February 1975.

While researching something completely unrelated, I came across this ad for a double feature of Hercules (1958) and Hercules Unchained (1959) playing a number of theaters in New York in February 1975, including the UA Rivoli, which was one of the only Dimension 150 houses around.

Seeing those great Steve Reeves peplum films, shot by Mario Bava in ‘Scope, on that deep curved Dimension 150 screen must’ve really been something.

By the way, the Rivoli ran Jaws that summer, which would’ve been cool on that curved screen.

9 Comments

Filed under 1958, 1959, Avco Embassy, Mario Bava, Peplum, Steve Reeves

9 responses to “February 1975.

  1. Walter

    Toby, this write-up brings back some fond memories, not only of HERCULES(filmed 1957, released 1958) and HERCULES UNCHAINED(filmed 1958, released 1959), but of the UA Cinema 150 Theater on South University Avenue in Little Rock, Arkansas. This was an enormous dome-shaped building with its 70 feet wide curved screen that could show standard 35mm movies along with higher-resolution 70mm and seldom-used Dimension 150 formats. Going to see a movie in this 703 seat theater was an experience to the inth degree. I remember my wife and I going to eat at Casa Bonita a Tex-Mex restaurant that served mouth watering sopapillas, which you could get more of them by raising a little flag on your table. After a wonderful meal, we walked over to the 150 theater to see, during the Summer of 1979, ALIEN(filmed 1978, released 1979). What a movie going experience that was. The theater was full.

    The Cinema 150 closed in 2003 and I’m not sure if it was the last operating D-150 theater in the country, but it was probably one of the last. The building was demolished in 2015. A loss to that era of widescreen cinemas. Those were the days.

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    • I’d love to have experienced a Dimension 150 theater. Never got to one.

      We had some really nice, big theaters here in Raleigh in the mid-70s (Cardinal, Ambassador), but no Cinerama house or anything like that.

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  2. Kevin Deany

    Thank you so much for posting this. I saw this double feature at my local theater, the Dolton, in Dolton, Illinois, but could not remember the year. If it was 1975 I would have been 13 years old when I saw it. Really enjoyed it. Always wondered why they bought this particular double feature back. Was it to cash in on the popularity of a current movie? Columbia re-released JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS later too, but can’t remember if it was because of the great success of CLASH OF THE TITANS or not. Regardless, I saw JASON at the Dolton as well.

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    • Thanks for chiming in, Kevin!

      The mid to late 70s seem to have been the end of widespread theatrical re-releases. Cable and home video did ’em in, I guess.

      I saw a few around this same time — War Of The Worlds & When Worlds Collide, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid and 2001. The first two were gorgeous old Technicolor prints, the second two were scratches and faded.

      And, of course, there were those “Go Ape” Planet Of The Apes marathons!

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      • Kevin Deany

        Yes, I also saw Butch Cassidy for the first time at a re-release. It was billed with the current W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings. Fine double feature and I haven’t seen W.W. since. I know its MIA in video because of the music rights but would love to see again. Remember really liking it.

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      • Just for grins, here’s the one-sheet for the re-release, which has a date of 1973 on it.

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  3. Walter

    Kevin, I remember JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS(filmed 1961-62, released 1963) being re-released during the Summer of 1978. It was double-billed with THE DEEP(filmed 1976, released 1977). The CLASH OF THE TITANS(filmed 1979-80, released 1981) arrived in theaters during the Summer of 1981.

    Looking back, it seems too me, that a better double bill would have been JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS and SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER(filmed 1975-76, released 1977), but then what do I know. I realize THE DEEP made a lot more money at the box-office than SINBAD THE EYE OF THE TIGER did. Anyway, I enjoyed both movies. It was nice to see JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS on the big screen, after having seen it on television in black and white.

    Joseph E. Levine was a shrewd and very successful presenter and promoter of movies and he had made a bundle on the HERCULES movies both in theaters and tv syndication to local stations. Who knows, Levine might have anticipated the upcoming release of THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD(filmed 1972-73, released 1973), which premiered in London, England in December, 1973 and went wide in the USA in April, 1974. Also, there was the ready-made audience of youngsters who had only seen the HERCULES movies on tv. You might think they would go see the movies on the big screen in color. In Chicago the double-billed HERCULES and HERCULES UNCHAINED played in several theaters in December, 1973. At the Sheridan Drive-in the Hercules movies were part of a triple-billed showing. First up HERCULES, next the non-Hercules THE LIGHT AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD(filmed 1970, released 1971), and third HERCULES UNCHAINED.

    The HERCULES movies played across the country from 1973-75. Next up the licensing to NBC-TV for their first network prime-time showing. HERCULES(filmed 1957, released 1958) aired on the NBC MONDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES on September 13, 1976 and HERCULES UNCHAINED(filmed 1958, released 1959) aired on NBC’s THE BIG EVENT on Sunday September 19, 1976.

    You would think that there might just be an audience of the Post World War II Generation and Generation Xers that would buy a restored, re-mastered print put out on Blu-ray. I would hope that the labyrinth of licensing issues could finally be worked out and this would be possible. Well, we can hope.

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