Showing 15 comments
Sadly, this was the year we moved out of Chicago (1979) when I was 10. This is how I remember the Nortown, more so in 1977 when I saw the granddaddy of all sci-fi movies–Star Wars! I was just here a couple weeks ago. My aunt moved to a condo not far from here at Granville, just west of California. My two younger children were with me, and one of the days, when leaving my aunt’s for a quick run to see downtown, my kids were hungry. My daughter looked up nearby restaurants, and where did she pick? The Wendy’s that now sits on the site! I believe the Arco in the forground in the photo is a Dunkin Donuts, or it is just out of frame back a block because we stopped there for iced coffee.
Update to my long-winded post above where I went down memory lane. Was just in Chicago the other week with my 17 year old daughter and 9 year old son. My aunt lives very close to where the Nortown was (she’s lived there since 1991) on West Granville just west of California. We were leaving her condo to take a run to downtown and my kids were hungry. “What do you want?” I asked. My daughter looked up food nearby…“Wendy’s” she replied. “It’s just up Granville, and make a left at Western.” Yep, went to the site that used to be the Nortown…
I was born in 1969, and we moved out of Chicago in 1979 to settle in Los Angeles (my parents still live in the same house). However, the 10 short years I grew up on the Northside of Chicago (remembering probably 7 or so years), I recall this theater. I only recall two of the several movies my dad or both parents brought us to see–‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ in 1978, and one year prior–the grandaddy of sci-fi films…STAR WARS (or whatever you youngsters know the OG film as?). I do not recall the theater EVER having a light on. There seemed to ALWAYS be a film starting. The 70s were still the days one could go to a movie and not have any sneak previews. The downside was that if the showtime was, say 7:30, the actual movie started at 7:30. The good thing about it was the old-school projectors were two of them–the projectionist would load up the second projector, and on the cue, start it up, which led him or her to load up the other projector. That way, if you missed several minutes of the film, you simply stayed seated (like I said, I do not recall the lights ever being on) and the film would start over. You missed 11 minutes, you stay to see the next showing for 11 minutes. My friends and relatives stayed on the Northside (they all later moved to the suburbs) through most of the 80s, so it was always nice to see the old neighborhood including the Nortown. There was a hobby shop I used to go to as a kid on Devon and Western catacorner(sp?) to the Nortown. It closed sometime in the later 80s. I never did catch a film on any of the return visits which was a shame. As the years ticked on, I recall no one living out that way, so only saw the Nortown once again in either 2000 or 2001. I recall my cousin pointing out all the taxis parked outside, as it had become a mosque by then. I was discussing Star Wars with a friend, and it reminded me of the Nortown. Funny enough, over the years, I had thought it was named the Town and Country, but I think that was another, newer theater not too far away. I recall seeing what I believe to be a re-release of Fanatasia in the mid-70s, but that is another story for another theater’s discussion, lol. What I do remember is the Nortown was quite grand and regal and definitely had its old-school charm. Oh, and I recall it was a one-plex with a balcony (used as a smoking section, and the, I believe, Town and Country also had a smoking balcony).
Did they used to show the Rocky Horror Picture Show here in the mid-80s? I think I remember going to the old 2-plex and seeing Rocky Horror for the first time here?
I believe this was the theater I saw “Day of the Dead” and “Reanimator” at as a double feature. My friend was just getting into special effects at the time (we were in high school, and he was a very natural sculptor who could make all kinds of masks/wounds/creatures/etc.) so we wanted to see “..Dead” because a few of our friends worked on it and played zombies in it. However, the second feature, “Reanimator” proved to be the better, and more memorable, film. The funniest thing I still remember was the crowd was mostly heavy metal fans of the mid-80s at least based on their looks, long-haired and rowdy. Drunk, too, because I remember hearing many empty glass bottles rolling down the floor. Between films, they played a couple trailers, but more memorable, they played A-Ha’s ‘Take on Me.’ The parts where the singing gets high-pitched, it seemed like everyone in the theater was screaming in a sarcastic high-pitched scream. Me and my two friends were doubled over laughing so hard! Good fun!! Then, I was blown away by “Reanimator”. Will remember that night, even if it wasn’t this particular theater but the other one plex on Topanga. I am pretty sure this was the place, however…
I used to ride the RTD from Sherman Way/Topanga from Our Lady of the Valley back in ‘79-'80. I remember this theater as it listed its films as .99 Even as a fifth grader, I wondered how could they make money!LOL I do remember way later going in to Performance Auto Wholesale which was a major mail-order performance parts catalog store which featured multi-page ads in Hot Rod and other such magazines (way before the internet took hold) with my friend to order headers for his Dodge Ramcharger SUV in the same building.
My wife and I saw the very last movie they ever played. I forget the main feature, ironically, but the second run movie was ‘The Rock.’ The other screens had gone dark, but right about midnight, the second run movie began. I fell asleep for a lot of the movie, LOL. My car’s radio did not work, so I had to borrow one of the theater’s loaner speaker thing they loaned out, and I was thinking, “why are they even taking my driver’s license to borrow it, it’s not like the theater will be open tomorrow (meaning I should have been allowed to keep is as a souvenir, LOL. Sad it was closing, but I have to say, to this day, I am so glad it didn’t end up turning into nonsense, like condos or homes, but rather, stayed as a theater! The closing night was so subdued, it really just seemed to be another random weekday night! Bittersweet!!
I moved to Northridge in ‘79, and this theater had been closed at that point. I remember the shopping center being kind of 'derelict’ looking through the 80’s and 90’s, but was redone to match the real estate prices, LOL. I will have to look the next time I go to visit my family to see if they still have the marquee as ‘Lavarus’ posted back in ‘08 that it was still there.
Loved this theater in the 80’s. During high school (graduated ‘87), we used to go here often on Friday’s due to early out every Friday. One day I did not go with the group, and my friends and one other guy were the only people in the theater…that one guy was Richard Pryor, the comedian, who lived up Parthenia in those older homes. He even asked my friends what they thought of the movie, LOL.
I remember seeing Porky’s here way back in the early 80’s. I was about 11, and a small group of us were dropped off to see a movie for one of our friend’s birthdays. The guy who worked the concession stand let us sneak in to Porky’s, LOL. I remember when the movie ‘Meatballs’ was out, someone stole the ’M' off the marquee, so going down Tampa, it said ‘eatballs’. Saw more movies at the theater on Parthenia/Tampa or the Peppertree than here, so not much to remember about the theater other than Porky’s.
I am glad to see this theater still opened! I remember seeing Ghostbusters 2, and waiting in a looooong line with a couple friends. When we finally got to the theater, it was their ‘spillover’ theater which seemed like a big-screen tv, LOL. One of the friends who went worked in FX (still does),and I remember going to see other films here that he worked on, or friends of ours who worked on other films. I remember seeing ‘Swamp Thing’ (the 80’s remake), and a couple others that I don’t remember here. But, again, it is always nice to see old places, especially theaters, still opened when I visit L.A.!
I worked for AMC Theaters as a manager from ‘96 to '98, and when I found out this theater had just closed down, I tried my darndest to try to buy it and reopen it as a second-run theater. I went nowhere, fast, LOL. I think this beauty school has been there since it closed.
An old friend just bought this theater and will reopen it on 2/12/16. He is a big time movie buff, especially classics (horror), and his dream has been to buy and run a drive-in theater. So, even though this is not a drive-in, if I know my friend, it will be a real treat to see films here. Also, there will probably be film festivals. I live in Yuma, AZ, so will probably not be a regular here, but I do plan to go to one of the fests.
I don’t remember who owned this theater in the early 80’s, but he did play my friend’s father’s movie, “The Secret of Nimh” (my friend’s father was partners with Don Bluth). He lived just on the other side of Devonshire, so this was very convenient. I remember living in Northridge up to ‘02 and got to take my wife to a couple movies here before it closed down. I am not sure, but it may have been a first run theater in the 80’s (someone could clarify). As a second run theater, I do fondly remember seeing “Pulp Fiction” there in '94 before it left the big screen. Back to the 80’s, I remember seeing “Rambo” (the original) and “Brainstorm” maybe even as a double feature.
No one mentioned “Rocky Horror” that played in the latter years here. I think I saw it here twice or three times—at midnight screenings. Was sad to see it go, but it was inevitable as I worked as a manager at the nearby AMC Promenade 16. In the late 80’s and into the 90’s, I did see a few other films, including the Elvira, Mistress of the Dark campy film. I cannot remember the others I saw here, but I did enjoy this theater.