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Vista Theatre

4473 Sunset Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90027
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The 1923 opening of "Hollywood's Newest Theatre." It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.

Phone: 323-660-6639       Website: www.vintagecinemas.com/vista

Opened: October, 1923 as Bard's Hollywood Theatre. Lou Bard also operated the Town, College and 8th St. (later called the Olympic) theatres downtown as well as theatres in West Adams, Glendale and Pasadena.  By 1930 it was under new ownership and called the Vista Theatre.

Architect: Lewis A. Smith. It's a cute neighborhood house with an Egyptian flavored interior. Lou Bard loved Egyptian interiors regardless of the exterior look of his theatres.

Seating: 838 originally, now down to 400 for increased leg room.

Status: Still open with first runs, moveovers and occasional revivals. It's now operated by Vintage Cinemas, who also operate the Los Feliz. The Vista is now equipped with a Sony 4K digital projector.



The Vista in 2007. Photo: Bill Counter

The Vista in the Movies: 


A shot of the Vista from inside Stan's Drive-In seen in "The Crooked Web" (Columbia, 1955). Thanks to Jonathan Raines for the screenshot. See the Theatres in Movies post for more about the film and several additional photos.



The Vista when it was having a fling as a porno house. It's a shot from a Charlie's Angels episode "Catch A Fallen Angel" in 1980. Thanks to Daniel Siwek for posting the photo on Vintage Los Angeles.



Danny DeVito goes to the movies at the Vista in "Throw Momma from the Train" (Orion Pictures, 1987).  He's looking for ideas about bumping off mother and enlists Billy Crystal to help. Yes it's a comedy. DeVito directed a cast that also includes Oprah Winfrey, Rob Reiner, Kate Mulgrew and Branford Marsalis. Thanks to Chas Demster for the screenshot -- he's got it on his page about shooting locations for the film on Filming Locations of Chicago and Los Angeles.



In Tony Scott's "True Romance" (Warner Bros., 1993) Christian Slater visits the Vista. It's supposedly a Detroit theatre where he meets Patricia Arquette during a triple bill of "Street Fighter," "Return of the Street Fighter" and "Sister Street Fighter." Thanks to Joe Pinney for the alert regarding the theatre's appearance in the film and also thanks to expert researcher Tovangar2 for posting the screenshot on Noirish Los Angeles.



 In Barry Sonnenfeld's "Get Shorty" (MGM, 1995) we have John Travolta and Rene Russo seeing a film at the Vista. At least it's the Vista inside. For the exteriors, we're at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. See the Theatres In Movies post about the film for that shot.



The Vista in Wes Craven's "Scream 2" (Dimension Films, 1997). The exteriors were done featuring the Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena. "Scream 2" also used the Variety Arts Theatre downtown for scenes near the end of the film.

We see a bit of the Vista's exterior in "Dear White People" (Lionsgate, 2014).

We get nice a facade view of the Vista in Woody Allen's "Café Society" (Lionsgate, 2016) when Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart take in "The Woman In Red" with Barbara Stanwyck. Earlier Eisenberg checks out the footprints at Grauman's Chinese.



 The theatre's website has a great photo tour of the building including this view of the lobby. 



 Thanks to Ken Roe on Flickr for this 2009 view of the lobby.



The Vista Theatre's auditorium. Thanks to Stephen Russo for his 2014 photo. It originally appeared on the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation Facebook page. Thanks, Stephen!



A view up toward the ceiling at the front of the auditorium from the Vista Theatre website. Check out the website's photo tour for about 30 images of their lovingly maintained building.



Thanks to 7-how-7 on Flickr for this 2005 view from the back of the house. 



A look toward the house left organ grille area from 7-how-7 on Flickr.



An organ grille detail by Steven Rood. It's a 2005 photo on the Cinema Tour page about the theatre.



The house right sidewall. It's a 2009 photo from Ken Roe on Flickr. Don't miss Ken's wonderful Movie Theatres - USA set with over 700 photos.



 Thanks to Donna Grayson for this sidewall detail from her Vista Theatre set on Flickr.



A 2005 booth photo from the Steven Rood collection.  It's on the Cinema Tour page about the Vista where there are 51 photos to browse.



A 1930 view of the junction of Hollywood and Sunset, looking east. Note the Vista vertical and a bit of the marquee. We also get a bit of the roof sign atop the stagehouse peeking up at the left. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.



A 1938 Herman Schultheis photo of the Vista from the Los Angeles Public Library. They're running "The Great Waltz."  The Library also has another very similar shot from Mr. Schultheis.



The Vista running a reissue of "Birth of a Nation." Thanks to Gregory May for spotting this one.

A neighborhood note on "Birth of a Nation"
- When Griffith was working on the film, he screened it nearby in one of the area's first soundstages. The location, 4212 Sunset Blvd., was constructed c.1910.  The Los Angeles Public Library has a 1927 street view as the Jail Cafe. It was rebuilt in 1961 as a cabaret space and is now the El Cid Restaurant.  Wikipedia has an article about the building's history.  Los Angeles Magazine also ran a piece in 2003.



A great 1951 view of the Vista from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



Thanks to Martin Pal for spotting this 1970s photo of the Vista on Flickr, taken during the theatre's porno fling.  The photo, one he spotted on Flickr, is in his Noirish Los Angeles post #28095



A 1980 shot of the Vista, on the occasion of its reopening as a revival house. It's a LAPL photo.



A 1980 look at the theatre when it had a peep show neighbor across the street. Thanks to Joe on Flickr for the photo. "The Tin Drum" was a 1979 release.



A 1983 photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. This one and the 1980 view above also appear on "Early L.A. Historical Buildings page 3," a section of the Water & Power Associates Museum website.



A Tom LaBonge photo of the Vista playing "Freaks" and "The Haunting." It's in the LAPL collection.

More exterior views in Los Angeles Public Library's collection: "Mildred Pierce" revival - Roy Hankey | "Hannah and Her Sisters" - Gary Leonard |



The theatre in 1991. It's a Gary Graver photo.  Mr. Graver (1938-2006) was a a filmmaker and cinematographer. There's an article about him on Wikipedia.  More of his theatre photos can be seen on You Tube on the compilations "Second Run - part 1" and "Second Run - part 2." Thanks to Sean Graver for use of the photo.  



The Egyptian style entrance in 2007. Photo: Bill Counter 



Thanks to M.V. Jantzen for this lovely night view. It's part of Jantzen's Los Angeles 2007 album on Flickr. 



A nice sidewalk view looking west from Ken McIntyre. It was a post of his on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles in 2012. 

More Information: The Cinema Tour page on the Vista has a glorious photo spread of 51 photos by Bob Meza, Steven Rood and Mark Campbell. They go everywhere from the basement to the booth. Also see the Cinema Treasures page on the Vista Theatre.

John Hough has some great photos of the theatre. See the Vista Theatre section of his site OrnateTheatres.com.

There are also over 200 pictures of the theatre on Yelp. The theatre's website has a nice array of photos as well. And don't miss TJ Edwards and Garan Grey's Cinema Sightlines page on the Vista Theatre for a great photo spread and commentary.

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