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footfootfoot 04-17-2020 10:51 AM

Lounges in movie theaters in the 1950s-1970s
This question might be equally at home in entertainment, technology, nothingland, perhaps even politics.

It probably could extend to movie theaters in general. I was talking to the kids the other day about the vending machines in movie theaters back when I was a kid. (I'm counting on us more vintage dwellars who were going to movie theaters back then to recall and help fill in the balnks.)

The theaters themselves were very different from those of today, even the "luxury" theaters, and I think they reflected the values and customs back then. Though as a kid I always had the feeling that I was looking at the last vestiges of a bye-going era.

There were three theaters on main street in my city of 75,000 people in the '60s and they were all pretty similar in terms of appointments, but there was definitely a ranking from best to least best. None of them were crummy. There was and RKO, a Loews, and I don't remember the third one.

You'd walk into the theater lobby, plush carpet in red or blue, very spacious lobby and on the walls were several dozen 8x10 B&W stills from the movie. Unless there was a double feature they were of the one film that was playing.

Off to the side of the lobby was a set of stairs that led to another lobby-like room with entrances on either side to separate men's and women's lounges. The thing I remember most about the lounges was the vending machines, and these seemed most anachronistic. The contents were a hodge-podge of things that seemed strange to me as a child: nail clippers, combs, alka-seltzer, those violet candies that alcoholics liked, tooth brushes, plastic rain hat/scarf, sewing kits, tweezers. Now I can see how these might have come in handy in a world where if you lost a button while on a date you'd want to go down to the lounge and quickly sew it back on, or give your hair a bit of a comb before your date arrived.

I can't remember what else they held and I'm wondering if any of you have any thoughts or memories about older movie theaters and if they had a similar vending machine scheme.

I'm going to do some internet research on this.

xoxoxoBruce 04-17-2020 11:21 AM

I've seen those vending machines with all the odd shit in a lot of places like bus stations, airports, and college dorms, but never in a theater.

footfootfoot 04-20-2020 09:06 PM


Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce (Post 1051075)
I've seen those vending machines with all the odd shit in a lot of places like bus stations, airports, and college dorms, but never in a theater.

The other locations make sense. The theater seemed weird to me. I went down a rabbit hole with old theater research and forgot why I was there.

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Urbane Guerrilla 04-24-2020 09:14 PM

These days a full-deluxe lounge, if the house can sustain one, could serve you personal-sized pizza. With (one) beer, to be finished before you go in to the movie.

I think it meant a lot of overhead, though, and didn't sustain. The local place that did it is now a big-box church. Somebody got a good lease.

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