New Beverly Cinema

out of print

The New Beverly Cinema is a historic movie theater located in Los Angeles, California, United States. Housed in a theater which dates to the 1920s, it is one of the oldest revival houses in the region. The building began life as a vaudeville theater, hosting acts such as Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, and Jackie Gleason.

Later, the theater was converted into a nightclub called Slapsie Maxie’s, named after the boxer and silent film actor Maxie Rosenbloom. In the late 1950’s, the space was converted into a movie theater, with several incarnations. These include: The New Yorker Theater, the Europa (specializing in foreign films), the Eros (a pornographic theater) and finally the Beverly Cinema, a grindhouse (mostly shows exploitation films, so called because they ‘exploit’ often lurid subject matter such as sex, violence, race, etc.) which incorporated live nude dancing.

The theater was closed in 1977, and changed management months later. The following year it debuted a new programming format with a double feature of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ and ‘Last Tango in Paris.’ This double feature format continues to this day. New owner Sherman Torgan noted, ‘I’ve always felt that this neighborhood, which is middle class and predominantly Jewish, should have a theater that is responsive to the community. It wasn’t right that a porno theater was here. People in the area have come by and written letters offering congratulations on the changeover.’ Since that time, the theater has run a continuous series of double features, comprising modern and classic films in a wide variety of genres. It is the last continuous repertory revival house in Los Angeles. Most other American cities and towns closed their last repertory cinemas in the 1980s and 1990s. Togan died of a heart attack at the age of 63 in 2007. After some uncertainty as to the theater’s future, in 2010 Quentin Tarantino bought the New Beverly Cinema. Tarantino lets the Torgan family continue operating the theater, but makes programming suggestions from time to time. Tarantino was quoted as saying: ‘As long as I’m alive, and as long as I’m rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm.’

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