Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Key Theatre

The Key Theatre was a short-lived motion picture theater which operated on the upper floor of the American Building on South Main Street near the Four Corners.

In 1912 when the American Building was remodeled, a theater for motion pictures was created on the upper floor in the space formerly occupied by the American Hall and later a roller polo rink. At that time, Ivan Rogers and Eldoretta Cushing Bourne transfered their Star Theatre motion picture business from Center Street to the new theater which they named the Lyric and which opened in May, 1912. Three years later, an entirely modern motion picture house known as the Park Theatre was constructed and opened on Nickerson Avenue opposite the Town Hall, providing formidable competition for the Lyric. Following 1917, when the Lyric Theatre’s manager left to assume charge of the Park, the Lyric closed. Many years later, in the late 1930s, an effort was made to revive the Lyric as a motion picture house as indicated by Mertie E. Romaine in her History of the Town of Middleboro:

“An attempt was made by the Middleboro Amusement Company to reopen the Lyric Theatre, changing the name to Key Theatre, but the venture was ill timed, as the town could not, or would not, support two theatres, and the Key Theatre soon closed.” [Romaine:336] Also contributing to the short life of the Key Theatre was the fact that it seems primarily to have run less expensive pictures as opposed to the bigger Hollywood productions which were featured at the Park Theatre.

Movie posters advertising both the Lyric and Key Theatres do survive. Those for the Key were economical featuring only text which was printed in primary colors in a bold, easily read font on inexpensive poster board. Given the fact that features changed a number of times each week at the Key Theatre, there was little need (and few funds) to produce lavishly illustrated advertisements such as those employed by the Park Theatre.

Key Theatre, Middleborough, MA, advertising poster, January, 1940

This surviving poster from the Key Theatre dates from the second week of January, 1940. Featured films during the week included the Bob Hope-Paulette Goddard remake of the silent film classic The Cat and the Canary (1939); Bad Boy (1939), an inexpensively produced crime drama; Men with Wings (1938), an action vehicle starring Fred MacMurray and Ray Milland; Thanks for the Memory (1938), a Bob Hope comedy from which he took his signature song; Lady of the Tropics (1939), a romantic feature from MGM starring Hedy Lemarr and Robert Taylor; and Colorado Sunset (1939), a western starring Gene Autry and "Buster" Crabbe.

Click on the movie poster to view a clip from The Cat and the Canary with Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard

Click on the movie poster for a clip from Lady of the Tropics with Hedy Lamarr and Robert Taylor

Or click on the title to watch Bad Boy in its entirety.


Wally Glendye said...

Great stuuf Mike!
Thanks for pointing me to PublicDomain Flicks, I found a collection of the Bowery Boys/East Side Kids.

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