Old Dixie Cinema

5855 Old Dixie Road,
Forest Park, GA 30297

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Formerly JL, later the Septum Old Dixie Twin

One of the first and definitely the best of the Jerry Lewis Cinemas to crop up in the metro Atlanta area during the 1970’s. The Jerry Lewis Twin Cinema opened January 12, 1972 with Dean Jagger in “Vanishing Point” and Tom Laughlin in “Billy Jack”. The theatre primarily showed second run and family fair (nothing with a rating above PG). Needless to say this severely limited what the theatre could offer during a period in which X rated films were running alongside G and PG fair in some of the metro multiplexes.

In 1974 it was talen over by Septum Cinemas chain. By 1985 it was operated by Showman Cinema who closed it that year.

Contributed by Jack Coursey

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

JesseBrantley
JesseBrantley on February 13, 2006 at 1:35 pm

I remember going to Old Dixie many times during the 70’s and 80’s. It was the only theater on the South side of Atlanta to show the movie Alien on its first run

During the 80’s one of the auditoriums was split creating two very narrow auditoriums. After closing originally, it reopened as a dollar house. Then it closed again. Then became a church. Finally it was set on fire by a volunteer fireman and demolished in the mid 90’s. Now a hispanic strip center is where the Old Dixie was.

StanMalone
StanMalone on August 11, 2006 at 5:39 am

At some point during the late 70’s the Old Dixie went through the XXX phase. This seemes to be something that every Jerry Lewis Cinema in the entire country went through at one time. Their small size and minimal staffing requirements made them ideal for this purpose. The one on Buford Hwy still operates in this manner to this day. During this phase the Old Dixie was raided by the Clayton County Police and the manager / projectionist was carted off to jail. Funny how these things work. They never seem to arrest the owners or bookers, just the poor saps trying to make a living. The solicitors undoubtedly realized that it was an easy conviction since few managers had the money to hire a lawyer and the owners would just pay their fines and mark it up to the cost of doing business. The result: Business as usual for the theatre owner, good publicity during an election year for the solicitor, and a criminal record for the poor manager and projectionist who were just doing their jobs and had no say in what was being played.

JBrantley
JBrantley on January 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm

To the best of my knowledge Old Dixie never went to all porn. I don’t even remember it showing any X-rated movie. It was always a twin but later one auditorium was split and it was then a triple.

There was a time in the 1970s when an X-rated move such as Alice In Wonderland, or Tarzan Shame of the Jungle would play at the multiplexes. I remember Arrowhead playing these occasionally like all the other Weis Theaters would. I don’t remembe this at Old Dixie.

rivest266
rivest266 on April 8, 2018 at 9:10 am

This opened on January 9th, 1972 as a twin and became part of the Septum chain in 1974.

rivest266
rivest266 on April 11, 2018 at 3:00 pm

Last listed in 1985 as it was owned by Showman cinemas. May have been opened after, but no ads bought in the newspapers.

StanMalone
StanMalone on April 17, 2018 at 7:34 am

JBrantley: I think that you are correct about the XXX rated history of this theater but it did play the type of X that you listed. I have forgotten the movie in question but they must have played something along those lines at least once since the staff did go to jail.

The projectionist that I knew was not even on duty the day of the raid. He had stopped by to pick up his paycheck and when the police came in they asked him if he was working there. When he told them why he was there they asked him if he had run the movie in question at any time. He told them that he had worked the day before, so, they took him to jail as well. I would have fought that arrest since they did not advise him of his rights before asking him these questions, but as is usually the case, the company just paid a fine, the solicitor got some good publicity, and a good man, who served as a combat medic in Italy during WWII as well as decades as a projectionist in the Atlanta area got a criminal record.

StanMalone
StanMalone on April 17, 2018 at 7:38 am

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/11536

This is a link to the Buford Highway Twin, another Jerry Lewis location taken over by Septum. The ad currently at the top of the page shows the kind of X that all of the Septum chain played at one time or the other and Old Dixie is listed. The Roswell location may have been the exception since they are not playing either one of these movies, but it may have just been their week off.

JFB
JFB on January 9, 2019 at 3:45 pm

StanMalone I have had to change my id because I lost my passwords from previous times. Growing up in Hapeville, I do not remember any theater on the southside playing any XXX movies. I do remember playing such movies as The Cheerleaders but not what would be classified as porn.

As previously stated, Arrowhead would play some X-rated movie like “Shame of the Jungle.” It is interest to see how things have changed from the 1960’s to now. And how there is only one movie theater in the area that contained Arrowhead, Old Dixie, Old National, Southlake, Cinemas 8 at Southlake, Southlake Plaze and others.

I was not offended when others correct me about “The Sound of Music” not playing a year at Lakewood. It just seemed that way.

JFB
JFB on January 10, 2019 at 4:43 pm

I made a mistake about southside theaters playing XXX movies. The Gordon theater in West End did end its run as a movie theater playing this type of movies. Other than that, there were no others to think about.

StanMalone
StanMalone on January 14, 2019 at 7:51 pm

JFB: I think that the Gordon closed about the time my family moved to Atlanta and I had never heard of it until I saw it on CT. As far as XXX goes, I was careless in lumping that in with the kind of X that was a staple of programming for the Septum chain in their early years. While the Septum run X fare was not the porn that the Buford Highway ran for decades after it was vacated by Septum it was not exactly Midnight Cowboy or even Last Tango type either.

During the early days of Septum they used union operators who were also paid a daily management fee as well. I knew both of the guys who worked at Buford Highway and would often stop by to visit. This was during the time they would play a second run feature in one side and an X in the other. One night I walked into the side playing SOS (which stood, I found out, for Screw On The Screen) and was amazed at the content. It was far worse than anything in Oh Calcutta which had gotten the manager and projectionist locked up at the North Springs just a few years earlier. I asked my friend if he was not worried about going to jail and he said that he was and was just waiting for another booth job to open up so he could get out.

I think the raid at this theater prompted the union to drop the contract just as they did at several of the downtown theaters like the 10th Street Art and Metro Art in the early 70’s. I know that by the time Star Wars opened at Buford Highway at Christmas 1977 it was a non union booth. However Septum continued to run X on one side and standard fare on the other as late as 1979 when they had Superman first run. It was an odd company that dropped its former Jerry Lewis locations once they started building their own in the early 80’s.

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