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Apparently this was part of a multi-state chain of theaters all named Art Cinemas. The book “Coming Back to a Theater Near You: A History of Hollywood Reissues, 1914-2014” mentions a reissued film doing well for the Art Theater Circuit, mentioning Boston and another city.
A neon bedecked rectangular marquee overhung the sidewalk with movie title on the side and and E.M.Loews neon emblem on the front-piece. A single ticket seller box was at the sidewalks edge. Around and behind the box was a wide tiled runway leading to the entrance.Posters for the current attractions (was always a double feature) were on the wall to the left and right of the boxoffice. Posters for the next attraction were in glass cases on the wall left and right of the main entrance doors. Entrance was via 2 glass doors on the right, part of a set of six doors that were the outer wall.A few steps inside was another set of glass doors and the space between the two sets was the smoking area. Lobby area was past the second set of doors. Candy counter on the right, bathrooms on the left.Only a half sized wall at the back of the auditorium so you could see the film running as soon as you were inside. Aisles on the right and left led down to the front screen. Screen was good size with a clock built onto the front wall to the left of the screen.
Comfortable enough seats that reclined a bit.Double feature would have the main film go on last, usually a second run or a wide opening “B” picture.The first feature was often an interesting film from a year or so back.
Building and separate sign are still standing.
Nice to finally see some info on this place. When I worked at The Saxon I’d see the tiny entrance to this theater, don’t think I ever saw anyone go in or out. Always wondered if it was even open.
An article in one of the papers (might have been The Phoenix) mentioned plans to refurbish it which would include a full bar. I’m guessing this was a place where the balcony was closed off to become the second house.
Sorry, read the paragraph wrong, the first film they got as an East Coast Premiere was Bridge, not the first film after it was renamed.
Forgive me for this piece of trivia but I can’t resist the joke.
In 1960 the film “Scent Of A Mystery” was released only in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles in 70mm with the Smell-O-Vision gimmick.
In 1962 the film was reissued in Boston as “Holiday In Spain” so the Boston Cinerama was the first place to show the film after it stopped stinking.
The book “Movie Roadshow” by Kim R. Holston mentions this theater running the film “Solomon And Sheba” for it’s Xmas attraction in 1959. It’s noted that the theater was newly refurbished that year (only 3 years before it was demolished) and that it had a 45 ft high marquee and 48 by 22 foot screen, both were “largest in the city”. Nice to have exact measurements for something but who knows if it was true.
The book “Movie Roadshow” by Kim R. Holston mentions the first attraction after the theater was refurbished and renamed The Gary was The Bridge On The River Kwai.
The book “Movie Roadshow” by Kim R. Holston mentions The Saxon hosted the world premier of ‘The Cardinal’ in 1963. Also mentions that Ben Sack thought New York critics unfairly savaged many films in their reviews so he was determined to make Boston an alternate hub for big premieres. He resurrected the Majestic theater, installed TODD-AO equipment, renamed it The Saxon and opened it with Oklahoma and later Around The World In 80 Days.
This may have survived into the 80’s. I remember seeing ads for a twin cinema in Gloucester. Also a union projectionist who worked there told me that the equipment was pretty old, in fact he said it still had small platters for running Vitaphone discs.
The book “Movie Roadshows” by Kim Holston mentions an odd attraction the Astor ran. The film “The Trail of 98” released by MGM in 1928 was shown at the Astor in ‘Fantomscreen’ (or Fantom Screen) which some claim was just an early widescreen process. But several sources describe it as the screen set up on wheels so it moved back and forth towards the audience during the film.
An interesting ‘could have been’ for this theater. The book “Movie Roadshows; A History and Filmography of Reserved-Seat Limited Showings 1911-1973” mentions in the section on Around The World In 80 Days about future plans for the Todd-AO 70mm widescreen process. Mike Todd mentions he had an agreement to buy Boston’s Copley Theatre with plans for a chain similar to the Cinerama houses.
Oddly it also mentions Todd opposed the sale of popcorn in theaters.
When Sack Theaters opened their small triple in Salem, MA their was some confusion since the local papers carried ads for both and neither specified the state they were in.
A nice enough place to catch a double feature. Was usually second run with an older film on first. Would also get some first runs, usually the type you’d see on a TV ad with the announcer saying “At theaters and drive-ins near you.”
Thought I’d give a description of the Welles' interior layout before memory fades even more.
Six glass doors set in about maybe 3 feet from the sidewalk. Two doors on left were entrance which led directly to a small ticket seller booth on the left. Also a place where you could pick up flyers on current films. Small stairway then led up to the lobby with a larger stairway to the right for exiting separated by a small wall. Lobby had a erasable board at rear for film times. Entrance to Cinema 1 was on right which had aisles on left and right and only center section of seating (I think.) Cinema 2 entrance was straight ahead at back of lobby and was reached by a small flight of stairs. When you entered you were about halfway point of the house. Screen on the left and seats left and right plus another seating section across a center aisle. Cinema 3 entrance on left of lobby and to get to the house you went down a flight of stairs, took a couple of steps then up a small flight of stairs. Entrance brought you to very front of the house (I think) right in front of the screen. Snack bar was on very left of lobby with fresh popped popcorn, real butter for it, plus coffee (kind of a rarity at theaters then except art houses.) Plus theater t-shirts for sale. Wall along exit stairway had classic movie stars painted on it.
A friend of mine had a shop near the theater and said the fire that destroyed the building was in 1976.
He’s also mentioned the Lynn City Hall Auditorium having theater level 35mm projectors and that films were frequently shown there.
He’s also mentioned a store still having some 35mm projectors in it’s attic from it’s days as a theatre. Seeking more info on it.
Likely this was the last theater operating, at least part time, in Lynn. I can recall seeing it with a much simplified frontage area in the 80s when my bus would pass through Central Square. A marquee flat against the front saying simply “Greek Movies Fri Sat.” There were a couple of Greek specialty stores in the area at the time. Stood empty for years and then was a vacant lot for even more years.
I think I do remember the drive in being moved. Never attended it but I remember being driven by it on the highway. The newer location had its screen so it was right in front of you as you hit a curve. Wonder how many accidents it caused.
The sign for this place stayed in place for years after it closed (seems to be the way for most drive in closings.) Used to see the sign along Route 1 entrance seemed to be direct off the highway. Must have been a real mess when cars were waiting to get in and when the place emptied out.
Pretty sure this had at least one more screen installed before it went under.It was the last of the North Shore drive ins.
During it’s time as The Back Bay Screening Room, it was owned by the same chain that owned the Paris and The Orson Welles Cinema.
Some random memories of Off The Wall.
First time I went there at the original location was for a screening of Between Time And Timbuktu, a film in Boston, PBS production based on some Kurt Vonnegut stories. It seemed to become a fill in film for their schedule for awhile.
The famous Betty Boop show was a fill in when a show did not draw well. It was supposed to be in for a week or so but became hugely popular and ended up running for a month or two.
They were also one of the first places to revive the film Head starring The Monkees.
A nice enough place to see a movie but too long and thin an auditorium. Looked almost like the bowling alley twins that resulted from theaters being split.
A newspaper story about the King of Hearts 5 year stay mentioned that the theater had used up all the available prints of the film. They contacted the director who not only supplied a print but assured them they would be able to get prints when they needed them for the rest of it’s run.
Not sure it’s mentioned in the comments but The Brattle was considered the birthplace of the Humphrey Bogart cult of the 60-70s. No revival house was without a Bogie double feature somewhere on it’s schedule.