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And when Jean Renoir’s lovely THE RIVER played here for thirty-four weeks beginning in September, 1951, it was given a roadshow treatment, two shows daily (2:30 and 8:30) and reserved seats. Classy treatment for this 99 minute non-blockbuster work of poetry!
The theatre also used to program occasional foreign films in the smallest of the three cinemas. Imports were otherwise rarely screened in the area.
The projection here was top-notch…whether showing a revival of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN or a 70mm DAYS OF HEAVEN. Aspect ratios were respected, masking was correct, and you could trust the theatre to get things right with sound and focus. The theatre, by the way, kept its name “Cinerama Theatre” even after it no longer showed Cinerama.
A wonderful theatre with enormous character and unique ambience. You felt like you were in some kind of Tudor manor or English country church there, not surprising considering its origin as the First Spiritual Temple. It had similarities with New York’s Plaza Theatre on 58th Street. Even the newspaper ads were always submitted in a period lettering style and format. My first film seen here was Bergman’s WILD STRAWBERRIES in the summer of 1959. The last one was a revival of Visconti’s integral THE LEOPARD around 1984. The place was the complete opposite of so many nondescript and boringly interchangeable places we watch movies in today. A lost treasure for sure.
I saw some very nice movies here over the decades: Claude Chabrol’s THE COUSINS, Inagaki’s SAMURAI, an untrimmed print of Bertolucci’s THE CONFORMIST and so much more.
There were some annoying characteristics with this theatre. The exit lights were right next to the screen and cast a glow on them, All films, old and new, CinemaScope and standard ratio, were shown to fit an invariable screen ratio.
Many thanks to all of you knowledgeable and industrious staff members. I’ve been able, through this site, to learn so much about this fascinating subject we all love but also to share some of my own gleanings. One of the best sites ever, and I am now fully addicted. May require therapy.
Considering the name of the theatre, was it ever an Italian-language house?
From the Providence Journal, November 5, 1933: “All French Dialogue Feature Photoplay "SOUS LA LUNE DU MAROC”. Based on the story “Les Cinq Gentlemen Maudits” by Andre' Reuze. With a fine cast of Parisian stage and screen stars. 2 Days only, Wed.-Thurs., Nov. 8-9. LAURIER Theatre. Woonsocket, R.I. Mat. at 1:30. Eve. at 7:00.
I was there only twice, I believe in 1958 and 1959, for Jacques Tati’s MY UNCLE and Jack Clayton’s ROOM AT THE TOP. It was a much more spacious theatre and with much better sight lines than its follow-up, the Kenmore Square Cinema, would be.
I saw some great movies there for the first time: Mastroianni in FAMILY DIARY, Teshigahara’s WOMAN IN THE DUNES and THE INSECT WOMAN,
the film about the Rome Olympics THE GRAND OLYMPICS. I remember that the angle of projection from the top of a high balcony was so steep that it caused “keystoning”, a noticeably trapezoidal image on the screen. It was, however, a refurbished, clean and characterful theatre. I remember a funny story as well. Once, before a showing of Ferreri’s THE CONJUGAL BED, a woman complained to the cashier when she found out that the Italian movie was going to have subtitles. “What do you mean, it’s in Italian. This is America. We speak English. Why do you show movies like that?”
A bit of esoterica: in June of 1934 the Community Theatre showed, for three days, what was billed as the first showing in Rhode Island of “the most talked of film in the world.” It was an English-language version of the 1931 German MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM (Girls in Uniform), now considered a great classic of world cinema. The theme of lesbian love in a girls' school must have been considered extremely shocking at the time. Patrons were advised in the Providence Journal ad, “NOTE, Because of the Delicate Theme, No Children Will Be Admitted.” Admission was 25 cents for the matinees, 40 cents for evening shows.
I didn’t see any publicity for it when I was there last summer. Perhaps I err.
No, that can’t be, William. The Paramount with its renovated facade and nothing else) is further up on Washington Street. The Publix was diagonally across from the Center. I believe it was originally called the Gayety and is still there in decrepitude. The cinematour.com site (q.v.) seems to confirm this. I have seen movies at both the Publix and the Paramount in past decades and they are not the same theatre.
The Strand was built in 1915, was twinned in 1975, ran porno movies for a time, showed its last films (adult) in May, 1978. A fine article on the history of the Strand, with excellent archival photos, appeared in the Providence Journal, August 20, 1978.
The theatre was built in the 1920s, closed in 1959. The address is 164 Taunton Avenue. It was originally called the Bomes Theatre,and there is a sign to that effect in the cement facade. Some real trivia: in 1935 the “Swedish film comedy success” PETTERSON SVERIGE was shown. In 1937 SWEDEN – LAND OF THE VIKINGS and SHARGARD’S FLIRT. The theatre was probably rented to show ethnic films: Swedish, Portuguese, perhaps others.
The 586-seat theatre opened on September 13, 1948 and was the first of the post-war movie houses constructed in Manhattan. The first five films shown were LA SYMPHONIE PASTORALE (34 weeks), DEVIL IN THE FLESH (36 weeks), then in 1950 Bresson’s LES ANGES DU PECHE (2 weeks) the original French GIGI (7 weeks), Clement’s THE WALLS OF MALAPAGA (10 ½ weeks). Films that ran for a year or more (up to 1989, according to Variety Magazine, February 22-28,1989) were Germi’s DIVORCE-ITALIAN STYLE; Lelouch’s A MAN AND A WOMAN, Zeffirelli’s ROMEO AND JULIET.
The Village Voice, in a June 20, 1989 article on lower Manhattan theatres ,lists the Bleecker main auditorium as seating 200 and the James Agee room as holding 78.
According to their 1990 100-year souvenir program book (i.e. 100 years since Brattle Hall had opened) the first film shown when they became a cinema in 1953 was the German THE CAPTAIN FROM KOPENICK.
I remember seeing some terrific or terrifically interesting movies here over the years. Among the first I saw in the theatre’s opening years were Antonioni’s ZABRISKIE POINT, with the doomed star Mark Frechette meeting patrons in the lobby before the evening show, Pasolini’s THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT MATTHEW, Rossif’s TO DIE IN MADRID, Loren and Mastroianni in De Sica’s YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW. It was a comfortable roomy place.
The theatre opened in 1917 with vaudeville as well as movies.
The Carlton was demolished in 1954 to create a parking lot.
My strongest memory of the Gary is when I came up from Providence in 1961 to see Federico Fellini’s “scandalous” LA DOLCE VITA, which was premiering there at that time.
The exact address for this theatre is 1 Beacon Street, which becomes Tremont Street at that point. The theatre was still operating in the early 90s and by that time it contained three auditoriums in its beneath-street-level location.
I remember seeing Cukor’s MY FAIR LADY here in the 1960s when it was the Saxon Theatre and part of the Sack chain. I just paid a visit the other day for Opera Boston’s production of “Nixon in China” by John Adams, and the magnificently restored theatre was a wonder to behold indeed, utterly breathtaking. Perhaps Emerson College could rescue all the endangered entertainment palaces of America!