Thursday, May 11, 2017

1968 ads for the Rialto, Louisville's million dollar movie palace

Gone with the Wind opened at the Rialto December 22, 1967 in the 'improved' 70mm version which used approximatetly 50% of the negative area, blown it up to 70mm and a new 'stereo' soundtrack that sounded just as fuzzy as it always did. But it didn't matter.  It would prove to be one of the biggest moneymakers of the year.  This was the ad as it appeared in the Courier-Journal on January 1, 1968.  Little did anyone know that a year later the Rialto would be no more.
Doctor Dolittle was coming, but not for a while. It would be the last movie I or anyone else would see at the Rialto.  This was part of an ad boasting that the Majestic Theatre Corporation, which owned some of the bigger venues downtown, had showed -- or in the case of Dolittle would show -- all the best picture nominees that year. Yes, Doctor Dolittle was nominated for Best Picture.  Even the executives at Fox were surprised by that.
                                                                March 17, 1968

On April 21, it was still going strong. When I saw it, I remember sitting near the back of the main floor.  I knew it was and old movie but that didn't bother me. I knew it was a Big Deal, but I was always happy to go downtown to see a movie. It certainly hadn't happened very often up to this point.
And finally, Doctor Dolittle, the last feature to play the Rialto, reared its overly lengthy giraffe head. This ad is from the same day as the one above.  Better send off for your tickets now!  Not many did. When I saw it, there were just a handful of people in the audience.  I took my little brother Todd, who was only six. We went downtown from the far flung suburbs via city bus.  I'm still surprised my mother let me do that.  I distinctly remember it being very hot day.  I am pretty sure that though the Rialto generally showed their big roadshow attractions in 70mm (Dolittle was in ToddAO) the Rialto was showing an anamorphic print.  It didn't fill the giant Cinerama screen like The the Beginning had.
The ad changed to this one on June 16, 1968.  It didn't help -- anywhere, not just Louisville. At least everyone was given fair warning about the 'glorious' three hour running time. 
After that, the ads got small and stayed that way.  This is from June 30th, 1968.  They had by now given up on the idea of reserved seats.  Just who was seeing it at night if there was almost no one in a matinee during the summer? I don't think anyone would describe Doctor Dolittle as a date movie though it was probably maligned much more than it deserved. Trimming it down a half hour probably would have helped a great deal but big, long roadshows with intermissions were de rigeur at the time. 

And then it was all over.  Not just for poor old Doctor Dolittle, but for the poor old Rialto.

All articles and advertisements appeared in The Courier-Journal in 1968.

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