Growing up in movie theaters in Findlay Ohio

The day after Christmas, Turner Classic Movies had a Disney live action movie marathon. It included favorites of mine like “The Apple Dumpling Gang” (1975) and “The Love Bug” (1968). It got me remembering about my experiences at the movie theater when I was a kid back in Findlay. Many of the places I saw movies at are now long gone but I still remember them as if it were yesterday.

My earliest movie watching experiences involve two theaters that were in downtown Findlay. I saw “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971) at the State Theater and months later I saw “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” (1971) at the Harris Theater which was across the street from the State. 

We were late to Willy Wonka and missed probably 30 minutes of the movie. What we did was decide not to leave at the end of the movie and we watched the first 30 minutes of the next showing.

The Harris Theater was, I think, the oldest and creepiest theater. I’m pretty sure it had a closed balcony which creeped me out during Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I swore I saw people up there.

The State later burned down and around the same time the Harris closed and was torn down. Both were gone before 1980.

The next focal point for my movie history was two theaters that opened in the Shopping center area on Tiffin Ave in Findlay. One was called Cinema World and the other opened as The Jerry Lewis Twin and then later renamed Twin Palace. Cinema World was located behind the Fort Findlay Mall and had six screens while the Twin Palace had two screens.

I saw classics like “Superman the Movie” (1978) and “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) at Cinema World. The best time though was when Glenwood Junior High rented out a screen so all the English classes could see “The Dark Crystal” (1982). The movie was cool and getting out of school to watch a feature movie was great.

I had a couple of great memories of the Twin Palace. Once I went to the movies with a neighbor and her daughter. The Moms went to one screen to see “All the President’s Men” (1976) and us kids were sent to the other screen showing “The Outlaw Josey Wales” (1976). The adults thought a political movie would be too boring so we got see a western with a lot of violence. The best part was we were the only people watching Josey Wales at that showing and the usher hooked us up with a free bucket of popcorn and two small cokes.

The other Twin Palace memory was seeing “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) with my Aunt and her kids. Even back then the concession prices were steep especially for our group of seven people. We decided to sneak in some snacks and pop. Back then we didn’t have those 20 oz plastic bottles of soda. We had 16 oz glass long neck bottles that you would take back to the store for a deposit toward another purchase. Well either me or my cousin finished our pop and had set the bottle on the floor. Then during a quiet moment of the film the whole theater hears *CLINK*. There is still some debate if I knocked it over or if he did but the bottle *clinked* on the floor and then rolled down towards the screen going *clink…clink…clink…clink…clink…clink…clink…clink…clink*. We both scrunched down in our seats to try to hide while the other kids laughed at us.

Carmike Theaters later bought both locations and closed Twin Palace while moving Cinema World into the mall and adding more screens. In the last ten years it built a stand alone 12 screen theater on the west side of town.

Another kid memory from the 70’s was when Findlay’s first McDonald’s on Tiffin Ave opened. It was before 1976 because the restaurant was the old white and yellow walk up style. In 1976 our second McDonald’s opened on Trenton Ave on the West side with the classic brown color scheme and the iconic mansard roof line.

The opening of the first restaurant was a city event. Tons of people were there and as a special event Ronald McDonald was flown in by helicopter! I’m pretty sure he was dropped off by a Sikorsky H-34 in what was then an empty field across the street from the new restaurant. The field was next to the old Frosty Mug root beer stand.

On Star Wars – 30 years later

I remember it well. The film had been in theaters almost a year when I finally was able to see it. It was the talk of my school and several kids already had the action figures and other merchandise. We were too poor to see a movie all the time so I had to basically wait until my Mom got her tax refund. But there I sat in my seat at the old Cinema World theater just outside the Fort Findlay Mall. 

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…” appeared on the screen then it fades out. Then *BLAM*


fills the screen and John Williams score fills the once empty void around me. Then the beginning crawl tells me the point in time of the story. Then the music starts to simmer down and the picture shows a star field as the camera pans down to show the horizon of Tatooine and we hear ominous music – Darth Vader’s theme I learn later – and a space ship moves from the top to the bottom of the screen.

That was cool.

Then I see the Imperial Star Destroyer as it fills the screen as it pursues the other craft…


So began my love affair with Star Wars.

So, for better or worse, a tip of the hat goes to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – released on May 25th 1977.

Star Wars

Summer movies I love

I got to see Spider-Man 3 this weekend and it was pretty good. There was a lot of “stuff” crammed into the 2 1/2 hours with many story threads. The part I liked best was several shots of Peter Parker tooling around the city on his beat-up scooter. And there were a few out loud funny bits involving J Jonah Jamison.

This weekend was Superhero weekend for me. I rented the DVD of Superman Returns which I saw last summer and I fell in love with the film all over again. I forgot I wrote a review on IMDB so here is a clip of that:

When an iconic film is remade you can go two ways – totally go down a different road and destroy what made the previous film iconic – think “Poseidon”, or you can do what Bryan Singer did and almost duplicate the feel and humanity from the previous Superman series of the late 70’s early 80’s.

This isn’t just a rehash but Singer tips his hat enough to the Donner directed films to satisfy this old fan and bring enough of current culture to satisfy new fans.

It starts with the return of the classic style for the opening credits and liberal amounts of the fantastic John Williams score. I did expect to hear some hip-hop or some bland pop music but luckily that wasn’t the case.

A Great Homage to Donner and Reeve

One of my favorite scenes is actually the first time that Superman reveals to the world that he is back and comes about 40 minutes into the film. Lois is on an airplane covering the launch of a new version of the Space Shuttle when a blackout scrambles the computers and the Shuttle can’t detach from the jet she is on. The main engines come on and sends Lois flying to the back of the plane and as she is struggling to reach an oxygen mask she happens to look out the window and *blip* sees Superman streak by to save her and all those on the plane. The look on her face and the music cue just chokes me up every time. Real tears.

The last part of the sequence is also a hoot. After Superman sets the plane down on the ground, he rips the door off and goes inside. He asks if everyone is okay and he and Lois make eye contact. Then after a bit of a pause he says, in a homage to the first Christopher Reeves film, that he hopes the emergency doesn’t put people off flying and that statistically it is the safest way to travel. He then flies off. Lois stands at the door watching him leave then she faints and falls down the emergency slide.

Here is a clip from that sequence so you can see why I love it so much:

I hope the coming summer movie season has a few more favorite scenes that I can watch 50,000 times on DVD.