View Single Post
Old 06-10-2017, 10:28 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 20,033
Where I lived in the 50s & 60s, the big downtown theaters played only one film at a time on a single screen, but it was preceded by trailers, shorts (cartoons), newsreels, and rarely -- ads. You saw one show and left, since a matinee had several hours before the evening show started. Some of the ads were for stuff sold in the lobby; talk about a captive audience. Sometimes you bought tickets early, to be sure of getting a seat, then went for a bite or window-shopping and came back at curtain time. If there was more than one showing that day, the curtain closed and the theater cleared out completely before the next one.

In contrast, the suburban theaters, which were also single-screen boxes, would show a double feature, cartoons and newsreels, continuously. Weekdays, this might start at 4PM and go to midnight, but on Saturdays, there was a show from early in the morning to late at night, no intermissions at all. If you came in late for the start of one show, you just stayed until it repeated to see what you missed -- "this is where we came in, let's go". One ticket got you in for as long as you wanted to stay.

Then there were driveins, oh, the driveins! Not usually first-run films, but double or triple features, lots of cartoons, lots of ads for the Salmonella Snack Bar, lots of necking in the front rows and fucking in the back rows. Playgrounds below the screen for kids before dusk. Strangely, family and fun-friendly.

For the technically-minded, the suburban houses were 35mm dual projectors with mono optical sound, but the downtown theaters often had 70, 95 or 120mm projectors with multi-track, magnetic sound. Theaters tried to compete with what marginal advantages they had over TV -- wider, bigger screens, sharper pictures, color, and better sound.