The world’s smartest dog at the Beach Theatre

The world’s smartest dog at the Beach Theatre

  We’ve written about several Allen theatres over the past three years, but often ignored is their majestic Beach Theatre, which opened on December 15, 1919, months after the premiere of their other east-end showplace, the Danforth. The Allen’s theatre chain extended nationwide, but in Toronto, they also owned the Allen, which later become the Tivoli, the College, St-Clair, Parkdale and the original Bloor Theatre, which now houses Lee’s Palace. Designed by Allen stalwart C. Howard Crane, the…

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Allen’s Bloor Theatre

Allen’s Bloor Theatre

For over twenty-five years, Toronto concert-goers and Annex residents have known the building at 529 Bloor St. West as Lee’s Palace. But nearly a century ago, the Allen’s Bloor Theatre was one of the most luxurious suburban movie houses Toronto had to offer. The immaculately detailed 782 seat theatre held its premiere screening on March 10, 1919 with Cecil B. De Mille’s Don’t Change Your Wife, featuring Gloria Swanson. It was the first theatre to…

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You’re fired: Silent film musicians & the talkie revolution

You’re fired: Silent film musicians & the talkie revolution

To coincide with our upcoming Silent Sundays screening of Eisenstein’s pro-labour Strike on May 1, we examine how the arrival of sound pictures affected the livelihood of silent film musicians. — The successful commercialization of synchronized sound films in the late 1920s was arguably the medium’s most important technological achievement since its invention. But often neglected is how the costly conversion to sound systematically put thousands of silent film musicians out of work. In Toronto,…

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The Parkdale Theatre: a passion den for teenagers

The Parkdale Theatre: a passion den for teenagers

“This may seem drastic to you but I have seen the results of the work of some of these hoodlums,” wrote Ontario Censor Board and Theatres Inspection Branch chairman O.J. Silverthorne in 1953 after offering Famous Players some well-heeled advice on dealing with teen-age rowdiness at Toronto’s Parkdale Theatre. Located at Queen St. W and Triller Ave., the Parkdale was one of several theatres designed by C. Howard Crane for the national Allen chain of…

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Letters to the Manager

A great little ditty uncovered by Colin Geddes while leafing through my copy of Famous Players Canada’s What’s New? employee newsletter from July, 1973. Sure, you can still expect to be treated this way by your fellow movie-goer, but gosh, those ushers knew a thing or two about customer service! And as evidenced by the photo to the right, they either used a really tough starch, or those jackets were full on bulletproof: Dear Sir, My…

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