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Splendid Movie Theaters

Readers share their favorite places to watch movies on the big screen.

Via Readers
Stanford Theatre, splendid movie theaters, image
Photo caption
The Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, California, is full of 1920s splendor.


Stanford Theatre Palo Alto, Calif. "As much a time machine as a theater," writes Danielle de Leon of Studio City, Calif. "Built in 1925 and restored in 1989, the theater runs films primarily from the 1920s through the 1960s. I love the art deco decor and the organist on his Mighty Wurlitzer, which descends into the stage as the curtain rises. This place is awesome."

AVALON THEATRE Catalina Island, Calif. "A 20-foot-tall tile mermaid greets you at the entrance to the theater's walnut lobby," says Nancy Chelini of Sacramento. "Inside, murals depict California and Catalina history, and ‘stars' twinkle in the domed ceiling. You relax in plush seats as an organist keeps up with Buster Keaton's antics on the screen."

BAGDAD THEATER & PUB Portland. "Oregon's busy McMenamin brothers have turned this 1927 Hawthorne District movie palace into a theater-pub," writes Kelly Hersh of Corvallis, Ore. "What a casual, uniquely Western way to watch a movie—with beer and a pizza!"

BIJOU THEATRE Lincoln City, Ore. "Here on the central Oregon coast we enjoy a little Hollywood in our 1937 theater," writes Lori Snyder of Lincoln City. "Most showings, the owners come down front and center to introduce the movies. It's so homey I'm often tempted to stay and help sweep up."

CAMEO CINEMA St. Helena, Calif. "This one-screen theater set among Main Street's restaurants and shops has that classic old-Hollywood feel," writes Darcie Jean Garcia of Carmichael, Calif. "There are even some two-person love seats so you can snuggle with your honey."

CASCADE THEATRE Redding, Calif. "A 1935 art deco classic, restored in 2004 and improved with a $5.5 million investment," says Randall Smith of Redding. "It's now a West Coast treasure for films, concerts, and other standing-room-only events."

CINETOPIA Vancouver, Wash. "This amazing place has the most comfortable movie viewing around," writes Heidi Golden of Portland. "It's worth it to splurge for the plush leather seating, extra legroom, and great views from everywhere—not to mention the food. Three ‘living room theaters' offer preshow restaurant service right at your seat."

DEL MAR THEATRE Santa Cruz, Calif. "Refurbished but true to its elegant past," writes Regina McGraw of Santa Cruz. "It's the 1936 twin of Redding's Cascade Theatre. You feel transported to another world—and isn't that what going to the movies is all about?"

EGYPTIAN THEATRE Coos Bay, Ore. "Be ready to step back several decades when you enter," says Ron Grabowski of Coquille, Ore. "The Egyptian opened in 1925 and featured a 10-rank Wurlitzer organ, but shut its doors after 80 years. Then it was revived in 2006. It's the state's only movie theater with the original organ."

MEGAPLEX 20 South Jordan, Utah. "No one kicks your seatback in these theaters," writes Tracy Barraco of Park City, Utah. "The aisles are four feet wide. You can bring in a meal from any of eight on-site restaurants and enjoy it in your seat. Plus there's narration on headsets for the visually impaired and captions on miniscreens for the hearing impaired."

PARKWAY SPEAKEASY THEATER Oakland. "Great food, comfy couches: It's like watching movies in your own home—but with a personal chef," says Cassie Cyphers of Emeryville, Calif. "On Baby Brigade nights parents can bring their little ones without worry."

RIO THEATER Monte Rio, Calif. "There's just something fun about catching a film at the Rio," says Bill Strubbe of Oakland. "It's in a Quonset hut decorated with ocean and redwood scenes just a stone's throw from the Russian River."

ROSE THEATRE Port Townsend, Wash. "An absolute treasure," writes Bill Davidson of San Francisco. "It opened in 1907 to showcase traveling vaudeville troupes, local talent, and—new to that era—motion pictures. The theater was closed in 1958 and for many years housed a bakery and other kinds of businesses. In 1992 it was lovingly restored to its original elegance, including a pressed-tin ceiling."

99W DRIVE-IN THEATRE Newberg, Ore. "One thing that remains constant in Yamhill County is this 1953 drive-in theater, one of the last in the state," says Carolyn Paul of McMinnville, Ore. "It's open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from the end of March through the end of October. People come from near and far—especially in summer when car clubs display vintage vehicles here."

Photography by Kevin Candland


This article was first published in March 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.