The Metro Theatre’s red hot opening night
At Bloor and Manning, a giant poster advertising Emmanuelle adorns the facade of the Metro, Toronto’s only surviving legitimate adult movie theatre. But long before it began showing porn in the 1970s, it served as a neighbourhood theatre for over three decades.
Despite the PG-rated nature of the cinema’s opening night (April 7, 1939) double-bill, Delinquent Parents and Looking for Trouble, things got a little heated during the second showing of the programme when a fire broke out in a storage room on the ground floor near the building’s entrance. Smoke billowed into the auditorium and a minor panic ensued as the theatre’s 700 patrons rushed out. Nobody was seriously injured, but a Mrs. Norah Lennox, who lived on Ossington Ave., was trampled in the stairwell while her husband Robert helped a few old ladies.
In the end, no serious damage was caused. Looking for Trouble, a 1934 flick starring Spencer Tracy and Jack Oakie must have been a good one, as most of the patrons who ran out returned to catch the rest of the show.
Upon its premiere, the Metro was billed as the finest cinema in its district. Sleek and modern, with cushioned seats, lots of parking space and air-conditioning, it was a step up in comfort compared to its neighbours offerings at Bathurst and Bloor, where the Alhambra (now demolished), Madison (now the Bloor) and the Bloor (now Lee’s Palace) had been around since the teens, respectively. Although air conditioning was common in newly-built theatres by the mid 1930s, the Madison would not offer it until it was rejuvenated and rechristened the Midtown in 1941.
Sources: The Globe and Mail, April 8, 1939. Toronto Star, April 7, 1939.
Above image of the Metro showing Christmas in Connecticut in 1945 from the Archives of Ontario.