and never went back after the demolition.

Cinedelphia
Cinedelphia on April 5, 2017 at 11:58 am

It doesn’t surprise me that the Casino Theater had masking, etc. as it was used exclusively for movies (at least back in the heyday before it was used for boxing matches, etc). I do recall that the Casino was a relatively wide theater while the Music Hall was longer and had the orchestra pit and big stage. I just don’t have any memory of the Ocean/Midway Theater. My Dad was the manager of Trilling Paint Store on Atlantic Ave and the Hamid Family, owners of the Pier, were customers so we always had free tickets to the Pier. One summer in the mid 60’s my older brother worked at one of the Pier food stands and on more than a couple occasions basically walked in with him and had the run of the Pier for the day. It was a different world back then and the Pier was a family business and the Hamids were very nice people.

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on April 3, 2017 at 2:21 pm

The Marine Ballroom had a small balcony. The main floor was standing room only.I also spent summers in ACT and at the pier from 67-78. When George Hamid sold the pier to the owners of Million Dollar Pier they ruined it especially destroying the Music Hall and Midway theaters. The Casino did not cut it for movies and stage shows. The Marine Ballroom was destroyed by fire in the early 70 and replaced with the Golden Dome Ballroom. The music hall had lots of curtains but no masking. The screen in the 60 was moved from the Virginia Theater across the boardwalk to the music hall. The screen was pulled up for the vaudeville shows and you could see Virginia Theater on the bottom metal of the screen. The Casino had both masking and curtains and eventually the main curtain was used for the masking.