A June 9, 1966 ad located by Mike Rivest. Visit his site: Movie-Theatre.org
The theatre hit its stride with "Psychedelic Film Trips" featuring work by Stan Brakhage, Ed Emshwiller, Stanton Kaye, John and James Whitney and others. Frank Woods later bought the
operation and opened other Cinematheque 16s in Pasadena (a quick
failure) and San Francisco.
An October 1966 ad for the Cinematheque. The ad is reproduced with a series of Roger Delfont articles archived on the site Ad Sausage that analyze the film ads that appeared in the Los Angeles Free Press. His discussion about the Cinematheque:
"The theater ('little more than an anonymous doorway under awning') was taken over by Lewis Teague, an NYU graduate in film studies. Teague offered to run the theater as an art house, and after introducing new weekly programs (European art films), renamed it Cinematheque-16. The art films didn't fare much better than the previous nudies. Initial programming was certainly a mixed bag. In 1966, what was billed as 'A Horror Show', gave a stunned audience the following: 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' (Robert Wiene, 1920), 'Triumph of the Will' (Leni Riefenstahl, 1935), 'Andalusian Dog,' and 'Way to Shadow Garden' (Stan Brakhage, 1954).
"But after adding Psychedelic Film Trips to its advertising, locals in the music and drug culture gave the theater new momentum. Comedian Lenny Bruce closed his last professional performance at San Francisco's Basin Street West, he allowed producer John Magnuson to capture the show. The result ended up becoming the 65-minute film 'Lenny Bruce' - shown at Cinematheque 16.
"Experimental filmmakers such Shirley Clarke, Jack Smith, Robert Kramer, Gregory J. Markopoulos, Thomas Reichman, Robert Downey and Kenneth Anger had their work shown; Downey's 'Chafed Elbows,' 'No More Excuses' and 'The Sweet Smell of Sex' ('A drama of people who claw their way to the bottom') and Anger's 'Scorpio Rising' all were given ample time at the Sunset cinema. Warhol movies found a home there, and 'Bike Boy' had its West Coast premiere. Doors' front man Jim Morrison premiered his 40-minute 'Feast of Friends,' along with Warhol's 'I, A Man.' This was followed some time later with readings from 'An American Prayer.' The success of Sunset Strip location spurned two more location; San Francisco and Pasadena (which didn't last long)."
In 1974 the theatre became the Sun Art. Thanks to Mike Rivest for locating this September 26, 1974 ad. "Deep Throat" and "The Devil in Miss Jones" were still running in October 1976.
The Sun Art poised to become the Orpheum Theatre. The 1976 photo of Pavel Cerny appears as a 2015 post on the Orpheum Theatre Corporation Facebook page. The caption:
By late 1976 it was hosting live events under Cerny's direction. As their Facebook page says:
At Tower Records, across the street from the Orpheum in September 1977. It's a photo by Ruby Ray that had appeared on the site Nightflight. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality for posting it on his Noirish post # 46639. In the photo from left to right: unknown, Hellin Killer, Trudi, Pleasant Gehman, Bobby Pin, Nickey Beat, Alice Bag, Delphina, Lorna Doom, Pat Smear, Jena.
Hoss C, in his Noirish post # 46641 notes: "Bobby Pyn (aka Darby Crash), Nicky Beat, Lorna Doom and Pat Smear were all members of the Germs (as shown on Doom's T-shirt). This would've been around the time that the group was formed." The photo can also be seen on the Getty Images site.
A detail from the Ruby Ray photo. On the Orpheum marquee: "The Clique in Pure Imagination."
A flyer for "Three Golden Hairs" at the Orpheum.
A flyer for the OTC production of "Heat."
Closing: The closing date is unknown. The Orpheum operation then moved to the Callboard Theatre on Melrose.
Status: The building the theatre was in has been demolished with the new IAC Building on the site dating from 1986. West of the theatre location, Book Soup has been in the 8818 spot since the late 80s.
The Cinematheque / Sun Art in the Movies:
Before and after the theatre era:
1950s - A view of the intersection at Sunet and Holloway pre-Cinematheque 16. Thanks to Bill Caffrey for posting this on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles. The theatre was in the second building on the left, with the columned entrance. The theatre entrance was just beyond the building itself. Book Soup is now in the building beyond that at 8818, which dates from 1935.
early 1960s - Thanks to Tom Anderson for locating this shot for a post on the Mid Century Modern Facebook page.
2014 - The building on the left is on the site of the theatre. It's a photo by Russell Gearhart that's on the photo gallery page of the Book Soup website.
2019 - The theatre entrance was once just to the left of the gray Book Soup building. Photo: Google Maps
More information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Cinematheque 16. Check out the Orpheum Theatre Corporation Facebook page.
The Cinematheque 16 is discussed as a home for experimental film on page 225 in David James' 2005 book "Most Typical Avant Garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles." The author is a professor in the school of Cinema-Television at USC. The book is available from the University of California Press or Amazon. A preview is available on Google Books.
Visit the page here on this site about the Cinematheque 16 in Pasadena.
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